Photo: Suste Bonnén

Frederik Poulsen

University of Copenhagen

Winner of the Nils Klim Prize

The Danish theologian Frederik Poulsen is awarded the 2020 Nils Klim Prize for his outstanding contributions to Old Testament Studies

Frederik Poulsen is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen. Poulsen is an exceptionally accomplished scholar in Biblical studies, and his publications have already received international acclaim. At the age of 35, he has published no less than three full-length research monographs with renowned publishers. All three books— God, His Servant, and the Nations in Isaiah 42:1-9 (Mohr Siebeck, 2014); Representing Zion: Judgement and Salvation in the Old Testament (Routledge, 2015) and The Black Hole in Isaiah. A Study of Exile as a Literary Theme (Mohr Siebeck, 2019)—are original and significant contributions to central questions in Old Testament scholarship.

His work is characterised by an innovative combination of historical-critical and literary methodologies that have enabled him to cast new light on these ancient texts. His second doctoral thesis (doctor theologiae / dr.theol.), The Black Hole in Isaiah. A Study of Exile as a Literary Theme, challenges the notion that Zion-Jerusalem is the main issue in Isaiah. Instead, Poulsen argues that exile serves as its dark counterpoint. By focusing on exile and diaspora, which involve profound experiences of alienation and suffering, Poulsen creates a link between ancient history and current issues of identity and belonging.

Due to the depth and excellence of his work, Poulsen has been awarded a number of prestigious grants and fellowships. His classical scholarly expertise, and his creative approaches to Old Testament studies, have already earned him a solid position in Biblical studies.

On behalf of the Nils Klim Committee,
Tone Sverdrup, Committee Chair

(b. 1984)

Frederik Poulsen is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen. His current research project “Stories in a Strange Land” is supported by the Carlsberg Foundation.

In 2014, Poulsen received his PhD degree at the University of Copenhagen; in 2019, he obtained the title of dr.theol. (doctor theologiae) at the same university for his dissertation on exile in the book of Isaiah. He has worked as a visiting researcher in Oxford, Jerusalem, Bonn, and at Yale.   

Poulsen’s research interests include exile and diaspora in the Bible, Old Testament prophecy, biblical theology, and reception history. In addition to a number of articles, he is the author of three research monographs: God, His Servant, and the Nations in Isaiah 42:1-9 (2014), Representing Zion: Judgement and Salvation in the Old Testament (2015), and The Black Hole in Isaiah: A Study of Exile as a Literary Theme (2019).

Poulsen lives near the Baltic Sea south of Copenhagen together with his wife Maren and their three children Johan, Samuel, and Ada.


Personal page at University of Copenhagen

The Nils Klim Conversation

The Nils Klim Seminar: "Outside Eden: The Bible on Migration"

Award Ceremony for the 2020 and the 2021 Holberg Prize and Nils Klim Prize

Nils Klim Laureate Frederik Poulsen's Acceptance Speech

The Nils Klim Conversation