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prof. dr. Peter-Ben Smit

Full Professor, Faculty of Religion and Theology, Texts and Traditions

Full Professor, Amsterdam Sustainability Institute

Full Professor, CLUE+

Personal information

At the Faculty of Theology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I hold the Dom Helder Câmara Chair in Contextual Biblical Interpretation.

As a New Testament scholar with expertise in the history of Christianity and ecumenical theology, I am interested in the relationship between biblical interpretation and context. What contexts further which interpretations? What interpretations are made impossible by which contexts? 

In the fields of the History of Christianity (Church History), ecumenical theology and ecclesiology, I teach at Utrecht University and the Old Catholic Seminary. Details about my work there can be found here:

I welcome enquiries concerning research internships and undergraduate and postgraduate thesis projects.




My research in New Testament studies has three foci:

Contextual biblical interrpretation - I am co-director of the Centre for Contextual Biblical Interpretation, together with prof. dr. Klaas Spronk (PThU). We cooperate with organizations such as Kerk in Actie and the Netherlands Bible Society to further research into the relationship between contextuality and biblical interpretation, pursuing the question "what does the Bible really mean for the people reading it?" The Bridging Gaps exchange program is an important part of this work. In my inaugural address, I illustrated how context and bibilcal interpretation cohere. In some of my work on masculinity (below), I explored how biblical texts are interpreted in different contexts to construct masculinities. In my work on canonical criticism and hermeneutics, I also pursued the link between context and interpretation. 

Meals, food, and ritual in the New Testament and early Christianity, this includes my doctoral thesis on the eschatological meal. More recently I co-edited a handbook on meals and food in Early Christianity for Bloomsbury Publishers with prof. dr. Soham Al-Suadi (Rostock). On ritual, I published a series of papers on "ritual failure", which was the basis for the monograph Felix culpa: Ritual Failure and Theological Innovation in Early Christianity with Brill in 2022.

Masculinity in early Christianity and in the reception of early Christian texts: I have a particular interest in early Christian views of gender and the use of such texts to argue for particular constructions of gender in history and today. This has led to an introduction to masculinities studies and biblical studies and three volumes of studies with dr. Ovidiu Creanga, dr. Adriaan van Klinken and prof. dr Jorunn Okland: Biblical Masculinities Foregrounded (Sheffield, Phoenix Press), Jesus Traditions and Masculinities in World Christianity (special issue of Exchange) and Making Men: The Reception of the Bible in the Construction of Masculinities in Jewish and Christian Con/Texts (special issue of the Journal of the Bible and its Reception).

I also hold a chair in "Ancient Catholic Church Structures and the History and Doctrine of the Old Catholic Churches" at Utrecht University. This chair, founded by the Old Catholic Seminary, enables me to pursue my work in the history of Christianity and ecumenical theology. Here, I also co-direct the NWO sponsored project "Bueprints of Hope" on the relationship between the ecumenical movement and European unification between 1930-1960.


In the MA program Exploring a Discipline, I coordinate a special track in contextual biblical interpretation. My teaching encompasses a course in contextual biblical interpretation in the MA program and a postgraduate seminar in systematic theology and ecumenical theology sponsored by research school NOSTER. 

Much of my time is dedicated to supervising PhD theses. Some of the dissertations that I have (co-)supervised or are currently supervising:

Mike Pears, Ethnotopography and Church Planting (co-supervisor) [defended: 2 September 2015]

Zachary KingThe Motifs of Growth, Absent Master and Wedding Feast in the Parables: An Early Christian Argument for the Delay of the Parousia as Impetus for Gentile Inclusion (defended 14 February 2017)

Dean FurlongThe Identification of John  the Evangelist in the Early Church (defended 1 December 2017)

Christian Holmgaard, New Creation in the Gospel according to Matthew (defended 31 January 2018)

Fedir Raichynets, The Ukrainian Revolution and the Ukrainian Evangelical Churches: The use of Scriptures in the context of conflict in the course of Revolution of Dignity (supervisor).

J. Gabriel Raimondo, The 1992 Spiritual Revival in Argentia. A Historical-Theological Investigation of the Phenomenon of the Anointing (La Unción) (supervisor).

Jacobie HelenaPoverty and Masculinity in the Epistle of James and the South-African Context

Gerda van DeelenDe hermeneutiek van Willem Barnard (co-supervisor)

I welcome enquiries about new BA, MA, or PhD thesis projects.


Ancillary activities
  • Oud Katholieke Seminarie | Utrecht | Bijzonder Hoogleraar | 2011-03-01 - present
  • Oud-Katholieke Kerk van Nederland | Utrecht | Lid geestelijkheid | 2011-04-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

prof. dr. Peter-Ben Smit


  • BR Christianity, BS The Bible, BT Doctrinal Theology, BX Christian Denominations...