Photographer: onbekend

Prof. K. (Karel) van der Toorn

Godsdienst en Maatschappij
  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Religiestudies
  • Visiting address
    Oost-Indisch Huis
    Kloveniersburgwal 48  Room number: D1.10A
  • Postal address:
    Kloveniersburgwal  48
    1012 CX  Amsterdam


Karel van der Toorn (1956) is Faculty Professor of Religion and Society in the Faculty of Humanities. After a career as professor of ancient religions in the Universities of Utrecht and Leiden (1985-1998), van der Toorn served as dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam (1998-2004). From 2006-2011 he was president of the University of Amsterdam and the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam. 

Throughout his academic career Karel van der Toorn has combined teaching and research, on the one hand, and high-level administration, on the other. His long-standing interest in the ancient Near East, with a focus on the Hebrew Bible in its cultural context, has led to such books as Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria, and Israel (1996) and Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (2007). Since 2011 his research has shifted to religion in the contemporary world, all the while maintaining a strong presence in the field of Oriental Studies. He is currently working on a monograph on religion in the modern democracy, with special attention for India, Turkey, France, and the US.

Van der Toorn was recipient of the Kluwer Prize for his books Sin and Sanction in Israel and Mesopotamia (1985) and From Her Cradle to Her Grave: Religion in the Life of the Babylonian and the Israelite Woman (1989). The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (1995, 2nd edition 1998), for which he acted as managing editor, was acclaimed as "best book of the year" by Choice . As author of  Scribal Culture  (2007), van der Toorn was a finalist of the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The Society of Biblical Archaelogy awarded him its 2008 prize for the best publication of the year in the field of ancient Israel.

Van der Toorn is member of the North American Biblical Colloquium . In 2012 he was distinguished as Commandeur dans l'Ordre du Mérite by the French president.

Current administrative activities

President of the board of the Stichting Frans Nederlandse Academie
President of the board SIOO (Stichting Interuniversitair centrum voor Organisatie- en Veranderkunde)
Curator of NINO/NIT (Netherlands Institute for the Near East)
Member of the board Stichting   leerstoel Geschiedenis van de Hermetische Filosofie en verwante stromingen
Member of the Jury of the NWO programme Religie in the moderne samenleving


  • van der Toorn, K. (2016). Eshem-Bethel and Herem-Bethel: New Evidence from Amherst Papyrus 63. Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 128, 1-12.
  • van der Toorn, K. (2016). Ethnicity at Elephantine: Jews, Arameans, Caspians. Tel Aviv, 43, 151-168.


  • van der Toorn, K. (2007). Scribal culture and the making of the Hebrew Bible. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [details] 
This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library  or the Pure staff  of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure  to edit your publications.
  • Stichting Frans Nederlandse Academie
    President of the board
  • SIOO
    President of the board
  • NINO/The NIT
  • Stichting leerstoel GHF
    Member of the board
  • NWO Religie in de moderne samenleving
    Member of the jury

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