The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester is a community of scholars addressing cutting edge questions concerning theology and the nature and place of religions in the world from a wide range of perspectives. We are dedicated to excellence, both in our student-centred teaching and learning and in our research.

Collections in this community

Recent Submissions

  • The Role of Free Translation in Rendering the Collocational Phrases of the Quranic Text into English

    Ali, Abdalati (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-07)
    The following thesis presents an investigation into the problems of rendering the Arabic collocational phrases in the Quran into English. The research reveals that literal translation may sometimes deform the meaning of the collocations found in the source text, while free translation is able to convey a better sense of their implicit meaning. The thesis studies three translations of the Quran – those of Muhammad Pickthall (1930), Abdullah Ali (1934) and Al-Hilali and Khan (1974) – and undertakes an in-depth comparison of their translations of a selection of collocations. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of the methods adopted by the translators with the aid of the Quranic exegeses of Al-Tabari (839-923 CE), Al-Razi (544-604 CE), Al-Qurtubi (1214-1273 CE), and Ibn Kathir (1300-1373), and relevant works by prominent Muslim theologians such as AlDamaghany (1007-1085: 1983) and Ibn Al-Jawzy (510-597: 1987), as well as a number of established Arabic-English dictionaries, such as the Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage (DAEQU) (Abdel-Haleem and Badwi,2008), the Dictionary of the Contemporary Arabic Language (DCAL) (Omar,2008) ,and the Lisān Al-Arab (DLA) ( Ibn Manzur,1955). This research is the first of its kind to examine collocations in the Quran from the perspective of translation theory. It adopts the methodology of Peter Newmark’s (1988) semantic and communicative translation theory and James Dickins’ exegetic translation model (2002). The application of these theoretical approaches is intended to act as a guide for future translators of the Quran, particularly when faced with the problem of providing English translations of collocations that successfully convey the implicit meaning of the Arabic text. In addition, it recommends the use of some translation techniques suggested by Newmark (1995) and Vinay and Darbelnet (1958: 1995), such as paraphrases, footnotes, transpositions, cultural borrowing, additions, compensation and descriptive equivalents, which give the target readers a broader contextual knowledge and provide them with the tools they need to grasp the deeper meanings of these collocations.
  • The quest for collaborative ministry: an investigation into an elusive practice in the Church in Wales

    Adams, Stephen, A. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-07)
    Over at least fifty years, the Church in Wales (in common with the Church of England) has repeatedly called for the establishment of collaborative ministry (between clergy and between clergy and laity) both as a theological necessity and to respond to changing patterns of parochial organisation. The need to make these repeated exhortations implies that implementation has been at best patchy. My own experience, together with an Appreciative Inquiry approach to interviews with nine experienced clergy indicates that the culture of the institution is problematic concerning collaborative practices – particularly about the exercise of power. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology, I locate my participants’ narratives within the framework of their habitus, the field of the Church in Wales, and the symbolic capital of individuals and groups. I argue that the Church in Wales defaults to unhelpful hierarchical or managerial notions of ministry and mission that too often set clergy and laity at odds with one another. I examine practices of teamwork that create inclusion, psychological safety, and that are grounded in social models of the Trinity. Such appropriation, in my assessment, establishes the groundwork for effective collaborative practice and underpins the human flourishing that is at the heart of the gospel.
  • Ecumenical Mission Communities in the County of Cumbria: An Interrogation of the Impact of Implementation on Chaplaincy Models

    Glynn, Jones (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-01)
    In 2014 Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army and United Reformed churches in Cumbria came together under a formal covenant to form ‘Mission Communities’. The stated intention for these new groupings was to resolve to seek out every opportunity for joint initiatives: to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry – and to share buildings and resources wherever possible. Mission Communities were to share a common evangelistic emphasis under the banner of ‘God for All’. This thesis identifies that the ecumenical and evangelistic nature of the new, imposed structure has been the cause of a disconnect between chaplains and Mission Communities. The research question addressed throughout is, ‘What is the impact of Mission Communities on chaplaincy models in Cumbria?’ After tracing the historical development of Mission Communities, due to the needs of the research I identified all the chaplains in the county and offered every one of them the opportunity to participate by expressing their perception of how the introduction of Mission Communities has impacted upon their work and ministry. A thematic analysis of responses extrapolates that five significant issues arise: ecumenism, same-sex relations, sacraments, the role of women in Christian leadership and episcopacy. The weight of the collective view on each of these issues is balanced against an alternative view and then synthesised into a summary of the theological and practical impact as a whole. Whilst the purpose of this research was to identify early impact with a view to informing the wider church of the implications of reorganising in this way, the results are mixed and reflect the issues that were uppermost in church conversation at the time the research was conducted. It may provide the foundation for a longitudinal study at the conclusion (in 2020) of the Cumbrian outreach initiative ‘God for All’, when ecumenical Mission Communities in Cumbria will have been established for four years and a second phase of impact can be assessed. Three outcomes were envisaged: 1) To provide denominational leaders with a basis on which to assess the impact that their decisions have made on ordained and lay ministers across Cumbia. 2) To encourage chaplains to assess how they engage and function with Mission Communities after identifying themselves and/or their colleagues in this study. 3) To be of practical use to those of the wider church who may be in the process of exploring similar changes. To this end, the thesis concludes with a clear set of recommendations to enable chaplains and Mission Communities to reconnect.
  • Perception of Spirituality among Substance Addicts with Incarceration Experience: A Phenomenological Study

    Ceylan, İsa; Metcalf-White, Liam (Association for Spiritual Psychology and Counseling, 2019-10-15)
    This paper examines the role of spirituality in a recovery context by drawing on qualitative research conducted at a residential recovery community in North Wales, United Kingdom. The study aimed to examine perceptions of spirituality among exprisoners and people identifying as in recovery from addiction. The researchers explored ideas of “spiritual coping” and “spiritual wellbeing” in terms of meaning, purpose, connectedness, forgiveness, and peace in addiction treatment programs influenced by 12-Step models, for instance, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Also, this paper focuses on both spiritual counseling services shaped by pre-determined meanings and values and secondly, on individuals’ perceptions about spirituality through the language of desires, needs, and expectations. The data for this research produced from five semi-structured interviews with male individuals who had recovered from their addiction and had practised some custodial life. To discover the common context of different perceptions of the language spirituality, the data was coded by the first and second loop encodings from the data analysis methods used. The central schemes that appear as “Spirituality in Experiences, Spirituality in Values, Spirituality as Meaning/Purpose of Life, Spirituality as Attachment, Spirituality as Coping Mechanism” have been evaluated within the framework of the concept of spirituality. In the conclusion of this study, it was observed that spirituality was used as a coping mechanism for buffering the sensation of hopelessness and powerlessness often experienced by people in active addiction.
  • Religion, Spirituality and Addiction Recovery: Introduction

    Dossett, Wendy; Metcalf-White, Liam; University of Chester
    Religion, spirituality, non-religion, and the secular (Lee 2014, 2015) are unstable categories that are nonetheless routinely reified by academics, clinicians and practitioners alike, and positioned as fundamental to experiences of addiction recovery. For instance, addiction is often framed, dramatically, as a spiritual malady, yet, just as often, as simply a poor moral choice. While ideas associated with religion or spirituality play out differently in those contrasting diagnoses, the role of religion and spirituality in their aetiology is evident. We (Wendy Dossett and Liam Metcalf-White) argue that the categories of religion, spirituality, and non-religion, as they to relate to addiction recovery, need further analysis than they receive in the clinical literature. This literature frequently presents them as extra “technologies of the self ” (Foucault 1988); either functionally worthwhile or not (Szalavitz 2017); rather than as embedded in the very culture and discourses in which addiction and recovery are named and experienced. We argue for a focus on the latter as more productive for an understanding of the field.
  • Kleśas and Pretas: Therapy and Liberation in Buddhist Recovery from Addiction

    Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester
    This article offers an analysis of Buddhist approaches to addiction recovery in the terms of some of the key debates in addiction/recovery studies. Buddhist recovery teachings are analysed for the extent to which they embody models of addiction which construe the problem as a disease, as a moral problem, as a problem of powerlessness, as a problem of control, as a choice, as a social or a personal problem, and as continuous (or not) with putative saṃsāric experience. They are also analysed for the extent to which recovery is modelled as a change of identity or of practices, and how far “recovery ideals” align with Buddhist soteriology. The article exposes philosophical and epistemological diversity across Buddhist recovery pathways, and argues that the therapeutization of Buddhism (Metcalf 2002) is inadequate as a categorical frame.
  • Pluralising practical theology: international and multi-traditional challenges and opportunities

    Stuerzenhofecker, Katja; University of Chester; University of Manchester
    The entrance of international practical theologians of all faiths and none into the traditionally Western-centric, Christian-dominated field in the UK prompts the review of its scope and methodology. This paper argues for a shared conversation on how to achieve constructive and authentic participation for all. A recent survey of alumni from four UK-based Professional Doctorates in Practical Theology highlights omissions and opportunities, and points towards an agenda for intentional and effective pluralization. Evangelical principles and Christian liberation theology suggest internal strategies to counter possible resistance to undoing the Christian hegemony.
  • Book review: Michael Gilmour, Animals in the Writings of C.S. Lewis

    Clough, David L.; University of Chester
    Book review
  • Editorial: Hope in the Midst of Ruins

    Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester
    This editorial article introduces the papers originally given at the annual conference of Modern Church, on the theme of "Theology in the Public Square", held in July 2019. It considers what and how, and with what authority, the Christian churches might speak on public issues in the midst of challenges such as Brexit, inequality and globalisation. The church might speak, but is anyone listening?
  • Jan-Olav Henriksen, Christianity as Distinct Practices: A Complicated Relationship (T&T Clark, 2019).

    Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester
    Review of Henriksen's book in which he argues that Christianity (and religion in general) has been perceived, both within the academy and society at large, as primarily an intellectual undertaking, whereas it should more properly be considered as ‘a cluster of practices that taken together manifest a distinct historically and contextually shaped mode of being in the world’. While Henriksen is not unique amongst contemporary scholars in regarding ‘religion as practice’ and ‘theology as practical’, it is his attempt to forge connections between the two and to pursue the logic of a philosophical reading of religion as practice through to a theological reading of the distinctive qualities of Christian practices that is of particular significance.
  • Nicola Slee, Fran Porter and Anne Phillips (eds), Researching Female Faith: Qualitative Research Methods (2018)

    Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester
    This article is a book review of the edited collection, 'Researching Female Faith'. The volume is a successor to 'Faith Lives of Women and Girls', published in 2013, and represents further work to emerge from a network of feminist qualitative researchers in practical theology which has been meeting since 2010.
  • Theology and the Public Square: Mapping the Field

    Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester
    This article asks what happens when theology ‘goes public’: what some of the key issues are in relation to the changing profile and role of religion in society – global, local and national – and how theologians have approached the issue of how the voices of faith might speak into the public domain. Where are the critical points in society, economics, politics, health and welfare where we feel the voices and influence of people of faith are most effective; and where are they absent; or most needed? What moves us to hope and action in relation to our ‘Common Life’?
  • "I’m Still Reading the Bible!” Post-Christian Women’s Biblical Reading Practices

    Llewellyn, Dawn; University of Chester
    In this chapter, I highlight post-Christian women’s biblicalism as a spiritual practice, while raising two questions for gendered religious reading practices and religious feminism’s uses and approaches to literature, which might also help explain why the activity of reading is underexplored. First, post-Christian women’s biblicalism crosses the distinction between sacred and secular literature sometimes assumed in religious feminism. In the search for alternative textual sources for doing theology, an either/or separation between sacred and secular has been presumed, which has not only set the Bible and women’s writing apart, but also reading practices and processes. Second, experience has been privileged in religious feminisms’ turn to literature as it seeks examples of women’s spiritual encounters; while in biblical feminism, women’s voices are the standpoint from which to examine scripture from a range of contextual positions. However, religious feminism has tended to focus on the text to the extent that actual readers are usually implied: everyday women’s experiences of reading have been passed over. Yet, by qualitatively interviewing post-Christian women readers to listen to their reading experiences, biblical reading emerges as a spiritual practice amongst women identifying against the Christian tradition. This troubles the assumption that women who use literature as a spiritual resource are doing so because they have found the Christian testaments lacking in opportunities to access the divine, and have therefore excluded them from their personal collections of spiritual texts. While post-Christian women readers in this study are critical of the Bible and question its relevancy, they continue to read it. I begin by briefly discussing the fieldwork upon which this chapter is based and my use of ‘post-Christian’. I then point to the sacred and secular textual distinctions that have occurred in religious feminisms, followed by discussing the preference for implied rather than actual readers to suggest that post-Christian women’s biblicalism is an unexpected aspect of women’s spiritual reading practices. Finally, using examples from the fieldwork, I illustrate one of the ways post-Christian women’s biblicalism emerges in this research, as the women employ ‘filtering’ strategies to monitor their acceptance and use of the biblical texts in their spiritual lives.
  • Praise by animals in the Hebrew Bible

    Atkins, Peter Joshua; University of Chester
    Among ancient Near Eastern societies was a widespread and particularly intriguing belief that animals were able to worship and praise deities. This study shows the Hebrew Bible evidences the idea that animals were capable of praising God too and proceeds to observe and document the presence of numerous examples of this in specific biblical texts. Through understanding the place of animals in the Hebrew Bible, and their perceived activity in the ancient Near East, this study suggests animals are distinct agents of praise in their own right in the biblical texts.
  • The Final Frontier? Religion and Posthumanism in Film and TV

    Graham, Elaine L; University of Chester (2014-10-08)
    Whilst science fiction is often considered secular in emphasis, more recently it has started to exhibit a different sensibility. This may reflect wider social and cultural change, and the emergence of a ‘post-secular’ culture, in which new and enduring forms of religiosity co-exist, albeit in certain tension, with secular and atheist world-views. In contrast to the assertion that any future or technologically-advanced world would have no need for religion, are more sympathetic treatments of religious belief and identity. This does not represent the extinction of science fiction’s elevation of scientific enquiry and secular humanist values, however: rather, faith is regarded as both inimical to progress and an inescapable part of what it means to be, and become, fully human.
  • Divine Imaginaries: The Turn to Literature in the Feminist Theology and Spirituality

    Llewellyn, Dawn; University of Chester
    At least since beginnings of the second wave of the women’s movement, feminist theologies and spiritualities have turned to the literary world, particularly women’s writing, as a resource. The novels, poetry, prose, and drama authored by women have been used by feminist scholarship to critique the patriarchal and androcentric language, teachings, doctrine, and scriptures of religious traditions, and to reimagine the sacred in ways that validate, recognize, and speak to women’s spiritual lives. In this chapter, I discuss religious feminism’s very literary disposition, and the ways it has harnessed women’s creative written worlds. First, I highlight two connected reasons for the ‘turn to literature’ - the dissatisfaction with Christian scripture and the desire for an alternative set of ‘sacred texts’ to inspire and generate new theological and spiritual insights – drawing on feminists whose work draws together religion and women’s literature. Second, the chapter highlights that while the use of literature has been vital in the development of feminist religious thinking, the reading strategies adopted have tended to rely on the often problematic categories of women’s experience and authorship. This can mean that feminist literary spiritualities have been guilty of essentializing women’s religious identities, and by preferring women’s writing as its sacred texts has limited literature. Finally, the chapter suggests that despite the prevalence of literature in feminist theology, actual, embodied women readers are a neglected but important part of the turn to literature.
  • Maternal Silences: Motherhood and Voluntary Childlessness in Christianity

    Llewellyn, Dawn; University of Chester (Brill, 2016-06-20)
    In Christianity, there is an ideology of motherhood that pervades scripture, ritual, and doctrine, yet there is an academic silence that means relatively little space has been given to motherhood and mothering, and even less to voluntary childlessness, from a faith perspective. By drawing on qualitative in-depth interviews with Christian women living in Britain, narrating their experiences of motherhood and voluntary childlessness, I suggest there are also lived maternal silences encountered by women in contemporary Christianity. There is a maternal expectation produced through church teaching, liturgy and culture that constructs women as ‘maternal bodies’ (Gatrell 2008); this silences and marginalises women from articulating their complex relationship with religion, motherhood, and childlessness in ways that challenge their spiritual development. However, this article also introduces the everyday and intentional tactics women employ to disrupt the maternal expectation, and hereby interrupt the maternal silence.

View more