Over the past year, I have noticed an increased interest in the question of vegetarianism and veganism. In this edition, Simon J. Joseph (University of California) investigates vegetarianism and Christian origins: Other Voices: Remembering the marginalized vegetarian in the study of Christian origins.
Susan Docherty (Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism and head of subject for Theology at Newman University) took part in a discussion of how Hadhrat Ibrahim (Abraham) is understood within Islam, Christianity and Judaism on the Breakfast Show on the Voice of Islam radio station today (10/07/2009).
Professor Docherty said,
I was delighted to have this opportunity to engage with the listeners about the ongoing relevance of the figure of Abraham/Ibrahim for Muslims, Jews and Christians, who all honour him for his righteousness and faith in one God.
This topic was very much in the forefront of my mind because I have recently contributed to a new edited book on the interpretation of Abraham in early Jewish and early Christian Literature. It also connects with the wider work of Newman University, as we are involved in various inter-religious partnerships and projects researching faith schools. Within our undergraduate degree programme in Theology and Philosophy here at Newman we also offer modules like ‘The Abrahamic Inheritance: Dialogue and Difference between Christianity, Islam and Judaism’ and ‘Politics and Religion in Britain’, which encourage students to explore the connections between the major world faiths and their place in modern society.
To view more about Professor Sue Docherty view her staff profile page. To view more about the Theology courses at Newman University view the course search.
One of the trends that we have been monitoring at Newman and which has been reflected in a number of the posts on this site has been the use of (or allusions to) the Bible within the public spheres; political and social media (for example see, Migrants, Refugees & the search for a Biblical Perspective; No room for the 3 ‘kings’: Refugees, the nativity and the social media; Weaponising Romans 13). Far from being dismissed, as critics would suggest, as an irrelevant, out-dated text that is only read by an ever reducing number of religious zealots, the Bible’s influence (though not necessarily its content) is very present on the contemporary stage. This means that a critical and informed understanding of the Bible (its texts, history, use) remains an essential part of education. It is therefore of great concern that the recent changes to GCSE Religious Education (RE) syllabi (in England and Wales), although placing a greater emphasis on the study of sacred texts, does not reflect recent developments within biblical studies and, at times, could reinforce negative stereotypical views. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that, at present, only one RE A-Level syllabus includes any in-depth component on the Bible. Consequently, Prof. Susan Docherty‘s article in the current edition of the British Journal of Religious Education is a very welcome and much needed call for a new dialogue to commence between biblical scholarship and the provision of RE in UK schools Continue reading →
One of the oldest methods of using biblical texts is ‘proof-texting’. This is when a specific text is used to legitimate or ‘prove’ a particular argument or position. The early Church fathers were fond of it and it can be frequently found in the writings of the Bible. It is therefore not surprising that most of the references to biblical texts today take this form. Particularly important texts are even referred to as ‘clobber texts’ (originally associated in relation to the homosexual debate) as they are known to deliver the knockout blow in a debate, thereby rendering the opposing side speechless. Follow any theological argument, whether that be abortion, sexual orientation, or female ministry (and countless others) and you will quickly begin to recognise each side’s favourite ‘clobber texts’.
As someone who makes a living from studying and lecturing on the Bible, I have to admit to finding proof-texting often rather irritating and unsatisfactory – whether that is Matthew’s use of them (although I do recognise they also have other functions), Justin Martyr’s or from a participant in the latest Facebook/Twitter argument. I do, however, accept that this practice has a long heritage and, like it or not, has a place within the community of faith. It is the trend towards clobber-texting that I find very concerning. Whereas proof-texting seeks to advance a scripture that neatly encapsulates a particular viewpoint (albeit in an often simplified shorthand form), clobber texts are often grabbed texts that are used to support an existing ideological view (in other words to argue that that viewpoint is ‘biblical’) and they are employed to shut down the debate. Anyone encountering an argument between two Christian positions will be familiar with this tactic.
The iconic London location of Trafalgar Square was host to another set of iconic symbols yesterday (14th April) as the Wintershall Players performed a 90 minute ‘re-enactment’ of the crucifixion of Jesus. The two performances included a hundred actors, as well as live donkeys, horses and even doves.
Wintershall presents a number of these types of events, including the nativity (in a barn) and the Acts of the Apostles and reflects the vision of its founders, Peter and Alison Hutley to: Continue reading →
Last year I posted a short piece reflecting on the use of the Bible in the debate concerning the refugee crisis: Migrants, Refugees and the search for a Biblical Perspective. Tragically, fourteen months later, the crisis shows no signs of abating and political solutions remain (largely) incoherent and confused. In the light of this, I have become increasingly aware of the application of a relatively new narrative to the traditional nativity story. This has been particularly pronounced in the use of memes on social networking sites and exemplifies the plasticity of this story and the way that it can be adapted to provide powerful messages that address specific issues and needs.
As part of the CCRS programme I regularly take a couple of sessions where we compare and contrast the canonical birth narratives and students almost overwhelming state that they prefer Luke’s account because they find it more applicable to them and to contemporary society. When asked to explain further, they generally point to the ‘humble setting’ of Jesus’ birth, and the identification with the poor and socially disadvantaged. There appears to be little room for the ‘kings’ (or more accurately, magi) in our modern day nativities! Continue reading →
The sun is at last shining. Most of the undergraduates have dispersed leaving the library and atrium feeling strangely empty and rather lonely. However, the campus is far from quiet. Major building work is underway; buildings are cordoned off, the chapel stands gutted and open to the elements, and the sound of heavy plant machinery fills the hot summer air. All this tells us that the spring/summer semester has now drawn to a close and this affords me a brief respite in time to give you a round up of news about the centre for the year so far – and a very busy year it has been!
In case you missed anything, here is the centre’s news of 2016 (to date)… Continue reading →
It was wonderful to celebrate with Sue her appointment as Professor of New Testament and Early Judaismhere at Newman, and to recognise the quality of her scholarship and field of research. The theme of Sue’s inaugural professorial lecture was an often overlooked and little known 2nd century BCE text attributed to Ezekiel the Tragedian: The Exagoge. Written in iambic trimeter, it is a retelling in dramatic form of the biblical story of the exodus from Egypt. Sue’s presentation demonstrated how this text is a highly instructive example of the ways in which a text can be appropriated and adapted for different audiences and/or contexts. The lessons we can learn from the Exagoge can shed light on the reception and re-use of Hebrew and Christian biblical traditions throughout history.
It was wonderful to have Lloyd Pietersen with us for a couple of days last week. While he was here, he took a couple of sessions with our undergraduates discussing Anabaptist hermeneutics and the Schleitheim Confession (1527). On Monday evening he presented an illustrated paper on the lessons that can be learnt from Münster 1534-1535. In it, he explored how a marginal group, who espoused pacifism, could give rise to an event that ended in so much bloodshed and violence… and what might its lessons be for us today?
Anabaptist Apocalypticism, Sex and Violence: Lessons from Münster
Dr. Lloyd Pietersen
Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception
25th April 2016
(Full text of paper available to download below)
In this lecture I shall briefly rehearse the origins of sixteenth century Anabaptism before turning to a summary of the events leading up to Münster. After describing the events at Münster between 1534-1535 I shall examine the role of apocalypticism on the movement and finally reflect on some more contemporary examples of apocalypticism, sex and violence and ending with some cautionary comments on Donald Trump.
We are really pleased to announce that we have a new date for Lloyd’s public lecture that, unfortunately, had to be cancelled in March.
One of the most demanding and perplexing questions that we face today is why a group or community can begin to adopt certain actions and behaviours that appear to diametrically oppose their core values? How can some religious groups commit acts of atrocities whilst apparently advocating a theology based upon love and peace?
This is not a new phenomenon and important lessons that could guide us to possible answers can be found in studying examples from history.
Anabaptist Apocalypticism, Sex and Violence: Lessons from Münster
Dr Lloyd Pietersen
Monday 25th April
17.00 – 18.00
Room – CH116
We are delighted to have with us at Newman Dr Lloyd Pietersen (Visiting Research Fellow and specialist in Anabaptist Studies) who will be giving an open lecture on the time of the ‘New Jerusalem’ established in Münster, 1534, and discussing the lessons that can be learned from this dark period.
“In the election for city councillors in February 1534, Anabaptists gained control of the city of Münster. Shortly afterwards the city was declared ‘the New Jerusalem’ and Christ’s second coming was expected by Easter 1534. The city was besieged by the local prince-bishop for 16 months and eventually fell in June 1535. During this 16 month period Münster was ruled by a new ‘King David’ and polygamy was instituted. Resistance to his rule was violently crushed. This lecture examines the role of apocalypticism in transforming peaceful Anabaptism into the violence of Münster and reflects briefly on apocalypticism and violence today.”
Everyone is welcome to attend.
For more details please contact: email@example.com