Dr Peter Atkins (BA, MA, PhD)

Postdoctoral Fellow in Old Testament and Hebrew Bible

  • School of Divinity

Contact details



Andrew F. Walls Room
School of Divinity
New College
Mound Place

Post code


  • I am happy to meet with any student at a mutually convenient time. Please get in touch by email to arrange an in-person or online meeting.


Peter Joshua Atkins is Postdoctoral Fellow in Old Testament and Hebrew Bible at the University of Edinburgh. He is also co-founder and co-chair of the 'Animals and the Bible' research group for the European Association of Biblical Studies.

Prior to his current position, Peter previously completed his doctoral studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester where he was also a Visiting Lecturer and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project "Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare." In 2022, he moved to the University of Edinburgh's School of Divinity on a one-year teaching fellowship in Old Testament and Hebrew Bible, and is currently working on a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship as part of the Edinburgh Career Development Scheme.


BA (University of Sheffield), MA (University of Sheffield), PhD (University of Chester)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Affiliate of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.

Undergraduate teaching

Prophets and Their Oracles

Introducing Biblical Hebrew

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew

The Dark Lord: Divine Violence in the Hebrew Bible

Postgraduate teaching

Hebrew Bible in Historical-Critical Perspective

Intermediate Biblical Hebrew (PG)

Approaches to Research in Divinity and Religious Studies (Biblical Studies)

Research summary

Animals and Animality in the Bible

The Book of Daniel

Ecological Approaches to the Hebrew Bible

History of Interpretation of the Bible

The History and Reception of Second Temple Literature

Current research interests

My current research project is tentatively titled: Overpopulation, Biodiversity, and Rewilding: Perspectives on Living with Wild Animals in the Hebrew Bible. This work focuses on issues of human overpopulation and rewilding efforts and seeks to highlight the Hebrew Bible's entanglement with these issues by focussing upon "fruitful" texts (where the multiplication of the human population is portrayed as a blessing; e.g., Gen 1:28; Ps 127; Ezek 36) and curses of desolation (where the removal of humankind from a settlement is portrayed as a curse; e.g., Zeph 2:12-14; Isa 34). I aim to interpret and understand these texts within their ancient context using a historical approach, as well as reading them within a contemporary context by utilising an ecological hermeneutic. The current goal is to demonstrate a new way of reading these texts which is sensitive to both their original context of human vulnerability and our contemporary context of ecological scarcity.

Past research interests

My first major research project examined the affliction of Nebuchadnezzar as portrayed within the texts of Daniel 4 and was entitled: The Animalising Affliction of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4: Reading Across the Human-Animal Boundary. I engaged with the reception of this textual event in interpretative and commentary literature, and investigated the narrative using both a textual and contextual analysis. The goal of the project was to identify the exact nature of the king's affliction and how the human-animal boundary was constructed in the narrative. This also resulted in the identification of a construction of the human-animal boundary within the ancient Near East more generally. As well as a number of journal articles, the primary results were published as a monograph by Bloomsbury T&T Clark in 2023.