Mikael Larsson, researcher

Mikael Larsson is researcher in biblical studies at the Church of Sweden’s research unit. His research interests include issues of power, identity, gender, sexuality, age and the reception of biblical texts in popular culture.

About me, Mikael

I am a biblical scholar with a focus on the Hebrew bible and its reception. Main interests concern the significance of these texts for Western culture and biblical interpretation as an arena for power struggle. In my dissertation I investigated interpretative strategies for the narrative of Jephthah’s daughter, in a sample of rewritings of the biblical text, from Josephus to Amos Oz. I have also taken an interest in the usage of the book of Ruth to establish norms of gender and sexuality, e.g. in children’s bibles and religious romances. The works of Danish film director Lars von Trier is another area of research, i.e. his samplings of biblical tradition in films like Anti-Christ and Nymphomaniac. In a current project, I investigate the significance of children and metaphorical family language in the Prophets and how a “child perspective” can be theoretically elaborated.    

Key words

biblical studies, gender, power, childhood studies, metaphor theory, narratology, reception, history of interpretation, film, prophets, Isaiah, Lars von Trier

  • Mikael Larsson

    Mikael Larsson

    Svenska kyrkans enhet för forskning och analys


My current research

Significant Children: Theorizing the concept of the child in the Hebrew Bible

The project has two main objectives. The first is to make a series of case studies around the theological significance of using metaphors related to the household. The second is to theoretically elaborate what a “child perspective” could entail for the study of religious texts. In this regard, the relation between childhood studies with other critical theories (feminist, queer), is crucial. The first case study deals with the polarized (demonized and idealized) images of the family in the frame of Isaiah (chap 1, 65-66). The second investigates the role of children as inhabitants of Utopia in Isa 11. The third addresses the significance of David’s status as a child in the narrative of his combat with Goliath (1 Sam 17).

Bible and film

For the research unit’s work on theology in the public square, I am contributing an article on the use of scripture and religious tradition in Lars von Trier’s film Nymphomaniac (2014). The larger context of this study is the discussion on the role of religion in the public square and how we can understand the interplay between religion and culture/society.


  • Researcher, Department of Theology and Ecumenics, National church council for Church of Sweden, 2017-
  • Associate professor, Hebrew bible, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 2017
  • Assistant professor, Hebrew bible, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 2012
  • Officer of Cultural affairs, National church council for Church of Sweden, 2007-2012
  • Post-doc, Centre for Gender Studies, Uppsala University, 2006-2007
  • Lecturer, Ersta Sköndal University College, Uppsala University, Umeå University, Södertörn University College, 2004-2008
  • Doctor of Theology, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 2004
  • Master of Divinity, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 1999
  • Parish educator, Burträsk parish, diocese of Luleå, 1996-1997

My publications

“Trouble in God’s household: children and parents in the frame of Isaiah.” i La Maison de Dieu / Das Haus Gottes/The House of God. 7e Colloque international, Strasbourg-Tübingen-Uppsala. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, redigerad av Grappe, Christian. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. (under utgivning/forthcoming)

”Whose enemy? Lars von Trier’s Anti-Christ in Dialogue with biblical Creation and Passion Narratives.” I Der Widersacher Gottes – L’Adversaire de Dieu. Internationales Symposion der Theologischen Fakultäten Strasbourg-Tübingen-Uppsala. WUNT 364, redigerad av Michel Tilly, 305-327. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

”Model of Modesty? Sexual politics and/in/after the Book of Ruth.” Biblical Reception 3: 175-219. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2015.

”In search of Children’s Agency. Reading Exodus from Sweden.” I Exodus, ”Texts@contexts”, redigerad av Brenner, Athalya, 79-94. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012. 

Med Stenström, Hanna. Ett myller av liv. Om barn i bibelns texter [Swarms of Life: On Children in Biblical Texts]. Uppsala: Svenska kyrkan, 2012.

I begynnelsen var barnet. En läsning av 1 och 2 Mosebok [In the Beginning there were Children: A Reading of Genesis and Exodus]. Forskning för kyrkan: 14. Uppsala: Kyrkostyrelsen 2010.

(red) Kultur och kyrka. På väg mot en kulturteologi [Culture and Church: Towards a Theology of Culture]. Stockholm: Verbum, 2008.

(Sjöberg) “Jephthah’s Daughter as Desired Object or Feminist Icon.” I Retellings – the Bible in Literature, Music, Art, and Film. Redigerad av J. Cheryl Exum, 27-44.  Leiden och Boston: Brill, 2007. Tidigare publicerad i Biblical interpretation 15, 4-5, 377-394.  

(Sjöberg) ”Den böjliga normen. Exemplet Rut från Talmud till Pleijel.” I När religiösa texter blir besvärliga. Hermeneutisk-etiska frågor inför religiösa texter. Föredrag vid ett symposium i Vitterhetsakademin 15-16 maj 2006. [”Bending the Norm: The Example of Ruth from Talmud to Pleijel”, in When Religious Texts Become Disturbing] Utgivare: Lars Hartman, 169-181. Stockholm: Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets akademien, Konferenser 64, 2007.

(Sjöberg) Wrestling With Textual Violence. The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity. Bible in the Modern World 4. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006.

(Sjöberg) “Exegetens uppdrag? Ruts släkttavla som lackmustest.”. I Vad, hur och varför? Reflektioner över bibelvetenskap. Festskrift till Inger Ljung. [”What is the Task of the Exegete? The Genealogy of Ruth as a Test Case”, in What, how and Why? Reflections on biblical studies] Redigerad av Lars Hartman et al. Uppsala Studies in Faiths and Ideologies 17. Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 2006.

(Sjöberg) “Tolkningsstrategier för ‘etiskt problematiska’ bibeltexter” [”Interpretative Strategies for’ Ethically Problematical’ Texts”], Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok 64, 23-32, Uppsala 1999