Professor Katherine E. Southwood


I came to Oxford in October 2013 having previously held a post at St Mary's University College, Twickenham where, with Philip Esler’s leadership and with Chris Keith we set up the then ‘Centre for the Social Scientific Study of the Bible’ inaugurated shortly after I started my Oxford job ( Prior to that I was Kennicott Fellow at the Oriental Institute, Oxford.

I was the co-editor of the Journal of Theological Studies from 2012-2014. I am currently on various editorial and review board for journals including JTS, JBL and HBT. I was Programme Unit Chair for the Social Sciences and the Interpretation of Hebrew Scripture from 2017-2021. Before that I was Programme Unit chair for SBL’s ‘Exile as Forced Migration’ unit. As such I have organised 10 themed panels at international conferences. As part of the research for the recently published Job monograph I have also convened several seminars in Oxford. These included: The Personification of Pain in different Religions: Engaging with Religious Texts through Medical Anthropology, Co-convened with Elisabeth Hsu (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford). Using a Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Public Engagement with Research Award I organised three seminars convened specifically for dialogue between NHS Chaplains and Academics: On “meaning”, “value”, and training in the context of illness and caring for those who are ill; Illness and Language; Illness as a Moral Event. Likewise, I organised a conference funded through a TORCH medical humanities award: Accounts of Illness in Historical and Modern Texts: Exploring Methods in Medical Humanities Research Across Disciplines.  

I am currently Chair of the Humanities Committee for Library Provision and Strategy. As such I am a Bodleian Curator and I am on the Humanities Divisional Board. In addition, I Chair the Humanities Library Users Group for the University’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre. For this new Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre, I also sit of the Library Strategic Group. I am on various other committees including Theology’s Faculty Board and St John’s College’s Governing Body.

I have a wide range of teaching experience and I am keen to supervise doctoral students, especially those with an interest in interdisciplinary approaches to ancient texts. I designed two papers for the faculty’s reformed syllabus, these are The Narrative World of the Hebrew Bible and Biblical Interpretation: Perspectives from the Social Sciences.

Research Area:

Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible

Research Interests:

My research is characterised by methodologically robust interdisciplinary engagement with primary texts. Currently, my research is on the body and death, building on the research themes initiated within the Job monograph. I have received a large grant for this from St John’s college for this research.

External Engagement:

As Fellow for Women at St John’s College (2018-2020), I oversaw a series of several events in 10/19-09/20 which marked the 40th anniversary of the admission of women to the college. This initiative was entitled ‘40 years of women: Aspiring towards equality and diversity at St John’s College’ and engaged with a wide–ranging audience. The focus was on inclusiveness for the future of the College.

Events included panel discussions on: ‘History of Women at St John’s’ 10/2019; Black History Month Lecture 10/2019; ‘Women in Science’ 11/2019; ‘Sidney Ball Memorial Lecture’ 11/2019;‘Feminism at Oxford: The Next Forty Years’ 11/2019; ‘Ford Lecture’ 11/2019; ‘The Elizabeth Fallaize Seminar: The future of feminism, equality and diversity’ 02/2020; ‘Exhibition of Women’s Portraits, with artist Chloe Matthews’ 02/2020; ‘Equality in Elite Higher Education: A Contradiction in Terms?’ 03/2020; ‘Disability and Education’ (online) 04/2020; ‘International Development: Issues of Diversity’ (online) 05/2020; ‘LGBTQ+ Lecture’ (online) 06/2020.  

At St John’s College, Oxford I regularly run a study day and book competition. I am keen to recruit undergraduates and welcome applications in Theology to the college. I am often involved with UNIQ

Keynote lectures:

‘The possibility of seeing comedy in Job: An exploration of the limitations of genre categories’ International Jewish-Christian Bible Week, Osnabruck, July 2022.

‘‘‘But now … do not let all this hardship seem insignificant before you”: Ethnic History and Nehemiah 9’ Symposium on ‘Ethnicity and the Bible’ Lund University, September 2013.


Publications & Research Outputs:


Job’s Body and the Dramatized Comedy of “Moralising”. “Studies in the Biblical World” Routledge: Oxford and New York, 2021. ISBN 0 978 0367462575. Gold Open Access:

Marriage by Capture in the Book of Judges: An Anthropological Approach (Society for Old Testament Studies Series, inaugural volume marking the society’s centenary) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. ISBN 978 1 107 14524 5.

Ethnicity and the Mixed Marriage Crisis in Ezra 9-10: An Anthropological Approach (Oxford Theological Monograph Series.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 978 0 19 964434 6.


Edited volumes

Death Imagined: Ancient Perceptions of Death and Dying. Co-edited with Karolina Sekita. Liverpool University Press (Liverpool Studies in Ancient History series). Under contract.

“Psalms and the Use of the Critical Imagination: Essays in Honour of Susan Gillingham. Co-edited with Holly Morse. Contracted for the (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies series (T&T Clark). 2022. ISBN: 9780567696328.

Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible. Co-edited with Martien Halverson-Taylor. (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 631). London and New York: T & T Clark, 2018. Pp. x + 179. ISBN 978 0 567668448. Paperback published 27th June 2019.

Co-edited Special volume on the topic of ‘Involuntary Migration in the Ancestral Narratives’ with Casey Strine (Sheffield) in Hebrew Studies 60 (2019), pp. 39-106.


Edited Journal Special Issue

Co-edited Special volume on the topic of ‘Involuntary Migration in the Ancestral Narratives’ with Casey Strine (Sheffield) in Hebrew Studies 60 (2019), pp. 39-106.


Peer-reviewed articles and chapters

Using critical empathy to Unravel and Undermine dehumanizing systems where gendered violence occurs in Judges 21: A self-critical corrective to Marriage by Capture: An Anthropological Approach In The Bible and Violence. Edited by Johanna Stiebert, Chris Greenough, Mmapula Kebaneilwe and Tinyiko Maluleke. Bloomsbury. Accepted, pending minor revisions.

‘Sociological and Anthropological approaches to the Hebrew Bible’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Hebrew Bible, Gender and Sexuality. Edited by Deborah Rooke. Submitted.

‘Trauma, brokenness, and pain in the Book of Lamentations: Empathetic attention as a hermeneutic for thinking about rehabilitation of health’ in Jews and Health: History, Tradition, and Practice Ed, Catherine Hezser. Accepted.

‘The Hebrew Bible and the Social Sciences’ in Understanding the Hebrew Bible: Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study. Edited by John Barton. Accepted.

With James W. Southwood (Clinical Psychologist, NHS England) ‘Job as a work of laughtears and learning: Comedy, pain, and audiences’ empathy’ Bible and Critical Theory. Accepted.

‘Job “opened his mouth and cursed”: Job 3 as a Culturally Political Comedy’ in Political Theologies in the Hebrew Bible. Edited by Mark Brett and Rachelle Gilmour. Journal of Ancient Judaism Supplement Series. Paderborn: Brill. Accepted.

‘For Moses “had indeed married a Cushite wife”: Metaphors, Power, and Ethnicity in Numbers 12’ in The T & T Clark Handbook of Anthropology and the Hebrew Bible. Edited by Emanuel Pfoh. Bloomsbury: T&T Clark, 2022, pp. 287-305. Forthcoming.

'The social dynamics surrounding Yahwistic women’s supposed ritual deviance in Ezekiel 13:17-23'. In Journal of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies 4.2 (2022), 28-45.

‘Comical moments and comical characterisations in Tobit: the undermining of self-righteous piety, simplistic retribution, and limited Yahwism’ Journal for the Study of Old Testament. May 2022, pp. 1-17.

‘The resistance to mainstream assumptions about retribution in Job and Tobit as positive deviance’ Avar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Life and Society in the Ancient Near East, 1:1 (inaugural issue 1/1), 2022, 89–112.

‘Performing Deference in Ahiqar: The significance of Politics of Resistance in the Narrative and Proverbs of Ahiqar’ Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. (133/1), 2021, 42-55.

‘The “foreigner” and the eunuch: The politics of belonging in Isaiah 56:1-8’ Biblical Interpretation (2020), 1-23.

‘The “innards” in the Psalms and Job as Metaphors for Illness’ in Horizons in Biblical Theology (42) 2020, 159-185.

‘Metaphor, Illness, and Identity in Psalm 88 and 102’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (2) 2019, 228-246.

‘You are all quacks; if only you would shut up’ (Job 13:4b-5a): Sin and illness in the sacred and secular. Theology 121(2) 2018, 84-91.

‘“This man has come into my house”: Hospitality in Genesis 19; 34; and Judges 19’. Biblical Interpretation (26), 2018, 469-484.

'The Social and Cultural History of Ancient Israel' in The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion Ed. John Barton. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016, pp. 54-85. ISBN 978 0 691 15471 8.

‘The impact of the second-generation returnees as a model for understanding the post-exilic context’ in By the Rivers of Babylon: New Perspectives on Second Temple Judaism from Cuneiform Texts Eds. J, Stökl and C. Waerzeggers. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 322-335. ISBN 978 3 11 041700 5.

‘Will Naomi’s Nation be Ruth’s Nation?: Ethnic Translation as a Metaphor for Ruth’s Assimilation within Judah’ in Humanities 3 Special Issue ‘Translation as the Foundation for Humanistic Investigations’ 2014, pp. 102-131.

‘‘‘But now … do not let all this hardship seem insignificant before you”: Ethnic History and Nehemiah 9’ Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok Special Issue on ‘Ethnicity’ 2014, pp. 1-23.

Foreword to a republication of Smith-Christopher, D., The Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile. Wipf and Stock, 2014. ISBN 9781608994786, xiii-xiv

‘Ethnicity’ in The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception Ed. Leong Seow. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

‘Ethnicity and Ethnography’ in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Bible and Ethics. Ed. Robert L. Brawey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780199829910

‘“And they could not understand Jewish Speech”: Ethnicity, Language, and Nehemiah’s intermarriage crisis’ Journal of Theological Studies 62 Part 1, April 2011, pp. 1-19.

‘Die “Heilige Nachkommenschaft” und die “fremden Frauen”: “Mischehen” als inner-jüdische Angelegenheit?’ in Zwischen Integration und Ausgrenzung: Migration, religiöse Identität(en) und Bildung – theologisch refleckiert. Eds J. Rahner, and M. Schambeck. (Bamberger Theologisches Forum, 13.) Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2011. Pp. 61-82. ISBN 978 3 643 11051 0.

‘An Ethnic affair?: Ezra’s Intermarriage Crisis Against a Context of Self-Ascription and Ascription of Others’ in Mixed Marriages. Intermarriage and Group Identity in the Second Temple Period. Ed. C. Frevel. (Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.) London and New York: T&T Clark, 2011. Pp. 46-59. ISBN 978 0 567 31050 7.

‘The Holy Seed: The Ethnic Significance of Endogamous Boundaries and their Transgression in Ezra 9-10’ in Lipschits, O., and Oeming, M., (Eds), The Judeans in the Achaemenid Age: Negotiating Identity in an International Context, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 2011, pp 189-224. ISBN 978 1 57506 197 9.



‘Ezra-Nehemiah’ in The Fortress Commentary on the Old Testament Eds Gale A. Yee, Hugh R. Page, and Matthew J. Coomber. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014. ISBN 9780800699161



God Talk. Seven talks published on YouTube organised by the Journal of the Oxford Graduate Theological Society.







Service to the field

Review of ‘God: An Anatomy’ by Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Picador: London, 2021). In Church Times (

Review of ‘The Performative Dimensions of Rhetorical Questions in the Hebrew Bible: Do you know? Do you not hear?’ by Jim W. Adams (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2020). In Journal of Theological Studies, 2021.

Review of ‘Review of ‘Ethical God-Talk in the Book of Job: Speaking to the Almighty’ by William C. Pohl IV (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2020). In Review of Biblical Literature, 10/2021.

Review of ‘Gender-Play in the Hebrew Bible: The Ways the Bible Challenges Its Gender Norms’ by A. B. Kalmanofsky (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2017). In Modern Believing 2021, pp. 268-269.

Review of ‘Style and Context of Old Greek Job’ by Marieke Dhont. (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2017). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist July 2019, p. 443-44.

Review of ‘Ezra and the Second Wilderness’ by Philip Yoo. (Oxford: OUP, 2017). In Journal of Theological Studies January 2019, 348-350.

Review of ‘Inside the Whirlwind: The Book of Job through African Eyes’ by Jason A Carter. (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2017). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist July 2019, p. 88.

Review of ‘Handbook of Primary Care Ethics’ edited by Andrew Papanikitas and John Spicer. (Boco Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis Group, 2018). In Literature and Theology. June 2019, pp., 503-504.

Review of ‘Immigrants and Innovative Law: Deuteronomy’s Theological and Social Vision for the גר’ by Mark Awabdy (Tubingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2014). In Journal of Theological Studies 68/2, 2017, 699-700.

Review of ‘Exploring Zechariah, volume 1: The Development of Zechariah and its role within the twelve’ by Mark Boda. (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2017). In Expository Times (129/11), 2018, p. 534.

Review of ‘How Things Feel: Biblical Studies, Affect Theory, and the (Im)personal’ by Maia Kotrosits. (Leiden: Brill, 2016). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist 2018, p.144-145.

Review of ‘Wholeness & Holiness: Medicine, Disease, Purity and the Levitical Priesthood’ by Michael Glasby. (Apostolos Old Testament Studies. London: Apostolos Publishing, 2017). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist 2018 booklist, p. 181-182

Review of ‘Political Trauma and Healing: Biblical Ethics for a Postcolonial World’ by Mark G Brett. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist 2017, p. 140.

Review of ‘Reading Ruth in the Restoration Period: A Call for Inclusion’ by Jones III, E. A., (Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies, 604; Bloomsbury: T&T Clark, 2016). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist 2017, p. 97.

Review of ‘Dismembering the Whole: Composition and Purpose of Judges 19-21’ by Edenburg, C., (Ancient Israel and its Literature, 24; Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2016). In Society for Old Testament Study Booklist 2017, p. 67.

Review of ‘New Perspectives on Ezra-Nehemiah: History and Historiography, Text, Literature, and Interpretation’. Edited by Isaac Kalimi. Pp. xv + 296. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2012. In Journal of Theological Studies. 64(1), April 2013, 193-196.

Review of ‘Resolviendo: Narratives of survival in the Hebrew bible and in Cuba today’ by Garcia-Alfonso, C., (Studies in biblical Literature, 132; New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. xii + 119. Society of Old Testament Study Booklist 2013, 17.

Review of ‘Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Construction of Early Jewish Identity’ by Becking, B., (Forschungen zum Alten Testament, 80). Tübingen: Mohn Siebeck, 2011.  In Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period. 44(1), 2013, 90.

Review of ‘The Holy Seed has been Defiled: The Interethnic Marriage Dilemma in Ezra 9-10’ by Johnson, Willa M., (Hebrew Bible Monographs, 33). Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011. In Society of Old Testament Study Booklist 2012, 125

Review of ‘Identity and Ethics in the Book of Ruth: A Social Identity Approach’ by Lau, Peter H. W. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2011. In Society of Old Testament Study Booklist 2012, 126

Review of ‘Ben Sira on Family, Gender, and Sexuality’ by Balla, Ibolya.  Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2011. In Society of Old Testament Study Booklist 2012, 176

Review of ‘Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narrative with its Ancient Audience.’ By Esler, Philip, F. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011. In Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal. November 2011, 249-253.

Review of ‘The Narratives of Rape in Genesis 34: Interpreting Dinah’s Silence’. By Caroline Blyth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. In The Journal of Theological Studies 62(1) April 2011, 265-268.

Review of ‘Exile as Forced Migrations: A Sociological, Literary, and Theological Approach on the Displacement and Resettlement of the Southern Kingdom of Judah’ by John. J. Ahn. Göttingen: De Gruyter, 2011. In The Journal of Theological Studies 62(1) April 2011, 277-281.

Review of ‘Elements of Ancient Jewish Nationalism’ by David Goodblatt in The Journal of Theological Studies 61(2) Oct 2010, 707-710.

Review of ‘Judaism: The First Phase’ by Joseph Blenkinsopp in The Journal of Theological Studies 61(2) Oct 2010, 716-718.

Review of ‘Levirate Marriage and the Family in Ancient Judaism’ by Dvora Weisberg in The Journal of Theological Studies 61(2) Oct 2010, 753-755.

Review of ‘“Let the Little Children Come to Me”: Childhood and Children in Early Christianity’ by Cornelia Horn and John Martens in The Journal of Theological Studies 61(2) Oct 2010, 753-755

Review of ‘A Theocratic Yehud?’ by Jeremiah W. Cataldo in Journal for the Society of Old Testament Study 34/49 2010, 51