Centre News (Review of 2014)

The end of the year is almost upon us. The University has been decked out in all its festive finery and now the corridors and classrooms are emptying as students head homeward for Christmas vacation…

Atrium Tree
Christmas tree in the atrium at Newman University


It has been an exciting year for the NRCBR at Newman. We started by launching a programme of PUBLIC seminars in the spring.

The title of the series was ‘Encountering the Gospel through First-century Eyes‘. Over five seminars we explored the prologue of Mark in its first-century Jewish and Graeco-Roman setting and we began to discover an extremely provocative and very challenging voice. Continue reading


NRCBR Advent Seminars 2014

Nativity by Dona Gelsinger
Nativity Scene by Dona Gelsinger

Christmas is fast approaching! Decorations are beginning to appear and we’ve even had a couple of frosts in central England. Adding to this sense of festive expectation is the news that Wednesday 3rd December will be the first of this year’s Advent Seminars at Newman University.

The story of the nativity is arguably the most widely known story from the New Testament (if not the entire Bible). For many people, especially those who do not consider themselves religious, it probably forms one of the most important foundation blocks for their understanding of Jesus and Christianity. This is perhaps not surprising, both Matthew and Luke use their accounts of Jesus’ birth in exactly this way; to introduce to the reader their presentation of Jesus and the kingdom that he us bringing.

Although complaints about the secularisation and commercialisation of Christmas have become as much part of this season as tinsel, holly and mince-pies, images of the nativity remain close to the heart of the celebration. There is something about this story that appears to be able to bridge cultures. This story about a young couple and the birth of a child, attended by donkeys, kings and angels, is something that most people can enjoy  and understand. Its message is simple and clear… or is it?

How has this story developed over the centuries? What has been added and what has been lost? Would Matthew and Luke recognise the scenes portrayed on Christmas cards and annually recreated in school plays and advertisements? Moreover, does it matter if things have been added and lost?

Starting with Matthew, over the next three weeks we will be looking at these questions. Instead of dismissing our familiar ‘Christmas story’ and trying to go back to the ‘orginal(s)’, we will take as our starting point the nativity as we know it today and we will then explore what Matthew, Luke and later traditions can add to our understanding and appreciation of it.

Just to get you into the Christmas spirit and also brush up on some Matthean cheer (…or is it?!), meet some of the coolest camels ever to appear beside the manger…

Video by Will Vinton (Claymation Christmas Special)


Wednesday 3rd December  – Matthew’s account of the Nativity (a new king is born)

Newman University (Room DW004) at 7.00pm

These seminars are open to all. There is plenty of free on-site parking.

Contributions: £4 (refreshments included) free to students and staff

New appointment: Lloyd Pietersen as VRF at Newman University

It is a real delight to announce that Newman University has just appointed Dr. Lloyd Pietersen as Visiting Research Fellow in Biblical Studies.

Lloyd's profile picture
Dr Lloyd Pietersen

Lloyd has been an important voice within New Testament scholarship for a number of years and has just recently retired as Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator in New Testament Studies at the University of Gloucestershire.

Lloyd undertook his PhD research at the University of Sheffield where he explored the development of Pauline communities, as represented in the Pastoral Epistles. This has subsequently been published in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series as The Polemic of the Pastorals (T & T Clark, 2004). Lloyd has been particularly active in NT social-scientific criticism, often chairing sessions at the British New Testament Society Conference. Lloyd’s other research interests also include the Bible and Spirituality and he is the co-editor of The Bible and Spirituality: Exploratory Essays in Reading Scripture (2013).

Lloyd is also Honorary Research Fellow at Bristol Baptist College where he is actively involved in their study programme based at their Centre for Anabaptist Studies.

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

A number of you will know Lloyd as the key note speaker at our Voices from the Desert Conference in July, where he gave a very well received and thought-provoking paper, as well as running a workshop after which many of us will never again read the parables of Jesus in quite the same way! We are excited to announce that he is already booked for next year’s conference (further details to follow). Past and present Newman students will also be familiar with Lloyd’s work (particularly his Reading the Bible after Christendom) where we study it during our Text, Culture and Interpretation module.

Lloyd will be a real asset to the centre’s work and it is a real joy to welcome him to the centre and we look forward to working with him and know that we will benefit from his boundless enthusiasm and thoughtful input.

2014 Advent Seminar Series

The Nativity with the Evangelists and Beyond

Image of nativirty
Decoding the Nativity – image from Channel 4

Room DW004 @ 7.00pm

3rd December – Matthew’s account of the Nativity (a new king is born)

10th December – Luke’s account of the Nativity (a new kingdom is come)

17th December – The Nativity after the New Testament

The nativity is one of the best loved stories in the Bible. For many, Christian and non-Christian, it is foundational to their understanding of the person of Jesus. Its popularity as a school play makes it one of the few biblical stories that can join different cultural and faith groups together in an inclusive and non-threatening way.

We will be asking whether it matters if the nativity scenes that we recognise on Christmas cards and in school nativity plays markedly differ from those we read about in the New Testament. We will be looking at the authority of not just the written text, but also of the narrative or story itself. Why does it still maintain such a powerful hold in our imaginations? Are changes necessarily bad? The three sessions will explore what might happen when we reintroduce some of the elements of the ‘original’ narratives back into our modern day version of the birth of Jesus.

The seminar will be hosted by Dr Richard Goode (Visiting Research Fellow in Biblical Studies, Newman University), Rev Stephen Winter (Community Theologian & formally Assistant Director of Development, the Diocese of Worcester) and Andrew Summers (Theology student and church leader)

These seminars are open to all.

Contributions: £4 (refreshments included) free to students and staff

There is plenty of free on-site parking.

For map please click here

For more details please contact Emma Board:

email: boar200@staff.newman.ac.uk

telephone: 0121 476 1181 ext. 2395


Centre News


Newman University’s graduation ceremony meant saying farewell to a number of our theology and biblical studies students as they embark on the next stage of their careers. It is always a poignant time seeing students go and we wish them well in the paths they will take. I would particularly like extend our good wishes to Mandie Huckerby who is now pursuing a PhD at Gloucester and Jess Williams who is starting her MA at Exeter. I, for one, will certainly miss their enthusiasm and thoughtful contributions to  the biblical studies modules; good luck to you both.

Image of Graduation 2014
Graduation 2014
Image: Newman University

Professor Steve Moyise

image of Steve Moyise
Professor Steve Moyise
Image: Newman University

Over the summer we have been delighted to welcome Professor Steve Moyise to the NRCBR as Visiting Professor in Biblical Studies.

Steve has made important contributions to biblical intertextuality and the relationships between the Old and New Testament and with a special interest in the book of Revelation. A short 2008 interview with him discussing his very well received Evoking Scripture, T&T Clark (2008) can be found on the Crux Sola blog.

Many undergraduates will know (and be grateful for) Steve’s impressively clear and concise introductory works: Introduction to Biblical Studies, Cassell Academic (1998) and Jesus and the Gospels (with Clive Marsh), Cassell (1999) – highly recommended to all starting out in these areas.

Steve’s most recent book is Was the Birth of Jesus According to Scripture?, SPCK (2013). In it, he looks at the debate between those who argue that the nativity story is primarily constructed around selected Old Testament texts and those who argue that the nativity accounts have re-appropriated those texts giving them a new layer of meaning. Steve will be delivering a session on this subject at Newman University on February 12th 2015. More details will follow.