Photo of Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion


01392 724290

Twitter: @ProfFrancesca

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion in the Theology and Religion department. 

Francesca studied Theology at the University of Oxford, where she also completed her doctorate. She spent a further three years teaching and researching in Oxford, first as a Junior Research Fellow and then as the Career Development Fellow in the Faculty of Theology, before joining Exeter's Department of Theology and Religion in 2005. She was appointed to a personal chair in 2011. Alongside her scholarship and teaching, Francesca also undertakes various media activities, including presenting the BBC 2 TV documentary series Bible's Buried Secrets, which aired in the UK in 2011.


Her research is primarily focused on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, and portrayals of the religious past in the Hebrew Bible. More specifically, she is interested in biblical traditions and religious practices most at odds with Western cultural preferences. Her first book explored the misrepresentation of the religious past in the Hebrew Bible: King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities (de Gruyter, 2004). Her most recent book, Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (T&T Clark, 2010), furthered her somewhat morbid interests by examining the relationship between the veneration of the dead and territorial claims in the Hebrew Bible. Thanks to a research grant from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), she is now completing a book about the corpse and its social and religious impacts upon the living, called The Social Life of the Corpse - Within and Without the Bible. In 2017, she will undertake a new project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, dealing with ancient constructs of God's body.  

She has edited a volume on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions (with John Barton, University of Oxford) called Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah (T&T Clark, 2010) and another on environmental readings of biblical texts, called Ecological Hermeneutics (with her Exeter colleagues David Horrell, Cherryl Hunt and Chris Southgate; T&T Clark, 2010). Further projects underway include a book about the deities Baal and Asherah (OUP) and an anthropological and cultural study of the body in the Bible. She is also co-editor of a series of books focusing on biblical characters, called Biblical Refigurations, published by Oxford University Press. 

Alongside her specialism in ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, her research interests include social and religious responses to the dead; materiality and religion; kingship in ancient West Asia/Near East; history and ideology in the Hebrew Bible; methods of historical reconstruction; constructs of ‘popular’ and ‘official’ religion; and ‘secular’ approaches to teaching and learning in biblical studies.


Francesca's media work includes presenting a three-part BBC documentary series about the Bible and archaeology, called Bible's Buried Secrets, broadcast in the UK on BBC 2 in March 2011, and 'talking head' contributions to various British and American television documentaries. She also appears regularly on BBC1's debate shows The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live, and has discussed biblical scholarship on several radio programmes.   

Doctoral supervision

She supervises a number of postgraduate research students, whose topics include the divine nature of cult statues, the anthropology of clothing in the Hebrew Bible; ritual humiliation in Judah and the Hebrew Bible; gender conflict in Ezra-Nehemiah; God's penis and divine sexuality; the portrayal of the Queen of Heaven in the Bible and scholarship; an ecological reading of the book of Leviticus; queer theory and the marriage metaphor in prophetic literature. 


In Theology and Religion, Francesca also teaches a range of Hebrew Bible modules. Undergraduate modules currently include The BIble: Past & Present; The Divine World in the Hebrew Bible, and Life and Death in Israel and Judah. She also teaches one of the core undergraduate modules for the Liberal Arts programme: Body and Culture. In 2012, Francesca won the University of Exeter's teaching award for research-inspired teaching.    


Francesca is a member of the Society for Old Testament Study, the European Association of Biblical Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature.