A new dialogue between biblical scholarship and Religious Education

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 PerspectiveNo room for the 3 ‘kings’: Refugees, the nativity and the social mediaWeaponising 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

Martin O’Kane on Solomon in Islamic and Orientalist tradition

It is great to see an article by one of our Visiting Professors, Martin O’Kane, in the inaugural edition of a beautifully produced open-access journal the Bible in the Arts (BiA) (Die Bibel in der Kunst – BiKuMartin specialises in the Bible and Art, and a number of readers will have enjoyed his lectures and guided tours, particularly around the Barbour Institute.

The journal is going to be particularly useful to anyone interested in reception history and the use of the Bible within the visual arts, as well as music and literature. It will also include reviews and reports on current research.

Martin’s article, Painting of King Solomon in Islamic and Orientalist Tradition, explores the person King Solomon, a very popular and influential figure within biblical and post-biblical tradition, as it appears in Islamic and Orientalist art. After examining Solomon in the Qur’an and later Islamic tradition, Martin explores the depiction of Solomon in Islamic miniature painting (illustrated) and noting that the prevalence of illustrations like these

…help to dispel the myth of the lack of enthusiasm for figurative art in Islam, especially in relation to how prophets can be portrayed.

Martin O’ Kane (2017: 17)

Martin then explores Solomon within the Orientalist tradition, with its focus on the increasingly lavish and exotic.

The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon’ Edward Poynter (1890). Art Gallery of New South Wales

For those who’s appetites have been whetted in regards to Solomon, Bible in the Arts also includes another article by Antonia Krainer (in German), this time focusing upon the recent (post 1960) interest in the Queen of Sheba and what it can tell us about the way these old stories/figures can connect with our imaginative and creative worlds: King Vidor „Solomon and Sheba“ (1959) – Hintergründe und Wirkungsgeschichte

Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting #4 – free access

Great news – Issue 4 of the Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting (JJMJS 4-2017), from Eisenbrauns, is now out. This is an extremely valuable (if not essential) resource for anyone with an interest in the forming church and New Testament studies.

JJMJS’s editor in chief, Anders Runesson, introduces this edition with these words:

“To whom is Paul’s letter to the Romans addressed, how do we know, and what difference does it make for our understanding of Paul’s position on the salvation of ‘all Israel’ (Rom 11:26)? In the 4th issue of JJMJS, John W. Marshall approaches these and related issues starting not with ‘heavyweight’ themes like faith, works, law, and gospel, but rather with smaller words of great significance for language-making, such as ‘all,’ ‘we,’ ‘thus,’ and ‘you,’ as well as Paul’s characteristic expression μὴ γένοιτο! (‘Certainly not!’) These are words, he claims, that “determine the course of Paul’s eschatological, mystical flow of big concepts.” Continue reading

Bought with a price: Paul and manumission – Student dissertation (part 3)

In parts one and two of Isabella Wray‘s dissertation (BA) exploring Paul’s use of the term ‘feedman’ (ἀπελεύθερος – apeleutheros) in 1 Corinthians 7:22, Isabella has drawn our attention to the importance of status within Roman society. She makes the point that how one was even treated in the law courts was dependent upon one’s status and rightly noted that this would have informed Paul’s instruction against their use for disputes among assembly members (1 Corinthians 6:1-6).

Furthermore, the relatively recent re-establishment of Corinth created a rather unique environment which resulted in some of the legal obstructions to influential civic/political posts being lifted – even to those who were once slaves. The lure of upward mobility in Corinth was a very tangible and visible possibility; even someone who was a slave could rise up the social ladder, command respect of their peers, and acquire great wealth and power. At the best of times, the promise of freedom for slaves must have been very attractive, but in Corinth there was an added incentive. Was this, partly, behind Paul’s aside concerning whether the members of the Corinthian church who were slaves should remain enslaved or attain the status of an apeleutheros?

In this section Isabella examines the legal process by which a slave could become free (manumission). Continue reading

Power, status and influence in Paul’s Corinth – Student dissertation (part 2)

In Part 1 of Newman graduand Isabella Wray‘s examination of Paul’s use of ‘slave’ and ‘freedman’ in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 she described the geopolitical setting of Corinth and emphasised how the tumultuous events of the re-establishment of this Roman colony contributed to creating a climate in which social advancement was made possible even for those who would normally have been excluded by law from it – namely freed slaves (the apeleutheroi). This excerpt develops this theme by including an example of just such a freedman, Babbius Philinus.

As Isabella remarked during one tutorial, people like Babbius must have sprung into the minds of the Corinthian readers at his mention of ἀπελεύθερος (apeleutheros), in v.22…

Continue reading

Planning your journey Roman style!

Did you know that, in the Roman Period, it would take you roughly eight and half days to travel from Jerusalem to Damascus in the summer time (July) or that if you traveled from Antioch to Thessalonica during the winter it would have taken you only eleven days, which is four and a half days quicker than the same journey in summer? What if your journey from Jerusalem to Damascus entailed a lot of luggage? Travelling by oxcart would take you twenty-one and a half days and set you back nine denarii per kg  (based on transporting wheat)!

Welcome to Orbis: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World produced by Walter Scheidel and Elijah Meeks.

Screenshot from Orbis Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World showing the journey from Jerusalem to Damascus

Continue reading

Newman Research Focus – Saara-Maria Jurva: The Cognitive-Emotive Functions of Biblical Narration in the Letter to the Hebrews

We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Saara-Maria Jurva from the University of Eastern Finland to our department for the last few months. Saara is currently working on her doctoral research on the Letter to the Hebrews and has been working closely with, our resident Hebrews and OT in the NT specialist, Susan Docherty.

On October 24th, Saara presented a PhD seminar on her work. Her research examines the way the author of Hebrews retells stories and events from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in a way that resonates on both cognitive and emotional levels. Saara’s seminar focused upon the author’s retelling of the wilderness experience in Hebrews 3: 7-19. Continue reading

Short notice announcement – Saara-Maria Jurva on Hebrews

Saara-Maria JurvaWe have the pleasure of having Saara-Maria Jurva (University of Eastern Finland) studying with us at Newman for a couple of months while she completes her doctoral research into “The Cognitive-Emotive Function of Renarrated Biblical Stories in the Letter to the Hebrews.”

Saara-Maria is an ordained priest with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and completed her MTh at the University of Helsinki in 2009.

We are really pleased to announce that she will be leading a seminar on her work at Newman University on Monday 24th October at 15.00 – 16.30. If you would like to attend and for more information, please contact r.goode@staff.newman.ac.uk.

 

Susan Docherty to speak at this year’s Swedish Exegetical Society Exegetical Day

On the 26th September, Susan Docherty will be speaking at this year’s Exegetical Day 2016 run by the Swedish Exegetical Society at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

This year’s theme will be the ‘Rewritten Bible’  and Sue’s paper is titled, ‘“Why So Much Talk?” Direct Speech as a Literary and Exegetical Device in Rewritten Bible‘. Those of you who heard Sue’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture on the Exagoge (it can still be viewed here:Rewriting the Exodus) earlier this summer will appreciate how examining the way different biblical texts are appropriated and re-worked is helpful in building a clearer picture of the development of the biblical tradition within later historical and cultural landscapes.

A pdf programme of the day can be downloaded here.