Aspects of Belief

in West Asia and the Mediterranean Basin

(1000 BCE – 100 CE)

Call for Papers

Deadline for abstracts expired

Discussions of the ancient world usually assume that the ancients believed the gods were intimately involved in everything from the realm of politics and climatological phenomena to cultic rituals and daily activities. Yet, recent scholarship challenges this reductive presentation of ancient beliefs. As such, we might ask: What does it mean to “believe” in the ancient world?

The 2020 University of St Andrews Biblical Studies Symposium is now accepting research abstracts of 500 words or less from professional scholars and postgraduate students. We encourage scholars from a number of disciplines to participate, as our symposium aims at fostering an interdisciplinary discussion about ancient belief. Therefore, scholars in Archaeology, Assyriology, Biblical Studies, Classics, History, and Philosophy are welcome.

The following topics are a selection of possible focal points for research papers:

  • The etymology of “belief” in ancient textual traditions
  • To what extent do texts reflect the beliefs of the people they discuss
  • The use of belief as a boundary marker for social and religious groups
  • Non-belief and the issue of “atheism” in the ancient world
  • The relationship between belief and ritual
  • Individual versus group beliefs
  • How can material culture inform our interpretations of belief
  • Differences or similarities of beliefs cross-culturally
  • Belief and “faith” in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament
  • Belief and the philosophy of religion
  • Belief as a literary motif in textual traditions

Please submit your proposals to:


Each participant will have 20 minutes to present followed by time for discussion.