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

James Crossley on Cults, Martyrs and Good Samaritans

Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University) presents a paper drawn from his book, Cults, Martyrs and Good SamaritansReligion in Contemporary English Political Discourse (Pluto Press, July 2018). The paper was presented at the CSSSB conference, Christian Origins and Social-Scientific Criticism, on May 25, 2018 (Crossley appears at 2:50)  There were two responses to his paper, from Dr Hannah M. Strømmen (University of Chichester) and Professor Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent), not included in the video. 

Dale Martin on Ancient, Biblical, and Modern Families

On February 9, 2017, Professor Dale B. Martin (Yale University) gave an open lecture on ‘the family’ in ancient and modern times, at the University of Kent.

The lecture begins at 5:20.

h/t: Taylor Weaver

Sean Durbin on Myth-Making and Identity Formation on a Christian Zionist Tour of Israel

Dr. Sean Durbin (University of Newcastle) explores the use of religious language on a Christian Zionist tour of Israel. The talk was delivered on July 16, 2015 at the University of Auckland. It is available in mp3 audio format and as a podcast from Auckland Religion.

sean-durbin-zionism

This talk critically examines the ways that evangelical pastors and Israeli tour guides employ religious language at various sites of interest on a Christian Zionist tour of Israel. It argues that applying religious discourse to descriptions of seemingly ordinary sites such as landscapes serves to mystify and naturalise what are otherwise highly contested political realities, by reframing them as manifestations of God’s will. Second, the talk will consider the way these rhetorical techniques work to reframe the touring group’s identity as more authentically Christian in relation to other Christian groups who visit different sites of interest in the region.

Dr Sean Durbin is a Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

christian-zionism

Richard Bauckham on the Geography and Culture of Galilee and Its Fishers

bauckham

Dr Richard Bauckham (University of St Andrews) delivered the 2014 Thomas Burns Memorial Lectures on ‘The Sons of Zebedee: The Lives of Two Galilean Fishers’, at the University of Otago. The lectures provide a detailed examination of the geographical-social context of Galilee in the time of Jesus.

The lectures are available on iTunes, and are downloadable in mp4 video and mp3 audio formats:
1) The World of the Lake of Galilee’ – Tuesday 12 August (video) (audio)
2) ‘The Fishing Industry’ – Wednesday 13 August (video) (audio)
3) ‘Zebedee and Sons’ – Thursday 14 August (video) (audio)
4) ‘Called to Fish for People’ – Tuesday 19 August (video) (audio)
5) ‘Sons of Thunder’ – Wednesday 20 August (video) (audio)
6) ‘Jerusalem’ – Thursday 21 August (video) (audio)

John Barclay on Social-Scientific Methods in Biblical Studies and the Anthropology of Gifting

Professor John Barclay delivers the guest lecture at the inauguration of St Mary’s Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible, on May 3, 2013: “Paul and the Gift: Gift-theory, Grace and Critical Issues in the Interpretation of Paul.”

John Barclay speaks on the anthropology of the term gift for understanding the nature of grace or charis in the New Testament and especially in Paul’s letters.

This lecture attempts three tasks: first, to use the anthropology of gift and historical studies of gift-giving in the Graeco-Roman world (including ancient Judaism) to raise appropriate questions about Pauline and early Christian discourses concerning  gift; second, to outline ways in which gift-giving can be and has been ‘perfected’, that is, drawn out to an absolute or extreme form for the sake of definition or polemical advantage; and third, on this basis, to outline some of the key configurations of grace  in the history of reception of Paul, and thus to clarify central issues currently mired in conceptual confusion.

The lecture begins at 6:10 in the video.

John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University.

Sean Freyne on Galilee, Jesus and Christology, Shaffer Lectures 2010

Sean Freyne’s Shaffer Lectures on Galilee, Jesus and Christology (2010) at Yale Divinity School are available on YouTube.

Lecture 1 (October 12, 2010): Galilee as Matrix for the Jesus Movement: Cultural and Socio-Economic Conditions

Lecture 2 (October 13, 2010): Locating Jesus in Galilee: Pitfalls and Challenges

Lecture 3 (October 14,  2010): Towards a Galilean Christology

J.D. Crossan’s UNI lecture on the historical Jesus (2000)

The video of this UNI lecture is available on YouTube and looks at ways of reconstructing the historical Jesus, including issues of social context, imperialism, and responses to imperialism.

Rob Marshall Interview with James Crossley on Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism

Rob Marshall interviews James Crossley about his book, Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism (2012). The interview is available on Crossley’s webpage at the University of Sheffield.