Theodor Dunkelgrün



I am a cultural and intellectual historian of Europe and the Mediterranean World. Much of my work takes place at the intersections of the history of biblical scholarship and the history of the book, with particular interest in the Early Modern period and in the nineteenth century. I am especially interested in learned encounters between Jews, Christians and Muslims and the ways their textual traditions and scholarly practices respond to each other and to technological innovation, from the invention of print to the invention of photography.
Since 2017, I have been Senior Research Associate and Academic Co-Ordinator of the CRASSH project Religious Diversity and the Secular University (2017-2021), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and directed by Simon Goldhill. We run four major international workshops a year, as well as summer schools for early career researchers, and try to understand what the place of religion, religious diversity and the secular in the modern university was, is, and might be.
I teach for the Faculty of History (on Early Modern Europe) and the Faculty of Divinity (on Judaism) and supervise for colleges across the university. In 2015-16, I convened the Comparative Seminar in Social and Cultural History, together with Mary Laven, Liesbeth Corens and Peter Burke. In 2017, I co-founded the ongoing Cambridge Seminar in Early Modern Scholarship and Religion.
I am an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of History, a member of the Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies and of the Centre for Material Texts, a former Research Associate of St John’s College (2013-2018) and currently a Senior Postdoctoral Researcher at Trinity College (2019-). Beyond Cambridge, I am a member of EMoDiR (Early Modern Religious Dissents and Radicalism), Ideas in Motion (a working group of the Cost Action "People in Motion"), and the British Academy Early Career Network on Critical University Studies, directed by Alison Wood. I have become increasingly interested in global and comparative approaches to history. In 2017 I joined a research group at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan for a collaborative, comparative study of the material culture of the book from Japan to the Latin West (forthcoming in DeGruyter's series Materiale Textkulturen). 


Born in Delft to an American mother and a Dutch father, I was raised in The Hague and educated at the Christelijk Gymnasium Sorghvliet and at the universities of Leiden and Chicago. I was a visiting graduate student at Princeton (2005-6) and Oxford (2008), and received my doctorate from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought in 2012. My doctoral thesis was a study of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (Christopher Plantin, 1568-1573), supervised by Glenn W. Most, David Nirenberg, James T. Robinson and Anthony Grafton. In the Spring of 2012 I held the visiting chair in Jewish-Christian Relations at the University of Antwerp. I first arrived in Cambridge in the Fall of 2012, to take up a postdoctoral research fellowship on the ERC-funded CRASSH-project "The Bible and Antiquity in 19th-century Culture". With five senior directors and eight post-docs across history, art history, classics, modern literature and theology, "Biblant" proved an invaluable apprenticeship in the kind of long and deep interdisciplinary collaborative work that CRASSH fosters. Over the years, my work has received generous support from, among others, the Belgian-American Educational Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Scaliger Institute, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, the Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, and the European Research Council. 

Select Publications

Edited Volumes:

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün (ed.), The Jewish Bookshop of the World: Aspects of Print and Manuscript Culture in Early Modern Amsterdam = Studia Rosenthaliana 46:1-2 (2020)

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün and Paweł Maciejko (eds.), Bastards and Believers: Jewish Converts and Conversion from the Bible to the Present (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020). 

  • History of Photography 40:3 (2016). Special issue: "Photography, Antiquity, Scholarship". Guest editors: Mirjam Brusius and Theodor Dunkelgrün

  • Het Lievelingsboek als zelfportret, eds. Maarten Asscher and Theodor Dunkelgrün (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016). Festschrift for Willem Otterspeer.

  • Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 48 (2016). Special issue devoted to Solomon Schechter in his English period. Guest editor: Theodor Dunkelgrün.


Journal Articles:

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "Introduction to the Special Issue: The Jewish Bookshop of the World: Aspects of Print and Manuscript Culture in Early Modern Europe," Studia Rosenthaliana 46:1 (2021), 7-28.

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "The Testimonium Flavianum Canonicum: Josephus as a Witness to the Biblical Canon, 1566–1823", in the International Journal of the Classical Tradition 23:3 (2016). Special Issue: "The Reception of Josephus in the Early Modern Period", edited by Martin Goodman and Joanna Weinberg, 252-268. 

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "When Solomon met Solomon: A Medieval Hebrew Bible in Victorian Cambridge", Journal of the Bible and its Reception 3:2 (2016), 205-253.

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "Solomon Schechter: A Jewish Scholar in Victorian England (1882-1902)", Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 48 (2016), 1-8. Guest editor's introduction.

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, “Dating the Even Bohan of Qalonymos ben Qalonymos of Arles. A Microhistory of Scholarship” in European Journal of Jewish Studies 7:1 (2013), 39-72.
  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, “Like a Blind Man Judging Colors: Joseph Athias and Johannes Leusden Defend Their 1667 Hebrew Bible” in Shlomo Berger, Emile Schrijver and Irene Zwiep (eds.), Mapping Jewish Amsterdam: The Early Modern Perspective. Dedicated to Yosef Kaplan on the Occasion of his Retirement (= Studia Rosenthaliana 44) (Leuven and Paris: Peeters, 2012), 79-115.
  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, “The Hebrew Library of a Renaissance Humanist. Andreas Masius and the bibliography to his Iosuae Imperatoris Historia (1574) with a Latin edition and an annotated English translation”, Studia Rosenthaliana 42-43 (2010-11), 197-252.


Chapters in Books:

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "Tabernacles of Text: A Brief Visual History of the Hebrew Bible", in Impagination – Layout and Materiality of Writing and Publication. Interdisciplinary Approaches from East and West, edited by Ku-ming (Kevin) Chang, Anthony Grafton, and Glenn W. Most (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2021), 47-92.
  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "The Philology of Judaism: Zacharias Frankel, the Septuagint, and the Jewish study of Ancient Greek in the 19th century", in Catherine Conybeare and Simon Goldhill (eds.), Classical Philology and Theology: Entanglement, Disavowal, and the Godlike Scholar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 63-85
  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "The Kennicott Collection", in Rebecca Abrams and César Merchán-Hamann  (eds.), Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries (Oxford: The Bodleian Library, 2020), 115-157.

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "The Christian Study of Judaism in Early Modern Europe" in Jonathan Karp and Adam Sutcliffe (eds.), The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 7, The Early Modern World, 1500–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 316-348. 

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "The Humanist Discovery of Hebrew Epistolography" in Scott Mandelbrote and Joanna Weinberg (eds.), Jewish Books and their Readers: Aspects of the Intellectual Life of Christians and Jews in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 211-259

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün, "De boom, de puzzel, en het gemis. Over Georges Perec’s La vie mode d’emploi" in Theodor Dunkelgrün and Maarten Asscher (eds.), The Lievelingsboek als zelfportret (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016), 67-86.


Book Reviews:

  • Ton van Kalmthout and Huib Zuidervaart (eds.), The Practice of Philology in the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015); reviewed in History of Humanities 2:1 (2017), 294-297. 
  • Zur Shalev, Sacred Words and Worlds: Geography, Religion, and Scholarship, 1500-1700 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012); reviewed in Journal of Jewish Studies 63:2 (2012), 383-385.

  • Joseph R. Hacker and Adam Shear (eds.), The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); reviewed in De Gulden Passer 89:2 (2011), 292-295. 


Contributions to Curated Catalogues:

  • Goran Proot and Yann Sordet (eds.), Un siècle d’excellence typographique: Christophe Plantin et son officine (1555-1655) (Paris: Bibliothèque Mazarine, 2020).
  • Victoria Avery and Melissa Calaresu (eds.), Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500-1800 (Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 2019).
  • Jan Papy (ed.), Erasmus’ droom: Het Leuvense Collegium Trilingue 1517-1797. Catalogus bij de tentoonstelling in de Leuvense Universiteitsbibliotheek, 18 oktober 2017 – 18 januari 2018 (Leuven: Peeters, 2017).
  • Arnoud Vrolijk and Kasper van Ommen, with an introduction by Alistair Hamilton, "All My Books in Foreign Tongues: Scaliger's Oriental Legacy in Leiden, 1609-2009. Catalogue of an exhibition on the quatercentenary of Scaliger's death, 21 January 2009 (Leiden: Leiden University Library, 2009).



  • "Thomas Kaufmann, ‘Luther and Lutheranism’, in The Oxford Handbook of Protestant Reformations, ed. Ulinka Rublack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), German into English.



Senior Research Associate and Academic Co-ordinator, Religious Diversity and the Secular University


June 2017 - October 2021


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