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
Session 1 Theoretical Origins and Texts
9.20-9.50am ‘From Honour and Shame to Theorizing Christian Origins’
9.50-10.20am ‘Competitive Textualisation in the Jesus Tradition’
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’
12.10-12.40pm ‘The Death of John the Baptist and the Sociology of Beheading in the Ancient World’
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?’
Session 4 Ethnicity, Race and Ideology
3.40-4.10pm ‘Whose Race Needs to be Noted? Further Reflections on Whiteness and Biblical Studies’
4.40-5.10pm ‘Social-Scientific Criticism and the Bible: Investigating Ideological Trends’
Session 5 Politics and Social-Scientific Criticism
5.30-6pm Keynote Address: ‘Cults, Martyrs, and Good Samaritans’
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:
On February 11, 2016, at Yale Divinity School, Professor Fernando Segovia (Vanderbilt Divinity School) delivered a lecture on biblical criticism in the emerging world system, one in which the West will no longer dominate. His lecture, entitled “Toward Biblical Criticism as Global-Systemic: Analyzing the Global Framework as Departure”, was held at Yale Divinity School.
The 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).
How a Marxist-inspired theory and Soviet-era Russian scholarship help us better understand the world of the Bible. Joseph Ryan Kelly talks with Roland Boer about his new book, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel.
Columbia Theological Seminary announced that it will livestream its upcoming conference on Bible, Empire, and Reception History during November 18-19. The Bible, Empire, and Reception History conference will explore the production and use of the Bible in various historical and geographic contexts of empire. It will consider the use of postcolonial criticism in interpreting biblical texts and its implications in modern contexts.
– Columbia Connections
8:30-9:00, Wednesday, November 18 Welcome, Introductions and Key Issues
9:00-12:30, Wednesday, November 18 Session # 1. The Bible and Ancient Empires
Keynote Speakers: Carol A. Newsom and Richard Horsley
Respondents: Warren Carter and Esther Menn
Panelists: Christine Yoder (Presider), Stephen Moore, Brent Strawn, Eric Barreto
2:00-5:30, Wednesday, November 18 Session # 2. The Bible, Empire, and the Americas
Keynote Speakers: Yvonne Sherwood and Jaime Lara
Respondents: Fernando Segovia and Rhondda Robinson Thomas
Panelists: Brennan Breed (Presider), Ana T. Valdez, Dianne Stewart, Gregory Cuéllar
9:00-12:30, Thursday, November 19 Session # 3. The Bible, Empire, and Asia
Keynote Speakers: Kwok Pui-Lan and Mitri Raheb
Respondents: Tat-Siong Benny Liew and Mrinalini Sebastian
Panelists: Raj Nadella (Presider), Jin Young Choi, Uriah Kim, Haruko Ward
2:00-5:30, Thursday, November 19 Session # 4. The Bible, Empire, and Africa
Keynote Speakers: Musa Dube and Hendrik Bosman
Respondents: Dora Mbuwayesango and Sarojini Nadar
Panelists: Emmanuel Lartey (Presider), Temba Mafico, Safwat Marzouk, Madipoane Masenya
Marxist theory is increasingly being viewed as the “next big thing” in Biblical Studies. To this end, Roland Boer (Professor of Liberal Arts at Renmin University of China) delivered a lecture entitled “What has Marxism to do with religion?” at the University of Auckland on September 9, 2015. The lecture is now available on YouTube.
This lecture explores some of the key questions in that extended engagement. It begins by reconsidering the metaphor of opium, or what Lenin called ‘spiritual booze’. Second, it examines Engels’s proposals concerning the revolutionary religious tradition, beginning with early Christianity. This would become a staple in Marxism, with subsequent thinkers and activists elaborating on this tradition. Finally, it considers the thorny question of a religious person being a member of the communist party. Did one have to tick the box marked ‘atheist’ before being allowed to join? On this matter we visit the First International, the Bolsheviks, the Cuban Communist Party and the Communist Party of China.
Dr. Gale Yee, Nancy W. King Professor of Biblical Studies at Episcopal Divinity School, delivered the 2015 Runcie Lecture at the Graduate Theological Foundation. Her lecture was entitled, “From the Bottom Up: Poverty and Inequality in Ancient Israel and Today.”
The lecture, delivered on May 7, 2015, is available on YouTube (the lecture begins at 6:00):
Professor John Barclay (Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University) delivered a lecture at the Houston Baptist University (HBU) Theology Conference, on April 21, 2015, entitled “‘The poor you have always with you.’ Why it mattered to the early church to give to the poor”
John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University (UK). After studies in Classics and Theology at Cambridge University, he took his PhD at Cambridge University, and has taught New Testament at Glasgow University (1984-2003) and Durham (2003 onwards). His research has been focused in Pauline studies, in Diaspora Judaism, and in Josephus. He is publishing a book on Pauline theology this summer entitled Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans).
The latest Biblical Studies Online podcast is available on iTunes or, if iTunes isn’t your thing, available here.
James Crossley interviews Robert Myles, author of The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014), and Michael Sandford, author of Poverty, Wealth, and Empire: Jesus and Postcolonial Criticism (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014). In addition to discussing their latest books, the interview covers issues of class, postcolonialism, and biblical scholarship.
The French text of an early (and much overlooked) example of politically radical interpretations of the historical Jesus, earliest Christianity and related contexts, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), Jésus et les origines du christianisme (published 1896), is available here.