University of Copenhagen

Research field


Research leader

Frederik Poulsen

Assistant Professor

Project title

Divergent Views of Diaspora in Ancient Judaism

What is your project about?

My project studies the oldest Jewish societies outside of Palestine. The oldest sources available contain rather different views of how to live as a Jew in a foreign context, especially with regard to the issue of return, the relationship to the local hosts, and religion and culture in the new land

How did you become interested in your particular field of research?

Exile and life outside the ancestral land are central concerns in the Old Testament. In my previous work, I have studied biblical images of exile. In this project, my focus is to map and understand all the different descriptions of life abroad.

What are the scientific challenges and perspectives in your project?

The originality of my project lies in its application of a newly developed theoretical framework from Diaspora Studies, enabling a much more nuanced and differentiated approach to the material than has been possible in previous studies. However, there is a risk of misunderstandings or anachronistic claims. The textual material is also rather diverse. From archive material containing letters, contracts, and financial documents, to advanced literary constructions.

What is your estimate of the impact, which your project may have to society in the long term?

The study of ancient Jewish societies and the relationship between homeland and diaspora will not only cast light upon the formation of Judaism and the various attitudes to living abroad in the Old Testament. It will also make us more aware of some of the dilemmas that religious minorities must handle today.

Which impact do you expect the Sapere Aude programme will have on your career as a researcher?

A Sapere Aude Grant is a great opportunity for me. I am very happy about it. We have a small, but strong environment for the critical study of the Bible in Denmark. My project contributes to the development of the field. Moreover, I am grateful for the opportunity to strengthen my international network and to become more experience as a research leader.

Background and personal life

I am married to Maren, who is a hospital chaplain, and we are the parents of Johan (10 years), Samuel (7 years), and Ada (3 years). We live in the beautiful area of Stevns, near the Baltic Sea south of Copenhagen. I love spending time with my family, going swimming and building things out of wood. We like to travel, especially to the Middle East.

City of your current residence


High school

Næstved Gymnasium and HF