Professor Hans M Barstad (Dr theol, DD)

Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies


Educated in Oslo and Oxford, I held the chair of Old Testament Studies in the University of Oslo from 1986-2005.

Since my move to Edinburgh (2006-), I have authored 1 book (History and the Hebrew Bible, Mohr Siebeck 2008), and around 20 contributions in peer reviewed publications.

I have also co-edited 3 volumes: The Past in the Past, with P. Briant (The Institute for Comparative Research 2009); Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah, with R.G. Kratz (de Gruyter 2009), and Thus Speaks Ishtar of Arbela, with R. Gordon (Eisenbrauns, forthcoming summer 2013).

I was chief editor for Supplements  to Vetus Testamentum 2007-2010 (Brill). Around 30 volumes appeared during my editorship.

Among popularizing work, I can mention one book, A Brief Guide to the Hebrew Bible, Westminster John Knox, 2010 and 2 contributions to lexicons:  “Biblical Theology,” in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, Cambridge University Press (2011), pp. 62-64 and “Bible, Hebrew,” in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Wiley-Blackwell (2013), pp. 1107-1109.



Dr theol, DD

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

At present, I have 3 doctoral students and 1 master student. I accept new students in all areas of the Hebrew Bible.

Past PhD students supervised

After 2006, 8 students finished their doctoral theses under my supervision (6 in Edinburgh and 2 in Oslo). A large majority of them have been accepted for publication. 6 also finished their master dissertations.

Research summary

In The Religious Polemics of Amos (1984), I use texts in Amos as sources for the reconstruction of 8th century BCE Israelite religion. The work threw new light upon the prophetic movement in general. Further research led to a series of articles and monographs on biblical prophets.

In A Way in the Wilderness (1989), I maintain that many of the references to wilderness, water, and way have misguidedly been taken as allusions to a second Exodus. Rather, the majority of these texts refer to the new Judah after the exile. Another important outcome of my 1989 book concerns the nature of prophetic language. Whereas numerous scholars have dealt with linguistic, grammatical, and literary features of Hebrew poetry, not many have taken into consideration that metaphoric/poetic texts also have a different cognitive status from prose language.

In The Babylonian Captivity of the Book of Isaiah (1997), I attempted to demonstrate that the arguments in favour of a Babylonian setting of Isa 40-55 are untenable.

In The Myth of the Empty Land (1996), I use archaeology, economical models, and Neo-Babylonian sources to argue for continuity rather than a gap in the culture of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.

Three articles reflect my recent research. In one, I use Neo-Assyrian sources, and show how Amos 1-2 is genuinely set within the framework of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In another, I discuss Old Babylonian texts from Mari, and show how deeply planted the Hebrew Bible is in a common Semitic culture. Finally, I discuss historiography in general (above all narrative truth) and its relationship to the Hebrew Bible.

Current research interests

Amos, Isaiah 40-55, and other prophetic texts, Prophecy of the Hebrew Bible in its Near Eastern Context, Ancient Israelite historiography in its Near Eastern context and Theory and method of historiography.