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Dr. Arjen Bakker

Research Interests:

Biblical Studies, Judaism in Antiquity, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hellenistic Judaism, Liturgy and Prayer, Formation of the Self


Arjen Bakker (PhD Leuven, 2015) is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism at the University of Groningen. His research focuses on biblical and extra-biblical literature of the Persian and Greco-Roman periods, early Jewish liturgy, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is interested in material philology, early interpretation, the formation of scriptures, liturgy and prayer, early synagogues, concepts of time and temporal reckoning, and the formation of subjecthood and selfhood. He combines philological and interpretive study with cross-disciplinary conversation and collaboration in the study of antiquity and more broadly in the Humanities.

He studied Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, and Theology at the universities of Amsterdam and Leuven (2002-2010). During his PhD, he was a Jean Matlow fellow at the Orion Centre for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He held postdoctoral fellowships at the Biblical Studies Department of the University of Haifa and the Qumran Institute of the University of Groningen (2015–2016). He was a lecturer in Hebrew Bible at Oriel College, Oxford as well as Programme Coordinator for the Oriel Centre for the Study of the Bible (2017-2020) before coming to Groningen. As of Autumn 2024, he will be Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge.

Project Abstract

The Dynamics of Time and Reading Practices in Philo of Alexandria

My project studies Jewish concepts of time that emerge from an encounter between Jewish and Greek intellectual traditions in antiquity. In my earlier research, The Secret of Time: Reconfiguring Wisdom in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Brill 2023), I examined how Jewish wisdom texts from the Hellenistic period integrate contemplation on ancient history into liturgical practices in a study of the mystery of time and the organization of the cosmos and the world. The hidden meaning of scriptures converges with cosmological secrets, including the secret of being (raz nihyeh). “Being” is understood here as a temporal category according to which everything that exists has a temporal dimension and is stretched out across time.

This EC-Chronoi project thus continues my earlier work, but now with a new direction and a different corpus, namely the writings of the 1st c. CE philosopher, Philo of Alexandria. Philo’s essays are replete with discussions of time insofar as time is linked to nature, creation, festivals, and history. Philo interprets the biblical account of creation in line with astronomical and philosophical insights as a way of examining nature. But his conception of nature is also integrated into the performative framework of liturgical celebration and mystical contemplation. The project explores how concepts of time are embedded in Jewish synagogal and reading practices by studying Philo’s interpretation of biblical texts as intertwined with Hellenistic thinking. Thus, the project focuses on the interaction between time and practices of reading in Philo of Alexandria, thereby illustrating that the dynamics of time are essential for understanding his hermeneutics.

Curriculum vitae


Assistant Professor in Second Temple Judaism — University of Cambridge


Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism — University of Groningen


Lecturer in Hebrew Bible — Oriel College, Oxford

Programme Coordinator of the  Centre for the Study of the Bible — Oriel College, Oxford


Postdoc, Qumran Institute — University of Groningen


Postdoc, Department of Biblical Studies — University of Haifa


Jean Matlow Research Fellow, Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls — Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Selected Publications

Forthcoming 2024. "Early Configurations of Jewish Prayer: Translating Sacrifice in the Second Temple Period." Journal for the Study of Judaism.

2023. The Secret of Time: Reconfiguring Wisdom in the Dead Sea Scrolls. STDJ 143. Leiden: Brill. (Open Access).

2022. “The Performance of Blessing as Imitation of Divine Beings: Acknowledging the Creator in the Hymns of the Maśkîl and Related Texts.” Dead Sea Discoveries 29: 325–41. (Open Access).

2017. “The Praise of the Luminaries in the Similitudes of Enoch and its Parallels in the Qumran Scrolls.” Meghillot 13: 1–14. (Hebrew).

2014. “The God of Knowledge: Qumran Reflections on Divine Prescience Based on 1 Sam 2:3.” Revue de Qumrân 26: 361–74.

News Articles

Thank You for Another Successful Year

February 23, 2023

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February 23, 2023

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February 23, 2023

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