Professor Louise Lawrence
Associate Professor in New Testament Studies
I completed my BA, MA, and PhD at Exeter before moving north of the border for six years as Teaching Fellow in New Testament Studies at the University of St Andrews (2000-2003) and then Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Glasgow (2003-2006). I returned to Exeter as Lecturer in New Testament Studies in 2006, and became a Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies in 2011. In 2018 I was promoted to Associate Professor in New Testament Studies. My major research interests are anthropological approaches to, and cultural and contextual implications of, the interpretation of biblical texts. Latterly this has been particularly focussed on embodiment and disability.
My PhD thesis was published as An Ethnography of the Gospel of Matthew (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002). My second book, explicitly brought cultural anthropology into dialogue with biblical texts. See Reading with Anthropology: Exhibiting Aspects of New Testament Religion, Paternoster, 2005. See also my co-edited volume with M. Aguilar, Anthropology and Biblical Studies: Avenues of Approach, Deo 2004.
After my return to Exeter, I undertook a three year research project (2006-2009), sponsored by the South West Ministry Training Course (http://www.swmtc.org.uk) entitled ‘Texts of Land, Sea and Hope’. This project initiated a number of community readings of the bible across the region in a wide diversity of contexts (rural; urban; coastal) and amongst a variety of people (intentional communities; artists, D/deaf groups etc.) Results of this project were published in my third monograph entitled: The Word in Place: Reading the New Testament in Contemporary Contexts (SPCK 2009).
In 2009-2013 I undertook a British Academy funded project exploring sensory-disability in New Testament texts and interpretation. This culminated in my fourth monograph: Sense and Stigma in the Gospels: Depictions of Sensory-Disabled Characters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) .
My fifth monograph entitled, Bible and Bedlam: 'Madness' ,Sanism, and New Testament Interpretation (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury 2018) was released in August 2018.
I am Director of Education for Theology and Religion and the Liberal Arts Programmes at Exeter.
I am also the editor of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, one of the leading peer-reviewed academic journals in New Testament Studies.
My research expertise encompasses three inter-related areas: (a) Disability Studies and Biblical Texts; (b) Contextual Readings of New Testament Texts; (c) Social-scientific Approaches to New Testament Interpretation (especially anthropological approaches). I have written five monographs, co-edited a collection of essays and produced over twenty peer-reviewed articles and essays in these areas. My most recent project/monograph entitled, Bible and Bedlam: Madness in New Testament Interpretation (currently in press with T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, out in 2018) attempts to unveil the normative, rational and ‘neuro-typical’ assumptions surrounding the discipline of biblical studies. My 2013 monograph, Sense and Stigma in the Gospels: Depictions of Sensory-Disabled Characters (Oxford University Press, 2013) exposed the sensory disabilities of biblical studies as a largely sight-centric endeavour. My 2009 monograph, The Word in Place: Reading the New Testament in Contemporary Contexts (SPCK) documented the results of a three year project (in conjunction with the South West Ministry Training Course) which initiated community readings of biblical texts within a diversity of settings (urban, rural, coastal areas etc.) across Devon and Cornwall. Published biblical ‘readings from below’ by ‘ordinary’/’untrained’ readers have hitherto largely been dominated by work in majority-world settings. The prism of the West often de-contextualises the ‘ordinary’ bible reader in Britain; this book is an important voice in showing how industrialised Western readings also can be inflected by deep place concerns. Reading with Anthropology: Exhibiting Aspects of New Testament Religion (Paternoster, 2005) and An Ethnography of the Gospel of Matthew: A Critical Assessment of the Use of the Honour and Shame Model in New Testament Studies (Mohr Siebeck, 2003) both employed social-scientific methodologies and posed important challenges to the modes in which biblical scholarship hitherto had utilised these fields.
Social-scientific Approaches to New Testament Interpretation (especially anthropological approaches)
Contextual Bible Study
Disability Studies/Medical Humanities and Biblical Texts
PhD Supervision (first supervisor)
beg. Sept 2017 Chloe Church, ‘A Reception-Historical Study of the New Testament in Counter-Reformation Art’ (f/t) (SWWDTP, AHRC Scholarship)
2016-present Victoria Omotoso, ‘Imaging Jesus: How Jesus Films Construct Our Perception of The Figure of Jesus’ (f/t 50/50 supervision)
2014-present Penelope Cowell-Doe, ‘Queering the Pilling Report’ (p/t 50/50 supervision)
2012-2016 Helen John, ‘African Traditional Religion and Christianity: Contextual Bible Studies in Namibia’ (f/t) (HASS Funded) [completed, passed with no corrections, 2016]. Student employed to convene and teach core module for Liberal Arts programme at Exeter (2016-2017).
2010-2016 Cherryl Hunt, 'Promoting Biblical Engagement Among Ordinary Christians in English Churches: Reflections on the Pathfinder Project' (p/t) (Bible Society Funded) [completed, passed with no corrections, 2016].
PhD Supervision (second supervisor)
2016-present Trevor Laurence, ‘Cursing with God: The Imprecatory Psalms and the Healing of Violence’ (30/60 supervision)
2015-present Leanna Rierson, ‘Evaluating Paul’s Power-in-Weakness Claims and Strategies in the Corinthian Correspondence in Light of Current Vulnerability and Humility Research’(40/60 supervision)
2015-present Scott Yip, ‘Who are we? A narrative analysis of the identity formation processes inside the testimony debates in Philippians’ (20/80 supervision)
2015-present Hayoung Kim, ‘The Atonement in 1 Peter: A Cultic-Priestly Model?’ (20/80 supervision)
2013-present Louise Prideaux, ‘Towards a Christian Theology of Contemporary Culture in the Reformed Tradition’ (20/80 supervision)
2012-2017 David Shaw, ‘A People Called: Social Identity and Mission in 1 Peter’ (20/80 supervision)
2012-2017 Bethany Wagstaff ‘Redressing Clothing in the Hebrew Bible: Material-Cultural Approaches’ (20/80 supervision) (passed)
2011-2016 Alan Hooker, ‘You Shall Know Yhwh: God's Penis and Divine Sexuality in the Hebrew Bible’ (20/80 supervision) (passed)
External impact and engagement
I have collaborated in research and impact wth Signs of God, The BSL Deaf Bible Project, Bridge Collective and Hearing Voices Network and The Bible Society.
2016 ‘Reading the Bible for Wellbeing’ reading series with the Bridge Collective, Exeter http://www.bridgecollective.org.uk/
2015 The Bible and Disability, Theology, Quest and Questions Series, Tiverton.
2014 'Bible and Disability' workshops, Diocese of Canterbury
2013 ‘The Disabilities of Reading the Bible as an Adult’ Holy Ground, Exeter Cathedral http://www.exetercathedral.org.uk/_assets/october%202013%20cathedral%20news.pdf
2012-2013 On Archbishop’s working group for considering futures of Theological Higher Education, Lambeth Palace, London
2012 Consultant to the Anglican Church’s major international project ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’, London
2011 Addressed biannual conference for Chaplains to the Deaf and The Signs of God Conference
2009-2011 Led 10 training events (in Exeter, Truro and Rochester Dioceses) for clergy on the methods of Contextual Bible Study
2009 Addressed biannual conference for Chaplains to the Deaf and The Signs of God Conference, Northampton
2008 Main speaker (with Bishop of Exeter) at 4 Diocesan conferences (Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple, Torbay) with over 1000 people at each event.
Contribution to discipline
- "Texts of Land, Sea and Hope", with Mike Higton, Christopher Southgate and David Horrell. £67,656, SWMTC, 2006-2009.
- 'Sensory Impairment in the New Testament and Interpretation' British Academy Small Research Grant 2009-2012
- 'The Bible in Non-Literate Contexts', Small Reseach Grant, Bible Society, 2011-2012
- "The Bible in Non-Literate Contexts". Funded by Bible Society, 2012.
Academic society positions
- Secretary of the British NT Society, 2007-11
- Advisor to the BSL Deaf Bible Translation Project
- Advisor to a British Academy-funded project conducting Contextual Bible Studies among homeless people, 2010
- Consultant to the Anglican Church’s major international project ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’, 2010-2012
- Louise has worked at the Sensoria centre, Concordia University, Montreal
- Runner-up in Student Guild 'Most Supportive Member of Staff Teaching Award' 2017
- Shortlisted for the Student Guild 'Research-inspired Teaching Award' 2013
- Runner-up in Student Guild 'Best Lecturer' Award 2012
I have served as Director of Education for Theology and Religion and Liberal Arts since 2013, and have instituted a number of initiatives within the department specifically aligned to the University Education Strategy. I also wrote the new core module, 'Being Human' for the Liberal Arts programme and have overseen quality control and programme review of Liberal Arts. I have also led the design, writing and accreditation of a new degree programme for Theology and Religion 2015-2016 u/g entry, in line with revised subject benchmark statements for the discipline published in 2014. I have designed and implemented a variety of different learning and assessment methods in my Level 2 & 3 option modules including evaluation of u/g research posters by postgraduate researchers, response-ware classroom activities and creative writing portfolios. Also in-service/field visit reflection reports on class visits to Sense (https://www.sense.org.uk/content/providence-court-and-caf%C3%A9-55) and the Bridge Collective (http://www.bridgecollective.org.uk/).
Guild Teaching Awards
My commitment and innovative teaching practice has been corroborated by my success at the Guild Teaching awards. In 2017 I was runner up in the ‘Most Supportive Staff Member’ category, in 2013 I was shortlisted in the ‘Research Inspired Teaching’ category and in 2012 I was runner up in the ‘Best Lecturer’ category.
Teaching at Exeter: Module and Programme Design
2017 Designed, wrote and accredited new core level 1 module and revised programme structure of Liberal Arts degree programme.
2013-2014 Designed, wrote and accredited new Degree Programme in Theology and Religion for 2015-16 entry.
2014 Designed ‘Religion, Philosophy and Ethics’ FCH pathway
Undergraduate core modules (all independently developed) Level 1: Bible: Past and Present (15 credits) Level 1: Gospels: Origins and Outlooks (15 credits) I also contribute sessions on disability to the Level 1: Being Human (30 credits) Liberal Arts Undergraduate option modules (all independently developed) Level 1: Biblical Hermeneutics (15 credits) Levels 2 & 3: Encountering the Historical Jesus (30 credits) Levels 2 & 3: Deviant Bodies: Disability Studies and the New Testament (30 credits) Other input to undergraduate modules Level 3: Dissertation (30 credits)
Postgraduate taught modules (all independently developed) Anthropology and Biblical Studies Disability Studies and the Bible
Postgraduate team-taught module (contributing selected sessions to . . .) Approaches to Biblical Studies
- THE1101 - The Bible: Past and Present
- THE2031 - Encountering the Historical Jesus
- THE2179 - 'Deviant Bodies': Disability Studies and the New Testament
- THE3031 - Encountering the Historical Jesus
- THE3179 - 'Deviant Bodies': Disability Studies and the New Testament