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Martien Halvorson-Taylor

Associate Professor


  • BA, Yale University
  • MDiv, Harvard Divinity School
  • AM and PhD, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations (Hebrew Bible), Harvard University

Research Interests

I am a scholar of the literature, religions, and history of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the Second Temple period. I am particularly interested in how narratives (like the books of Esther and Genesis) and poetry (like the Song of Songs and the book of Job) were interpreted—and how they continue to articulate the major human questions and provide for existential reflection.

I am currently working on several different book-length manuscripts. The first is on the Song of Songs, an extended love poem in the Hebrew Bible. The second is a popular book that is based on my UVA course on the biblical book of Job and its interpretation. And, I just produced a Great Courses/Audible short course called, Writing the Bible. You can find out more about the course here.

I have published on the concept of “exile” and “migration” in the ancient world. My first book, Enduring Exile, charts the transformation of exile from a historically bound and geographically constrained concept into a symbol for physical, mental, and spiritual distress. I continue to publish on the concept of exile and diaspora, particularly in biblical narratives (and am co-editing an Oxford Handbook on the topic with Mark Hamilton).

I work more broadly in Global Humanities. For the last two years, I have co-directed the Religion, Race, & Democracy Lab, which, with an interdisciplinary cohort of faculty and students, supports teaching, facilitates research, and produces stories in many forms on religion, race, and democracy from around the globe. (Our podcast, Sacred & Profane, is available on our website and on iTunes.) I have been involved in developing and leading the Jefferson Global Seminars, a joint venture between the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and UVA, and UVA’s program for advanced undergraduates, The Pavilion Seminars.

I serve on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biblical Literature, Hebrew Studies, and an NEH-funded non-sectarian public education website, Bible Odyssey (for which I have written a number of pieces).


  • Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • The Book of Job & Its Traditions
  • The Song of Songs
  • The Book of Genesis & Its Interpretation


  • The Song of SongsInternational Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer (forthcoming).
  • Edited with Katherine Southwood, Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible. T & T Clark, 2018 (Paperback 2019).
  • Enduring Exile: The Metaphorization of Exile in the Hebrew Bible. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 141. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Public Scholarship

Recent Articles & Essays

  • “The Exiles of Empires in Prophetic Images of Restoration (and Micah 4:8–5:1 [Eng 5:2])” in In the Shadow of Empire: Israel and Judah in the Long Sixth Century BCE (Pamela Barmash and Mark Hamilton, eds.; Archaeology and Biblical Studies; Atlanta: SBL Press, 2021), 97–113.
  • “Prophetic Images of Women as Metaphors for Exile: Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation,” in Images of Exile in the Prophetic Literature: Copenhagen Conference Proceedings 710 May 2017 (Jesper Høgenhaven, Frederik Poulsen and Cian Power, eds.; FAT II 103; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019).
  • “Exile and Dislocation.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Theology, edited by Samuel E. Balentine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • “Displacement and Diaspora in Biblical Narrative.” In The Oxford Handbook to Biblical Narrative, edited by Danna Nolan Fewell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • “Secrets and Lies: Secrecy Notices (Esth 2:10, 20) and Diasporic Identity in the Books of Esther.” Journal of Biblical Literature 131 (Fall 2012): 467–485.
  • “There is No One!: The Redaction of Exile in Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation (31:15–22).” In By the Irrigation Canals of Babylon: Approaches to the Study of the Exile, edited by John Ahn and Jill Middlemas, 107–122. New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2012.
  • “The Strange Case of the Disappearing Woman: Biblical Resonances in Kafka’s Fräulein Bürstner.” In From the Margins: Women of the Hebrew Bible and Their Afterlives, edited by Peter Hawkins and Lesleigh Cushing Stahlberg, 159–73. Sheffield: Phoenix, 2009.