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.

Recent Submissions

  • Michael Gilmour, Animals in the Writings of C.S. Lewis

    Clough, David (Edinburgh University Press, 2019-10)
  • Rethinking our treatment of animals in light of Laudato Si’

    Clough, David L.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-09-19)
    The encyclical Laudato Si’ builds on and extends previous Roman Catholic church teaching on animals to affirm their value as beloved creatures of God and reject anthropocentric claims that they were created merely to provide for human needs. It draws on the Franciscan tradition to affirm other animals as our sisters and brothers, and notes that these relationships have implications for our treatment of animals. The encyclical fails to connect concern for other-than-human animals with critiques of industrial animal agriculture, however, which is an odd omission given its consideration of other practical issues such as the genetic manipulation of plant and animals, its express concern for biodiversity, and its call for an ecological conversion in the context of climate change. This chapter begins by surveying the valuable framework the encyclical sets up for understanding the place of animals in Christian theology and ethics. It then describes how we are using animals for food today. Finally, it makes the case that the encyclical’s framework demands obvious and urgent changes in the way we make use of other animals for food.
  • Salvation as Praxis

    Morris, Wayne; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014-01-02)
    Will people of other faiths be 'saved' and to what extent should the response to this question shape Christian engagements with people of other faiths? Historically, the predominant answer to these questions has been that the person of another faith will not be saved and is therefore in need of conversion to Christianity for their salvation to be possible. Consequently, it has been understood to be the obligation of Christian persons to convert people of other faiths. More recent theologies of religions for the past half century and more have sought to reconsider these approaches to soteriology. This has sometimes led to a reaffirmation of the status quo and at other times to an alternative soteriological understanding. In seeking to articulate soteriologies that make logical and doctrinal sense, too often these new approaches to salvation and people of other faiths have paid little attention to questions of practice. Drawing on alternative understandings of soteriology as deification, healing, and liberation, each perspective having ancient roots in the Christian tradition, it is argued that salvation can be understood as form of concrete earthly practice. Understood in this way, this book considers how these alternative theologies of salvation might shape Christian practices in a way that departs from a history in which the person of another faith has been perceived as a threat to Christianity and therefore in need of conversion. Further it asks how the complex multi-faith world of the twenty-first century might better inform and shape the way in which Christian theologies frame soteriological understandings.
  • ‘That bhikkhu lets go both the near and far shores’: meaning and metaphor in the refrain from the uraga verses

    Jones, Dhivan T.; University of Chester (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 2016-11)
    The uraga (‘serpent’) verses are some early Buddhist stanzas, preserved in different versions, each with the refrain (in Pāli at Sn vv.1–17) so bhikkhu jahāti orapāraṃ, urago jiṇṇam iva tacaṃ purāṇaṃ, ‘That bhikkhu lets go both the near and far shores, like a serpent its worn-out old skin’. The meaning of orapāra, ‘near and far shores’, has posed a problem for ancient and modern commentators, because according to the usual metaphor of ‘crossing the flood’ the bhikkhu lets go the ‘near shore’, which is saṃsāra, to reach the safety of the ‘far shore’, which is nirvāṇa. I discuss some commentarial and recent discussions of the refrain, before presenting two possible solutions to this problem: first in terms of the old binary cosmology, whereby the bhikkhu lets go the ‘near shore’ of this world and the ‘far shore’ of the other, and second in terms of the ‘stream of the Dharma’ metaphor, in which the bhikkhu lets go the ‘near shore’ of the subjective sense spheres and the ‘far shore’ of the objective sense spheres. I conclude with a consideration of metaphor in the uraga verses refrain, and how the refrain may be an example of early Buddhist non-dualism.
  • Living Paradoxes: On Agamben, Taylor and human subjectivity

    Leung, King-Ho (Telos, 2019-06-17)
    Over the last two decades, Giorgio Agamben and Charles Taylor have produced important and influential genealogical works on the philosophical and political conceptions of secularity. Yet in their recent work, both of these thinkers have respectively returned to a prominent theme in their earlier works: Human life. This essay offers a parallel reading of Agamben and Taylor as post-Heideggerian critics of the modern conception of human subjectivity. Through examining these their respective characterizations of modern subjectivity — namely Taylor’s account of the “disengaged self” and Agamben’s conception of the “excluded-included” bare life, this essay seeks to highlight not only the Heideggerian currents underlying the philosophical anthropologies of Agamben and Taylor, but also the ontological paradoxicalities they detect in the conception of human existence and subjectivity in politico-philosophical modernity. After reviewing the different aspects of Agamben’s and Taylor’s critiques of modern subjectivity as well as the traditional metaphysical conception of humans as “language animals”, this essay concludes by sketching a robust and affirmative “paradoxical” conception of human beings as “language animals” which simultaneously takes into account the insights from Taylor’s (post)analytic philosophical renewal of Aristotelianism and Agamben’s critical analysis of contemporary biopolitics in the continental philosophical tradition.
  • Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe

    Shanneik, Yafa; Heinhold, Chris; Ali, Zahra (Brill, 2017-12-04)
    Abstract This article provides an introduction to the special issue on Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe.1 With six empirically rich case studies on Shia Muslim communities in various European countries, this issue intends: first, to illustrate the historical developments and emergence of the Shia presence in Europe; second, to highlight the local particularities of the various Shia communities within each nation state and demonstrate their transnational links; and third, to provide for the first time an empirical comparative study on the increasingly visible presence of Shia communities in Europe that fills an important gap in research on Muslims in Europe.
  • Revelation

    Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2020)
    A social identity commentary of the book of Revelation in a single volume commentary of the New Testament
  • Introduction

    Morris, Wayne; University of Chester (University of Chester Press, 2019-05-25)
    Fr Martin McAlinden was a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Dromore and Director of Pastoral Theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth. Martin was studying for a doctorate at the University of Chester when, in 2016, he sadly died. His research had focussed on the spiritual malaise experienced by many priests in the Catholic Church in Ireland. In response, he developed a theology rooted in the ancient notion of Acedia and he used this as a way of talking about the spiritual crises many priests experience. The ancient response to Acedia, the command to stay in one’s cell and pray, provided Martin with a way of speaking about how this spiritual malaise might be transformed. This book brings together a major article that has emerged out of Martin’s research, together with a series of responses from many who accompanied him during his studies. It is offered to Martin’s brother priests, and to the whole Church, as a gift of love that might, it is hoped, contribute to the spiritual renewal of the Church.
  • The embodied Deaf God: a God just like us

    Morris, Wayne; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-05-22)
    The body, whether understood positively or negatively, has always been a part of Christian thinking and practice. However, the body has often been viewed as a ‘prison’ from which humans should seek to escape. In this paper, I suggest that, despite dominant theological discourses that have sought to negate the human body – and especially bodies that do not conform to certain norms – we find in the Christian tradition extra-ordinary theologies and spiritualities of survival and resistance expressed through the body. Deaf perspectives on God provide one example of this. By giving attention to the ways in which Deaf people imagine God as embodied, I argue that we can imagine ourselves as just like God – concretely in God’s image in our embodied condition, and that in this discovery, we can learn to affirm our embodied states in all their diversity.
  • The Inalienable Alien: Giorgio Agamben and the Political Ontology of Hong Kong

    Leung, King-Ho (Taylor and Francis, 2017-04-03)
    Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, this article offers a philosophical interpretation of Hong Kong’s recent Umbrella Movement and the city’s political identity since its 1997 handover to China. With the constitutional principle of ‘one country, two systems’ it has held since 1997, Hong Kong has existed as an ‘inalienable alien’ part of China not dissimilar to that of Agamben’s political ontology of the homo sacer’s ‘inclusive exclusion’ in the polis. In addition to highlighting how Agamben’s politico-ontological notions such as ‘exception’ and ‘inclusive exclusion’ can illuminate the events of the Umbrella Movement, this article focuses particularly on the figure of the student, which many have seen as the symbolic face of the protest campaign. Considering how the student may also be regarded as a figure of ‘exception’, this article argues that the ‘exceptional’ role of the student highlights the unique sociopolitical as well as pedagogical aspects of the Umbrella Movement. Finally, comparing Hong Kong’s 2014 protests to Agamben’s philosophical account of the 1989 Tiananmen protests, this article concludes by suggesting that the Umbrella Movement is not simply a one-off event but fundamentally a manifestation of Hong Kong’s continuing political existence since 1997.
  • Philosophy as an art of living/writing

    Leung, King-Ho (Taylor and Francis, 2015-06-23)
    Review essay of 'Philosophy, literature, and the dissolution of the subject: Nietzsche, Musil, Atay' by Zeynep Talay-Turner.
  • Univocity for Militants: Set-Theoretical Ontology and the Death of the One

    Leung, King-Ho (2017-09)
    Alain Badiou notes that he designates that mathematics as ontology—the thought of “being qua being”—because of its ability to express the “univocal” character of being. But in his critical and indeed controversial reading of Gilles Deleuze, Badiou accuses Deleuze’s univocal ontology as being fundamentally a metaphysics of “the One”. This essay offers a reading of Badiou’s univocity of being in relation to his understanding of ontological immanence and also his commitment or indeed “fidelity” to ontologically articulating the atheistic premise that “God is dead”—which for Badiou also means “the One is not”.
  • The Picture of Artificial Intelligence and the Secularization of Thought

    Leung, King-Ho; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-17)
    This article offers a critical interpretation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a philosophical notion which exemplifies a secular conception of thinking. One way in which AI notably differs from the conventional understanding of “thinking” is that, according to AI, “intelligence” or “thinking” does not necessarily require “life” as a precondition: that it is possible to have “thinking without life.” Building on Charles Taylor’s critical account of secularity as well as Hubert Dreyfus’ influential critique of AI, this article offers a theological analysis of AI’s “lifeless” picture of thinking in relation to the Augustinian conception of God as “Life itself.” Following this critical theological analysis, this article argues that AI’s notion of thinking promotes a societal privilege of certain rationalistic or calculative ways of thought over more existential or spiritual ways of thinking, and thereby fosters a secularization or de-spiritualization of thinking as an ethical human practice.
  • Professors of Religion and their Strange Wives: Diluvian Discord in the Eyes of Matthew Henry

    Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
    The summer of 2014 marked the tercentenary of the death of Matthew Henry (1662–1714), a leading figure among early eighteenth-century Dissenters and author of the six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1707–1714/25). This monumental work, which by 1855 had already been published in twenty-five different editions, attempted a peculiarly practical approach to the biblical text and continues to be widely used and readily accessible even today in both print and online versions. The theme of foreign (or ‘strange’) wives and Israelite intermarriage is one which occurs throughout the Hebrew Bible and, accordingly, throughout Matthew Henry’s commentary upon it. Where it appears, the practice of intermarriage is characterized by Henry as (at best) unwise and (at worst) a very real threat to both social and religious cohesion. This essay explores how Henry deals with the issue of ‘strange wives’, why he believes they continue to pose a threat, and (in view of the overall intention of his commentary) what ‘practical observations’ he offers to his reader as a result. In doing so it is argued that Henry’s commentary traces a thematic thread from the ante-diluvian age to the post-exilic period of calamities resulting from mixed marriages between ‘professors of religion’ and their ‘strange wives’.
  • Introduction

    Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
    Introduction to the volume Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety – A Tercentenary Celebration (London: T&T Clark, 2019).
  • Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety– A Tercentenary Celebration

    Collins, Matthew A.; Middleton, Paul; University of Chester; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-05-30)
    Three hundred years after his death, Matthew Henry (1662–1714) remains arguably the best known expositor of the Bible in English, due to his six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. However, Henry’s famous commentary is by no means the only expression of his engagement with the Scriptures. His many sermons and works on Christian piety — including the still popular Method for Prayer — are saturated with his peculiarly practical approach to the Bible. To mark the tercentenary of Henry’s death, Matthew A. Collins and Paul Middleton have brought together notable historians, theologians, and biblical scholars to celebrate his life and legacy. Representing the first serious examination of Henry’s body of work and approach to the Bible, Matthew Henry: The Bible, Prayer, and Piety opens a scholarly conversation on Matthew Henry’s place in the eighteenth-century nonconformist movement, his contribution to the interpretation of the Bible, and his continued legacy in evangelical piety.
  • Introduction

    Dunn, Jonathan; Joziasse, Heleen; Patta, Raj Bharat; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019-08-24)
    This introduction explores how the volume addresses the challenges of living together after empire in many post-colonial cities. It explains how the first section focuses on efforts by people of multiple faiths to live together within their contexts, including such efforts within a neighbourhood in urban Manchester; the array of attempts at creating multi-faith spaces for worship across the globe; and initiatives to commemorate divisive conflict together in Northern Ireland. It outlines how the second section of the volume utilizes particular postcolonial methods to illuminate pressing issues within specific contexts—including women’s leadership in an indigenous denomination in the variegated African landscape, and baptism and discipleship among Dalit communities in India. In the context of growing multiculturalism in the West, this volume offers a postcolonial theological resource, challenging the epistemologies in the Western academy.

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