• 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.
    • Remembering together: Commemoration in Northern Ireland

      Dunn, Jonathan; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019-08-24)
      This chapter addresses the challenge of remembering conflict together in the context of a society still divided by “legacy issues”. Its focus is on the particular challenges presented by efforts to commemorate the conflict in the author’s native Northern Ireland. In light of this series’ theme of ‘living together after empire’, the task of commemoration is re-imagined as ‘co-memoration’; a public remembering which has the potential at least to include all elements within society. The author explores the possibilities and challenges posed by re-imagining commemoration as co-memoration, drawing on the insights of public theology and his own experience of Christian ministry in the context to do so. Objections and motivations which have hitherto represented barriers to co-memoration are reconsidered in light of historian Michael Ignatieff’s concept of ‘keeping faith with dead’. In doing so the author suggests that these deep-seated commitments, which have long been viewed in terms of assumed allegiances to national identities, must be understood as primarily personal loyalties owed to family, friends and community. The chapter then moves to assess the possibilities for co-memoration within Protestant places of worship in Northern Ireland, by considering issues which arise from the interaction of the personal and communal loyalties with physical symbols and liturgical practices. The conclusion considers the possibilities and challenges ahead and suggests the shape of the further research which is required in this area.
    • Review of Reading Faithfully. Writings from the Archives. 2 vols. By Hans W. Frei, edited by Mike Higton and Mark Alan Bowald

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2018-12-11)
      Book review.
    • VOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS AND CHRISTIANITY: REJECTING THE SELFISH OTHER

      Llewellyn, Dawn (Liverpool University Press, 2019-04)
    • Review of Andrew Hofer Christ in the Life and Teaching of Gregory of Nazianzus

      Fulford, Ben; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2016-05-11)
      Review of Andrew Hofer's Christ in the Life and Teaching of Gregory of Nazianzus.
    • Said Nursi’s Notion of ‘Sacred Science’: Its Function and Application in Hizmet High School Education

      Tee, Caroline; Shankland, David; University of Chester (Brill, 2014-04-30)
      This paper explores the teaching of natural science subjects in high schools associated with the Gülen-Hizmet movement in Turkey. It focuses on the apparent reconciliation of scientific learning in a pervasive, albeit unofficial, Sunni Islamic religious culture. The framework for such an accommodation is found in the teachings of Fethullah Gülen and his predecessor, Said Nursi. Following Nursi, Gülen encourages scientific pursuit, and intellectual knowledge in general, as a pious and spiritually meritorious act. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at two Hizmet-affiliated high schools in Turkey, this article explores the “sanctification” of science and learning in the Gülen Movement by highlighting the principle of fedakarlık (self-sacrifice), as the primary motivation of the teaching staff. Focusing also on the schools’ highly disciplined and competitive learning environments (as exemplified in preparations for the prestigious International Science Olympiads), the article suggests that although teacher commitment and prestigious competitive awards bolster the Hizmet schools’ market competitiveness, they fail in actually producing students who pursue careers in natural science fields. By contrast, this article concludes that the movement’s engagement with science, at least at present, is less interested in furthering scientific inquiry than it is in equipping what Gülen has called a ‘Golden Generation’ with the tools it needs to compete with secularist rivals in Turkey.
    • On the Trail of a Biblical Serial Killer: Sherlock Holmes and the Book of Tobit

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-01-24)
      In the book of Tobit, Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, is tormented by the demon Asmodeus. She has been married seven times, but each time the demon kills her husband on her wedding night. In despair, she contemplates suicide and prays for deliverance. In the course of the narrative, Tobias, the son of Tobit, travels from Nineveh to Ecbatana and, with the help of the archangel Raphael, defeats the demon and marries Sarah. Between 1939 and 1946, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred together in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a series of radio plays broadcast in the United States. One episode, aired on 26 March 1945, was titled ‘The Book of Tobit’ and featured Holmes and Watson investigating the deaths of a woman’s previous three husbands, each of whom, prior to his death, had received a threatening letter signed ‘Asmodeus’. Though substantially different in both content and context, throughout the case numerous comparisons are made with its scriptural forebear. This essay first explores the use of and engagement with Tobit in this wartime murder mystery before turning to re-examine the biblical text in the light of Holmes’ namesake investigation. By effectively transposing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated detective to ancient Ecbatana, the inherently murderous nature of the biblical tale comes into sharper focus and the peculiarities of the narrative and its folkloric origins are both reassessed and illuminated from a perspective informed by crime fiction. In doing so, this essay further illustrates the extent to which the ‘genre lens’ through which we approach a text may govern our reading of it. Putting Sherlock Holmes on the case, a rather different interpretation of the text emerges – one in which there is a serial killer on the loose in the book of Tobit, and Sarah may not in fact be as innocent as she seems.
    • Were the Early Christians Really Persecuted

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2019)
      In their writings, the Early Christians presented themselves as a suffering community, facing intolerance and misunderstanding from Jew and Gentile alike, to the extent that in Acts, the Jewish community in Rome are made to declare of early Christianity, ‘we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect’ (Acts 28.22). However, historians generally recognise that while members of the early Church undoubtedly did face some harassment, there was no empire-wide policy against Christianity until well into the third century, and even then, these were short lived. Where Christians experienced persecution, it tended to be localised, sporadic, and random, and resulted from pockets of prejudice rather than any official imperial interest in the Church. If we see those who take at face value the deutero-Pauline claim that ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3.12) as representing a ‘maximalist’ view of persecution, then, in direct contrast, what might be termed a ‘minimalist’ account is gaining popularity among scholars. Minimalists go beyond the view that Christians faced ‘periodic persecution’, and conclude that in all significant respects, the Christian narrative of persecution is a constructed myth. Moreover, they tend to turn Christian charges against their pagan neighbour of intolerance back onto the early Church, arguing that in a Roman environment of general imperial tolerance towards varieties of beliefs and practices, it was Christian intolerance and intransigence that led to their appearances before magistrates. However, this was not persecution in any meaningful sense, but prosecution. Both maximalist and minimalist accounts of early Christian experiences of suffering construct a context in which a generally tolerant group encounter an intolerant ‘other’. Depending on which approach is adopted, either Christians or Romans were the ‘victims’ of intolerance. In light of this apparent scholarly paradigm shift, I return to the basic question: were the early Christians persecuted? First I outline the formerly dominant ‘persecution paradigm’, arguing that this way of presenting Christian experience is already promoted in New Testament texts. Next, I evaluate recent revisionist ‘minimalist’ accounts, noting that the idea Christians invented—or at least exaggerated—the extent of the persecution can be found as far back as the eighteenth century. These re-evaluations offer an important and valuable corrective to the maximalist approach. However, minimalists, I argue, tend to simply replace a one-sided Christian reading of history with an equally skewed Roman perspective. Instead, I offer a reading which might be categorised as ‘modified minimalism’, in which I sidestep the persecution/prosecution dichotomy, and conclude that while it is certainly the case that Romans would have understood their (albeit limited) actions against Christians as prosecutions designed to protect the integrity of the State, Christians experienced those actions, not without reason, as persecution. I argue that Christians and Romans were indeed ‘tolerant’ of the other—just not where it mattered!
    • ‘Filling up the Full Measure of their Sins’: Matthew Henry on the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2019-05-30)
      This essay examines the treatment of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the 17th century Bible expositor Matthew Henry.
    • Paula Gooder, Body: Biblical Spirituality for the Whole Person

      Alexander, Loveday (SAGE Publications, 2017-02-23)
    • The Scarecrow Christ: The Murder of Matthew Shepard and the Making of an American Culture Wars Martyr

      Middleton, Paul; University of Chester (Amsterdam University Press, 2020-01-31)
      In this essay, I examine the popular martyr-making process in respect of Matthew Shepard, arguing that both the making of the martyr and the reaction it provoked reflects American ‘culture wars’. Martyrology is conflict literature. However, as I have argued before, the most significant conflict in a martyrdom story is not necessarily between the martyr and the agents of execution, but the story-tellers and their opponents.9 Yet, martyrological narratives are difficult to control, as I will demonstrate from the contested nature of Shepard’s secular canonisation process. For at least some in the LGBT community, the dominant hagiography of Matthew Shepard, the gay martyr, is seen as unhelpful. Ironically, both LGBT activists and right-wing religious groups have in some ways sought to undermine Shepard’s martyr status, by focusing on his life rather than his death. Nonetheless, I argue, such efforts continue to have limited effect because in martyrologies any interest in the lives of their heroes is incidental, merely setting the scene for a significant death.
    • 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.
    • The Gülen Movement in Turkey: The Politics of Islam and Modernity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (I.B. Tauris, 2016-08-29)
      What is the Gulen Movement and why is Turkey's President Erdogan so convinced that the organisation and its charismatic leader were behind the failed military coup of 15th July 2016? The Gulen, or Hizmet, movement in Turkey was until recently the country's most powerful and affluent religious organisation. At its head is the exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who leads from a gated compound in the Pocono Mountains of the USA.The movement's central tenet is that Muslims should engage positively with modernity, especially through mastering the sciences. At hundreds of Gulen-run schools and universities, not only in Turkey but also worldwide and particularly in the United States, instructors have cultivated the next generation of Muslim bankers, biologists, software engineers and entrepreneurs. In this groundbreaking study, Caroline Tee, an expert on the Gulen Movement, analyses the complex attitudes of Gulen and his followers towards secular modernity. Considered against the backdrop of Turkish politics, Gulenist engagement with modern science is revealed as a key source of the influence the movement has exerted.
    • Creating Charisma Online: The Role of Digital Presence in the Formation of Religious Identity

      Tee, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-04-23)
      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.
    • SOTS, SBL, and WWI: Anglo-American Scholarly Societies and the Great War

      Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester (T&T Clark, 2019-03-07)
      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.