Professor Louise Lawrence
Professor of New Testament Interpretation
I am Professor of New Testament Interpretation, and Co-Head of Department.
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 and in 2020 to Professor in New Testament Interpretation (a personal chair). 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 currently writing a book entitled Compassionate Campuses: Refiguring the University in an Age of Neoliberalism to be published next year (2021)
I am currently Principal Investigator for a GCRF/AHRC project: 'Disability and Embodiment in Namibia: Religion and Cultural Perspectives' in partnership with the University of Nambia. Website & blog: http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/disabilitynamibia/
Twitter: DisabilityNamibia @NoBODYexcluded
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. https://journals.sagepub.com/home/jnt
My research expertise encompasses four 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). (d) The Bible in the Metropole and Global South. I also write in the field of Critical University Studies. I have written six monographs, co-edited a collection of essays and produced over twenty peer-reviewed articles and essays in these areas. My most recent monograph entitled, Compassionate Campuses: Refiguring the University in an Age of Neoliberalism (forthcoming, 2021) plots a reimagining of the university through care, other-regard, and a commitment to act in response to the suffering of others. It traces spiritual archaeologies of compassion, as well as its potential as a central value in university culture, campus climate, epistemically just curricula, and the wellbeing of students. Bible and Bedlam: Madness in New Testament Interpretation (T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, 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
The Bible in the Metropole and Southern Theory
PhD Supervision (first supervisor)
2020-present Olabisi Obamakin, 'Constructing an Afropean Hermeneutic' (f/t)
2019-present Ryan Oskini, 'Attachment Theory and New Testament Texts' (f/t)
2017-present 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)
2020-present, Charlotte Trombin, 'Onward Christian Soldiers: Masculinity and Men's Groups' (30/60)
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 (desiging resources, providing CPD for staff) for the following:
Signs of God: https://www.signsofgod.org.uk/
The BSL Deaf Bible Translation Project: https://www.bslbible.org.uk/
Bridge Collective: http://www.bridgecollective.org.uk/
Hearing Voices Network: http://www.hearing-voices.org/
The Bible Society: https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/
Contribution to discipline
Since September 2018 I have been the editor of one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/journal/journal-study-new-testament
I serve on a number of steering groups at the Society of Biblical Literature (Senses in New Testament Worlds; Social-Scientific Approaches to New Testament Texts)
I was co-chair of the Social World of the New Testament at British New Testament Conference and served as secretary for the British New Testament Society for three years.
I led the 'Living and Community' stream of the Institutional Wellbeing Review, and am currently instutional lead for the Advanced HE project on Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum.
I served as Director of Education for Theology and Religion and Liberal Arts from Jan 2013-Jan 2020, 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 2019 I was runner up as 'Best Personal Tutor'. 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