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MA in Biblical Exegesis

Course Description

Master's specialisation in Biblical Exegesis

How is meaning attributed to biblical texts? By following Radboud University’s Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis you will be well-equipped with analytical instruments to discern the crucial decision points in giving meaning in a text. Core concepts in Bible texts are explored in connection to their cultural and historical context.
Students will also investigate and discuss the relation between Bible texts and ethics. How do the texts aim to change the behaviour of their readers? These texts are a crucial point of reference for theological reflection and provide direction in contemporary society and church.
Students are expected to read the Old Testament and the New Testament in their original languages and will be taught to understand these books in the original context in which they were written. They will be handed the necessary tools to study the biblical texts, focussing on such aspects as grammar, sentence structure, literary devices and plot construction. And since these texts function in distinct cognitive environments, students will get acquainted with various ancient Near Eastern and ancient Eastern Mediterranean frameworks of experiencing and thinking.
Although heavily focussed on the Old and New Testament, students will learn skills that can be used to analyse any kind of text. This programme can therefore be compared to other academic literary subjects in that students are taught the general skills of literary criticisms as well as contextualisation. Important to note is the academic approach; students will be able to critically and thoroughly analyse texts. Graduates of Biblical Exegesis will be able to provide explanations and give meaning to the foundational texts of Judaism and Christianity, whether they do that in their role as researcher, spiritual caregiver, pastoral care worker, journalist, policy maker, or educator.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biblicalexegesis

Why study Biblical Exegesis at Radboud University?

- This Master’s specialisation offers a beautiful mix of literary criticism and theological reflection.
- A distinctive characteristic of Biblical Exegesis at Radboud University is the unique combination of cognitive linguistics with literary criticism.
- Attention is equally given to both the Old and the New Testament and the relationship between their language, cultural framework and historical context.
- Thanks to electives, students have plenty of room to choose a direction that meets their professional and academic interests. Taking a few seminars from the other theology disciplines of choice (History of Church and Theology, Practical or Systematic Theology) is mandatory to broaden students general knowledge on Theology.
- The third year is aimed at training students for a specific profession. Students can choose research (English), education (Dutch), religion and policy (Dutch) or spiritual care (Dutch).
- Teaching takes place in a stimulating, collegial setting with small groups, allowing for ample opportunity for questions and discussion.
- Radboud University and its Theology department are Roman Catholic in origin, but its Master’s programme in Theology is open to all students. Our students have very diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.

Change perspective

Students of the Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis are taught critical engagement with the Bible. Engagement because students are invited to involve themselves in these texts and in their academic examination. Critical because the analyses will often open up their minds to the fact that Jewish and Christian traditions of interpretations have developed over time, sometimes in ways that distance themselves from the biblical texts’ meanings in their original contexts. Students will get an in-depth understanding of Christian traditions and values and will be encouraged to analyse them thoroughly. They will come to understand that things came to be as they are due to choices made in the past. Students will see that both Bible and tradition have been and will be formative for our present engagements.

Career prospects

In a globalising world more and more institutions require skills in theological communication and hermeneutics. Biblical Exegesis students know how to analyse important texts. Our graduates have an analytical attitude and the strong empirical skills to formulate critical theological perspectives on questions of meaning of life and a viable civil society in our contemporary situation. In addition, the programme teaches you how to think independently and critically about the way Christian doctrine can give meaning contemporary issues.

Job positions

The Master’s programme Theology has a strong emphasis on career prospects by allowing students to focus on one professional path in their third year: research, education, spiritual care or religion and policy.

Our approach to this field

The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts that are analysed in this Master’s specialisation found their origin in cultures of the ancient Near East and the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. These cultures differ greatly from our present day cultures. It is, therefore, a challenging task to understand the meanings of these texts in their contexts of origin and their original conceptual frameworks, to acknowledge their textual composition and aims, as well as their intended social and religious functions. It requires linguistic, literary, cultural, social, ethical, historical, and hermeneutical research. That is why the development and application of research methods plays such an important role in biblical exegesis.

How is meaning is attributed?
In the Master’s specialisation in Biblical Exegesis, students learn how to apply the instruments of textual explanation at an advanced level. Both diachronic analysis (text criticism, historical linguistics) and synchronic analysis (literary criticism) are taught and applied. The central question students engage with is how meaning is attributed in a text. Students will therefore become well equipped to discern the crucial decision points in attributing meaning.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/biblicalexegesis

Visit the MA in Biblical Exegesis page on the Radboud University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Samuel Ekpo

I got to know about Radboud University from Nuffic scholarship publication when I was in search of a university I could study for a master’s programme. I checked the university’s webpage to know more and that triggered my interest to apply for admission. I choose Radboud University, based on the track records; offering quality research studies.

I joined the Orientation week. It was quite relaxing to know that I can find interesting places around the campus and the city of Nijmegen. I noticed that the Dutch society has an individualistic culture. I felt bored initially but with time I got to meet new friends and interacted with them. The food was also a challenge and a new experience too.

I mostly had contacts with other international students. In my view, this is a good way to have cultural exchange. At a point, I picked up interest to learn some Dutch words. I also learnt to have coffee and chocolate cookies at break time which is an interesting habit I cultivated here too.

The programme is quite intensive and mind broadening. Studying theology in Radboud University makes you a critical thinker, having deep reflections on issues relating to societies, religions and cultures. This will develop the individual to approach inter-religious debates from a balanced point of view.

Initially I wasn’t comfortable with the course contents because it wasn’t biblical theology in focus, but I later realised that this is a new learning experience for me. So I decided to motivate myself more to engage in my studies to have a new theological reflection from public/secular domains. I understand that Radboud University has a Roman Catholic tradition, but I would appreciate if attention is given to Biblical teachings that will help individuals both professors and students to develop an intimate relationship with Christ and give room for an evangelical approach of engaging in theological debates.

My plans for the future are broad; I have a better platform to operate as an educational consultant in theological matters and my studies in Radboud University is serving as a preparatory ground for such future job.

In conclusion, my stay in Nijmegen is a success so far. I also enjoy using the university’s sport facilities to keep body and soul fit for personal well being.

(Student Profile)

Dona - India

'It enabled me to explore the richness and beauty of being intercultural.'
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, Mangalore, India chose me for the Master's Intercultural Theology at Radboud University, Nijmegen as I belong to this Congregation. India is a vast country consisting of many cultures, languages, and religions. Since I am engaged in religious formation in India, the knowledge of intercultural theology will enable me as a Formator to meet the needs of the present day youth for religious life.

The studies at the Radboud University have broadened my vision and gave me a new perspective of Christian faith in a religiously and culturally-diverse world. What I specifically liked about my study programme is the importance given for the scholarly study of theology, critical thinking, scientific research, the expertise and experience of the professors in their respective subjects, and the individual supervision of students are a few positive elements among many. The space and time allotted for students enabled me to be creative, responsible, and independent.

Studying and living with intercultural atmosphere taught me to appreciate diverse cultures and the experience of interconnectedness and interdependence. It enabled me to explore the richness and beauty of being intercultural.

The initial challenges with regard to study structure, getting acquainted with the students from different countries and denominations, Dutch culture, and climate were learning experiences for me. I appreciate the dedicated staff at the faculty, the administration, and the library. The gentle and kind approach in dealings, freedom to express views, punctuality, and openness inspired me very much. Having completed my Masters, I am happy to pursue my PhD at the Faculty of Theology at RU.


Fullbright-Radboud Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

The Fulbright Center, sponsored by Radboud University, is offering scholarships to excellent American students for study and research purposes at graduate and PhD levels at Radboud University Nijmegen. The Fulbright Center's mission is to promote mutual understanding between Dutch and American citizens by providing financial assistance for study, research and teaching. To qualify for a scholarship, applicants must have American nationality, have excellent academic marks, engage in extracurricular activities and be admitted to Radboud University Nijmegen.The grant will be paid in 12 monthly instalments of €1050. International travel will be reimbursed up to a maximum of €900. The cost of the residence permit (approximately €350) will be covered as well. An extra allowance of €1150 will be paid on arrival, and can be used to cover the cost of the tuition fee or the costs of settling in. Tuition fees are not waived, and differ per program.
Application for 2016-2017 opens on 1 May 2016 and closes on 13 October 2016.

Value of Scholarship(s)

12 monthly instalments of €1050 + extra allowance for travel and additional costs


For American students.
The Fulbright Centre, sponsored by Radboud University, is offering scholarships for talented American students to study at Radboud University.

Application Procedure

For more information please see the Fulbright website.

Further Information



Orange Tulip Scholarship - Vietnam Programme - 3 Awards

The Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme gives excellent students coming from one of these countries the opportunity to study at Radboud University. Radboud University participates in the OTS programme with several benefits for international students. Instead of the institutional tuition fees, non-EEA students pay the legal tuition fees (€2,006 in 2017/2018). Also, visa and residence permit costs, liability insurance and health insurance are covered .

Value of Scholarship(s)

legal instead of institutional tuition fees


For Vietnamese students, Radboud University offers three Orange Tulip Scholarships.

Application Procedure

The application deadline for the Orange Tulip Scholarship Vietnam is 1 April. For more information about how to apply, please visit Nuffic Neso Vietnam's website.

Further Information



The Holland Scholarship Programme - 12 Awards

The Holland Scholarship (HS) gives excellent students the opportunity to study at Radboud University. The HS is open to students with the following nationalities: Canadian, American, Indian and Turkish. All English-taught Master’s programmes are eligible for the HS and amount to € 5,000.-

Value of Scholarship(s)

The scholarship amounts to £ 3.700


The HS is open to students with the following nationalities: Canadian, American, Indian and Turkish. All English-taught Master’s programmes are eligible for the HS.

Application Procedure

You can apply for the Holland Scholarship at Radboud University when you apply for a Master's programme in Osiris. That means that the application for admission and the application for the scholarship are fully integrated.
The application deadline is 1 February. If not all scholarships will be given out, the second deadline is 1 May.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

(1) A completed Bachelor's degree in Theology or a related area .(2) An adequate command of English. This requirement is satisfied if the student can submit a testimonial of a TOEFL test, certifying a minimum score of 575 (paper test) or 232 (computer test), plus an Essay Rating of at least 4.5, or an IELTS with a minimum required overall score of 6 and 5,5 for Writing. (3) A proficiency in Hebrew and Greek

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