PhD Position

Anchoring Empire and the World of Ancient Judaism (PhD)

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

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

PhD Position (4 years, 1,0 fte), University of Groningen
Supervisors: Prof. Onno van Nijf (Groningen), Prof. Mladen Popovic (Groningen) and Prof. Olivier Hekster (Radboud University)

Anchoring Work Package 10: Flavian Rome or 11: Late Antiquity

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 also have to employ a common discourse (in a broad sense) that allows all parties to participate in the imperial enterprise. In order to be effective this discourse needs to be connected 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.

As one of the most successful and long-lasting empires in world history, the Roman empire is an excellent case study for this type of investigation. It offers itself as a perfect historical laboratory where the imperial discourse can be studied from its (different local) origins in the Hellenistic and Republican periods, through its flourishing and convergence in the imperial state of the Principate, to its final demise in the Late Empire. Imperial conquest had a strong impact on local communities in various ways. New hegemonic power structures and loss of sovereignty required drastic alterations of authority structures, loyalty ties and identity politics. Our working hypothesis is that to be successful, imperial discourses had to be anchored in the political, cultural, and religious traditions and experiences of the imperial centre and of the periphery.

This project will focus on Judea and/or the Jewish diaspora in the eastern Mediterranean, e.g., Egypt, and investigate the impact of Roman rule, possibly also in connection with previous imperial rule, most notably the Hellenistic empires, on local communities, traditions, and discourses.

We invite structured proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) for a PhD project into aspects of the rise and development of Roman hegemony over Judea, and/or the Jewish communities in the diaspora from the perspective of Anchoring. Among the possible fields of investigation are interaction with Roman settlers and settlements, Jewish burial practices and self-representation in the mortuary record, the diverse shape of literary responses to imperial/colonial encounters, Jewish participation in and responses to the Graeco-Roman spectacle and festival culture, or the use of religious value terms in the discourses about power and honour, but applicants are invited to formulate their own topics, within the wider approach.

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. More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the 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). The work package to which the project will be assigned will be determined depending on the historical focus of the dissertation.

Host institution

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

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, 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).

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 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 program of the local (Groningen) Graduate School of Humanities and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS) and/or Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (NOSTER) o Active participation in the interfaculty research institute CRASIS;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.
  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Ancient History, Classics, Jewish Studies, 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 in 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, 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. We recommend strongly to contact Prof. van Nijf and/or Prof. Popović well in advance about your 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 (i.e. a certified copy of your MA and BA courses 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, including a statement of the (predicted) grade.

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.