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Dr Paul Michael Kurtz

Dr  Paul  Michael  Kurtz

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual European Fellow, Faculty of Divinity

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Queens’ College


Paul Michael Kurtz centers his research on the reception of the Bible, the place of antiquity, and the role of religion all in the German-speaking lands of the 19th and 20th centuries. He also focuses on the history of biblical and orientalist scholarship.
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Illinois, Kurtz earned a B.A. in English and M.Div. in Hebrew Bible & Northwest Semitics stateside before moving to Europe for a Dr. phil. in Modern History  (University of Göttingen, 2016). His exploration of the ancient world in the modern one have led him across disciplinary boundaries, national contexts, and academic traditions. Before coming to Cambridge, Kurtz held posts and fellowships at a number of institutions in the US, Germany, and Belgium, including the University of Göttingen (Departments of Hebrew Bible & Jewish Studies and of New Testament & Early Christianity), Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural & Social Studies, in Erfurt; Ghent University (Department of Philosophy & Moral Sciences); Leibniz Institute of European History, in Mainz (Section on the History of Western Religion); University of Chicago (Committee on Historical Studies in Religion); and Princeton Theological Seminary (Department of Biblical Studies).
In addition to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Kurtz has received external funding from the Fulbright Program, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), and American Schools of Oriental Research.


Queens' College:
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Key Publications

Entitled Kaiser, Christ, and Canaan: The Religion of Israel in Protestant Germany, 1871–1918 (Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming), Kurtz’s first book examines to what extent, in an age of “philological science,” the very enterprise of reconstructing past religion was shaped by liberal Protestant values. It explores what scholars of antiquity considered “religion” and “history” to be, how they sought to access them, and why they pursued them the way that they did. To do so, this study scrutinizes the epistemologies and practices of Julius Wellhausen and Hermann Gunkel to show, on the one hand, a major shift in what counted as proper historiography—in what qualified as the right way to understand the past—at the turn of the 20th century and yet a fundamental continuity in the conceptualization of “history” and “religion” despite real, often dramatic shifts across the human sciences, on the other. The book ultimately uncovers how the past was Protestantized, how central questions of the Bible, theology, and the ancient world were in the cultural and intellectual of the German Empire, and how specific conceptual categories and methodological operations were built into the modern study of antiquity.

Other Publications


  • “‘Was wir von dem Siege erhoffen’. Eine Stellungnahme Hermann Gunkels zur Zeit des Ersten Weltkriegs.” Zeitschrift für die neuere Theologiegeschichte/Journal for the History of Modern Theology 24, no. 1 (2017): 51–59.
  • “Waiting at Nemi: Wellhausen, Gunkel, and the World Behind Their Work.” Harvard Theological Review 109, no. 4 (2016): 567–85.
  • “Axes of Inquiry: The Problem of Form and Time in Wellhausen and Gunkel.” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 29, no. 2 (2015): 247–95.
  • “The Way of War: Wellhausen, Israel, and Bellicose Reiche.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 127, no. 1 (2015): 1–19.


  • “The Silence on the Land: Ancient Israel versus Modern Palestine in Academic Theology at the Time of the German Empire.” In The Religious and the Secular: The Kaiserreich transnational revisited. Edited by Rebekka Habermas. New York: Berghahn Books, forthcoming 2017.
  • “Of Lions, Arabs, & Israelites: Some Lessons from the Samson Story for Writing the History of Biblical Scholarship.” Journal of the Bible and Its Reception, forthcoming 2018.
  • “Thou Shalt Not Kill, Unless...: The Decalogue in a Kaiserreich at War.” In The Mobilization of Biblical Scholarship. Edited by Nathan MacDonald and Andrew Mein. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies. London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2018.