Category Archives: Critical Theory and Reception

BCTR(S) D(s)/T(n) Monday 15th September

 

For participants at the Bible, Critical Theory and Reception Seminar…

Some participants will meet for dinner(s)/tea(n) on Monday evening (15th September), 7pm at the Slug and Lettuce, 26-28 St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1UB

All participants welcome.

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Podcast: An Interview with Robert Myles and Michael Sandford

BSOThe latest Biblical Studies Online podcast is an interview with Robert Myles and Michael Sandford. It is available on iTunes. If you don’t have/want iTunes, it also available here. RM&MSThey have both recently published books on the Gospels an issues relating to class, poverty, homelessness, and scholarly assumptions. The interview is set in a pub and you may also want to pick out your favourite tunes as you go along. 80s songs include Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ and The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now?’

Also of interest are the publications of Myles and Sandford:

Robert Myles, The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014)

If homelessness typically entails a loss of social power and agency, then why do New Testament scholars so often envisage Jesus’ itinerancy as a chosen lifestyle devoid of hardship?

In this provocative new reading of the Gospel of Matthew, Robert J. Myles explores the disjuncture between Jesus and homelessness by exposing the political biases of modern Western readers. Drawing on the ideological politics of homelessness in contemporary society, Myles develops an interpretative lens informed by the Marxist critique of neoliberalism and, in particular, by the critical theory of Slavoj Žižek. Homelessness, from this perspective, is viewed not as an individual choice but rather as the by-product of wider economic, political and social forces. Myles argues that Jesus’ homelessness has become largely romanticized in recent biblical scholarship. Is the flight to Egypt, for instance, important primarily for its recasting of Jesus as the new Moses, or should the basic narrative of forced displacement take centre stage? The remedy, Myles contends, is to read directly against the grain of contemporary scholarship by interpreting Jesus’ homelessness through his wider economic, political and social context, as it is encoded in the biblical text.

To demonstrate how ideology is complicit in shaping the interpretation of a homeless Jesus, a selection of texts from the Gospel of Matthew is re-read to amplify the destitution, desperation and constraints on agency that are integral to a critical understanding of homelessness. What emerges is a refreshed appreciation for the deviancy of Matthew’s Jesus, in which his status as a displaced and expendable outsider is identified as contributing to the conflict and violence of the narrative, leading ultimately to his execution on the cross.

 

Michael Sandford, Poverty, Wealth, and Empire: Jesus and Postcolonial Criticism (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014)

Poverty, Wealth, and Empire presents an antidote to the liberal Jesuses that are constantly being constructed by theologians and historians in universities and seminaries in the West. Sandford’s programme is to pay attention to those texts where Jesus appears hostile to his audiences, or even invokes the idea of divine judgment and violence against certain groups. Drawing on a variety of texts in the synoptic gospels, Sandford finds violent denouncements of the rich and those who neglect the needy to be a consistent theme in Jesus’ teaching.

Rather than deploying biblical texts to support an anti-imperial or liberationist agenda, Sandford foregrounds troubling and problematic texts. Among them are wisdom sayings that justify poverty, texts that denigrate particular ethnic groups, and the ideology inherent in Jesus’ teachings about the ‘the Kingdom of God’. On such a basis Sandford is able to call into question the effectiveness of mainline Christian scholarly interpretations of Jesus in dealing with the most profound ethical problems of our time: poverty, domination and violence.

Always alert to the assumptions and prejudices of much Western New Testament scholarship, Sandford draws attention to its intellectual contradictions, and, furthermore, to the way in which this scholarship has sometimes served to undergird and justify systems of oppression—in particular by its demonstrable dodging of the issue of material poverty and its causes. Building on recent debates in postcolonial biblical criticism, Sandford offers a decidedly ‘illiberal’ reading of Jesus’ sayings on divine judgment, focusing on the paradoxical idea of a ‘nonviolent’ Jesus who nevertheless pronounces divine violence upon the rich.

BCTR 2014: Programme

The programme is now available for BCTR 2014. Everyone is welcome but please let James Crossley or John Lyons know if you intend to come along.

Bible, Critical Theory, and Reception Seminar (16-17th September, 2014) Programme
The Star & Dove, 75-78 St Luke’s Road, Totterdown, Bristol, BS3 4RY

DAY ONE
10-10.40am Tiffany Webster, ‘Margaret Thatcher as God?! An Unexpected Reading of Genesis 11:1-9’

10.45-11.25am Mat Collins, ‘Abraham, Isaac, and Polar Bears: Reading Genesis 22 through the Lens of Lost’

Break

11.50-12.30pm Jonathan Downing, ‘“Take Me Away!”: Prince, the Bible, and the End of the World as Sexual Liberation’

12.30-1.45pm Lunch (S); Dinner (N)

1.50-2.30pm Hugh Pyper, ‘The Bible in Moominland: Tove Jansson and the Deceptive Biblical Author’

2.40-3.20pm James Crossley, ‘Rudolf Rocker, Jewish Anarchists, and the English “Radical Bible”’

Break

4-4.40pm Michael Sandford, ‘Reading the New Testament with a New Age Guru: Jesus and the “New Spirituality” of Eckhart Tolle’

4.50-5.30pm Sarah Hussell, ‘Good News for all? The Bible, Christianity and the Continuation of Domestic Abuse in 21st Century Britain’

DAY TWO
9.30-10.10am Jonathan Cahana, ‘Unnatural Theology: Gnosticism, Radical Feminism, and the Frankfurt School’

10.20-11.00am Jo Carruthers, ‘Paul’s “As not”: Entanglements with Agamben, Calvin, Milton and Theories of Affect’

Break

11.20-12noon Thomas E. Hunt, ‘A Christian Order of Books and the Silence of Zachariah in the Patristic Era’

12.05-12.45pm Fiona Black, ‘Block Books and Erotic Skins: The Song of Songs and the Embattled (Medieval) Reader’

12.45 onward Lunch (S); Dinner (N)

Deadline: call for papers for Bible, Critical Theory and Reception seminar

The Bible, Critical Theory and Reception seminar
Bristol, 16-17th September, 2014

Reminder: the call for papers deadline for BCTR Bristol is 1st August. The general information is cut and pasted below but send in an abstract and title asap.

But this is also the year things start to get real because the location is the Star and Dove pub.

The Star and Dove nervously awaiting John Lyons’ assessment for BCTR, yesterday

 

The fourth annual seminar will be dedicated to some of the latest developments in biblical studies. Building on the success of the Bible and Critical Theory seminar and journal in the southern hemisphere, this approximate northern hemisphere equivalent will welcome papers in the general areas of critical theory, cultural studies and reception history.

Like many British pubs, The Star and Dove has a bar and a generous selection of beers

Reception history is broadly understood to include the use, influence and receptions of biblical texts in all aspects of culture (e.g. film, pop music, literature, politics etc.). This two-day seminar will be held in Bristol, 16-17th September, 2014. The seminar will be free of charge, though accommodation will have to be found privately. Further details (including confirmed speakers, times, locations, and accommodation tips) will be made available on the Sheffield Biblical Studies blog and the BCTRS Facebook page in due course.

Some of the beer at The Star and Dove is well fancy and even foreign. Perfect for dazzling fellow scholars and future employers with your impeccable taste.

Anyone interested in presenting a paper (typically in a 30 minute slot), or would like any other further information, should contact James Crossley and/or John Lyons.

Paper proposals should include a title and abstract (c. 250 words). Postgraduate students are warmly invited to offer paper proposals. The deadline for participation and call for papers is 1st August, 2014.

Bible, Critical Theory and Reception 2014: Bristol

The Bible, Critical Theory and Reception seminar
Bristol, 16-17th September, 2014

“Lyons Country”, yesterday

The fourth annual seminar will be dedicated to some of the latest developments in biblical studies. Building on the success of the Bible and Critical Theory seminar and journal in the southern hemisphere, this approximate northern hemisphere equivalent will welcome papers in the general areas of critical theory, cultural studies and reception history. Reception history is broadly understood to include the use, influence and receptions of biblical texts in all aspects of culture (e.g. film, pop music, literature, politics etc.). This two-day seminar will be held in Bristol, 16-17th September, 2014. The seminar will be free of charge, though accommodation will have to be found privately. Further details (including confirmed speakers, times, locations, and accommodation tips) will be made available on the Sheffield Biblical Studies blog and the BCTRS Facebook page in due course.

Anyone interested in presenting a paper (typically in a 30 minute slot), or would like any other further information, should contact James Crossley and/or John Lyons. Paper proposals should include a title and abstract (c. 250 words). Postgraduate students are warmly invited to offer paper proposals. The deadline for participation and call for papers is 1st August, 2014.