PhD Position

Anchoring Early Christian Identity (PhD)

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Anchoring Early Christian Identity

PhD Position (4 years, 1,0 fte), Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam
Supervisors: Dr. Nienke Vos (VU Amsterdam), Prof. dr. Bas ter Haar Romeny (VU Amsterdam), Prof. dr. Olivier Hekster (Radboud University)

Anchoring Work Package 11: Late Antiquity

Job description

When in the first century CE Christianity appeared as a new religion on the scene, it presented itself as a movement focused on conversion, that is, a decisive shift in religious outlook and commitment. Paradoxically, such deep and often abrupt religious transformation was communicated by complex modes of discourse which involved the new religion anchoring itself firmly in the given cultural setting. As it evolved, Christianity took on a variety of shapes and forms, sometimes referred to as ‘Christianities’, each anchoring itself in different ways.

This PhD-project will focus on the theme of religious anchoring in early Christianity, specifically in narrative and/or dialogical texts: these often functioned as both instruments and expressions of early Christian identity formation. The research may be approached from various angles and consider questions such as the following: Which aspects of belief and/or behaviour are described and/or promoted and how are these linked to Jewish, Greco-Roman, or divergent Christian ideas and practices? Are connections between Christianity and pre-existing or competing religious notions organically embedded in early Christian discourse or not, and how do they relate to its persuasive potential? How is the recipient of the text implicated in the transitional process of adopting a new religious position? In short, the research will involve the study of early Christian Greek and/or Latin storytelling and dialogue as motivational and educational tools. The corpus chosen must be situated within the timeframe of the second to seventh centuries; the geographical perspective is open: from the Greek East and the Balkans to North-Africa, Italy, Spain, and Gaul. We invite structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) on this theme.

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research program can be found on the Anchoring Innovation website ( and in an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda” (Anchoring Innovation: A Classical Research Agenda | European Review | Cambridge Core).

Host institution

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, and its Interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History, and Heritage (CLUE+). For more information see: and

Terms and conditions

PhD project, 4 years (1,0 fte, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed, with a preference for September 1, 2022. 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 € 2.434 to € 3.111 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 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 PhD candidate 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 programme of the VU Graduate School of Humanities and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings and in the intellectual life of the department and the institute, including the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA; cooperation with University of Amsterdam) and HDC Centre for Religious History at VU;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.
  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Ancient History, or Classics, or similar, held by the time of appointment, 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 obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained 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 in English and in reading Greek and Latin, passive knowledge of French, German, and Italian;
  • 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 Dr. Nienke Vos, We deliberately scheduled a long period between this announcement and the deadline for submission so that candidates have ample time to prepare their own versions of the projects outlined above. We know that the design of a good project takes time and effort. Do not hesitate to contact your prospective supervisor about this. 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):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a certified copy of your MA and BA course lists and results);
  • 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 master thesis 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, 2022. Interviews will take place in the week of 30 May – 3 June, 2022 and will possibly be held online.