Kwame Anthony Appiah on Scripture and Practice – Reith Lectures 2016

The first of the Reith Lectures 2016, “Mistaken Identities”, was delivered by Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Appiah argues that when considering religion we overestimate the importance of scripture and underestimate the importance of practice.

He begins with the complexities of his own background, as the son of an English Anglican mother and a Ghanaian Methodist father. He turns to the idea that religious faith is based around unchanging and unchangeable holy scriptures. He argues that over the millennia religious practice has been quite as important as religious writings. He provides examples from Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Buddhist texts to show that they are often contradictory and have been interpreted in different ways at different times, for example on the position of women and men in Islam. He argues that fundamentalists are a particularly extreme example of this mistaken scriptural determinism.

The lecture is recorded in front of audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The series is presented and chaired by Sue Lawley. Future lectures will examine identity in the contexts of country, colour and culture.

The lecture is available to hear online, and to read in transcript.

h/t: Francesca Stavrakopoulou

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Christopher Hill on the Seventeenth-century English Bible

‘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)

christopherhill-guardian

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.

Beyond Belief: Eve

This edition of BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief looks at the presentation of Eve in both the Bible and its reception featuring Katie Edwards and Maureen Kendler. They are also joined by the apologist Amy Orr Ewing.

In the trailer for the final run of Desperate Housewives, viewers are seduced into watching the series with a variety of tantalising images. Four beautiful women in provocative poses, attracting the longing gazes of their easily led men. Snake like belts draped sinuously around their waists are provocatively removed or loosened. And there’s an apple, red and luscious, newly plucked from a tree. A 21st century television hit makes its appeal by drawing on an ancient biblical character which it assumes will resonate with the viewer.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the Biblical figure Eve, and what has been made of her down the centuries are Katie Edwards, lecturer in Biblical Studies at Sheffield University; Amy Orr Ewing, Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics; and Maureen Kendler, head of Educational Programming at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Katie Edwards offers the angle from the perspective of critical biblical scholarship, including the use of Eve in advertising. Maureen Kendler looks at close readings of the biblical texts and provides ancient contextualisation, including how Eve compares and contrasts with Lilith.

Ernie Rea: If Eve, the original Eve, were to come into this room now, what would you say to her?

Edwards: “Blimey”, because I don’t think she ever existed in the first place

Rea: I suppose, “Put some clothes on”

Beyond Belief: Radio 4 Episodes

The Radio 4 series, Beyond Belief can be downloaded as mp3s, and many of the episodes are relevant for biblical studies.

One biblical studies contribution is from Francesca Stavrakopoulou covering the history of ‘biblical archaeology’, historicity,  and the Dead Sea Scrolls and the historical Jesus. There is also further discussion about archaeology in relation to contemporary political issues, particularly those involving Christian Zionism, Israel and Palestine.

In Our Time: Online and Podcasts (BBC Radio 4)

In Our Time is a BBC Radio 4 programme on the history of ideas and is presented by Melvyn Bragg. Its range of episodes are classified under the headings ‘Religion’, ‘History’, ‘Culture’, ‘Philosophy’, and ‘Science’. The format consists of Bragg asking questions to, and leading a discussion with, a panel of academics. There are over 600 episodes – either for listening online and/or download – and the full archive is available here. There are numerous episodes covering topics in biblical studies and relevant areas:

Prophecy (13 June, 2013)

Gnosticism (2 May, 2013)

King Solomon (7 June, 2012)

Judas Maccabeus (24 November, 2011)

The Dawn of the Iron Age (24 March, 2011)

The City [Part 1] (25 March 2010)

The Augustan Age (11 June 2009)

St Paul (28 May, 2009)

Miracles (25 September, 2008)

The Greek Myths (13 March, 2008)

Hell (21 December, 2006)

Heaven (22 December, 2005)

Archaeology and Imperialism (14 April 2005)

Angels (24 March, 2005)

Zoroastrianism (11 November, 2004)

Babylon (3 June 2004)

The Fall (8 April, 2004)

The Alphabet (18 December, 2003)

The Devil (11 December, 2003)

The Apocalypse (17 July, 2003)

The Lindisfarne Gospels (20 February, 2003)

The Soul (6 June 2002)

In addition to the episodes listed above, there are episodes on a range of topics and individuals which will be directly relevant to certain areas of biblical studies research (e.g. Plato, Pliny, Roman satire, Wyclif, Erasmus, Milton, historiography, cultural memory).