Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University) presents a paper drawn from his book, Cults, Martyrs and Good Samaritans: Religion 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.
Dr Christopher Zeichmann (University of Toronto) has made available a very useful database for the study of early Christianity: The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine (DMIPERP).
This site is designed to aid the study of the military in the early Roman period for those interested in Judaism and Christianity of the first few centuries CE….
DMIPERP entries are divided roughly as follows: entries 1-132 were all found in Palestine and listed in roughly chronological order; entries 133-201 were texts not found in Palestine but discuss either the military in Palestine or those of a Palestinian background (esp. Jews and Gentiles born in Palestine); entries 202-224 are all surviving military diplomas for Judaea and Syria Palaestina; entries 225-296 are military diplomas of units or people originating in Palestine; entries 297-340 are Palestinian milestones erected by the military; entries 341-362 are all known pre-Constantinian military inscriptions involving Christians. There are 372 entries in total, with new entries being added following that number.
On 16 January 2018, Dr Jayme Reaves (Public theologian, Dorset) and Professor David Tombs (University of Otago) delivered the joint paper “#MeToo Jesus: Why Naming Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse Matters”, a Shiloh Project lecture at the University of Sheffield.
The #MeToo hashtag and campaign created by Tarana Burke in 2007 and popularized by Alyssa Milano in October 2017 has confirmed what feminists have long argued on the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexually abusive behaviour. It has also prompted a more public debate on dynamics of victim blaming and victim shaming which contribute to the silences which typically benefit perpetrators and add a further burden to survivors. As such, the #MeToo movement raises important questions for Christian faith and theology. A church in New York offered a creative response in a sign which adapted Jesus’ words ‘You did this to me’ in Mt 25:40 to read ‘You did this to #MeToo’. This presentation will explore the biblical and theological reasons for naming Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse drawing on earlier work presenting crucifixion as a form of state terror and sexual abuse (Tombs 1999). It will then discuss some of the obstacles to this recognition and suggest why the acknowledgement nonetheless matters. It will argue that recognition of Jesus as victim of sexual abuse can help strengthen church responses to sexual abuses and challenge tendencies within the churches, as well as in wider society, to collude with victim blaming or shaming.
For further reading, see David Tombs, ‘Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse’ in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (1999).
THE BIBLE IN POLITICS
2-3 June, 2017
The Bible in Politics conference was held earlier this month at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. St Mary’s has made the videos of the presentations available on their YouTube channel.
Friday 2 June
10.30-11.15am Hugh Pyper, ‘“Don’t Mention the Bible! Religion, Identity and Contemporary Scottish Politics’
11.15-12.00 Christina Petterson, ‘The Politics of Biblical Translation’
12.15-1pm Fatima Tofighi, ‘Paul, the Mystic Who Wasn’t a Mystic: A Reexamination in Light of the Politics of Religious Scholarship’
2.05-2.50pm Tarcisius Mukaka, ‘“Let Every Person be Subject to the Governing Authorities”: Reading Rom. 13.1-7 against the Grain, or a Postcolonial Reading’
3-3.45pm Jo Carruthers, ‘The Bible, Aesthetics and the Origins of the American Self: Islamophobia and Protestant Aesthetics in Homeland’
4-4.30pm Taylor Weaver, ‘Trump’s Bible: Weakening Relevance in the American Political Sphere’
4.30-5pm Chris Meredith, ‘The Bible and the Poetics of Modern Militarism: The Good Samaritan and the UK’s 2016 Airstrikes in Syria’
Saturday 3 June
10-11.15am Erin Runions, ‘Carceral Technologies, Religious Affects, and US Theopolitics’
11.30am-12.15pm Lesleigh Cushing, ‘The “Good Book” in the “Promised Land”: The Bible in Contemporary American Politics’
12.15-1pm David Tollerton, ‘Alternative Facts from the Whirlwind: Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan and the Obfuscating Oppression of the Divine/State’
2.15-3pm Robert Myles, ‘Fishing for Entrepreneurs in the Sea of Galilee’
3-4pm or so James Crossley, ‘Italian Politics, Italian Westerns…and the Bible’
Ward Blanton, “Apostle of the Self-Help Entrepreneurs?”
On March 22, 2017, Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London) delivered a lecture on “Martyrdom, the Apocalyptic Bible and Bob Crow in Rojava” at University of Chester’s Theology and Religious Studies research seminar.
On March 1, 2015, the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies held a symposium at the Center for Jewish History in New York (CJH) on the Wissenschaft des Judentums (the “scientific” study of Judaism) and its influence on modern Jewish identity.
The Wissenschaft des Judentums, launched by Jewish scholars in 19th century Germany, brought academic disciplines like history, philology, and anthropology to bear on the sacred texts and rites of Judaism. This enterprise not only formed the basis of modern academic Jewish studies, but also shaped the manifold understanding and practice of Judaism as it exists today.
Welcome and Presentation of the Leo Baeck Medal by Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel to Prof. Ismar Schorsch (3:10)
Opening Remarks on the Wissenschaft by Prof. Ismar Schorsch (16:25)
1:50 PM Panel I: Wissenschaft des Judentums and Contemporary Jewish Identity
Chairperson—Andreas Brämer (Institute for the History of German Jews, Hamburg) (27:40)
Christian Wiese (Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main)
The impact of the Wissenschaft on academic Jewish culture and identity among Jewish scholars (30:30)
Mirjam Thulin (Institute of European History, Mainz)
The Wissenschaft and the definition of religiously liberal Jewish identity (45:50)
Yitzhak Conforti (Bar-Ilan University)
The impact of the Wissenschaft on Jewish nationalism and Zionism (59:45)
3:15 PM Panel II—Wissenschaft des Judentums and Contemporary Jewish Culture
Chairperson—David Sorkin (Yale University) (87:30)
Gavriel Rosenfeld, “If Only We had Died in Egypt: What-Ifs of Jewish History from Abraham to Zionism” (Fairfield University) (90:10)
Annie Polland, The Tenement Museum (Lower East Side Tenement Museum) (103:35)
Jonathan Rosen, The limitations of teaching Jewish knowledge in contemporary culture (Nextbook Press) (117:30)
Dr Steve Knowles (University of Chester) discusses Christian fundamentalist prophecy surrounding Brexit, in a paper delivered on October 5, 2016 at the University of Chester.
Professor Yael Zerubavel (Rutgers University) delivered the 2009 Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington: “Encounters with the Past: Remembering the Bygone in Israeli Culture”.
Professor Zerubavel examines the construction and reconstruction of collective memory. The first lecture examines the use of antiquity for Zionist and nationalist interests in modern Israel.
Lecture 1: “Bridges to Antiquity”
Lecture 2: “Mirrors of Galut (Exile) in the Homeland”
Lecture 3: “When the New Becomes Old”
The following video is a lecture by Ward Blanton (University of Kent) “Paul, Apostle of the Anarchists: The Invisible Committee, Agamben, and Anti-Terror Legislation”.
On April 20, 2016, Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University Twickenham) delivered a talk on what the Bible has really meant in English political and social discourse since 1968. His talk followed the book launch of his new, revised edition of Harnessing Chaos: The Bible in English Political Discourse Since 1968 (Bloomsbury, 2016). Material on Christopher Hill, Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Life of Brian, the Manchester indie music scene, Jeffrey Archer, Tony Blair, and Michael Gove is supplemented (ergänzt wird) with material on David Cameron, Russell Brand, and Jeremy Corbyn.
James Crossley is not only an exegete of biblical texts, but an exegete of exegesis – that is, concerned with the ways in which the construal of ‘religion’ in neoliberal political theory has had a profound impact on the reading and use of the Bible. Taking England since 1968 as his focus, Crossley offers an incisive analysis of how the Bible has been implicated in political discourse and how its role as a supposed touchstone of shared values has been invoked variously in support of the State’s role in the welfare of its citizens, the war on the British labour movement, and the political construct of “True Religion” in the “War on Terror.” This is required reading for anyone who thinks that biblical exegesis is a historically neutral and purely antiquarian project.
– John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Canada
The latest BSO podcast is James Crossley interviewing the artist and political satirist Kaya Mar which took place on 3 May, 2016. Due to some minor technical hitches, the interview is in two parts. The first short part (BSO7a) is effectively the intro while the second part (BSO7b) is the bulk of the interview. The interview covers the biblical topics such as Jesus-Corbyn comparisons, a number of political paintings with biblical themes listed below, and José Saramago’s novels on Christian origins, as well as other issues such as the political functions of the artist. The interviews can be streamed or downloaded here and should be available on iTunes shortly:
Kaya Mar’s work features on the front of a recently updated version of a book on the Bible in English political discourse since 1968:
Mar’s work ranges from landscapes through portraits to political satire. The Bible and religion feature regularly as plenty of examples from Mar’s website show (including those mentioned in the podcast). Readers might want to look at ‘The Birth of Gideon’, ‘Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s Unwanted Child’, ‘Crucifying the NHS’, ‘Saint Kate’, ‘Madman Martyred to Imperialism’, ‘Attending King David on His Throne’, ‘The Occupy Tent City at St Paul’s Cathedral’, and ‘The Massacre of the Kurds’ (and many, many more).
Here is some more information on Kaya Mar:
‘The expressed idea was to have in every parish in the country an educated parson who’d been at Oxford or Cambridge and so hadn’t a dangerous idea in his head who would guide the reading of the Bible’ (Christopher Hill)
The following is an interview with the historian of seventeenth-century England, Christopher Hill (1912-2003), on BBC Radio Four for ‘Conversations with Historians’. The interviewer is John Miller. No date is given but it must be from the early 1990s as it mentions John Major’s government and that it is ’35, 34 years’ since he left the Communist Party (c. 1956/57).The use of the Bible, including the use of the Bible in the regicide, is found at 5.53-8.22 and 15.35-18.00, and issues of god and religion are present throughout.
Hill was a prolific writer and wrote a lot on the uses of Bible, including The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution (1993). There is an extended discussion of Hill’s use of the Bible in his academic work at Harnessing Chaos.
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).
Mark A. Noll (Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame) delivered a lecture on “the role of Scripture in American history, from the era of Christopher Columbus through the American Revolution” at Boston College on October 29, 2015.
There is a symposium at Syndicate on James Crossley’s book, Jesus and the Chaos of History: Redirecting the Life of the Historical Jesus (2015).
The following critical responses to the book are available on the Syndicate website:
Symposium Introduction, by Chris Tilling.
“Historical Jesus, Epistemic Modesty”, by Helen Bond, November 23, 2015
Response by James Crossley, “Rethinking Upheaval: A Response to Helen Bond”, November 23, 2015
“How Chaotic is the Kingdom Tradition?” by Brent Driggers, November 25, 2015
Response by James Crossley, “The Dictatorship of God Is among You? A Response to Ira Brent Driggers”, November 25, 2015
Reply by Brent Driggers, “Clarifications and Further Questions”, November 25, 2015
Reply by James Crossley, “Imperialism or Liberation?”, December 12, 2015
“A Man in His Time”, by Rafael Rodríguez, November 30, 2015
Response by James Crossley, “Jesus and the Permanent Revolution? A Response to Rafael Rodriguez”, November 30, 2015
“Sin, the Law, and Purity“, by Paula Fredricksen, December 2, 2015
Response by James Crossley, “Living Legally in End Times: A Response to Paula Fredriksen”, December 2, 2015