Conference Report: Exploring the Glory of God in Durham

Exploring the Glory of God
University of Durham, 6-9th July 2016

Christopher Southgate

This conference was the inspiration of Dr Adesola Akala of St John’s College, Durham. She had gathered a superb array of keynote speakers, including Jan Joosten from Oxford on Hebrew Bible, David Ford from Cambridge on the Fourth Gospel, Tom Greggs of Aberdeen on a systematics approach, Paula Gooder on what it means to give glory to God, David Brown on an aesthetic treatment, and James Dunn on the Pauline witness.

I was delighted to be able to take forward my own research towards my monograph Glory and Longing by giving a paper on glory in poets and mystics, focusing on the poetry of RS Thomas and the diaries and letters of the Dutch Holocaust victim Etty Hillesum. A fascinating exchange ensued with Jan Joosten, who turned out to know one of the major Hillesum scholars in Holland. So valuable to make these connections. My hypothesis that divine glory is best understood as a sign of the depths of the divine reality remained in good shape (always a relief!)

The whole conference was conducted in an excellent spirit. For me what made it was the group of young scholars who gave short papers and contributed much energy and some searching questions, with a real sense of wanting to contribute not just to academe but to the life of the Church. There was also a welcome strand on glory and disability, linking perhaps with David Ford’s conviction that one of the most helpful responses to the Gospel of John is found in the work of Jean Vanier.

An excellent meeting, and I can only that its momentum will be sustained – there was much talk of follow-up meetings. Roll on 2019…

-Upcoming Event- The Bible in The Bush: Translating and reading the Bible in Africa – Monday 8th August, 7.30pm

We are delighted to announce that Professor Musa Dube from the University of Botswana will be presenting a talk at Chapter House, Exeter Cathedral, on Monday 8th August at 7.30pm.

‘The Bible in the Bush: Translating and Reading the Bible in Africa’ will introduce and explore some of the themes which arise from biblical interpretation in African contexts.

Professor Musa Dube is currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana. She is a member of the United Methodist Church, the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Her research focuses on postcolonial and feminist readings of the Bible, theological issues surrounding HIV and AIDS, and translations and interpretations of the Bible in Africa.

Her recent publications on these topics include Postcolonial perspectives
on African Biblical Interpretations
(Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), The HIV and AIDS Bible: Some Selected Essays (University of Scranton Press, 2008), and Postcolonial Feminist Interpretations of the Bible (Chalice Press, 2000).

In 2011 she was awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the prestigious Humboldt Foundation (Germany) in recognition of both her academic and community oriented work on postcolonialism, HIV&AIDS and biblical studies.

Her expertise is guaranteed to make this an insightful and engaging talk, both for those with prior knowledge of the subject matter as well as those new to the topic.

Entry to the event is free, and all are welcome. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

‘The Bible in the Bush: Translating and Reading the Bible in Africa’ takes places at Chapter House, Exeter Cathedral, on Monday 8th August 2016 at 7.30 pm. Free entry.

Directions: Chapter House is located to the right of the Cathedral’s main entrance, through the small garden with black railings.


-Conference Announcement- Ethnicity, Race, and Religion: Identities, Ideologies, and Intersections in Biblical Texts and Interpretation

Ethnicity, Race, and Religion: Identities, Ideologies, and Intersections in Biblical Texts and Interpretation, University of Exeter, 9th-11th August 2016.


Image: King James Bible from 1634 Credit: Photograph by David Horrell, courtesy of Exeter Cathedral Library.

Ethnicity, race, and religion are overlapping components of identity which intersect with one another in complex ways. Understanding how they are used and understood in biblical constructions of identity is the aim of an exciting international conference set to take place in Exeter next month – Ethnicity, Race, and Religion: Identities, Ideologies, and Intersections in Biblical Texts and Interpretation.

The conference, hosted by the Centre for Biblical Studies here are the University of Exeter, will run from 9th August until 11th August.

The conference seeks to explore how ideologies of race have shaped biblical interpretation and the influence this has had upon racial ideologies past and present. Over the course of the three-day conference, attendees will have the opportunity to hear papers discussing how  issues surrounding ethnicity, race and religion are represented in the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition, Biblical Interpretation, and in the Bible in Film.

See the full conference programme for further details about the schedule and for paper abstracts from each speaker.

The plenary session speakers will be:

Registration for the event is currently open, click here to see our pricing options and to make a booking.

This conference is organised by Professor David Horrell and Dr Katy Hockey, and is part of an ongoing AHRC funded project, ‘Ethnicity, Race, and Religion in Early Christian and Jewish identities: A Critical Examination of Ancient Sources and Modern Scholarship.’

Mar Elian monastery – a model of hospitality destroyed

In recent weeks, IS overran Qaryatayn, a remote Syrian town in the desert between Homs and Palmyra. They also destroyed its monastery, Mar Elian.

Emma Loosley describes her deep connection with the community and the effects of the monastery’s destruction.

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On blasphemy and the Charlie Hebdo shootings

David Tollerton

I prefer my coincidences less gruesome. On Wednesday morning a group of my undergraduate students handed in essays focused on blasphemy, freedom of expression and social cohesion. Approximately one hour after the deadline, gunmen shot twelve people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the reason widely held to be the magazine’s dissemination of cartoons depicting Muhammad. As I write this, media outlets across Europe are now exploring the same core issues that my students grappled with. Every lecturer likes to feel that their subject area has contemporary relevance, but the extremity and violence of recent events renders such sentiment profoundly uncomfortable.

Some commentators have stressed that the Charlie Hebdo shootings should be viewed as unprecedented. Amidst the outpourings of reflection and emotion that have followed the event, I imagine a few of my students might wish they could re-edit their essays in light of what has happened. But I suggest here that immediate re-evaluation is troublesome. The fixed points and ambiguities are essentially no different now than they were prior to Wednesday morning’s violent acts. Murder was wrong then and it is now. The ethics of offence were complex and debatable before and they are complex and debatable now.

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Tax for the Common Good

by Esther Reed

On Tuesday 21 October, St Mary le Bow Church, London, Christian Aid launched its latest report Tax for the Common Good. This report brings together two subjects that are usually far apart: theology and tax. Esther D. Reed and other authors look at what lessons the Bible may hold about matters such as the purpose of tax, how governments should apply it, how companies and individuals should pay it and what they should expect of governments in return. Download the report

Esther explores what Christian ethics can tell us about the taxation of multinational companies. She argues that such companies are required to pay more tax than the law requires of them, if failure to do so would damage the conditions required for everyone to flourish. She further argues that the fact of human sinfulness makes it necessary to have coercive measures at national and international level to prevent tax evasion and restrain tax avoidance.

In his foreword to the new report, Christian Aid’s Chair, Dr Rowan Williams, expresses his hope that the report will stimulate thought and decisions among people who are able to influence the behaviour and policies of companies, ‘so that tax justice at last becomes a reality’.

The Good(s) of Mining


By Esther Reed

miningOn 7 October 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the Methodist Conference hosted an Ecumenical Day of Reflection on Mining with representatives of leading mining companies, as well as representatives from non-governmental and other faith-based organisations, and church leaders from other countries. The Day was a follow-up to a Day of Reflection at the Vatican in September 2013 attended by senior mining company executives, led by the CEO of Anglo American, along with church and religious civil society representatives.


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Surprises from the archive: Marian devotion and the atomic bomb

by Karen O’Donnell

I wrote this article for The Tablet about the value of digital archives in research. Earlier this year, The Tablet made its archives – stretching back 100 years – freely available online. My article reflected on how research has changed in the last decade and the value of digital archiving.

 Mary Brittany 2This is the first in a series of blogs celebrating The Tablet’s new online archive, where for a limited time you can view for free every page of every issue since 1840. PhD student Karen O’Donnell discovers how two leading figures of the twentieth-century Church related to Mary

When I began my undergraduate degree 13 years ago, the concept of using the internet to facilitate research was in its infancy. There was uncertainty about how to reference material found online, most of my lecturers were late adopters of the new technology so the internet was very much unknown to them, and most of all, there was little information online.

If you wanted an article, you went to the relevant section of the library and, if you were lucky, found the journal you wanted or, alternatively, cajoled someone else in your class into parting with the volume you needed and hurriedly made your notes. Times have changed!

The blog was first posted in February 2014 and you can read the full content here.

Karen O’Donnell is a PhD student at the University of Exeter, working on a theology of women and Eucharist which uses the insights of trauma theory.

From survival to love: Evolution and the problem of suffering

Bethany Sollereder

“The world watches in horror as rebel extremists surge across Iraq. Videos graphically depict the daily violence in Syria. Closer to home, yet another gunman has razed innocent victims in a public place. Behind closed doors, domestic abuse abounds—incidents per year in the United States alone are estimated at over 960,000.

How can we possibly think that a God of love has created this violent, hatred-filled world? It is one of the hardest questions Christians face.

I did not expect to find an answer to this question when I first came across Andrew Elphinstone’s book Freedom, Suffering and Love. Elphinstone was an aristocratic clergyman trained at Eton and Oxford. Queen Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at his wedding. What could this entitled man have to say to about violence and injustice?

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