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

  • Jesus in an age of enlightenment: Radical gospels from Thomas Hobbes to Thomas Jefferson. By Jonathan C.P Birch

    Greenaway, Jonathan; University of Chester
    A review of Jesus in an Age of Enlightenment: Radical Gospels from Thomas Hobbes to Thomas Jefferson by Jonathan C.P Birch
  • Jesus in an Age of Enlightenment: Radical Gospels from Thomas Hobbes to Thomas Jefferson. By Jonathan C.P Birch

    Greenaway, Jonathan; orcid: 0000-0001-5636-7707 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-02-07)
  • Translating Patịcca-samuppāda in Early Buddhism

    Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester
    This chapter addresses the issue of how to translate the term paṭicca-samuppāda, which relies on the use of Prakrit and Sanskrit grammatical forms for which there are no exact English equivalents, and which expresses a core Buddhist concept for which there is no exact philosophical equivalent outside of Buddhist teachings.
  • The appropriation of information and communication technologies by the Plymouth Brethren Christian church

    Knowles, Steve; University of Chester
    This article examines why the PBCC has adopted and adapted information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their community, given that until recently they have rejected them on theological grounds. Starting by tracing the attitudes of Brethren leaders toward emerging technologies such as the radio and television, I argue that the adoption and adaptation of technology has been necessary and fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the core belief in separation from the world, a doctrine central to the Brethren way of life. Using Silverstone et al.’s notion of the moral economy of the family in relation to how Brethren negotiate their way around ICTs, I conclude that without the reconstruction and cultural appropriation of ICTs the Brethren would not be able to maintain separation from wider society.
  • The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, Media Engagement and Public Benefit

    Knowles, Steve; University of Chester
    This article examines the recent engagement with media by the closed Christian sect, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (pbcc). Historically the pbcc have been reluctant to engage with mainstream media, preferring instead to keep their own council. However, the rejection by the Charity Commission for England and Wales of an application by a pbcc trust for charitable status proved to be a catalyst for significant and sustained media engagement. The concept of mediatization is utilised as a metaprocess to frame the way the pbcc engaged with media in order to demonstrate how they provide ‘public benefit’ to the wider community, which was crucial to the successful gaining of charitable status.
  • Television and the Bible in American Popular Culture

    Collins, Matthew A.; University of Chester
    This essay examines the Bible in American television, focusing in particular on the twenty-first century. It suggests that there are three broad categories which may helpfully illustrate and encompass the diverse ways in which the Bible appears and/or is utilized: (i) educating about the Bible (e.g., documentaries); (ii) dramatizing the Bible (renditions of biblical stories); and (iii) drawing on the Bible (the impact or use of the Bible in other television programs). Examining each of these in turn, this essay highlights the prevalence of the Bible within television and thus within American popular culture more generally, as well as considering some of the myriad ways in which it has been read, used, and interpreted. In particular, it endeavors to show how the medium can function as a tool for both reflecting and promoting levels of biblical literacy among its audience.
  • Upaniṣadic Echoes in the Alaggadūpama Sutta

    Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester
    Scholars have already identified verbal echoes of the Upaniṣads in the Alagaddūpama Sutta (‘Discourse on the Simile of the Water-snake’, M 22 pts i.130–42). In this article I argue that the Alagaddūpama Sutta also contains muffled verbal echoes of the famous story of Indra’s search for the self in Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.7–12. By making this echo audible, I add to the evidence that the Alagaddūpama Sutta as a whole can be understood in terms of the Buddha’s rejection of an Upaniṣadic soteriology.
  • Three Ways of Denying the Self

    Jones, Dhivan Thomas; University of Chester
    Buddhist philosophers have tried to work out the implications of the Buddha’s teaching of non-self (anattā). I characterise the teaching of non-self in the Pāli discourses, noting that, although the Buddha denied the existence of a ‘metaphysical’ self, he did not completely deny the ‘everyday’ self but presupposed the ‘I’ as a continuously identical moral agent. I go on to explain three attempts to explain the Buddha’s teaching. (1) Nāgasena in the Milindapañha uses the chariot argument to show that the self, like a chariot, is a conventional designation for a functional arrangement of parts. (2) The Yogācāra philosopher Vasubandhu argues that the self is a cognitive mistake and that in reality there is only non-dual awareness. (3) The Madhyamaka philosopher Candrakīrti argues that there is the appearance of a self but it does not exist in the way that it appears. I conclude that these ways of denying the self are distinct and that Candrakīrti’s way seems closest to the Buddha’s as recorded in the Pāli canon.
  • Love and Monsters: gender, Autonomy and Desire in Modern Golem Literature

    Vincent, Alana; University of Chester
    This chapter traces the development of the figure of the golem from its early appear- ance in Jewish text to its presentation in modern literature, as a test case for the bound- aries between human and non-human. Unlike the rabbinic literature in which the golem first appears and attracts questions of legal ramifications, modern literature in- vestigates questions of emotion and eros. In the literary treatments reviewed, the golem is narratively acknowledged as an autonomous being when it exhibits the ca- pacity for emotional attachment and agency.
  • Convergence and Asymmetry: Observations on the Current State of Jewish-Christian Dialogue

    Vincent, Alana; University of Chester (Equinox, 2020-11-06)
    Drawing on a survey of forty-five statements on the status of Jewish- Christian dialogue, this article argues that the theme of convergence which underlies a substantial portion of this dialogue programme arises from an asymmetric power relationship, in which Christian institutions have been insufficiently attentive to the issue of Jewish self-understanding.
  • Towards a New Homiletic

    Shercliff, Liz (SAGE Publications, 2020-09-11)
    Feminism’s contribution to homiletics so far has arguably been restricted to exploring gender difference in preaching. In 2014, however, Jennifer Copeland identified a need not merely to ‘include women “in the company of preachers” but to craft a new register for the preaching event’. This article considers what that new register might be and how it might be taught in the academy. It defines preaching as ‘the art of engaging the people of God in their shared narrative by creatively and hospitably inviting them into an exploration of biblical text, by means of which, corporately and individually, they might encounter the divine’ and proposes that in both the Church and the Academy, women’s voices are suppressed by a rationalist hegemony. For the stories of women to be heard, a new homiletic is needed, in which would-be preachers first encounter themselves, then the Bible as themselves and finally their congregation in communality. Findings of researchers in practical preaching discover that women preachers are being influenced by feminist methodology, while the teaching of preaching is not. In order to achieve a hospitable preaching space, it is proposed that the Church and the Academy work together towards a new homiletic.
  • Light and Darkness - IV. Christianity

    Fulford, Ben; University of Chester
    A survey of the treatment of themes of light and darkness in the use and interpretation of biblical texts in Christian liturgy and theology from the early church to the present.
  • Review of Shortt, R. (2019) Outgrowing Dawkins: God for Grown-Ups. London: SPCK.

    Graham, Elaine; University of Chester
    This book is a direct response to Richard Dawkins’ book Outgrowing God: a beginner’s guide (Bantam Press, 2019) and continues Shortt’s long-standing engagement with New Atheism in such works as God Is No Thing (2015) and Does Religion Do More Harm than Good (2019). The substance of Shortt’s defence of religion is not that it does not have its destructive and dark sides, or even that atheism and religious doubt may not be legitimate intellectual positions. Rather, Shortt takes issue with charges that religious belief is illogical and intellectually specious, that religious commitment is deluded and infantile and religious institutions inherently barbaric and authoritarian.
  • Review of McClure, B. (2019). Emotions: Problems and Promise for Human Flourishing. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.

    Graham, Elaine; University of Chester
    McClure undertakes an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural investigation into the role of human emotion in history, arguing that emotions are central to what makes us human. What unites all these perspectives is the way in which they set the measure of emotion against a set of value-judgements on the basis of emotions’ contribution to human virtue and well-being.
  • Perception of Spirituality among Substance Addicts with Incarceration Experience: A Phenomenological Study

    Ceylan, İsa; Metcalf-White, Liam (Association for Spiritual Psychology and Counseling, 2019-10-15)
    This paper examines the role of spirituality in a recovery context by drawing on qualitative research conducted at a residential recovery community in North Wales, United Kingdom. The study aimed to examine perceptions of spirituality among exprisoners and people identifying as in recovery from addiction. The researchers explored ideas of “spiritual coping” and “spiritual wellbeing” in terms of meaning, purpose, connectedness, forgiveness, and peace in addiction treatment programs influenced by 12-Step models, for instance, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Also, this paper focuses on both spiritual counseling services shaped by pre-determined meanings and values and secondly, on individuals’ perceptions about spirituality through the language of desires, needs, and expectations. The data for this research produced from five semi-structured interviews with male individuals who had recovered from their addiction and had practised some custodial life. To discover the common context of different perceptions of the language spirituality, the data was coded by the first and second loop encodings from the data analysis methods used. The central schemes that appear as “Spirituality in Experiences, Spirituality in Values, Spirituality as Meaning/Purpose of Life, Spirituality as Attachment, Spirituality as Coping Mechanism” have been evaluated within the framework of the concept of spirituality. In the conclusion of this study, it was observed that spirituality was used as a coping mechanism for buffering the sensation of hopelessness and powerlessness often experienced by people in active addiction.
  • Religion, Spirituality and Addiction Recovery: Introduction

    Dossett, Wendy; Metcalf-White, Liam; University of Chester
    Religion, spirituality, non-religion, and the secular (Lee 2014, 2015) are unstable categories that are nonetheless routinely reified by academics, clinicians and practitioners alike, and positioned as fundamental to experiences of addiction recovery. For instance, addiction is often framed, dramatically, as a spiritual malady, yet, just as often, as simply a poor moral choice. While ideas associated with religion or spirituality play out differently in those contrasting diagnoses, the role of religion and spirituality in their aetiology is evident. We (Wendy Dossett and Liam Metcalf-White) argue that the categories of religion, spirituality, and non-religion, as they to relate to addiction recovery, need further analysis than they receive in the clinical literature. This literature frequently presents them as extra “technologies of the self ” (Foucault 1988); either functionally worthwhile or not (Szalavitz 2017); rather than as embedded in the very culture and discourses in which addiction and recovery are named and experienced. We argue for a focus on the latter as more productive for an understanding of the field.
  • Kleśas and Pretas: Therapy and Liberation in Buddhist Recovery from Addiction

    Dossett, Wendy; University of Chester (Equinox, 2020-04-24)
    This article offers an analysis of Buddhist approaches to addiction recovery in the terms of some of the key debates in addiction/recovery studies. Buddhist recovery teachings are analysed for the extent to which they embody models of addiction which construe the problem as a disease, as a moral problem, as a problem of powerlessness, as a problem of control, as a choice, as a social or a personal problem, and as continuous (or not) with putative saṃsāric experience. They are also analysed for the extent to which recovery is modelled as a change of identity or of practices, and how far “recovery ideals” align with Buddhist soteriology. The article exposes philosophical and epistemological diversity across Buddhist recovery pathways, and argues that the therapeutization of Buddhism (Metcalf 2002) is inadequate as a categorical frame.
  • Pluralising practical theology: international and multi-traditional challenges and opportunities

    Stuerzenhofecker, Katja; University of Chester; University of Manchester
    The entrance of international practical theologians of all faiths and none into the traditionally Western-centric, Christian-dominated field in the UK prompts the review of its scope and methodology. This paper argues for a shared conversation on how to achieve constructive and authentic participation for all. A recent survey of alumni from four UK-based Professional Doctorates in Practical Theology highlights omissions and opportunities, and points towards an agenda for intentional and effective pluralization. Evangelical principles and Christian liberation theology suggest internal strategies to counter possible resistance to undoing the Christian hegemony.
  • Book review: Michael Gilmour, Animals in the Writings of C.S. Lewis

    Clough, David L.; University of Chester
    Book review

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