Professor Johanna Stiebert

Professor Johanna Stiebert


I studied Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Bible at the Universities of Otago (Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand), Cambridge, and Glasgow. I taught Hebrew language, Hebrew Bible, and Judaism courses at St. Martin's University College, Lancaster (1998–1999, now the University of Cumbria), the University of Botswana (1999–2002) and the University of Tennessee (2003–2009), before joining Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds in September of 2009.

My academic interests include Biblical Hebrew philology and semantics of self-conscious emotions and of rape culture phenomena, ideological-critical and social-scientific readings of Hebrew Bible Prophets, gender- and queer-critical interpretation, and contemporary African-centred readings of Hebrew Bible texts. My most recent books are Marriage, Bible, Violence: Intersections and Impacts (co-authored, Routledge Focus, 2023), Sacred Queer Stories: Ugandan LGBTQ+ Refugee Lives and the Bible (co-authored, James Currey, 2021), and Rape Myths, the Bible, and #MeToo (Routledge Focus, 2020). Other recent monographs of mine are First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), and Fathers and Daughters in the Hebrew Bible (OUP, 2013). 

I was co-recipient, together with Professor of Biblical Studies Musa W. Dube (then at the University of Botswana), of a British Academy funded International Partnerships grant (2011–2014). The title of our project was “Biblical Studies in Southern Africa and the UK in Dialogue: Trends and Challenges”. This project transpired in a co-edited volume with the title The Bible, Centres and Margins: Dialogues Between Postcolonial African and British Biblical Scholars (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018).

I was awarded the Humboldt Foundation's Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel research award and spent one year from August 2017 at the University of Bamberg.

I am co-lead for The Shiloh Project, investigating intersections between rape cultures, religion and the Bible. Related to this Project, I co-edit (with Emily Colgan and Barbara Thiede) a Routledge Focus series, “Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible”.

I hope to develop a burgeoning interest in the dynamics between gender-based violence, religion and crime fiction – in particular, crime fiction from and set in African contexts.

Related to the Shiloh Project, I have been Primary Investigator of an AHRC Research Network Grant (International Highlight Notice), entitled “Resisting Gender-Based Violence and Injustice Through Activism with Bible Texts and Images” (2018–2020), which received follow-on GCRF funding (“Religion and Gender-based Violence: Partnerships with Botswana and Ghana”, 2019).

I was Primary Investigator of “The Shiloh Project: Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible” (2020–2023), a large grant funded by the AHRC. Initially led by Katie Edwards (now a full-time author), it had collaborators from the Universities of Auckland (Caroline Blyth) and Alabama (Richard Newton). This project undertook intersectional investigations of the role of religion and the Bible in the media and popular culture.

Alongside Lisa Oakley (University of Chester) and Linda Woodhead (King’s College London), I am Co-Investigator of a large AHRC grant, ‘Abuse in Religious Settings’, which is led by Gordon Lynch (University of Kent).

I have been Co-Investigator of three further recent grants. The first is a White Rose Collaboration Fund entitled ‘Using religious imagery in popular culture to explore and challenge everyday sexism, sexual harassment and abuse together with secondary school students’ (2018), and the second a Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund grant entitled ‘An Intersectional Exploration of Religion and Gender-Based Violence: A Case Study of Accra in Global Context’ (2018).

The third grant, “Tales of Sexuality and Faith: The Ugandan LGBT Refugees Life Story Project”, was funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust and led by my colleague Professor Adriaan van Klinken. This project supports a collaboration with Ugandan LGBTQ+ refugees in Kenya and uses life stories alongside biblical narratives as forms of empowering and activist expression. Recent posts can be accessed online

I have been a participant in a further two White Rose Collaboration Fund projects, “Domestic Violence and Marginalised Communities” (2021), led by Parveen Ali and Michaela Rogers (University of Sheffield), and “Establishing a Network of Academic Researchers on Adult Safeguarding, Elder Abuse, and the Safety of Older People in BAME Communities” (2024), led by  Parveen Ali and Ashfaque Talpur (University of Sheffield).

In May 2021, I presented a keynote lecture for the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, with the title ‘Virgins, Violence and the Bible’. A revised version of the lecture is published in a volume edited by Helen Paynter and Michael Spalione (2022) (see below).

I was mentor to visiting virtual scholar Dr. Robert Wabyanga Kuloba (2022), who conducted research on Afro-centric readings of Genesis 1–3 in the light of climate change and environmental destruction. 

In 2022 I gave a number of lectures on the Bible, Black Lives Matter and MeToo. For example, in August 2022 I presented at the Centre for Public Theology, University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand.

In September 2022, I presented the annual Ed Conrad Memorial Lecture (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia), with the title ‘Reading From the Lions’ Den in Nairobi’. The full recording can be accessed online, along with further information. 


Research supervision

I welcome applications from students wishing to conduct research on Biblical Hebrew and/or literature of the Hebrew Bible and social justice engagement, as well as feminist, social-scientific or ideological criticism. I am a long-standing active member and the current director of CRPL (the Centre for Religion and Public Life).


Books (authored):

  • Rape Myths, the Bible and #MeToo. London, New York: Routledge Focus, 2020.
  • First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family. London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016.
  • Fathers and Daughters in the Hebrew Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • The Exile and the Prophet's Wife: Historic Events and Marginal Perspectives. Interfaces Series. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2005.
  • The Construction of Shame in the Hebrew Bible: The Prophetic Contribution (JSOT Supplement Series 346). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

Books (co-authored):

  • Marriage, Bible, Violence: Intersections and Impacts. London, New York: Routledge Focus, 2024. (By Saima Afzal and Johanna Stiebert.)
  • Sacred Queer Stories: Ugandan LGBTQ+ Refugee Lives and the Bible. Woodbridge, Suffolk and Rochester, NY: James Currey, 2021. (By Adriaan van Klinken and Johanna Stiebert, with Sebyala Brian and Fredrick Hudson.)

Books (edited):

  • Stiebert, Johanna (ed), Activism, Bible, and Research-Based Teaching: Practical Approaches for the Global Studies Classroom. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2024.
  • Stiebert, Johanna and Musa W. Dube (eds), The Bible, Centres and Margins: Dialogues Between Postcolonial African and British Biblical Scholars. London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018. 

Refereed articles

  • ‘Abusive Theology and LLF’. Modern Believing 64/1. 2023: 8–16.
  • ‘A Hermeneutics of Life and Death, Liberation and Mourning: Response to a Roundtable about Sacred Queer Stories’  (with Adriaan van Klinken). African Journal of Gender and Religion 28/2. 2022: 94–101.
  • ‘Introduction’ to Covid-19 – African Women and the Will to Survive, co-edited by Helen A. Labeodan, Rosemary Amenga-Etego, Johanna Stiebert and Mark S. Aidoo. Bible in Africa Studies 31 (Explaining Religion in Africa 8). 2021: 11–13. 
  • ‘Introduction’ to Activism in the Biblical Studies Classroom: Global Perspectives, guest edited by Johanna Stiebert. A special issue of Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies 2/1. 2020: 1–14. 
  • ‘Divinely Sanctioned Violence Against Women: Biblical Marriage and the Example of the Sotah of Numbers 5.’ The Bible and Critical Theory 15/2. 2019: 84–108.
  • ‘A Response and Tribute to Judith McKinlay.’ The Bible and Critical Theory 15/1. 2019: 10–14. 
  • 'The Wife of Potiphar, Sexual Harassment, and False Rape Allegation: Genesis 39 in Select Social Contexts of the Past and Present.' Bible in Africa Studies 22 (The Bible and Gender Troubles in Africa) 2019: 73–114.
  • 'Denying Rape Culture: A Response to Luke Gittos.' Women's Studies Journal 32 1/2 (Dec 2018): 62–71. ISSN: 1173-6615.
  • 'The Voice of God in the Hebrew Bible.' Journal for Religion, Film and Media 2/1 (2016): 23–32.
  • 'Man and New Man: David's Masculinity in Film.' Journal of the Bible and Its Reception 2/2 (2015): 197–218.
  • 'The Eve-ing of Bathsheba in Twentieth Century Film.' The Bible and Critical Theory 10/2 (2014): 22–31.
  • 'The Peoples' Bible, Imbokodo and the King's Mother's Teaching in Proverbs 31.' Biblical Interpretation 20/3 (2012): 223–258.
  • 'Human Conception in Antiquity: The Hebrew Bible in Context.' Theology & Sexuality 16/3 (2010): 209–227.
  • 'The African Holocaust: What Is In a Name?' Missionalia 37/2 (2009): 192–209.
  • 'Shame and the Body in Psalms and Lamentations of the Hebrew Bible and in Thanksgiving Hymns from Qumran.'Old Testament Essays 20/3 (2007): 798–829.
  • 'The Inculcation of Social Behaviour in Proverbs.' Old Testament Essays 17/2 (2004): 282–293.
  • 'Human Suffering and Divine Abuse of Power in Lamentations: Reflections on Forgiveness in the Context of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Process.' Pacifica 16 (2003): 195–215.
  • 'Riches in Isaiah and Ezekiel: An Example of Prophetic Inversion.' Concilium 2002/1 (The Many Voices of the Bible), 33–40 (English edition).
  • 'The Woman Metaphor of Ezekiel 16 and 23: A Victim of Violence, or a Symbol of Subversion?' Old Testament Essays 15/1 (2002): 200–208.
  • 'Does the Hebrew Bible Have Anything to Say About Homosexuality?' (co-authored with Jerome T. Walsh) Old Testament Essays 14/1 (2001): 119–152.
  • 'Does the Hebrew Bible Have Anything to Tell Us About HIV/AIDS?' Missionalia 29/2 (2001): 174–185.
  • 'Homosexuality in Botswana and in the Hebrew Bible.' All Africa Journal of Theology 1/1(Africa Challenge) (2001): 21–29. (Republished in revised form in Verbum et Ecclesia 23/1 (2002): 196–208.)
  • 'Shame and Prophecy: Approaches Past and Present.' Biblical Interpretation 8/3 (2000): 255–275.

Contributions to edited volumes

I have submitted three chapters to academic handbooks, which are forthcoming: ‘Gender, Sexuality and Kinship’ (in The Oxford Handbook of the Hebrew Bible, Gender and Sexuality, edited by Deborah Rooke), ‘Abigail in Art, Literary Fiction, Drama and Film’ (for The Oxford Handbook on King David, edited by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer and David Shepherd), and ‘Incest in the Hebrew Bible’ (for The T&T Clark Handbook of Sexualities in the Bible and Its Reception, edited by Caroline Blyth and Christopher Greenough). 

I have co-authored two chapters for The Bible and Violence, a large publication with Bloomsbury T&T Clark, which I am co-editing with Christopher Greenough, Johnathan Jodamus, and Mmapula Kebaneilwe: first, ‘Reading Against Homophobic Violence: Contextual Bible Reading with Ugandan LGBTQ+ Refugees in Kenya’ (by Adriaan van Klinken and Johanna Stiebert, with Sebyala Brian and Fredrick Hudson) and second, ‘The Ethics of Citing Violent (Bible) Scholars’ (by Johanna Stiebert and Barbara Thiede). 

  • ‘Eve and Psychoanalytic Approaches,’ in Caroline Blyth and Emily Colgan (eds), The Routledge Handbook on Eve. London/New York: Routledge (2023): 411–423. DOI: 10.4324/97810031323-31.
  • ‘The Pop of Cherries and Weasels: Virgins, Violence and the Bible,’ in Helen Paynter and Michael Spalione (eds), Global Perspectives on Bible and Violence (Bible in the Modern World, 81; Sheffield Centre for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies Monographs, 5). Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press (2023): 34–49. 
  • ‘Religion and Sexual Violence,’ in Starkey, Caroline and Emma Tomalin (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Gender and Society. London/New York: Routledge (2022): 339–350. DOI: 10.4324/9780429466953-25. 
  • ‘Brother, Sister, Rape: Hebrew Bible and Popular Culture,’ in Blyth, Caroline, Emily Colgan and Katie Edwards (eds), Rape Culture, Gender Violence and Religion: Biblical Perspectives (Religion and Radicalism). New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2018): 35–50.
  • 'Within and Without Purity, Danger, Honour, and Shame: Anthropological Approaches in Feminist Hebrew Bible Studies,' in Scholz, Susanne (ed.), Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Retrospect (volume 3, Methods). Sheffield: Phoenix (2016): 111–135.
  • 'Social-Scientific Approaches,' in O'Brien, Julia M. (ed. in chief), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2014): 411–420. 
  • 'Ezekiel at the Twin Towers,' in Chalcraft, David J., Frauke Uhlenbruch and Rebecca S. Watson (eds.), Methods, Theories, Imagination: Social Scientific Approaches in Biblical Studies. Sheffield: Phoenix (2014): 172–183. 
  • 'The Bible: The History of Interpretation and Methods,' in Amanze, James N., Fidelis Nkomazana and Obed N. Kealotswe (eds.), Biblical Studies, Theology, Religion and Philosophy: An Introduction for African Universities. Eldoret, Kenya: Zapf Chancery, 2010, 11–36.
  • 'Diagnosing Ezekiel' (178–179), 'Ezekiel's Inaugural Vision' (179–180), 'Lamentations: Reading Poetry of Distress in Distressing Times' (228-229), three separate contributions in Roncace, Mark and Patrick Gray (eds.), Teaching the Bible: Practical Strategies for Classroom Instruction. SBL Resources for Biblical Study. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2005.
  • 'Women's Sexuality and Stigma in Genesis and the Prophets,' in Dube, Musa W. and M. Kanyoro (eds.), Grant Me Justice! HIV/AIDS and Gender Readings of the Bible. New York: Orbis and Natal: Cluster, 2004, 81–97.
  • ‘Does the Hebrew Bible Have Anything to Tell Us about HIV/AIDS?’ in Dube, Musa W. (ed.), HIV/AIDS and the Curriculum: Methods of Integrating HIV/AIDS in Theological Programmes. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2003, 24–34.
  • 'The Maligned Patriarch: Prophetic Ideology and the "Bad Press" of Esau,' in Hunter, Alastair G. and Philip R. Davies (eds.), Sense and Sensitivity: Essays on Reading the Bible in Memory of Robert Carroll (JSOT Supplement Series 348), 33–48. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2004.
  • 'Material "Supplementary" to Biblical Literature' & 'What is the Relationship of The Qumran Community to the Essenes?,' in Barclay, John M. G. (ed), Frequently Asked Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 15–20 and 34–39. Glasgow: Trinity St Mungo Press, 1998.

Non-refereed Articles


  • Podcast on Tamar (2 Samuel 13), where I was interviewed for the Bible Society by Rosie Dawson. This podcast series won ‘Podcast of the Year’ at the Premier Digital Awards (2019) and was shortlisted for ‘The People’s Choice’ Award (2019).
  • I discussed my recent work on rape myths, the Bible and #MeToo on Episode 2 of ‘The Shiloh Podcast’ (see Spotify and other podcast providers).
  • I was interviewed by Chris Deacy for the Nostalgia Podcast in 2020. 
  • External funding from grants I have led have supported the following podcasts: The Shiloh Podcast (hosted by Rosie Dawson), Noirthern (hosted by Caroline Blyth and Katie Edwards), and The Bloody Bible (hosted by Caroline Blyth and Emily Colgan).


  • The Shiloh Project blog won the Digital Humanities Award (2019) for ‘Best DH Blog Post or Series of Posts’.
  • I have won the Mentor Award (The Partnership Awards, The University of Leeds and Leeds University Union) and the Appreciation of Partnership Award (Circle for Concerned African Women Theologians).


  • Director of the Centre for Religion and Public Life

Research interests

  • ideological sub-texts of Hebrew Bible literature
  • activism and the Hebrew Bible
  • reading Hebrew Bible texts in the light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and of rape cultures
  • social-scientific criticism of the Hebrew Bible
  • family relationships in the Hebrew Bible
  • The Hebrew Bible and human rights
  • gender criticism and queer criticism of the Hebrew Bible
  • emotion terminology of the Hebrew Bible
  • the role of the Bible in contexts of spiritual abuse
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • FHEA
  • PhD
  • MPhil
  • BA (Hons)
  • ATCL (Speech and Drama)

Professional memberships

  • SBL
  • AASR
  • IAHR
  • Shiloh Project
  • SOTS

Student education

I teach Introduction to Jewish and Christian Texts, as well as lectures on the Bible and Human Rights.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life
  • Theology and Religious Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>