• Go Forth and Shrink! Towards a Feminist Theology of Dieting

      Bacon, Hannah Jayne; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2019-04-18)
      The fat body has increasingly become a site for a confrontation of different ideologies about lifestyle, as it is increasingly stigmatized and concerns about the obesity 'epidemic' create headlines in the newspapers. Weight-loss industries are booming, and the rise in faith-based dieting among Protestant evangelical women in the US evidences a growing relationship between Christian devotion and the pursuit of female thinness. What exactly though is the relationship between Christianity and secular commercial diet plans? Bacon draws on qualitative research conducted inside one UK secular commercial weight loss group to show how Christian religious forms and theological discourses inform contemporary weight-loss narratives. Notions of sin and salvation resurface in secular guise, but in ways that repeat well-established theological meanings. Theological tropes help produce and sustain a set of contradictions and tensions about weight loss which conform the women's bodies to patriarchal norms while simultaneously providing opportunities for women's self-development. Taking into account these tensions, Bacon asks what a specifically feminist theological response to weight loss might look like. If notions of sin and salvation service hegemonic discourses about fat, how might they be rethought to challenge fat phobia and the frenetic pursuit of thinness? While naming as 'sin' principles and practices which diminish women's appetites and bodies, this book gives theological expression to the conviction of many women in the group, that food and the body can be important sites of power, wisdom and transformation.
    • On Animals: Volume II - Theological Ethics

      Clough, David L.; University of Chester (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, 2018-12-27)
      This book presents an authoritative and comprehensive survey of human practice in relation to other animals together with a Christian ethical analysis building on the theological account of animals David Clough developed in On Animals Volume I: Systematic Theology (2012). It argues that a Christian understanding of other animals has radical implications for their treatment by humans, with the human use and abuse of non-human animals for food the most urgent immediate priority. Following an introduction examining the task of theological ethics in relation to non-human animals and the way it relates to other accounts of animal ethics, the book’s chapters survey and assess the use humans make of other animals for food, for clothing, for labour, as research subjects, for sport and entertainment, as pets or companions, and human impacts on wild animals. The result is both a state-of-the-art account of what humans are doing to other animals and a persuasive argument that Christians in particular have strong faith-based reasons to acknowledge the significance of the issues raised and change their practice in response.
    • Addiction and Forgiveness

      Dossett, Wendy; Cook, Christopher C.H.; University of Chester; Durham University (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018-09-21)
      This chapter explores the role of forgiveness in the personal stories of people in long-term recovery from addictions.
    • Scholarly and Popular Reception

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury / T&T Clark, 2018-09-20)
      For more than two-thirds of a century, the Dead Sea Scrolls have left a trail of intrigue and controversy in their wake. They have had an immeasurable impact, not only within the realms of academia and scholarship, but also upon the wider world, thanks to the widespread permeation of the scrolls into popular culture. On the one hand, they have provided scholars with a previously unimaginable wealth of textual material from the Second Temple period (shedding light, for instance, on the literature and social, political and religious world of the intertestamental era, as well as the transmission history of the scriptural texts), while on the other, the infamy resulting from years of restricted access and the consequent perceived secrecy surrounding their content has made them attractive to a fascinated public, for whom ‘the Dead Sea Scrolls’ constitutes ‘a cultural “buzz-phrase” signifying mystery, conspiracy, and ancient or hidden knowledge’ (Collins, 2011, p. 227). How have the Dead Sea Scrolls come to occupy this conceptual space in the public consciousness, and how might we begin to examine and explain the impact they continue to have upon both the academic and popular spheres?
    • The "Noble Death" of Judas Iscariot: A Reconsideration of Suicide in the Bible and Early Christianity

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2018-08-22)
      This essay problematizes the often repeated claim that Jewish and Christian traditions have always and unambiguously opposed suicide. By examining the suicide narratives in the Hebrew Bible and late Second Temple texts, alongside early Christian martyr texts which demonstrate not only enthusiasm for death, but suicide martyrdom, I argue that many Jewish and Christian self-killings conform to Greco-Roman patterns Noble Death. Finally, I consider the death of Judas Iscariot, and having removed any a priori reason to interpret his suicide negatively, I argue Matthew’s account of his self-killing compares favourably with Luke’s narrative, in which he is the victim of divine execution. Moreover, I conclude that Matthew’s main concern is to transfer the blame for Jesus’ death from Judas to the Jewish authorities, and that he has Judas impose on himself to the appropriate and potentially expiatory penalty for his action. Thus, I conclude, even Judas’s iconic suicide can be read quite plausibly as an example of Noble Death.
    • Feminist critiques, visions and models of the church

      Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2018-06-28)
      Whilst women comprise the majority of active lay members of most Christian denominations, they have been vastly under-represented within the Church’s ministries of Word and Sacrament. Critical feminist ecclesiologies invariably have to begin from this situation of invisibility and discrimination, whilst arguing for the historic and contemporary legitimacy of women’s full participation alongside men. Feminist critiques and reconstructions have drawn on Biblical and historical evidence in order to refute patterns of hierarchy and exclusion in favour of more egalitarian traditions of the Church as a community of equals. The various strands of the ‘Women-Church’ movement have also been central to a practical feminist ecclesiology, in which women have sought new ways to name their everyday experience as sacred and to exercise new patterns of ministry and leadership. Institutionally-led initiatives, such as the World Council of Churches’ programme on The Community of Women and Men in the Church, have met with mixed success; and increasingly, feminist ecclesiology has focused on the lived experience of women, not only in mainstream churches but in locally-based, informal liturgical communities. These serve to illustrate the extent to which liturgy and worship has been one of the most creative well-springs of feminist activity and renewal; and may, in the long run, be seen to have exercised the greatest lasting impact on the life of the Church.
    • Speakers for the Dead: digital memory and the construction of identity

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Berghahn Books, 2018-06)
      In the wake of the killing of twelve people at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, thousands of individuals—many of whom had never before seen a copy of the paper—changed their Facebook statuses, profile pictures, or Twitter updates to “Je suis Charlie.” A month previously, a similar outpouring of digital sentiment took place in response to a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict police officers who had been filmed choking Eric Garner to death: #icantbreathe. These two events are, of course, not unique—one might also note Le Monde’s editorial headline on 12 September 2001, “Nous sommes tous Americains”, or even John F. Kennedy’s 1963 declaration “Ich bin ein Berliner”—but they are exemplary of an increasing tendency towards the appropriation of another’s identity as a ritual of public mourning. This paper considers these appropriative rituals in a wider historical context of memorialisation as constitutive of collective identity, arguing that, while the internet did not originate this ritual of remembrance via appropriation, its increasing dominance is a consequence of the immediacy and international nature of digital culture. It then presents an analysis of the politics of the “us” which results from these commemorative rituals, making some suggestions about whether, and how, the problematic notion of collective identity is transforming in the digital age.
    • Invitation to Research in Practical Theology

      Bennett, Zoe; Graham, Elaine L.; Pattison, Stephen; Walton, Heather; Anglia Ruskin University; University of Chester; University of Birmingham; University of Glasgow (Routledge, 2018-05-29)
      Practical theology as a subject area has grown and become more sophisticated in its methods and self-understanding over the last few decades. In doing so, it has become increasingly methodologically sophisticated and theoretically self-aware. This book provides a complete and original research primer in the major theories, approaches and methods at the cutting-edge of research in contemporary practical theology. It represents a reflection on the very practice of the discipline itself, its foundational questions and epistemological claims. Each chapter examines different aspects of the research process: starting with experience and practice, aspects of research design and epistemology, communities of learning, the influence of theological norms and tradition on the practice of research, and ethical considerations about what constitutes ‘the good’ in advanced research. It offers worked examples from the authors, their colleagues and research students that serve to illustrate key ideas and approaches in practical theological research.
    • The Violence of the Lamb: Martyrs as Agents of Divine Judgement in the Book of Revelation

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (T & T Clark, 2018-05-03)
      The act of martyrdom in the worldview of the Apocalypse has been considered to be an exemplification of non-violent resistance. Paul Middleton argues here, however, that it is in fact a representation of direct participation by Christians, through their martyrdom, in divine violence against those the author of Revelation portrays as God's enemies. Middleton shows that acceptance of martyrdom is to grasp the invitation to participate in the Revelation's divine violence. Martyrs follow the model laid down by the Lamb, who was not only slain, but resurrected, glorified, and who executes judgement. The world created by the Apocalypse encourages readers to conquer the Beast through martyrdom, but also through the experience of resurrection and being appointed judges. In this role, martyrs participate in the judgement of the wicked by sharing the Lamb's power to judge. Different from eschewing violence, the conceptual world of the Apocalypse portrays God, the Lamb, and the martyrs as possessing more power, might, and violent potential than the Emperor and his armies. Middleton believes that martyrdom and violence are necessary components of the worldview of Revelation.
    • How to speak of God? Toward a postsecular apologetics

      Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-04-11)
      Against most expectations religion has not vanished from Western culture. If anything, it exercises a greater fascination than ever before. Broadly, we might think of ourselves as occupying a new, 'postsecular' space between a renewed visibility of religion in public life, and a corresponding acknowledgement of the importance of religious values and actors; and persistent and widespread disillusion and scepticism towards religion, and objections to religion as a source of legitimate public discourse. In a world that is more sensitive than ever to religious belief and practice, yet often struggles to accommodate it into secular discourse, how do religious institutions justify their position in a contested and volatile public square? This article argues that the contemporary postsecular context requires a recovery of the ancient practices of Christian apologetics as a form of public, theological witness to the practical value of faith, articulated in both deed and word.
    • George Jeffreys: Pentecostal and contemporary implications

      Kay, William K.; University of Chester (MDPI, 2018-02-15)
      The life and work of the Welsh evangelist George Jeffreys resulted in the planting of two denominations in the UK between 1915 and 1962, when he died. The Elim churches continue to this day to be one of the larger classical Pentecostal denominations in the UK, while the Bible Pattern Fellowship dispersed on Jeffreys’ death. The disputes that led to Jeffreys’ departure from Elim were said to have arisen from his adherence to British Israel doctrine, though his supporters believed they arose from his championing of local church ownership and democracy. This paper considers sociological and other reasons for Jeffreys’ remarkable success in the interwar years and his eventual departure from a denomination he founded. It concludes by reflecting on topics (such as the importance of debate and law) that have relevance for contemporary Pentecostalism.
    • None is Still Too Many: Holocaust Commemoration and Historical Anesthetization

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-02-05)
      This chapter highlights the tension between political engagement with Holocaust commemoration and responses to the current refugee crisis. Through an examination of historical sources, it makes the case that in spite of the rhetoric of “Never Again!” deployed in connection to the Holocaust, responses to the reality of refugees have changed very little since the 1930’s.
    • Brexit, prophecy, and conspiracy: A necessary rejection of an endtime empire

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (University of California Press, 2018-02)
      This study examines why some pretribulation premillennialist Christian leaders in the United Kingdom instructed their followers, both implicitly and explicitly, to vote to leave the European Union in the referendum in June 2016. The formation of the European Union is regarded as central to the fulfilment of prophecy by many premillennialists as it is purported to be the revived Roman Empire found in the books of Daniel and Revelation in the Bible. On the face of it, to vote to leave the European Union would seem to be contrary to such prophetic conjecture given the importance of the United Kingdom’s role in the Union, and the perceived destabilising impact this would have on it. This article argues, utilising evidence from interviews with two premillennialist leaders and other contemporary sources, that voting to leave did not necessarily contradict previous teaching. Rather, voting to leave was not only consistent with this teaching but also reflected the rejection of many features of the late modern condition. However, the rejection of the latter has sometimes resulted in a move beyond the premillennialist prophetic framework into the realm of conspiracy beliefs.
    • Rituals of Reconciliation? How Consideration of Ritual can Inform Readings of Catholic-Jewish Dialogue after the Holocaust

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Palgrave, 2018)
      One advantage of investigating inter-religious exchange through the lens of ritual is that it permits attention to a range of extra-textual phenomena such as tone, gesture, pacing, costume, and locatedness, which are capable of adding nuance to, or even subverting, a textual tradition. In the case of post-Holocaust reconciliation, it is worth considering whether and to what degree a consideration of ritual alters the conclusions that can be drawn from the record of published documents. This chapter will explore particular practices which have emerged in the context of post-Holocaust Catholic-Jewish dialogue, reading them as instances of inter-rituality and analysing the extent to which their inter-riting advances the project of reconciliation.
    • Hans Frei: beyond liberal and conservative

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (Wipf and Stock, 2018)
      At first glance, Hans W. Frei does not fit the profile of an ecumenical theologian, nor does he seem to have been considered in these terms before in scholarship. Unlike his colleague, George Lindbeck, he does not appear to have taken a close interest in the ecumenical movement or particular ecumenical dialogues or reconciliation, as Lindbeck did in his The Nature of Doctrine. Nor is his work seek to mediate between Anglican and Quaker beliefs. Yet he did seek a way forward, theologically, for what he called a ‘generous orthodoxy’ in an approach that would transcend and re-frame the conservative-liberal polarity and offer an approach to orthodoxy that was at once flexible, accountable to Scripture, resilient and progressive.
    • Twelve Step Mutual Aid: Spirituality, Vulnerability and Recovery

      Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-12-27)
      This chapter considers whether the lenses of counselling and New Religious Movements help to understand the phenomenon of Twelve Step recovery from addiction.
    • The Necessity of a Jewish Systematic Theology

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (2017-12-22)
      Taking into account current disputes about the nature of theology and religious studies, both inside and outside of the academy, this article argues that the academic discipline of theology would benefit greatly by expanding its religious remit beyond the traditional field of Christian Systematic Theology to include constructive-critical insider engagement with the texts of other traditions--e.g., Jewish and Islamic theology.
    • Tzedakah, Tikkun: Jewish Approaches to Social Justice

      Vincent, Alana M.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-10-26)
      This chapter will present a historicised phenomenological account of the two dominant forms of social justice within Judaism: tzedakah (justice) and tikkun (advocacy, or, literally, “mending”). Tzedakah is a core principle of religious Judaism, and also has profound resonances within secular Judaism; the history of the Anglo-Jewish community is illustrative of the manner and extent to which tzedakah has shaped Jewish identity. The concept of tikkun is conceptually more ambiguous, and even now is understood very differently by different Jewish communities. Liberal Jews understand tikkun to be both the action of social justice advocacy (of which charitable giving is only a single component) and, simultaneously, a meta-principle which governs the interpretation of halakah (Jewish law) even to the point of over-riding particular halakhic restrictions which may otherwise impede advocacy activity. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are, conversely, likely to view strict adherence to halakah, including the practice of tzedakah, as the primary means of tikkun ha-olam (the mending of creation). In addition to the key distinction between Liberal and Orthodox social justice activity which emerges when tzedakah and tikkun are considered as modes of action, this chapter will also explore distinctions between ethnic and religious Judaism which emerge when consideration is given to the particular targets of social justice activity: which causes are self-evidently worthy of either charitable or activist intervention? What language is deployed in attempts to promote a cause through appeals to common (Jewish) values? Through a close examination of these issues, the ways in which different traditions of Judaism construct and enact concepts of social justice within both religious and ethnic frameworks will be discursively explored.
    • Urban Ecology and Faith Communities

      Baker, C. R.; Graham, Elaine L.; University of Chester (Brill, 2017-09-30)
      This chapter seeks to address a framing question of this volume, ‘What does a public theology look like in the 21st century?’ It will do so with reference to the strikingly pervasive and fluid material cultures and imaginaries of the urban which are influencing our increasingly globalized understandings of what it means to be ‘in community’ with others. The chapter will locate this contemporary context within an historical trajectory which moves from the origins of biblical theology and reflection on the city as site of divine providence and covenant, to the emergence of the modern industrial city of the mid-nineteenth century, when ‘[b]eing self-consciously urban’ definitively transformed the church’s understanding of ‘the context of mission and the possibilities of wider engagement’ with corresponding implications for the nature of public theology itself.
    • Reflexivity and Rapprochement: Explorations of a ‘Postsecular’ Public Theology

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Brill, 2017-09-01)
      Accounts of secularization, decline and marginalization in relation to the public position of religion in Western society have failed to account for the continued vitality and relevance of religion in the global public square. It is important, however, to challenge simplistic accounts and think of the new visibility of religion (not least in Europe) in terms of complexity and multi-dimensionality. This article will ask how public theology might contribute constructively to repairing our fractured body politic and promoting new models of citizenship and civic engagement around visions of the common good.