Image: King James Bible from 1634

Credit: Photograph by David Horrell, courtesy of Exeter Cathedral Library


Ethnicity and religion 218 wide Courtesy of the University of Exeter Library

Courtesy of the University of Exeter Library

Ethnicity/Race/Religion: Identities, Ideologies, and Intersections in Biblical Texts and Interpretation

9-11th August 2016,

Centre for Biblical Studies, University of Exeter, UK

How do ethnicity and race feature in constructions of identity in biblical texts? How have ideologies of race shaped biblical interpretation past and present? And how has the Bible and its interpretation contributed to racial ideologies and racist practices? These are the key issues to be explored in this international conference. Religion and ethnicity or race – the terms are contested and unavoidably loaded – are facets of identity that intersect and overlap in complex and varied ways. They are neither identical nor entirely separable, but clearly bound up in some of the most intractable and prominent conflicts in the contemporary world. One of the aims of the conference is to explore and to problematize the extent to which the dominant models of biblical scholarship remain ‘Western’ in their assumptions, and to consider what breaking out of these might entail.


Professor Musa Dube, University of Botswana Dr Ma. Marilou S. Ibita, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies, Quezon City, the Philippines. Dr Gregory Cuéllar, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, USA.

Ethnicity/ Race / Religion Conference: after the event

The Ethnicity/Race/Religion conference brought a diverse group of around 40 delegates from various countries to Exeter. Main papers were presented by Professor Musa Dube, Dr Maria Marilou Ibita, and Professor Gregory Cuéllar; twelve short offered papers were also presented (see here for a description of the main papers and the conference overall; a broader description of the whole event by Dr. Andrea Pichlmeier is also available here). The tone and contribution of the event are best captured in comments sent in by some of the participants after the event:

“What really stuck with me was the generous tone of the whole weekend; the diversity of ethnicity, gender and religious belonging made for a wonderful forum for conversation much more than discussion or debate, and enabled me and, it would seem, many others, to engage fully and personally with the issues that came up. I must say it has been one of my most positive conference experiences, and I look forward to seeing if anything more can come out of it.”

“This was a historic conference. Very seldom in the discipline of Biblical Studies does one find an international space to engage critically issues of race and ethnicity, both in the biblical text and in biblical interpretation. Thank you University of Exeter!”

“I appreciated the varied range of approaches as well as the opportunity to hear perspectives from a number of different contexts.”

“The conference placed into the center of the scholarly conversation some of the issues about ethnicity, race and religion that are often marginalized in biblical scholarship. The conference format also provided ample time for discussing these issues. I am very glad for the chance to contribute to the discussion and I welcome the continuation of the conversation.”

The main papers from the conference will be included in a larger volume of published papers, co-edited by David Horrell and Katherine Hockey; this volume will also incorporate papers presented at earlier workshops under the auspices of the wider research project on ethnicity, race, and religion in early Christian and Jewish identities.