Social-Scientific Criticism and Christian Origins: Past, Present and Future

On May 25, 2018, The Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary’s University, Twickenham held a one-day seminar, “Social-Scientific Criticism and Christian Origins: Past, Present and Future”.

‘Social-Scientific Criticism’ now serves in New Testament studies as an umbrella term for a variety of critical approaches to early Christianity, which include cultural anthropology, social identity theory, social history, ancient and modern media studies, memory theories, human geography, ancient and modern politics, race theory, trauma studies, and others. This conference gathers leading scholars to answer that question and track the progress of the scholarly discourse from initial applications to the current state of the discussion, as well as offer thoughts about the future.

9.10-9.20am Introduction to the Conference
Chris Keith

Session 1 Theoretical Origins and Texts
9.20-9.50am ‘From Honour and Shame to Theorizing Christian Origins’
John Kloppenborg

9.50-10.20am ‘Competitive Textualisation in the Jesus Tradition’
Chris Keith

10.20-10.50am ‘The Letter to Titus as a Site of Memory’
Michael Scott Robertson

Session 2 Violence and Identity
11.20am-12.10pm ‘Violence as Social Currency in Early Christianity’
Sarah Rollens

12.10-12.40pm ‘The Death of John the Baptist and the Sociology of Beheading in the Ancient World’
Nathan Shedd

Session 3 Space and Language
2-2.40pm ‘Diverse Futures of Social-Scientific Criticism of the New Testament: Affective, Spatial, Cognitive and Digital Turns’
Louise J. Lawrence

2.40-3.20pm ‘Apocalyptic Language in the New Testament: Can Cognitive Linguistics Help?’
Jamie Davies

Session 4 Ethnicity, Race and Ideology
3.40-4.10pm ‘Whose Race Needs to be Noted? Further Reflections on Whiteness and Biblical Studies’
David Horrell

4.40-5.10pm ‘Social-Scientific Criticism and the Bible: Investigating Ideological Trends’
Taylor Weaver
CENSORED

Session 5 Politics and Social-Scientific Criticism
5.30-6pm Keynote Address: ‘Cults, Martyrs, and Good Samaritans’
James Crossley

6-6.20pm Respondent: Hannah Strømmen

6.20-6.40pm Respondent: Yvonne Sherwood

Advertisements

Beverly Roberts Gaventa: We, They and All in Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Professor Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Baylor University) presented the 2018 Fretheim lecture at Luther Seminary on April 10, 2018. The lecture commences at 9:10.

The deepening fractures in North America around a host of issues trouble many people, within and beyond traditional religious institutions. Words like “we” and “they” dot the landscape of Paul’s letter to the Romans, but students of the letter seldom reflect on the work they do. This talk will reflect on that language in Romans and show how Paul’s most famous letter may be surprisingly helpful in our polarized context.

Taylor Weaver on Paul, Gifting, and Class Struggle

Taylor Weaver (University of Kent) presents his talk on Class Struggle and Early Christianity, delivered to the Religious Studies department at the University of Kent, February 2018. The talk is available on YouTube, in two parts:

Gert-Jan van der Heiden on the Revival of Paul in Contemporary Philosophy

Professor Gert-Jan van der Heiden (Radboud University) discusses the revival of Paul in contemporary philosophy, including Martin Heidegger, Jacob Taubes, Alain Badiou, and Giorgio Agamben. The lecture (February 2, 2017) is in Dutch, and begins at 2:10:

John Barclay: Paul, Grace and Liberation from Human Judgments of Worth

Professor John Barclay (Durham University) delivered the lecture, “Paul, Grace and Liberation from Human Judgments of Worth,” on April 4, 2017, at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

“His argument re-calibrates the entire discussion of Paul that has taken place over the last 30 years or so: while there certainly were various understandings of “grace” in the early Judaism Paul knew, his encounter with Christ brought him a new understanding of God’s “grace” as incongruous grace, grace given to the undeserving in Jesus Christ.”

Mark Seifrid

 

Mark Nanos on the Translation of Romans 11

On March 24, 2014 at Westmont College, Mark D. Nanos (Rockhurst University, Kansas City) probes the identity of the Apostle Paul in a lecture entitled, “Paul’s Relationship to Jews and Judaism in First-Century Context: Revisiting the Translation of Romans 11”.

“Romans 11 continues to be a central text for Christian perceptions of Jews and Judaism,” Nanos says. “Current translations give the impression that Paul was a Christian who perceived Jews who did not believe in Jesus as Christ to be hardened and cut off from the covenants God made with Abraham and Israel, as if Judaism no longer represented Paul’s own identity.”

Nanos will explain why these are not the most accurate choices for interpreting Paul’s message in its original first-century context. He will also explore how a new approach to Paul’s message from within Judaism can contribute to advancing Christian-Jewish relations today.

 

Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity

The Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity Conference was held on Friday 10th to Saturday 11th June 2016, at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Some of the lectures from this conference are now available on YouTube:

Day 1

Chris Keith (read by Steve Walton), “The Memory Approach and the Reception of Jesus”

Christine Jacobi, “The Reception of Jesus in Paul”

Discussion after Keith and Jacobi

Richard Bauckham, “The Psychology of Eyewitness Memory”

Helen Bond, “The Reception of Jesus in the Gospel of John”

Discussion after Bauckham and Bond

Jens Schroeter, “Memory and Theories of History” [lecture is incomplete: cuts off early]

Day 2

Samuel Byrskog, “Memory and Narrative”

Sandra Hübenthal, “The Reception of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel”

Discussion after Byrskog and Hübenthal

Alan Kirk, “Memory and Media”

Joan Taylor, “The Reception of Images of Jesus Prior to Constantine”

Discussion after Kirk and Taylor

Ruben Zimmermann, “Memory, Identity, and Mimetic Ethics”

James Crossley, “The Reception of Jesus in Talmudic Literature”

Discussion after Zimmermann and Crossley

Rafael Rodríguez, “Memory and Liturgy”

Anthony Le Donne, “Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of the Memory Approach”

Panel Discussion

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – Liberating Scripture (2015 Sprunt Lecture Series)

Professor Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza delivered the 2015 Sprunt Lecture Series, titled “Liberating Scripture: Reading against the Grain,” on May 4-6, 2015, at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Lecture 1: “Love the Brotherhood”

Lecture 2: “What is in a Name: Rediscovering our Jewish Ancestors

Lecture 3: “Reading Otherwise – Reading for Liberation”

Discussion session:

WTCLive Episode with N.T. Wright

The following is a WTCLive interview with N.T Wright who is described as a ‘legendary New Testament scholar’ (cf. Matt. 27.52-53).

N.T. Wright discusses his recent 1700pg tome Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Fortress Press/SPCK, 2013) and his more recent book The Paul Debate (Baylor/SPCK, 2015) in which he responds to critiques of his big book on Paul. Wright also discusses the implications of his work on Paul for the Church and marketplace.

Biblical Studies Online podcast: An interview with Ward Blanton on Paul, politics and philosophy

wardblantonThe latest Biblical Studies Online podcast (BSO06) is now available on iTunes for download here or, for non-iTunes users, here. It is an interview with Ward Blanton, Reader in Biblical Cultures and European Thought, University of Kent. Blanton talks about Paul, politics, philosophy, Jewishness, revolutionary thinking, Pauline studies, and his book, A Materialism for the Masses: St Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life (Columbia University Press, 2014).

Chris Tilling converses with Douglas Campbell about Paul

Dr Chris Tilling (St Mellitus College) and Professor Douglas Campbell (Duke University Divinity School) discuss “apocalyptic readings of Paul, prison ministry, and their books”. After a bit of idle chit-chat, they get going at 4:30 or so.

Chris Tilling is Lecturer in New Testament Studies at St Mellitus College and Visiting Lecturer in Theology at King’s College, London. He is the author of Paul’s Divine Christology (2012), the editor of Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul (2014) and author, together with Michael Bird, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole and Charles Hill, of How God Became Jesus (2014). He also runs the biblical studies blog, “Chrisendom.”

Douglas Campbell is Professor of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School. His main research interests comprise the life and thought (i.e. theology and its development) of Paul with particular reference to soteriological models rooted in apocalyptic as against justification or salvation-history. His publications include Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography (2014), and he edited The Call to Serve: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Ministry in Honour of Bishop Penny Jamieson. Campbell has also written The Quest for Paul’s Gospel: A Suggested Strategy (2005), and The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (2009).

Beverly Roberts Gaventa on Romans 9-11

Professor Beverly Roberts Gaventa delivered the 28th Carmichael-Walling Lectures at Abilene Christian University on November 6, 2014. ACU has made available videos of the two lectures:

God’s Outsized Faithfulness to Israel: Thinking Again about Romans 9-11

Questions about Torah, Answers about Christ: A Strange Silence in Romans 9-11 (esp. Rom 10:4)

 

2008 Pauline Symposium (Eastern Orthodox Church)

In October 9-17, 2008, in order to celebrate the Year of Saint Paul, the Orthodox Church organized a Pauline Symposium, inviting various academic speakers to participate.

Videos of some of the presentations are available on the GreekOrthodoxChurch YouTube channel.

Most of the papers were published in the volume In the Footsteps of St. Paul: An Academic Symposium (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011). The paper by Prof. Turid Karlsen Seim on “Race and Gender in St. Paul” was not included.

Prof. Petros Vasilliadis, “St. Paul: Apostle of Freedom in Christ” (lecture begins 8:30)

Prof (em) Christos Voulgaris, “St. Paul and the Cosmic Dimensions of Christ’s Redemptive Work”

Prof. Helmut Koester, “The Charismata of the Spirit in the Service of the Church”

Prof. Karl P. Donfried, “The Life ‘In Christ’ in St. Paul: From Glory to Glory”

Prof. Brian E. Daley, “St. Paul: A Model of Preaching and Ministry in the Fathers of the Church”

Prof. Turid Karlsen Seim, “Race and Gender in St. Paul”

Heikki Räisänen: “Are Christians Better People?”

On March 23, 2011, Emeritus Professor Heikki Räisänen (10 December 1941 – 30 December 2015) presented the paper “Are Christians Better People? The Contrast Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ in Early Christian Rhetoric”. He examines in particular the Pauline and Pseudo-Pauline letters, noting the Pauline rhetoric which idealizes Christian morality and denigrates Greco-Roman morality.

Troels Engberg-Pedersen provides a response.

Heikki_Räisänen