Introducing Professor James Crossley from The Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, one of our speakers at the Hidden Perspectives Festival on 1 June, where he’ll discuss ‘The Use of the Bible in Party Political Debates about Homosexuality and Same Sex Marrige’.
James is the author of several books, including Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects for a New American Century (London and Oakville: Equinox, 2008) and, his most recent book, Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism: Scholarship, Intellectuals and Ideology (Equinox: London and Oakville, 2012). You can see James talking about his research in more detail here.
James, can you summarise your work on Bible and politics for us?
I try to look at the ways in which religion, the Bible and biblical texts are understood in periods of social and political change and the longer term implications of these understandings. In terms of Christian origins, I try to show at how social changes in Galilee contributed to the emergence of ideas about the historical Jesus and how these ideas were taken up, ignored, modified, altered, etc. in the emergence of Christianity. In terms of contemporary politics, I’m trying to show how dominant understandings of what the Bible is supposedly meant to be (e.g. a liberal text, a radical text, a text of cultural heritage) and how they interact with dominant political and economic ideologies of our time. More generally, I look at ways in which the Bible continues to survive in contemporary culture.
How did you get involved in the Hidden Perspectives project?
It’s a part of a (good) public engagement project and one that it related to the Bible. And as it is additionally a public engagement project on the side of good and looks at the role of the Bible in contemporary politics and culture, it felt like something more than a just a civil partnership.
How will you ‘bring the Bible out of the closet’ at the festival on 1 June?
By anonymously leaking its sexuality to the tabloids for a ‘six figure fee’
Why do you think Hidden Perspectives is important?
Because it is an example of university public engagement which is geared towards broader social and educational debates, for a range of audiences and one which shows that biblical studies and religious studies can contribute to such things without having to pretend how we benefit the economy or provide employers with a (suitably vague) ‘range of transferable skills and critical tools’.
What are your next projects?
I’m finishing off a book on the Bible in English politics and culture since 1968. It will focus on different understandings of the Bible among leading political figures and how parts of popular culture have helped the survival of these understandings, whether or not the practitioners like a given ideological position, politician or the Bible.