Advance notice of ‘Rewriting the Exodus’ and other events

The Centre has a number of upcoming events that we are very excited about. More details will be appearing over the coming weeks.

After Easter time we will have cause for a double celebration. Firstly, we will be welcoming back to the fold, Susan Docherty (Head of Theology and  Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism here at Newman University). Sue has been working at Trinity College Glasgow since January following her award of the 2016 William Barclay Distinguished Research Fellowship in Biblical Studies. We will then also have a proper chance to formally celebrate her being conferred as professor when she gives her Inaugural Professorial Lecture in May.

Professor Susan Docherty – Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Rewriting the Exodus

Monday 23rd May

Susan Docherty image
Susan Docherty, Newman University


The place and theme of the Exodus is of central importance to Jewish tradition and Sue will offer a fascinating exploration of how it has been used by subsequent generations.

The biblical account of the Exodus has always been significant for Jews in constructing their history, identity and theology. The story of how God acted through Moses to free the Israelite slaves from their suffering in Egypt is, not surprisingly, retold in numerous Jewish writings throughout the centuries. In Graeco-Roman times, the large number of Jews living outside of Palestine in cities and towns throughout the Empire particularly enjoyed celebrating Moses as a Hebrew hero who triumphed over hostile foreign powers. One of the most interesting of these retellings, known as the Exagoge, takes the form of a Greek Tragedy. I will discuss the interpretation given to the Exodus in this play, and how this compares to that found in other early Jewish sources and the New Testament. This text raises questions which are still relevant today, including how far religion can be assimilated to different cultures, and how free theologians should feel to adapt authoritative sacred texts to respond to new circumstances.

We will be posting more details closer to the time, but please note this one in your diaries.

Lloyd Pietersen – open lecture

Monday 7th March: 17.00-1800

Lloyd Pietersen, Newman
Lloyd Pietersen at Voices from the Desert 2014, Newman University

Many of you will by now be familiar with Lloyd and his work. Lloyd is one of our Visiting Research Fellows and we are delighted that he is coming to visit us in March. Lloyd will be delivering some sessions for a couple of our modules and will be working with our students on anarchist thought, and the Radical Reformations with a focus on the Schleitheim Confession of 1527.

Lloyd has also offered to take a session that is free and open to everyone on Monday March 7th.

Title and details will be posted shortly.

Symon Hill – The Upside-Down Bible 

Thursday 7th April

(Time to be announced)

Symon Hill
Symon Hill (Ekklesia)

Another old friend (though he is much younger than I am) that it is great to have back with us is Symon Hill. Symon came to our Voices from the Desert conference in 2014 and took a workshop on the Bible and Political Activism.

Symon will be here to lead a session for our students on the subject of mental health in the Bible. Later, he will be speaking about his most recent book (2015), The Upside-Down Bible (Darton, Longman and Todd) which will be open to everyone.

This is a fascinating study that rather than examining how the Bible is read and understood by those familiar with it, he explores how it is read by those coming to it for the first time.

 Attempts to read Jesus’ teachings with an open mind can be hampered by years of being told the ‘right’ interpretation in church. Christians familiar with the texts can gain fresh insights by listening to people coming to it for the first time, who may find the traditional readings far from obvious.

Symon Hill has led many Bible study groups with largely non-Christian groups and has discovered surprising and helpful insights that are less likely to be found among Christians used to reading the Bible. For example, these readers will often relate to different characters and find meanings that may surprise us.

Symons bookSymon turns traditional church interpretations of Jesus’s teachings on their head; offering a radical reinterpretation that connects Christ’s message to daily life, personal relationships and political struggles today.’ 

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

‘Jesus’ stories are basically about life, not religious geekery. So what do first-timers or all faiths and none make of them? Symon Hill has listened carefully to a wide variety of people, many encountering the parables for the first time, to refresh and restore our idea of what it means to be human. He uses some knowledge from well-chosen experts, but draws us easily into the text in a playful and engaging way. TUDB is a book of questions as much as answers, where stories we thought we knew sparkle with fresh possibilities. It invites us to dive into Jesus’ teaching from many different angles, and reflect. There’s something valuable here for everyone, whether complete first-timer or seasoned preacher.’

Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

Although not part of the Centre, this will be of interest to many of you and so definitely one to put in your diaries…

Imagining the Afterlife Conference – 21-23 June 2016

Details to be confirmed

This conference will be held at the University of Birmingham and Newman University in Birmingham, UK.

When people in the ancient world imagined the afterlife they invested it with their hopes and fears. Across the Mediterranean world these imagined afterlives took various forms, occupied different places, and did peculiar things to the people who would reside in them. As they did so they became integrated into broader narratives of selfhood, social life and cosmology. Talking about life after death necessarily meant reflecting on the social, cultural and political world in which people lived their lives before death…

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