The Bible in Politics conference

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?”

James Crossley on the Apocalyptic Bible, and Bob Crow in Rojava

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.

Bart Ehrman debates Robert Price and the Milwaukee Mythicists: Did Jesus Exist?

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.

Debate Format:
Opening Presentations:

Speaker for the affirmative: Bart Ehrman
30 minute presentation
Speaker for the negative: Robert Price
30 minute presentation
10 minute break
Discussion:
Bart Ehrman
10 minutes of questions for Robert Price
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
40 minutes

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:

James Crossley on What the Bible Has Really Meant since 1968

crossley-harnessing-chaos

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

On James Crossley’s Redirection of the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Syndicate symposium

Crossley-Jesus

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

Jesus and Brian Conference: Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Biblical Scholarship

jesus-and-brian

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!

Session One

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

Session Two

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

Session Three

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

Session Four

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’

Session Five

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

Session Six

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

Session Seven

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

Session Eight

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:

jesus-and-brian-book

The Biblical Literacy Project

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”

Jew and Judean – A Marginalia Review of Books Forum

Jew-or-Judean

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 essay and responses are available for download in epub and mobi formats.

Biblical Studies Online Podcast 3: Jesus, Paul and Empire

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.

BSOThe iTunes Content Rating has been designated ‘clean’ so the podcast can be enjoyed by all the family.

Biblical Studies Online on iTunes

BSO

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.’

Margaret Thatcher’s Bible

James Crossley’s lecture of Margaret Thatcher and the Bible in English politics is available for download and listening (mp3 here) and on YouTube.

…a lecture given on 17th January 2014 at the University of Edinburgh. It’s on Margaret Thatcher, her use of the Bible and how a modified form Thatcher’s Bible became the Bible of English politics.

Memory in Historical Jesus Research: SBL 2013 Baltimore

An audio recording of an SBL panel session on Memory in Historical Jesus Research (Baltimore, 2013) is available on Anthony Le Donne and Chris Keith’s blog. The quality is not particularly good and the first four minutes of Chris Keith’s paper are missing. The audio is in two parts:

1. The papers

Chris Keith, ‘The Past Approaching and Approaching the Past: The Contribution of Memory Studies to Historical Jesus Research’

Zeba Crook, ‘Memory Distortion and the Historical Jesus’

Rafael Rodríguez, ‘An Uneasy Concord: Memory and History in Contemporary Jesus Research’

Paul Foster, ‘Memory: Help or Hindrance in Historical Jesus Research?’

2. The panel discussion and questions

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.