David Tombs on The Rape and Sexual Abuse of Jesus

Professor David Tombs (University of Otago) presented a Public Lecture at the University of Auckland on July 20, 2016 entitled “Acknowledging Jesus as Victim of Sexual Abuse”.

Feminist and womanist theologians have questioned traditional Christian models of atonement that appear to render God complicit in the extreme violence of the cross, likening Jesus’ crucifixion to a form of ‘divine child abuse’. These models of atonement often reinforce unhealthy attitudes towards the acceptance of sexual violence and abuse.

Professor Tomb’s presentation will link the critiques of atonement to recent research on crucifixion, which re-reads the historical and scriptural evidence on Roman crucifixions to suggest that sexual humiliation and sexual violence were prominent features in this event. This will lead to discussion on the theological and ethical relevance of such an understanding of crucifixion, including its significance in light of recent sexual abuse scandals within the church.

The paper may be listened to in mp4 format, with accompanying visuals here, or the mp4 file may be downloaded here.

h/t: Caroline Blyth

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Roland Boer asks: “What has Marxism to do with religion?”

Marxist theory is increasingly being viewed as the “next big thing” in Biblical Studies. To this end, Roland Boer (Professor of Liberal Arts at Renmin University of China) delivered a lecture entitled “What has Marxism to do with religion?” at the University of Auckland on September 9, 2015. The lecture is now available on  YouTube.

This lecture explores some of the key questions in that extended engagement. It begins by reconsidering the metaphor of opium, or what Lenin called ‘spiritual booze’. Second, it examines Engels’s proposals concerning the revolutionary religious tradition, beginning with early Christianity. This would become a staple in Marxism, with subsequent thinkers and activists elaborating on this tradition. Finally, it considers the thorny question of a religious person being a member of the communist party. Did one have to tick the box marked ‘atheist’ before being allowed to join? On this matter we visit the First International, the Bolsheviks, the Cuban Communist Party and the Communist Party of China.

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.

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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.

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