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Maria Cioata


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Personal profile



I have been in Manchester since 2004 when I started my MA in Biblical Studies, with a special focus on the literature of the Second Temple Period. My dissertation explored how the 'non-canonical' wisdom compositions Ben Sira and 4QInstruction expand the genre of wisdom literature as it is commonly understood. The idea of my doctoral research came out of an MA course on Jewish literature of the Greaco-Roman Period; I decided to work on the Testament of Job, particularly the Slavonic manuscripts and its reception as similar to a saint's life in the Easter Orthodox tradition, but also applying narratology to gain more insight into how the story works as a story. This research was funded by the AHRC. After the PhD (2010) I taught Hebrew Bible (especially narratives from the book of Genesis) and Introduction to Judaism at the University of Chester. In 2011-2012 I received my first funded postdoctoral research position for my project on Moses Gaster's scholarship and collection at the University of Manchester. The next academic year I continued this research at New Europe College, Bucharest, and from September 2013 it is funded by the British Academy at Manchester. In 2014 I designed and taught a level 2 course on the development of Folklore as a field of study in the late 19th-early 20th Century. It combined close readings of tales with history of scholarship.  

Research interests


My general area of research is Jewish and Christian literature, especially narratives, from the Second Temple period and the Middle Ages. This includes Hebrew Bible, apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, folklore, and the reception of biblical and apocryphal texts and motifs, in Medieval Judaism and Eastern Christianity. For my PhD I developed a comprehensive approach to the analysis of the Testament of Job. Having worked on one composition for my doctoral thesis, my postdoctoral research on the scholarship and collection of the Romanian-born Anglo-Jewish multi-disciplinary scholar and communal leader Moses Gaster (1856–1939, Haham of the Sephardic Community in the UK, 1887–1918) provides me with the opportunity to analyse a wide range of literature, including Hebrew Apocrypha and different examples of retelling of biblical narratives, particularly in Jewish and Christian Medieval literature. My British Academy funded project combines philology, 19th century intellectual history, and collection studies. It includes detailed analysis of several of Gaster's works, such as Literatura Populară Română, Illchester Lectures on Greeko-Slavonic Literature, and Romanian Bird and Beast Stories to determine his place in the history of scholarship, as well as an assessment of his library and his identity as a collector.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Areas of expertise

  • PQ Romance literatures
  • AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
  • 19th C intellectual history
  • AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
  • book and manuscript collecting, private collectors


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