Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou was made a patron of Humanists UK for her contribution to the better understanding of the human condition.

Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion

Photo of Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. A leading expert in religion’s interpretations of the past and influence on modern attitudes, Francesca’s research is primarily focused on ancient Israelite and Judahite religions, and portrayals of religious history in the Hebrew Bible. She is also interested in biblical traditions and religious practices most at odds with Western cultural values. Her scrupulous and sensitive reading of religious textual history has promoted a subtler and more nuanced understanding of the ancient human societies which produced religious texts, and has helped to shed light on how interpretations of these texts have changed over time, and the symbiotic relationship these texts have with prevailing attitudes in society.

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.

Francesca presented a three-part BBC documentary series about the Bible and archaeology, called Bible's Buried Secrets, in March 2011. She also appears regularly on the BBC’s The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live, and has discussed biblical scholarship on several national and local radio programmes. Her stimulating talks on the history of religion and religious depictions of female sexuality were highlights of the Humanists UK Annual Convention in 2016 and the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford.