2014 New Testament: Use and Influence

Session 1

New Moves in Practice Criticism

Professor John Vincent 

Urban Theology Unit, Sheffield

This paper will attempt to open up three issues which are emerging among colleagues engaged in Practice Criticism work.

1.  What hermeneutical methods are employed in Practice Criticism?  Is there need for a more developed practice related hermeneutics, such as the familiar  Form-Redaction-Reception methods in literary studies?  What are the appropriate Hermeneutics of Suspicion?

2.  How can the assumptions and presuppositions of Practice Criticism be received within the literary-dominated Academy?  How  far in fact are processes of Contextual and Practice-based record creation to be set alongside normal contextual and experiential learning used in teaching and study? 

3.  Does the whole area of “use and influence” now appear divided?  On the one hand are those who have an intention to “use” a Gospel passage for some practical purpose in discipleship, community or politics seeing it as an “outworking” of a Gospel story or passage?  Meantime the concept of “influence” is used by others to observe the intentional or unintentional appearance of a Gospel story or passage in art, architecture, drama or writing.  Can these two ever meet?

Using the Drama of the Gospels to recreate stories of hope on the edge

Rev Dr Kevin Ellis 

The overarching meta-narratives from our urban areas have largely gone. With the decline of the heavy industries, the places and stories that bound people together have disappeared. The stories that are popularly told in the media are ones that focus on the deterioration of life within our outer estate and inner city areas; even positive stories like the number of volunteers involved in the ever increasing network of food banks and credit advice agencies just reinforce the fact that such areas problem. Narratives through iconic films like Cathy, Come HomeKesthe Full MontyBilly Elliott and This is England, chart how stories are told of individual redemption rather than of community renewal.

This paper will explore how the stories of Jesus, told in the Gospels, might recreate stories of hope and individual/community redemption. We will do this through engaging with theologies of liberation but more particularly with the work of NT Wright, and his emphasis of the biblical drama as a whole being a story in five or six acts.

The paper will also engage with the presenter’s new context in Wales, where song and story still abound, but the dissonance between stories that shape the lives of many and the Christian story is still strong.

Session 2

Panel discussion

James Crossley 

University of Sheffield

John Lyons 

University of Bristol

Jorunn Økland 

University of Oslo

Robert Myles 

University of Auckland

Crossley and Lyons will introduce and summarise their respective volumes before Økland and Myles respond to the books.

James Crossley, Harnessing Chaos: The Bible in English Political Discourse since 1968 (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014)

William John Lyons, Joseph of Arimathea: A Study in Reception History (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Session 3

Points of View: Assessing the Value of Visual Exegesis

Dr Christine Joynes 

University of Oxford

Cheryl Exum recently argued that visual criticism should be added to the student’s exegetical toolbox, along with historical criticism, literary criticism and the like. This paper seeks to engage with that suggestion, exploring the contribution that visual exegesis makes to New Testament studies. How does the artist function as biblical interpreter? Is Stanley Spencer more important as a biblical interpreter than George Caird? And is Exum’s suggestion practical, given – for example – the paucity of art on the Pauline epistles?