• 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.
    • Interrogating the Post-Secular

      Graham, Elaine; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-02-28)
      This chapter seeks to engage in some detail with the conceptual underpinning of the post-secular. It seeks both to clarify, and defend, the relevance and value of what remains, for some, a relatively controversial conceptual term. However the idea of the postsecular is con-ceived —“post” as either against, beyond, or after; “secular” as denoting institutional decline, loss of personal belief or the effacement of the sacred—I will argue that it still has consider-able potential. It can illuminate the changing tensions between newly-visible religious actors with¬in local and global civil society and those who contest such incursions into the supposed neutrality of the public square. Above all, the unprecedented nature of the post¬secular serves to signal the contradictions inherent in the renewed presence of faith, especially in public life, alongside continuing opposition to religion as a source of legitimate public discourse. Such a juxtaposition of belief and non-belief within postsecularity infuses all our consciousness, even the most religiously devout. It follows that any attempt to speak of faith in public re¬quires a greater sophistication and sensitivity than ever.
    • SOTS, SBL, and WWI: Anglo-American Scholarly Societies and the Great War

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019)
      In January 1917, in the midst of the First World War, a small group of biblical scholars gathered at King’s College London for the inaugural meeting of the newly-formed Society for Old Testament Study (SOTS). The decision to create such a society had been taken the previous summer at Queens’ College, Cambridge, on 29 June 1916, just two days before the commencement of the Battle of the Somme. Thus the origins of this British-based society are to be found firmly (and somewhat peculiarly) planted in the context and conflict of the Great War. As a result, the records and history of the early years of the society afford us a valuable window through which to view the landscape of biblical scholarship of the period. Likewise, the detailed minutes and papers of the wartime meetings of the larger and already established US-based Society of Biblical Literature (SBL; founded in 1880) offer a similar (yet distinct) insight into academic attitudes on the other side of the Atlantic and especially the challenges to biblical scholarship (both ideological and practical) posed by the outbreak of war. Accordingly, in thinking about the wartime mobilization of biblical studies, this essay takes as its focus the effect of the war upon British and American scholarly societies (epitomized here by SOTS and SBL) and the response(s) of those societies as indicative of shifts and trends in both wartime and post-war biblical scholarship. Although predominantly a historical survey, drawing upon the records and minutes of the two groups in order to reconstruct events, it is argued that, in both their rhetoric and the practical steps taken towards scholarly reconciliation, these societies may be seen as having actively resisted the idea of 'the enemy' prevalent in propaganda material of the time. In doing so, they were subsequently well positioned to play a significant role in the swift re-establishment of international scholarly relations after the First (and indeed later, the Second) World War. Thus, it is argued that, during wartime, these scholarly societies performed a potentially unintentional yet vital regulatory function as tools enabling and encouraging the maintenance, preservation, recovery, and continuity of international biblical scholarship.
    • The First World War and the Mobilization of Biblical Scholarship

      Collins, Matthew A.; Mein, Andrew; MacDonald, Nathan; University of Chester; University of Durham; University of Cambridge (T&T Clark, 2019)
      This fascinating collection of essays charts, for the first time, the range of responses by scholars on both sides of the conflict to the outbreak of war in August 1914. The volume examines how biblical scholars, like their compatriots from every walk of life, responded to the great crisis they faced, and, with relatively few exceptions, were keen to contribute to the war effort. Some joined up as soldiers. More commonly, however, biblical scholars and theologians put pen to paper as part of the torrent of patriotic publication that arose both in the United Kingdom and in Germany. The contributors reveal that, in many cases, scholars were repeating or refining common arguments about the responsibility for the war. In Germany and Britain, where the Bible was still central to a Protestant national culture, we also find numerous more specialized works, where biblical scholars brought their own disciplinary expertise to bear on the matter of war in general, and this war in particular. The volume’s contributors thus offer new insights into the place of both the Bible and biblical scholarship in early 20th-century culture.
    • Creating Charisma Online: The Role of Digital Presence in the Formation of Religious Identity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019)
      This article investigates the construction and transmission of charisma through online channels, and its role in the formation of religious identities. Mindful of Max Weber’s observation that charisma inhabits the relationship between a leader and their followers, I argue for a critical reappraisal of the theoretical model in light of the ubiquity in the 21st century of new, virtual forms of social encounter. I focus my analysis on the Christian creationist movement in the USA, and particularly on an influential leader called Ken Ham. Using digital ethnographic methods, I show how Ham constructs charisma online, and how a virtual community forms itself around his charismatic claims. I illustrate how this virtual community intersects with offline worlds, and suggest that the theme park attractions that Ham’s organisation runs (Creation Museum, Ark Encounter) are imbued with deflected charisma by virtue of their association with his online avatar.
    • 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.
    • Brexit, Babylon and Prophecy: Semiotics of the End Times

      Knowles, Steve; University of Chester (MDPI, 2018-12-03)
      This article examines the predilection some Christian premillennialist preachers and teachers have with the semiotic association of geopolitics and biblical prophecy concerning the end times. This was epitomised in the run up to the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued membership of the European Union in June 2016. Since its inception, many premillennialists have interpreted the European Union as the place where the Antichrist emerges. Material objects associated with the European Union such as architecture, sculptures, currency and even posters, have been routinely highlighted as providing clear signs of the coming eschaton. Prophetic links between the European Union and satanic agencies, purported to be behind the ambition for an expanding European confederacy, ensured that many premillennialists voted to leave the European Union or were advised to do so in light of such prophetic signifiers. Utilising Webb Keane’s notion of representational economies, I argue that a premillennialist representational economy drives the search for signs in the everyday, and specifically those associated with the European Union. In this case, such semiotic promiscuity ratified the need to leave the European Union.
    • Levi (Son of Alphaeus)

      Middleton, Paul; The University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2018-12)
      A dictionary entry on Levi (son of Alphaeus)
    • Promoting the Good: Ethical and Methodological Considerations in Practical Theological Research.

      Graham, Elaine; LLewellyn, Dawn; University of Chester (SCM Press, 2018-10-31)
      In this chapter, we draw on our experiences as supervisors on a Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology (DProf) at the University of Chester, UK, to reflect on the ethical dimensions of undertaking research in this field of study. Using three case-studies, based on our students’ work, we examine how the ethical challenges they have navigated and addressed – using a range of methods -- offer examples of the ways practical theological research can trouble and speak back to well-established practices. First, we contextualize the Professional Doctorate in practical theology and introduce the idea of the ‘researching professional’, before suggesting that although practical theology is a broad discipline, it aims to transform the researcher’s practice, their institution, and the academy. The chapter then moves to outline the part that qualitative methodologies play in the discipline and focus on its forms of research as implicated and therefore ethical project. Finally, we discuss three illustrations of recent doctoral work in practical theology that raise issues of consent, privacy, anonymity, and avoiding harm. In particular, we draw out that these examples point towards ways that qualitative research strives towards ‘the good’.
    • 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.
    • The Gülen Movement in London and the politics of public engagement: producing 'Good Islam' before and after 15 July

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-22)
      Since the failed coup of 15 July 2016, for which it is held responsible, the Gülen Movement (GM) has been in crisis. With no foreseeable future in its homeland, the GM is now tasked with regrouping abroad. This article investigates the GM in London, a city that, for various reasons, is likely to become a significant centre for Gülenist activity in the post-coup era. Taking the Dialogue Society (DS) as its focus, it investigates the prospects of the GM’s survival by analyzing its activities, both before and after the coup, in light of Mamdani’s discussion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims in the post9/11 world. The article shows how the GM has established itself as a voice of ‘good’ Islam in the context of British debates on Islam and radicalization. It suggests that the public presence the GM has established for itself through its public engagement activities in the UK could constitute a central part of its fight back against resident Erdoğan, and be catalytic to its creation of a dynamic future in exile.
    • 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.