PhD Position

Anchoring Empire and Ancient Judaism

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Anchoring Empire and Ancient Judaism


Radboud University Nijmegen
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Anchoring Empire and Ancient Judaism


Prof. dr. Onno van Nijf (Groningen) and Prof. dr. Mladen Popović (Groningen)

Job description

Empire is not simply a matter of military power, it is also discourse. For a successful empire, there is not only a need of soldiers, administrators and institutions, but imperial rulers and subjects have to employ a common language (in a broad sense) that allows all parties to share in the imperial enterprise. This discourse needs to be connected—both in the ways it is communicated and perceived, and in terms of content—to what people know, believe, want, value, and can understand. This phenomenon of ‘anchoring’ is central to the new research agenda of the Dutch classicists.

We invite structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) on the anchoring of Judaism in the Roman empire. This project will investigate the ways in which Jewish communities engaged with Roman rule and the realities of empire. The focus will be on the realm of religion which could serve both as a means of accommodation and as a source of (discursive) resistance. The focus may be on Judea and/or the Jewish diaspora communities in the eastern Mediterranean.

Possible fields of investigation are e.g. reflections of Roman imperial power in textual sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, or Rabbinic writings, the use of religious culture in response to imperial realities (including memories of earlier encounters with empires), Jewish burial practices and self-representation in the mortuary and epigraphic record, Jewish participation in and responses to the Graeco-Roman spectacle and festival culture, and the use of religious value terms in discourses about power and/or honour. Proposals for other connected topics are also welcome. This PhD project is part of “Anchoring Empire”, a joint research project between the University of Groningen chair groups of Ancient History and of Old Testament and Ancient Judaism) and the Radboud University, Nijmegen (chair group of Ancient History) within the Anchoring Innovation program.

Host institution

University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, the Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG). For more information see here and here.

Terms and conditions

PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2021. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. It is possible to extend the position over 5 years at 0,8 fte. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2.395 to € 3.061 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The University of Groningen offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Tasks of the PD will include:
  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years (1,0 fte) or five years (0,8 fte);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training program of the local Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Groningen Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment
  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Ancient History, Classics, Religious Studies or other relevant field, held by the time of the application, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment (if the degree is not yet held at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be held by time of appointment).
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence English, and relevant ancient languages as well as reading competence in French and German;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. dr. Onno van Nijf, or Prof. dr. Mladen Popović, Do not hesitate to contact your prospective supervisors about the design of your research proposal. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort,


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Letter of motivation;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via before April 24, 2021. Interviews will take place in the week of May 24-28, 2021 and will probably be held online.