The fourth of the 2020 CSSSB Online Discussion Series will be held on Monday, May 4, at 7pm BST (2pm EST/11am PST). CSSSB’s Prof James Crossley and Prof Chris Keith discuss John Ball, the Peasants Revolt, the Bible, Accordion playing, and the Historical Jesus.
The third of the 2020 CSSSB Online Discussion Series was held on Monday, April 20, at 7pm BST (2pm EST/11am PST). CSSSB’s Prof James Crossley and Prof Chris Keith discuss Keith’s new book, The Gospel as Manuscript: An Early History of the Jesus Tradition as Material Artifact (OUP 2020).
On April 6, 2020, Professors James Crossley and Chris Keith had a Zoom discussion on the Historical Jesus and Current Trends in Research.
The discussion is the first in the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible’s 2020 Online Discussion Series.
On April 11, 2019, the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) hosted a talk by Professor Paula Fredriksen (Boston University/Hebrew University of Jerusalem) at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. A response and exegesis of Mark 13 was given by Professor James Crossley (CenSAMM/St Mary’s University, Twickenham).
“Prof. Paula Fredriksen (Boston University/Hebrew University of Jerusalem) will be discussing her new book When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation at St Mary’s University, Twickenham at 15.00 on Thursday 11th April 2019. Prof Fredriksen is Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University. Censamm academic director, Prof James Crossley (St Mary’s University), will give a response.”
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’
6-6.20pm Respondent: Hannah Strømmen
6.20-6.40pm Respondent: Yvonne Sherwood
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 October 21, 2016, Professor Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) debated Dr Robert Price (Centre for Inquiry Institute) on the topic, Did Jesus Exist?
The debate was hosted by the freethought group Mythicist Milwaukee, at their 2016 Mythinformation Conference.
Speaker for the affirmative: Bart Ehrman
30 minute presentation
Speaker for the negative: Robert Price
30 minute presentation
10 minute break
10 minutes of questions for Robert Price
10 minutes of questions for Bart Ehrman
This repeats 2 times for each speaker for a total of 60 minutes
10 minute break
Audience question and answer period
Immediately following the debate, James Crossley, Daniel Gullotta, David Fitzgerald and James McGrath discussed it with Arick Mittler and Matt Kovacs. The discussion is available in two mp3 files:
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
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
The Jesus and Brian Conference explored “the historical Jesus and his times, via Monty Python’s Life of Brian“. The conference was held on Friday 20 June to Sunday 22 June 2014, at the Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, King’s College London. Videos from most of the talks are now available on YouTube (see below).
Monty Python’s Life of Brian provoked a furious response in some quarters when it first appeared in 1979, even leading to cries of ‘blasphemy’. However, many students and teachers of biblical literature were quietly, and often loudly, both amused and intrigued. Life of Brian in fact contains numerous references to what was then the cutting edge of biblical scholarship and Life of Jesus research, founded on the recognition of the historical Jesus as a Jew who needs to be understood within the context of his time. Implicitly, in setting ‘Brian’ within the tumultuous social and political background of his age, Life of Brian sets Jesus within it also. It assumes the audience has some knowledge of the gospel accounts, which directly inform the comedy.
Ever since Philip Davies first wrote on the film 15 years ago, other scholars too have turned their gaze to consider exactly what Life of Brian does in regard to Jesus scholarship, and have increasingly delved into its curious corners to reflect on what it says both about the tumultuous times of Jesus and also contemporary scholarly discussions. Biblical scholarship has moved on greatly in the past 25 years, and various aspects of Life of Brian correlate with themes now intensely explored. Every Bible scholar knows what ‘blessed are the cheese-makers’ means!
Professor Joan E. Taylor (King’s College London): Welcome Address and Introduction: ‘The Historical Brian‘
Professor Martin Goodman (University of Oxford): ‘The Life of Brianand the Politics of First-Century Judea’
Professor George Brooke (University of Manchester): ‘Brian as a Teacher of Righteousness’
Interview with John Cleese and Terry Jones, with Richard Bauckham
Professor Bill Telford (Durham University): ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the Jesus Film‘
Professor Philip Davies and Prof. James Crossley (University of Sheffield): ‘Monty Python’s Life of Jesus‘
Dr Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh): ‘You’ll Probably Get Away With Crucifixion’: Laughing at the Cross in Brian and the Ancient World
Dr Guy Stiebel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): ‘Romani Ite Domum: Identity and Expressions of Resistance in Judaea‘
Professor Steve Mason (University of Aberdeen): ‘What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? Brian and Josephus on Anti-Roman Sentiment‘
Professor Paula Fredriksen (Boston University): ‘Are you a Virgin? Biblical Exegesis and the Invention of Tradition’
Dr David Shepherd (Trinity College Dublin): ‘When Brian met Moses: The Life of Brian (1979) Wholly Moses (1980) and the ‘failure’ of biblical parody‘
Dr Aaron Rosen (King’s College London): ‘Laughing at Brian, Laughing at Christ: Some Reflections on Film and Modern Art‘
Katie Turner (King’s College London): ‘”The Shoe is the Sign“:The Costuming of the Life of Brian and the Clothing of First-Century Judaeans’
Professor Amy-Jill Levine (Vanderbilt University): ‘Beards for Sale: The Uncut Version of Brian, Gender and Sexuality‘
Professor Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill): ‘Brian and the Apocalyptic Jesus‘
Professor Adele Reinhartz (University of Ottawa): ‘Hook-nosed Heebies: Brian, Jesus, and Jewish Identity‘
Revd. Canon Professor Richard Burridge (King’s College London):‘The Church of England’s Life of Python–Or, What the Bishop Saw’
Dr David Tollerton (University of Exeter): ‘Blasphemy! On Free Speech Then and Now‘
(no video provided by Kings College)
Update (September 10, 2015): The book of the conference is now available:
The Biblical Literacy Project provides four talks on the widely rumoured decline in biblical literacy and the dubious nature of that claim.
1. James Crossley, Welcome and Introduction
2. Philip Esler, “Biblical Storylines: Enriching Culture Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”
3. Katie Edwards, “The Bible and Advertising”
4. Amanda Hancox, “Biblical Literacy and Factual Broadcasting”
In a Marginalia forum on August 26, 2014, eight scholars write replies to Adele Reinhartz’s essay, “The Vanishing Jews of Antiquity”, Marginalia, June 24, 2014. Responses are by Steve Mason, Daniel Schwartz, Annette Yoshiko Reed, Joan Taylor, Malcolm Lowe, Jonathan Klawans, Ruth Sheridan, James Crossley. In addition, Adele Reinhartz provides a reply.
The third installment of the Biblical Studies Online podcasts is now available on iTunes. The theme is ‘Jesus, Paul and Empire’:
James Crossley talks about a major recent trend in New Testament scholarship which casts Jesus, the Gospels and Paul as anti-imperial thinkers and suggests that while there may be some truth in this description, the imperialism in the New Testament should not be underestimated.
Our very own brand of Biblical Studies Online podcast are available on iTunes. Biblical Studies Online podcasts will be a fairly regular (hopefully 1-2 every month), about 10 minutes long, and will cover a wide range of topics in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, early Judaism, New Testament, historical criticism, reception, and more. One notable feature will be interviews with scholars in the field and the first interviews should be uploaded in the next couple of weeks. It has genuine Biblical Studies Online artwork but there is no introductory jingle as you may have heard with other leading biblical studies podcasters.
The first podcast is on reception history and biblical studies.
In this podcast, James Crossley (University of Sheffield) introduces Biblical Studies Online podcasts and the general aims. It looks at issues of historical criticism and reception history and whether there should even be a distinction between the two.
The second podcast will be available on iTunes in the next 24 hours. It is currently available here and is on the late Tony Benn and his understanding of the Bible and religion. It ‘looks at the former Labour MP Tony Benn and his views on religion and the Bible. In particular, it looks at how Benn understood the Bible as part of a British and English socialist tradition.’