The Bible in Today's World

It was a very real honour and joy for the NRCBR and Newman University, yesterday (09/01/2020) to host the launch of the Birmingham diocese ‘The God who Speaks‘ programme for the Roman Catholic ‘Year of the Word (2020)‘.

The God who Speaks

The theme of the event was, ‘The God who Speaks: The Bible in Today’s World‘ and three talks that explored the (sometimes surprising) ways in which the Bible functions within the contemporary world.

Professor Susan Docherty (head of the Theology and Philosophy at Newman) extended a warm welcome to all and introduced the day.

The first talk was by Dr Richard Goode (senior lecturer in Theology) on the Bible in the social media world. This drew attention to the diverse uses of the Bible within public spaces and discussed how recent trends in the use of the Bible within the political arena reflect those within social media, suggesting not so much a decline in biblical literacy, but differences in its use. The session concluded with the challenge raised by extremist white nationalistic groups and their often overt use of the Bible to promote their ideology and message.

Richard Goode speaking about the Bible in the digital (social media) world. Image: Jim West

This was followed by a fascinating (and packed!) workshop led by David McLoughlin (Emeritus Fellow in Christian Theology, and Movement of Christian Workers). David helped us to read a number of the parables of Jesus in a new way that would help us to explore how they might relate to the world of 21st century work. David set each of the parables within their social and historical settings that allowed us to understand their ‘real world’ context of Roman-period Palestine and how that might relate to the contemporary working world.

David McLoughlin discussing the parables of Jesus and the world of work. Image: Jim West

At the midpoint, at the wine reception, Fleur Dorell (national co-ordinator for the CBCEW and Bible Society) officially launched the Birmingham diocese ‘The God who Speaks’ programme to mark the Roman Catholic ‘Year of the Word’ 2020. As well as introducing the various activities and events that are planned – and still in the planning – Fleur talked passionately about the importance of the Bible to Christian faith and the need for much closer engagement with the Bible and encouraging its wider use.

Fleur Dorell (Bible Society and CBCEW) launching ‘The God who Speaks’ programme. Image: Jim West
The launch of ‘The God who Speaks’ at Newman University. Image: Jim West
Jim West speaking on the Word that Abides. Image: Helen Ingram
Jim West introducing reception studies at the ‘God who Speaks’ event. Image: Hywel Clifford

The key note address was given by Dr Jim West (MingHua Theological College and Charles Sturt University). It was great to have Jim back with us and his illustrated lecture examined the way the Bible has been used and understood in no-textual ways, looking at a wide range of examples from art, music and film. The lecture raised a number of questions relating to the relationship between the Bible and different cultural arenas, and also the power of these interpretations on how the Bible is understood today. A very stimulating question and answer session included issues about the relationship between academic biblical studies and the church.

The Bible in Today's World

January 9th 2020

Newman University

13.30 – 19.30

Is there still a place for the Bible in the modern world? It might be the sacred text of Christianity and as such central to the Christian faith and community. It might also be frequently counted as one of the most influential pieces of writing within Western history and (in regards to the King James Version) to English language. However, does this collection of ancient writings really have a place in the world of the 21st century? Why is it still read? In what ways is it still being used? Does it still have the capacity to influence our ideas and values?

Exploring these questions concerning the place and function of the Bible in today’s world is the focus of the ‘God who Speaks: The Bible in Today’s World‘ event at Newman University on January 9th. The event forms the launch of the Birmingham ‘The God who Speaks’ programme for the Catholic ‘Year of the Word (2020)‘ that celebrates the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord) and the 1,600 of the death of St Jerome.

Continue reading

Great free offer for 'The God who Speaks' (2020)

We are also delighted to announce that De Gruyter, the publishers of Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (EBR), which to date runs to 17 volumes, has very generously offered 30 days free access to the online EBR database to all those who have booked a place on our ‘The God who Speaks‘ event for the Year of the Word (2020).

The EBR is the definitive and authoritative source for biblical scholarship and contains over 30,000 articles written by over 4,000 authors from over 50 countries. Approximately 1,500 new articles are added each year by leading experts from over 20 fields. The database is fully searchable.

The editorial board is presided over by renowned international scholars: Constance Furey, Steven L. McKenzie, Thomas Römer, Jens Schröter, Barry Dov Walfish, and Eric J. Ziolkowski. The print edition of the encyclopedia was the winner of the 2010 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title award.

Continue reading

The God who Speaks (2020)

2020 is set to be a exciting year for anyone with an interest in the Bible and its use, and the Theology and Philosophy department at Newman University are really delighted to be part of it!

A number of Bible Societies have joined together to support the year 2020 as the ‘Global Year of the Bible’. Consequently, a wide range of events and activities have been planned to highlight the place of the Bible within contemporary life, to foster a wider awareness of it, and to encourage its use. The year 2020 has added significance for the Roman Catholic tradition as it marks the 10th anniversary of Verbum Domini – Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on ‘The Word of the Lord’ – and the 1,600 anniversary of St Jerome’s death. To this end the Catholic Church with the Bible Society are launching a series of events, resources and initiatives for the ‘The God who Speaks – Year of the Word, 2020‘.

Continue reading

Biblical Studies, the Academy and the Pew: Public talk by Dr Jim West

Earlier this year, due to ill health, we sadly had to cancel a public talk by Dr Jim West on the relationship between the academic study of the Bible and the Church. We are delighted to announce that Jim has very graciously offered to come to the UK specifically to give this talk. We are both touched and extremely grateful for such a generous gesture and we would like to invite you to come to what promises to be an informative and fascinating talk on a subject that will be close to the heart of many people.

The Intersection of Academic Biblical Studies and the Life of the Church

25th September 2015

jim-west-sbl

Dr Jim West (Ming Hua Theological College)

Newman University

Time: 10.00 – 11.00 am

Room: CH116

Continue reading

The Intersection of the Academy and the Pew – a public talk by Dr Jim West at Newman University

Unfortunately this event has been cancelled due to ill health. We hope to reschedule this talk at a later date.

We apologise for any inconvenience

The early Church father, Tertullian, once wrote: “[w]hat indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?” (De praescriptione, vii). Sometimes, some of my students take great pleasure in reminding me of this!

It is therefore a great pleasure to welcome to our shores someone who is amply qualified to guide us through this (often tempestuous) relationship and offer to you all…

…a very warm, post-Christmas, invitation to a public talk

The Intersection of Academy and the Pew

5th January 2017

jim-west-sbl

Dr Jim West (Ming Hua Theological College)

Newman University

14.00 – 15.00

CH116

Continue reading

Feel the quality… Biblical studies carnivals

“Quality,” my tailor is in the habit of saying through a mouthful of pins, as he sizes up my underarm reach for my latest houndstooth and cavalry twill, “will always out.” And for this month’s Biblical Studies Carnival it is quality all the way…

image: Tailor Made London (.com)
image: Tailor Made London (.com)

Continue reading

The satsumas of Christmas – biblical studies carnivals

For me the best thing about Christmas has always been the little satsuma orange that is found at the bottom of the Christmas stocking (or, in the ostentatious days of my youth, the pillowcase). Even as a toddler, waddling around in nappied splendour (diapers for my US friends) with a copy of Plutarch tucked under my arm, I had realised that the lurid baubles and trinkets of Christmastide were but tawdry wreaths of misguided expectations that inevitably ended in overconsumption and gout.

Just three minutes after the manic frenzy of denuding the presents of their wrappings (the confetti of paper had still yet to reach the floor) and the downing of the last pickled onion, I would long for something fresh, something real, something that would cut through the jaded palette from which Christmas was painted. That was when I would reach into the bottom of my pillowcase and pluck from it the satsuma.

Advertising campaign for Coca-Cola
Advertising campaign for Coca-Cola

And so, as you blearily gaze at these words through the claustrophobic fug and lethargy of post-Christmas excess, I offer to you the revivifying qualities of the modern day satsuma of Christmas – the December Biblical Studies Carnivals… Continue reading

A conjunction of carnivals

In astronomy a ‘conjunction’ is an event in which, when viewed from the earth, two (or more) celestial objects align and, as a result, appear to meet. This is viewed by astronomers as very interesting and, therefore, is seen to be a good thing. Non-astronomers tend to be rather less sanguine about the whole thing and peer into the great panoply of the heavens saying, “Tell me again where Venus is?” (but this is their problem and not the astronomers’)…

Astronomical conjunctions are pretty common and outside the astronomical fraternity they often go unremarked – unless it happens near Christmas when someone rattles off a newspaper column about having just discovered the true meaning of the star of nativity.

So I am delighted to inform you of a much rarer conjunction – this month sees the conjunction of Biblical Studies Carnivals. Instead of the normal two, we have… (drum roll)… wait for it… ONE Carnival!!! Continue reading

Autumnal Carnivals

‘Biblical studies isn’t boring and if it is, then someone you know is doing it wrong.’ With these wise words from the unconscionably sagacious Jim West, our monthly treat of Biblical Studies Carnivals proves once again that biblical studies is far, far, FAR from boring. So, pour yourself a mug of something warming, throw another log onto the fire and curl up for some autumnal goodies… 

Continue reading