• Reterritorialised Spirituality: A Study in Cathedral Mission

      Baker, Christopher T. H.; Bull, Robert D. (University of Chester, 2015-11)
      English Cathedrals have an established and valued place in their respective locations. Their central role is to provide “the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission”. The contention is that whilst there may be clarity about mission in terms of worship, education and interpretation of the building, there is less clarity about where the energy should be focused in terms of a wider missional role. Recent reports have sought to measure the social and economic impact a cathedral has in terms of its local environs and its reach in terms of social and spiritual capital. The cultural context suggests a rapidly changing religious landscape where the movement, in a consumer society, is away from obligation and traditional forms of religiosity towards a more open understanding of spirituality with freedom to explore, to sample and to choose what to consume. This research approaches mission from a spiritual perspective. It creates also an outer/inner approach from which to establish its empirical work. As such it is concerned with the construction of theory; it follows an inductive approach, though is openly disposed to an inductive-deductive interaction where appropriate. It provides an in-depth methodology based on a case study scenario utilising the qualitative techniques of focus groups and semi-structured interviews through which to collect the data. There are four data-sets each presenting an outer/inner perspective. Of unique interest was the appearance of a sizeable Occupy camp, occupying the site outside the case study cathedral for fourteen weeks raising fundamental questions about economic and social inequality at a time when austerity measures were beginning to take effect. This critical incident drew the cathedral into a more public engagement with the big questions that impact upon our daily lives. A key finding from the empirical work in the case study is that alongside its ecclesial focus the perceived core priority must be its mission to the city through its invitation and welcome but also through its outreach. I use social capital theory to engage with aspects of ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’. Beyond the functionalist approaches, cultural and symbolic capital enables a more reflexive understanding of institution and cathedral habitus. This moves the analysis from the horizontal to the vertical axis by which ‘linkages’ are made with mechanisms of power and issues of justice and care. This facilitates further dialogue with global flows and their impact on daily life which integrates with the critical incident that was Occupy. Further analytical methods were incorporated to engage with these macro themes. The theological investigation emanates from within three spiritualities, ‘ecclesial’, ‘mystical’ and ‘prophetic’. It seeks to focus on the spirituality of the community, the community’s engagement with the consumer-led ‘spiritual turn’ and its bridging/linking role in the wider community. As a theological device I use a typology taken from the reading of the psalms to convey orientation, disorientation and new orientation. It coheres in particular with themes of disenchantment and the search for deeper meaning. This thesis contributes to the field of knowledge and the corpus of literature by proposing a model of cathedral mission that draws upon its spiritual and social capital to engage within the liminal spaces of emergent spiritualities, and the contested spaces of disorientation and disenchantment recasting fresh theological moorings to engage meaningfully with issues of justice and care. The outcome is reflective, dynamic and strategic, “creating new understandings of existing issues” and interacting with “disparate concepts in new ways”.
    • Imprisoned Grief: A Theological, Spiritual and Practical Response

      Graham, Elaine L; Mowat, Harriet; Baker, Christopher; Llewellyn, Dawn; Lane, Rosalind A. (University of Chester, 2015-06)
      This thesis identifies ‘imprisoned grief’ as a new phenomenon. The Living with Loss project was a theological, spiritual and practical response to it co-constructed by the research participants and myself as the practitioner-researcher. The project ran from 2008-2011 at both HMP Kirkham and HMP Whitemoor. My initial findings highlighted the fact that ‘disenfranchised grief’ (Doka 1989) and ‘self-disenfranchised grief’ (Doka 2002) were inadequate descriptions of what I uncovered in my research. Doka himself (2002, p18) called for further research to be carried out in particular circumstances including prison, encouraging my own confidence in the importance of such research. ‘Disenfranchised grief’ is a condition which people feel when unable to access support from family, friends, religious and professional organisations in living with issues of grief and loss. It is exhibited by prisoners where the acute loss of family, relationships, home, employment, finance, education and ability to parent come together. Issues of loss and bereavement accumulate when a parent or other family members becomes terminally ill or dies during their imprisonment. ‘Self-disenfranchised grief’ is a self- initiated form of disenfranchised grief where the self will not allow grieving to take place. I consider that neither description fully explains the condition I encountered, which I have called ‘imprisoned grief.’ Imprisoned grief is distinctive because it manifests itself due to the loss of freedom brought about by imprisonment; during anticipatory grieving whilst in prison; following bereavement in prison and loss acts as a factor in criminal behaviour which include loss due to homicide. My research offers spiritual, theological and practically distinctive coping strategies and insights into how imprisoned grief can be ‘unlocked’ and prisoners can feel liberated from it. Enfranchisement was established between family members by sharing feelings and emotions in group work and through the composition of and facilitation of faith rituals. I argue that it was their beliefs and spirituality which sustained, combated and freed them from ‘imprisoned grief’.
    • Germain Grisez’s natural law and creation theology as a framework for reflection on climate change and the ecological crisis

      Clough, David; Deane-Drummond, Celia; Turvey, Jacaranda L. (University of Liverpool, 2016-01)
      My thesis is that a recovery of Germain Grisez’s theological ethics in relation to the environment and the application of his conservative Catholic methodology to climate change can yield a novel and significant contribution to Catholic theological reflection on this central challenge in an age of ecological crisis. This thesis argues that climate change and the wider ecological crisis are ‘signs of the times’—and hence are appropriate issues for Catholic theological reflection—both in principle and on the basis of their classification as such within the authoritative teaching of the Church’s magisterium. The scientific evidence for the phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming is robust and the UNFCCC establishes a collective legal obligation to deliver a greenhouse gas abatement strategy rigorous enough to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the earth’s climatic system’. This thesis questions both the assumption of endemic anthropocentricism in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the critical-revisionist methodology adopted by a number of ecotheologians in relation to Vatican teaching on the basis of this assumption. This thesis proposes an alternative approach to reflection on ecological issues employing a conservative Catholic theological method exemplified in the work of Germain Grisez. This thesis proposes a rereading of Grisez’s natural law through the lens of his creation theology that reveals an important and hitherto overlooked resource for environmental ethics. Although Grisez himself does not address the climate challenge in his published work, this thesis shows that his ecological insights are pertinent to the issue and application of his theological method can contribute constructively to the wider project of confronting the climate crisis from a Catholic perspective. This thesis further argues that Grisez’s reconstruction of natural law is viable, in that it represents one philosophically cogent solution to the naturalistic fallacy, and that neither his choice of this solution nor his divergence from Classical Thomism compromise the construction of a ‘Grisez School environmental ethics’. In addition, his natural law has the virtue of catholicity in its capacity to contribute to ecumenical and secular debates necessary to the resolution of the climate crisis.
    • The Structure of the Poetic Text: Structural Cohesion and Foregrounding as the Dual Rhetorical Discourse Function of Linguistic Parallelism in Biblical Hebrew Poetry

      Firth, David G.; Ayars, Matthew I. (University of Chester, 2016-07-31)
      The present project, by employing Roman Jakobson's conceptualisation of parallelism and literary linguistic analysis, argues that linguistic parallelism occurring at all levels of language (from phoneme to syntagmeme) in biblical Hebrew poetry has a dual rhetorical discourse function of foregrounding and structural cohesion. It is proposed that patterned grammatical-syntactic continuity and deviation at a colometric level creates poetic unity that harmonises the poem’s internal diversity and poetic variation across macrostructural levels that fosters foreground semantic components of the text. As the poetic text moves forward as a discourse, the diversity created by grammatical-syntactic deviation becomes patterned with a regular form of sequence that creates structural cohesion within the poem as discourse. After outlining the state of current research on biblical Hebrew poetry and exploring Jakobson’s poetics and their relevance to this project, the heart of the work is a detailed analysis of each poetic line in Psalms 113–118. These were chosen as a representative sample in order to test the validity of the model.
    • The Church in the Eternal Purpose of the Triune God: Toward a Pentecostal Trinitarian Ecclesiology of Theosis drawing on the early theology of the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom

      Black, Jonathan A. (University of Chester, 2016-04)
      This dissertation examines the ecclesiology of the early writers of the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom, and seeks to build upon this largely neglected body of Pentecostal thought for the contrastive work of contemporary Pentecostal systematic theology. A particular emphasis is placed on the thought of D.P. Williams as the most significant Apostolic writer of the early years of the movement. Connections between Apostolic ecclesiology and the Pentecostal distinctive of the baptism in the Holy Spirit are examined, as well as the role of Trinitarian theology in early Apostolic ecclesiology. Attention is then given both to distinctive Apostolic themes, including the 5-fold ministry and the Eternal Purpose, as well as their approach to other ecclesiological doctrines including the Totus Christus and the Lord’s Supper, before moving on to a constructive synthesis.
    • A practical theology of congregational song: Developing a wholesome “song of the people”.

      Morris, Wayne; Morris, Margaret A. (University of Chester, 2016-07-22)
      This thesis seeks to put in writing a practical theology of congregational song - the song of the people. Congregational song has been overlooked; studies of church music tend to focus on choral music and studies of hymns tend to look at words rather than music. This study seeks to tell the story of the song of the people, and to develop a practical theology of congregational song derived from the song itself and from a congregation’s reflections on that song.
    • Reading more than Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis

      Scharbrodt, Oliver; Dad Mohammadi, Mersedeh (University of Chester, 2016-11-19)
      This thesis reclaims the analysis of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. It is mindful of analysis of the stereotypical, and partial tendencies of orientalist representations of Satrapi’s work by both Iranian officials and “Western” media and readership. Themes are detected from this analysis and pertain to the message and intention of the author to create her work. The intentio lectoris1 (i.e. what audiences believe or led to believe) proposed that orientalist paradigms present the meaning of the work or Satrapi’s agenda, i.e. the intentio auctoris. Persepolis has been enthusiastically received all around the world, except in Iran. It has been described and interpreted as the critique of a courageous girl against the foundations of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Notwithstanding the success, the graphic novel and the animated movie derived from it in 2007 have been banned by the Iranian government, and subsequently Marjane Satrapi has been refused entry into the country. The polarised reception of Satrapi’s work in Iran and worldwide, is contextualised within (neo) orientalist critique. I detect in these receptions both potentials and problems. Reclaiming aspects of Persepolis’ analysis that have been excluded from and therefore devalued by external agencies is affirmed as a necessary and important contribution. However, I note that the overwhelming reluctance amongst “Western” media and news reporters to speak of Satrapi’s dual and neutral position, or to grasp at specificity her intentio auctoris, prevents us from a thorough discussion of their analysis. Satrapi’s work is ultimately left in the hands of clichés. I attempt to analyse Persepolis in such a way that it not only affirms rationality, fluidity, and duality, but also offers new and beneficial ways to argue Satrapi’s position and intention. My thesis is thus partly rooted in a feminist standpoint perspective to give voice to Satrapi’s agenda. What is more, it converses with similar restrictive regulations and contextualises them within an analysis of selected post-revolutionary autobiographical literature. My ultimate goal is to analyse the Iranian position towards Persepolis by making sense of the theological and political thought of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Revolution, and the concept of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurists) and the national and international responses to it in a way in which to take and transform the representation of Persepolis and Iranian culture consequently. This is done by explaining the current Iranian situation and Iranian responses to internal and external threats. Theological analyses and the explication of some of the historical complexities affecting modern Iran (especially after the revolution) would be beneficial along the way.
    • Missional pastoral care: innovation in charismatic evangelical urban practice

      Llewellyn, Dawn; Graham, Elaine L.; Ruddick, Anna E. (University of Chester, 2016-06)
      A new model of mission is emerging among participants in the urban ministry of the Eden Network which reimagines evangelical identity and missiology. The Eden Network is a charismatic evangelical organisation which has engaged in incarnational urban ministry for the last nineteen years. In the course of my roles as a staff member and as a local participant observer, I identified tensions arising for Eden team members between their inherited evangelical theology and their experiences of mission in urban communities. This research aims to explore this dissonance, identifying the subcultural narratives of evangelicalism and the ways in which these narratives are complicated by lived experience.
    • Reading the Bible Outside the Church: A Case Study

      Ford, David G. (University of Chester, 2015-10)
      Biblical studies and theology have been impacted by the “turn to the reader” in literary theory, and scholars are now more aware of the significance of the reader in the activity of Bible reading (Davies, 2013). However, most of the research exploring Bible readers has concentrated on active members of faith communities (Village, 2007; Rogers, 2009; Strhan, 2013) and University staff (Clines, 1995; Hull, 2001; Pyper, 2006). In Britain, those outside of the church and the academy are missing from this research, that is, the majority of the population. This thesis considers how people who are not regular Bible readers might read five biblical texts. In particular I focus on men, as the cohort of British society least likely to read the Bible (Field, 2014). Ten months of fieldwork was undertaken at a Chemical Industrial Plant in North West England, where 20 men read through five biblical texts. Using annotation, questionnaires and interviews I examined how the texts were read. The data which emerged shows that the men’s relationships with the five biblical texts shaped their readings of those texts. By “relationship” I am principally referring to the associations evoked in a reader as they come to a text. I argue for this relational reading practice in three ways. First, using Louise Rosenblatt’s transactional theory of reading (1995 [1938]; 1994 [1978]; 2005) I suggest that these readers and texts are not unconnected entities but exist within the same dynamic system. A reader brings all that they are to a text, and the aspects of each reader considered most salient to the anticipated reading assume an influential role in the reading transaction. Second, under the headings: “experience,” “identity,” “attitude’” and “belief,” I provide examples from my case study to illustrate this practice. These explore the various ways in which the men shaped their readings, indeed typically dominated them, as reading the texts reaffirmed their relationship with them. Third, however I also note a few occasions when the texts stimulated the reader into an atypical reading. This challenged the readers’ prior relationship with the texts and further demonstrates the relational nature of these readings, one involving both parties.
    • The new East Window of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London: a window of opportunity for developing ordinary theology through a visual image

      Betts, Edmund J. (University of Chester, 2014-12-15)
      Ordinary theology is a developing concept focusing on people’s explicit religious beliefs, and relying on anecdotal evidence and other academic writers to bridge the gap with academy theology. It has influenced empirical studies of ordinary people’s experience with the Bible, doctrine and cathedral visiting. A feminist qualitative ethnographic study and action research provide other voices as alternatives to this empiricism. Theologians-in-the-arts have appropriated art to illustrate their academic theology. This thesis takes further the use of a visual image, with a recently commissioned non-figurative designed window, by a female Iranian-born artist, in an well-known London church. It enquires how far a non-specific doctrinal and non-narrative window encourages wider public participation in meaning making and metaphor generation, challenging the current static concept of ordinary theology. An interpretative paradigm with perspectives from constructivism, phenomenology, and hermeneutics shapes an inductive and qualitative approach to give attention to regular worshippers and visitors. A visual ethnographic method elicits data through semi-structured questionnaires, interviews, and journal writing. Adopting a ‘lay’ outsider participant role during the fieldwork, unstructured situational interviews with passers-by, street traders and church staff were also undertaken. Interpretive lenses of framing, the pastoral cycle, ethnomethodology, and nitty-gritty hermeneutics assisted in analysing the data. The window attracted a high degree of participation, engaging people in reflection. Over 85% of participants were professional/university and technically educated and competent in academic disciplines other than theology. The respondents initially made non-religious statements challenging ordinary theology, which focussed on explicit religion. When respondents viewed it a second time, they used religious concepts. The analysis led to the construction of ordinary portraits constructed of previously not heard voices and challenged the earlier faces of academic partners. The window is a dialogically framed ‘lived experience’ breaking the ‘is’ of metaphor and the gestalt law of closure. This research explores the ‘is not’ of metaphor. It explores the relationship of image, metaphor and concept by focussing on window parts; the images of centre, line and web. The window becomes both a working metaphor and a model of working metaphors extensively used by these participants. Ordinary theology discovers through feminist metaphorical theology that concepts are metaphorical, focusing on both dissimilarities and similarities. The window as a visual image provides an opportunity to extend the concept and metaphor of ordinary theology. It invites academic professionals to an intensive fieldwork experience using a visual image to rediscover a general process of reflection and to reveal people’s indirect and implicit metaphorical ordinary theology.
    • Perichoresis, Pot Plants, Prayer Cards and Poiesis: A renewed pastoral paradigm emerging out of care of those with a dual diagnosis and conversations with midwives and obstetricians

      Prince, Alastair (University of Chester, 2015-01)
      This research arose from my experiences as a curate in England’s Northwest seeking to embody God’s love in the pastoral care of men with addiction and mental health issues (dual diagnosis), reflecting a wider societal issue around the care of people with that combination of problems, and the under-recognised role of clergy as unofficial ‘front-line mental health workers’. This is a role that clergy get little training to discharge effectively, and so the research methodology employed was that of a Constructivist Grounded Theory as I’ve attempted to use insights from a variety of disciplines to act as a ‘scaffold’ in order to work out what clergy could meaningfully and consistently offer. Treatment for those with a dual diagnosis is difficult and often unsuccessful because it requires a collaborative relationship between patient and carer where often there may be a lack of acceptance that the issues exist. Insights were sought then from a related, but different field, namely midwifery and obstetrics, engaging with intrauterine death – where the mother may not have completely accepted the realities that they face. Interviews were conducted with clergy in the field, midwives and obstetricians. Accounts of the experiences of dual diagnosed individuals were sought through existing evidence in the public sphere to minimise the risk of harm for research subjects. Analysis of the research data revealed that pastoral care in those situations of complex bereavement are about embracing the tension between absence and presence, and helping people through that liminality, to reappropriate their grief and expectations of what life ‘should be’ to ‘how life is’ and ‘how life might be in the future’. The significance of the role of objects is explored with particular emphasis on ‘memory boxes’, and their nearest equivalents in the field of dual diagnosis. These insights are connected to the academic study of the Doctrine of the Trinity, particularly focussing on the work of Sarah Coakley, with a thorough exploration of the metaphor of dance that has evolved around the concept of ‘perichoresis’ with connections made between doctrine and modern insights from dance studies. The result is a renewed pastoral paradigm that is collaborative, dynamic, liminal, and with an acceptance that care is not simply about ‘being present’, but about resourcing people for ‘absence’ as well through a poiesis that emphasises the freedom of the cared for, whilst encouraging and seeking what will motivate them to enter into the liminal space, a movement through which will enable their greater flourishing. This paradigm has implications beyond those with a dual diagnosis, and can be extended into pastoral care in its widest sense.
    • Mission in a Welsh Context: Patterns of Nonconformist Mission in Wales and the Challenge of Contextualisation in the Twenty First Century

      Ollerton, David R. J. (University of Chester, 2015-07)
      This thesis considers aspects of contextualisation in the mission of local churches in twenty-first century Wales. Welsh Nonconformity rose rapidly to a dominant position in Welsh society and culture in the nineteenth century, but has subsequently declined equally rapidly. By the beginning of the twenty-first century its total demise is predicted. The research examines the contextual factors in this decline, and their relevance for possible recovery. Contextualisation is an essential part of missiology, in calibrating appropriate mission to the distinctives of a particular nation or locality. Wales is shown to be a distinctive context for mission, both nationally and regionally, in relation to specific aspects: religious, geographic, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, social and political. Contextual studies have been done for other mission contexts, but not for Wales. This research seeks to address this lack. The thesis first outlines the development of the main approaches in global mission, their underlying assumptions, and their outworking in the mission of local churches in the West. The approaches have been identified as Evangelistic, Lausanne, Missio Dei, Liberal and Emergent. Drawing on hundreds of questionnaire responses and extensive interviews with Nonconformist leaders, the research examines how the different approaches to mission have been expressed in Wales, and how each approach adjusted to each aspect of context. The growth trends of the different approaches, patterns of church and mission, and adjustments to Welsh contexts in the first decade of the twenty-first century, or not, are then examined. The resulting analysis enables good practice to be identified, and approaches for effective mission suggested for the coming decades.
    • Deconstructing Materiality: A Phenomenological Ethnography of Darśan and Indian Story-Telling Scrolls in Western Museums

      Gamberi, Valentina (University of Chester, 2015-11)
      This study investigates Western curatorial practices towards the darśan, the visual contact established between the Hindu worshipper and the deity who is believed to give life to its material representation, expressed by two sets of Indian storytelling scrolls, the Bengali pats and the Rajasthani paṛs. Whilst the scrolls, especially the Rajasthani ones, are believed to be the temples and the icons of the deity depicted, Western curators appreciate them either as examples of ethnographic theories, or as pure art works. On the one hand, materiality is thus animistically empowered (see Faure, 1998), and, consequently, is treated as an anthropomorphic entity or fetish. On the other hand, materiality is considered as a reified idea, an objectification of a social structure, or of an ideal of beauty. Latour (2010) calls this phenomenon of reification a factish concept, which is revered in a semi-spiritual or post-secular way. Modernity, according to Latour, is characterised by this opposition between self-evident, abstract and intellectual notions –e.g. the categories of the sacred and of the profane –and the concrete and irrational reality. The differentiation between reality and ideas recalls the broader boundary between the human and the nonhuman. According to Merleau-Ponty (2003 [c. 1956]), materiality coincides with nature, one of the fundamental criteria of the categorisation of human/nonhuman. While human characteristics are highly rational, materiality, along with animality, is confined within the irrational realm and is considered as a passive actor, except for Gell’s (1998) theorisation of material agency. However, his conceptualisation depends upon an anthropomorphisation of the artefact by invoking the particular example of children’s play with toys. The present thesis explores the contribution of phenomenology, as the study of embodiments and incarnations, in problematising the role of materiality in its relationships with humans, and so the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman. On the one hand, the study employs phenomenology as a methodological tool, according to which the researcher’s body reveals a particular and intersubjective appraisal of materiality. On the other hand, phenomenology, corroborated by posthumanist studies, is the theoretical approach by which the duality object/subject is problematised. By this logic, phenomenology challenges the ontological idea of the I or human as separated from the Other or the nonhuman, by replacing it with a hybridism and a fusion between the perceiving and the perceived. Fieldwork data problematises this anthropomorphisation of materiality. In fact, visitors’ responses escape from the curators’ control and reveal how museum artefacts possess an agency independent from any human projection. In addition, data emphasises the irreconciliability between epistemic categories and the empiric reality. For instance, the Durkheimian notions of the sacred and of the profane become inapt to describe the phenomenon of the recreation of religious contexts and places, such as temples and altars.
    • Action Research as a Way of Doing Theology (ART): Transforming My Practice of Preaching the Bible with My Congregation

      Boyd, Jason C. (University of Chester, 2015-03-30)
      This thesis explores action research as a way of doing theology (ART). The contours of ART emerged through a collaborative inquiry into my practice of preaching the Bible within the context of congregational worship. It began with a niggling question, “What was happening in the communication space between me and my congregation?” An action research pilot project (March-April 2006) with Cumnock Congregational Church (Minister, 1998 - 2008) prepared the ground for a collaborative inquiry with Witney Congregational Church (Minister, 2009 - present). With the latter congregation we developed Word Café, an adaption of Brown and Isaacs World Café (2005), as a method of creating communicative space (Wicks & Reason, 2009) in which we explored our experience of what happened when I preached a sermon and examined what, if any changes, occurred during the period of November 2010 to July 2011. This is ideographic research and as such engages in first and second person inquiry, weaving together the voices and insights of participants. In the first person I integrate my spiritual formation and academic development with my vocation as a preacher. In the second person I give an account of the way in which I entered into a collaborative relationship with my congregation to research my preaching practice and their experience of it. I have constructed a narrative of a self-reflexive, critical examination of a single case (Gustavsen, 2003; Reason, 2003) of iterative cycles which encompass the process of co-planning and of the Word Café. My intention is to make a wider contribution to the practice of preaching by modelling ART as a dialogical, relational way of being, and to inspire other preachers and congregations to develop their own ways of reflecting on their practices and experiences of preaching the Bible in their own contexts. Arising out of my inquiry into my preaching practice is the concept of ART which has the potential to create and nurture dialogical space in the exploration and transformation of various aspects of congregational life. This is a contextual, emergent, and interdisciplinary account shaped by narratives of learning. The actions we took in attempting to create communicative space yielded the themes of a fresh hearing of the Bible, listening with my eyes, and exploring my own insider-outsider positionality, in particular through narratives of wisdom and power, silence, and affections. Central to the practice of ART is the growth of the qualities necessary for being authentic as a practitioner-researcher. I set out to demonstrate the way in which the development of attentional practices increased my awareness as I navigated the insider-outsider positionality of a preacher and researcher.
    • Marital Imagery in the Bible: An Exploration of the Cross-Domain Mapping of Genesis 2:24 and its Significance for the Understanding of New Testament Divorce and Remarriage Teaching

      Hamer, Colin G. (University of Chester, 2015-06)
      Genesis 2:23 speaks of a miraculous couple in a literal one-flesh union formed by God without a volitional or covenantal basis. Genesis 2:24 outlines a metaphoric restatement of that union whereby a naturally born couple, by means of a covenant, choose to become what they were not in a metaphoric one-flesh family union—such forms the aetiology of mundane marriage in both the Hebrew Bible and the NT. It is this Gen 2:24 marriage that is understood in the Hebrew Bible as the basis of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Yahweh and Israel, and in the NT of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Christ and the church—that is, Gen 2:24 is the source domain which is cross-mapped to the target domain (God ‘married’ to his people) in the marital imagery of both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It is an imagery that embraced the concept of divorce and remarriage. The NT affirms that the pattern for mundane marriage is to be found in Gen 2:24 (Matt 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12). But NT scholars and the church have conflated the aetiology of the Gen 2:24 marriage with that of Adam and Eve’s marriage described in Gen 2:23, and thus see that the NT teaches that mundane marriage is to be modelled on the primal couple—a model that imposes restrictions on divorce and remarriage that are not found in the Hebrew Bible. In contrast, this study suggests that the NT writers would not employ an imagery they repudiated in their own mundane marriage teaching, and that an exegesis of that teaching can be found, focusing on divorce and remarriage, which is congruent with its own imagery.
    • Cur Deus Homo? The Implications of the Doctorine of the Incarnation for a Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Humans and Non-Human Animals

      Hiuser, Kristopher J. (University of Chester, 2014-10)
      This thesis examines the doctrine of the incarnation with particular attention to the implications of this doctrine for a theological understanding of human/nonhuman relationships. To do so, it is guided by two driving questions: Why did God become human in particular in the incarnation?, and what are the implications of the humanity of Christ for the way in which Christian theology construes the human/nonhuman relationship? Each chapter is guided by these questions, and seeks to find and test the answers given by four major theologians from the Christian tradition: Anselm of Canterbury and sin, Gregory of Nyssa and the image of God, Maximus the Confessor and the human constitution as microcosm, and Karl Barth and the human calling to be a representative covenantal partner. Through the use of the guiding questions, and engagement with these four theologians and their respective answers, three theses are developed over the course of the dissertation. First, that God’s motivation for the incarnation extends beyond the human to include the nonhuman creature. Of the various reasons put forward throughout this thesis, each of them is shown to include the nonhuman animal in some way. Second, that God became human in particular due to the unique human calling to be a representative creature. In arriving at this conclusion, various viewpoints are considered and ultimately rejected as being sufficient to account for God’s will to become human in particular. Third, the unique human calling of representation is shown to carry with it ethical implications for humans with regards to nonhuman animals. Given the human calling of representing creation to God, and God to creation, there are necessary ethical implications which such a calling has for what it means to be human.
    • Towards a Narrative of Hope and Resilience: A Contemporary Paradigm for Christian Pastoral Ministry in the Face of Mortality

      Smith, Alexis (University of Chester, 2014-10)
      Analysis of current pastoral care practice, particularly of Christian pastoral care providers and chaplains, reveals a contemporary lacuna in Christian theological frameworks which contributes to North American Christians’ inability to connect a theological understanding of death with the experience of their human finitude despite the presence of considerable literature on death and dying. This gap deprives many Christians of the possibility of finding a unique and specific source of hope and strength within their own faith tradition for facing crisis. This thesis provides a methodology and theological foundation for a uniquely Christian contribution for facilitating hope, resilience--even transformation--throughout the various stages of life until the time of death. Extensive analysis of Christian views of death, as contrasted with non- Christian views, examined through early Christian writings, late Medieval and early Reformation texts, and the late twentieth century work of Moltmann contributed insights into theological frameworks to remedy the gap and also uncovered themes, metaphors, and language that could be important as Christians interpret life experience and dying. The thesis then utilized three contemporary fields of study to apply the insights into a practical ministry model: (1) research in resilience; (2) Narrative Therapy as developed by White and Epston and utilized by Christian therapists; and (3) hermeneutic theory from Capps, Browning, and Gerkin. Insights from these sources were critically evaluated for application in pastoral counselling, support, and education to help people, both in crisis and when facing death, find a substantial hope that transcends the reality of what they are experiencing. This thesis proposes a distinctively Christian response to death that enables people to retain a sense of their own worth and dignity in order to live meaningful lives until they die. Many people find 21st Century healthcare impersonal and non-empathetic; the work of this theses is intended to be important for helping people regain their sense of self and identity, thereby supporting healing and resilience. In addition, the thesis proposes pedagogic and theological reflection methods that would enhance the practice of chaplains in a rapidly changing healthcare environment that will increasingly require them to demonstrate how their practice enhances the wellbeing of those they serve and provides a contribution that is unique and has value to the healthcare system.
    • Contextualizing Church Planting among the Oromo Society: With particular Reference to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY)

      Djaleta Djaldessa, Tesso (University of Liverpool (Chester), 2011-06)
      This thesis aims to explore and analyse the success of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) strategy for Church Planting among the Oromo community in the wider social and cultural context of Ethiopia in general, and Oromia in particular. Since the 1970s the Church has made considerable efforts to effectively evangelize the diverse unevangelized peoples of Ethiopia and to create new Christian communities in their own cultural and religious contexts by developing what the EECMY calls ‘Church Planting strategies’. I argue that EECMY Church planting has been only partially successful in that, while the EECMY has approximately three million Oromo members, after one hundred and ten years of its evangelism in Ethiopia, the main reasons for this growth have been due to existing Church members having children and through members of other Christian denominations joining the EECMY. The expansion of the EECMY has mostly not been among Oromo people unacquainted with Christianity. This thesis, therefore, carefully examines and analyzes why and how EECMY Church Planting has been ineffective among the vast majority of Oromo people. Findings from my fieldwork demonstrate a number of reasons for the lack of success of Church planting among the Oromo people. Notable examples include: Oromos’ strong preservation of their culture and tradition, fear of the persistent Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), persecution of evangelical Christians and the EECMY mission approach, EOC collaboration with the suppressive Abyssinian colonial system and the Western missionary cultural influence which was adopted and is still being practised by the EECMY. This study argues that a combination of a high regard for traditional Oromo culture and religion and widespread negative experiences of Christianity as a religion of repression and colonization has left many Oromo people feeling alienated from, and afraid of, Christianity. Recognizing the current ineffective nature of the EECMY’s Church planting strategies, this research then seeks to make a response by constructing alternative, contextually informed Church Planting approaches which do not disregard Oromo language, culture or tradition. In order to achieve this, the thesis develops contextual methods of mission, notably a ‘translation’ model of contextualization. A contextually appreciative approach to mission, it is argued, will in turn help to change perceptions of Christianity among the Oromo people and open up opportunities for a more successful mission praxis among Oromos.
    • An insider evaluation of the translation process in use in the BSL Bible Translation Project: Explorations in textuality, intermediality and sacrament

      Graham, Elaine L.; Young, Alys; Raistrick, Tracey A. (University of Chester, 2013-12)
      This thesis is a critical account of a qualitative, evaluative study into the translation processes and practices in use within the BSL Bible Translation Project, undertaken as a collaborative doctoral studentship funded by the AHRC/ESRC1. It has proceeded collaboratively, valuing the stories, knowledge and experiences of the participants. The data‐set presented herein was generated by means of participant observation and interviews with Project Team members. It was analysed in its digital, visual form using an inductive, thematic approach, and is presented with minimal commentary (Chapters 4 and 5). Following this presentation, the data‐set is further reflected upon in order to shed light upon existing understandings of sign language text composition strategies, team translation praxis, intermediality and sacrament (Chapters 6, 7 and 8). The evidence presented in this thesis represents a new source of data and offers valuable insights into translation and exegetical practice in its own right and, I will argue, as a means of human flourishing. This thesis problematizes previous descriptions of Signed Languages as ‘picture‐languages’, identifying two ways in which such descriptions have been unhelpful, even inaccurate. Firstly, that this nomenclature, with its association with picture‐books and pre‐linguistic skills, has contributed to the persistence of perceptions of d/Deaf people as being linguistically less‐able than their non‐Deaf peers and secondly, that such descriptions are deficient because they fail to fully capture the complex nature of Signed Languages. This thesis argues for a re engagement with the inherently cinematographic nature of Signed Languages and explores ways in which this would yield benefits in the fields of Deaf education, the teaching of Signed Languages to second‐language learners, and the training of interpreters and translators. This thesis will also argue that the translation practices of the BSL Bible Translation Project constitute a clear example of Deaf people engaging in metalinguistic reflection on their own language‐use. That is, that the data provide clear evidence of literate thought, specifically of Signed Language literacy in action, and is further evidence in support of the growing confidence and agency within the Deaf Community with regards to the status and the rich linguistic and material properties of BSL, including its suitability as a mediator of the sacred. This thesis will go on to offer reflections on what the data have to tell us about the nature of Biblical texts; both through how they are produced, and the nature of those texts as artefacts and bearers of religious meanings. Engaging with existing understandings of sacrament and incarnation, including the possibility that the act of Bible reading and translation can be said to constitute a sacramental activity, it argues that this is particularly so when such reading and ‘speaking’ of the text occurs through Signed Language.
    • Bonhoeffer: Responsible work - A diachronic approach to a synchronic theme: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology of work

      Plant, Stephen; Greggs, Tom; Fulford, Ben; McCabe, John H. (University of Chester, 2015-01)
      This thesis attempts to highlight in a new way the importance of work to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both in what he wrote and how he lived, and draws upon history, biography, and theology. It constructs a narrative drawn from the interrelation between these elements in an innovative fashion, seeking to convey a fresh sense of the way in which Bonhoeffer’s theology relates to the context of the time. A central argument of the study is that Bonhoeffer’s engagement with the subject of work and his theology of work is something foundationally important to him and a theme which evolves and develops over time. Proposing work as a central hermeneutical key to the understanding of Bonhoeffer is a task which has not been attempted before. The thesis tracks the theme of work and its development, noting over the course of Bonhoeffer’s life how a fuller understanding of the centrality of work throws up fresh understandings of a number of key transition points in his life and makes sense of them in a new way.The final section argues that Bonhoeffer’s work in resistance in Nazi Germany was good work and that a theological formulation which guided Bonhoeffer towards his role in tyrannicide was present in his work-in-progress doctrine of the mandates, an incomplete doctrine which in the end is a hope-filled one. Methodologically, this thesis tracks the development and articulation of Bonhoeffer’s theology of work from the early days through to his arrest, focussing mainly, but not entirely, on his written output in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke (DBW) series, but not including the prison theology because such an approach appropriately reflects the un-finished nature of Bonhoeffer’s theology.