Tag Archives: James Crossley

James Crossley is Harnessing Chaos

1624269_10153720422980184_940666129_nComing soon, his latest contribution to discussions of the intersection between the Bible and culture

Harnessing Chaos is an explanation of changes in dominant politicalized assumptions about what the Bible ‘really means’ in English culture since the 1960s. This book looks at how the social upheavals of the 1960s, and the economic shift from the post-war dominance of Keynesianism to the post-1970s dominance of neoliberalism, brought about certain emphases and nuances in the ways in which the Bible is popularly understood, particularly in relation to dominant political ideas. This book examines the decline of politically radical biblical interpretation in parliamentary politics and the victory of (a modified form of) Margaret Thatcher’s re-reading of the liberal Bible tradition, following the normalisation of (a modified form of) Thatcherism more generally.

Part I looks at the potential options for politicized readings of the Bible at the end of the the 1960s, focussing on the examples of Christopher Hill and Enoch Powell. Part II analyses the role of Thatcher’s specific contribution to political interpretation of the Bible and assumptions about ‘religion’. Part III highlights the importance of (often unintended) ideological changes towards forms of Thatcherite interpretation in popular culture and with particular reference to Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the Manchester music scene between 1976 and 1994. Part IV concerns the modification of Thatcher’s Bible, particularly with reference to the embrace of socially liberal values, by looking at the electoral decline of the Conservative Party through the work of Jeffrey Archer on Judas and the final victory of Thatcherism through Tony Blair’s exegesis. Some consideration is then given to the Bible in an Age of Coalition and how politically radical biblical interpretations retain a presence outside parliamentary politics. Harnessing Chaos concludes with reflections on why politicians in English politicians bother using the Bible at all.

It’s a great book- engaging and, if such may be said of such things, quite entertaining.  The sort of book that holds your attention (and yes, I know this because I’ve read it, not because someone else told me about it or I saw 3 pages of the introduction and was asked to write a blurb for it).

I prophesy that you’ll enjoy it too.

Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition: Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey

ISD have sent along for review this delightful volume: Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition: Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey, edited by James Crossley.

casey_fsJudaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition is a collection of essays focused on what is now a major issue in contemporary gospel studies. The essays are in honour of Maurice Casey, who has made major contributions to our understanding of the Jewish context of Jesus and the Gospels. Fittingly, this collection of essays avoids the conventional festschrift format and is designed to be a detailed analysis in its own right. This volume examines how Judaism can function as an analytical concept in Gospel scholarship. This includes an overview of the ways in which Judaism is used in the canonical Gospels and how this relates to the idea of a Jewish Jesus, in addition to specific examples of similarities with, and differences from, various Jewish traditions in the Gospels, constructions of gender, the impact of the historical Jesus, and the significant steps toward Christian distinctiveness made in the Gospel of John.

This collection features contributions by Andrew R. Angel, Roger David Aus, George J. Brooke, Bruce Chilton, Daniel Cohen, James G. Crossley, Mogens Müller, Wendy E.S. North, Catrin H. Williams, and a preface by C.K. Barrett.

My review is available here.

ISD is offering, for Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition, a discount- the code being 132-13. This is good for 20% off either the paperback or hardback, also through Oct 31st.

Lecture Announcement: “The Legacy of Mark’s Gospel”

James Crossley is lecturing on Mark and the public is invited.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the rebuilding of St Mark’s Church and the 10th anniversary of CRC, we are delighted to announce an additional conference in 2013. And what more appropriate topic could there be than the patron saint of the church whose Gospel is one of our earliest sources of information about Jesus of Nazareth.

Our speaker on this special occasion will be James Crossley, Professor of Bible, Culture and Politics in the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. James is an internationally-acclaimed authority on Mark’s Gospel as well as on early Christian origins more broadly. He also specializes on how contemporary events and worldviews impact upon interpretations of Jesus.

You should go.

James Crossley’s Assessment of the Scholarship of Geza Vermes

Here.  His conclusion:

crossleyThere is a strong case for Vermes being the most influential historical Jesus scholar of his generation. In some ways he was perhaps even more influential than Sanders whose historical Jesus work and challenge to the anti-Jewish rhetoric in New Testament scholarship owes something to Vermes. Others wrote bigger books but none of them changed the rhetoric of the debate as Vermes’Jesus the Jew did.

With much before.

Why Has James Crossley Been So Quiet?

First, not for the reason you would think.  Man United beat Man City so he hasn’t been hiding in shame.  Nor is he, like his wicked fellow-countryman Chris Tilling in hot water with the law.

No, James has been training to replace Santa!   That’s right, James is the next Mr Claus.  As part of his training, he’s been rounding up reindeer and giving them flying lessons.  Here, at the University, in a corral, is one of his students:

via- https://twitter.com/Penguin_Love189/status/278517517822078976/photo/1


I think it safe to say that when James takes over, NT Wright won’t be getting any Christmas gifts and neither will Prof. Malina. That’s just a guess, mind you, but I’d say a safe one.

[Joel Watts won’t be getting any gifts either- but that’s just because James finds him so Methodistic].

I, on the other hand… well all I can say is, thanks for the Mercedes, Santa!

Part Two of the ‘Interview With a Vampire’, Shoot, I Mean With James Crossley


(This is the second part of a three part interview with James G. Crossley. Part 1 can be foundhere.)

Craig Martin: What elements of neoliberalism do you find most repugnant? Are you optimistic or pessimistic in the face of what appears, to me at least, an unstoppable juggernaut?

James G. Crossley: There are lots of examples from countless contexts. From the book, the aftermath of the Haiti disaster was a particularly prominent repugnant episode with mainstream intellectuals hardly showering themselves with glory. And patterns of disaster can be found everywhere, from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to the experiments in Chile. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

And more…

An Interview With the Devil, Um, I Mean James Crossley

James looks different when he's in his wrestling outfit.  Thanks Google Images!

James looks different when he’s in his wrestling outfit. Thanks Google Images!

Actually James is hardly the Devil but given the fact that so many think he is, I thought I’d go ahead and imply so.  Anyway, Craig Martin has the first of a three part interview with him you’ll want to read.  And it’s a good one (in spite of the fact that Crossley is a Man United fan- but everyone has their failings… well almost everyone.)

James Crossley at the Sheffield 65th Anniversary

At Sheffield

James Crossley will be talking at the HRI tonight as part of our 65th Anniversary Lecture Series!   “Ideologues, Not Disinterested Scholars”: Biblical Scholarship between Sheffield, Israel and Palestine’  Free entry, all welcome, 6.30pm, Humanities Research Institute at The University of Sheffield. http://www.shef.ac.uk/biblicalstudies/news/65years.

The Celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Biblical Studies Department at Sheffield Continues

29th October 2012 – Emeritus Professor J. Cheryl Exum, ‘A Role for the Arts in Biblical Studies’, Jessop West Exhibition Space, 2pm-4pm- This lecture is open to all, attendance is free and there is no need to book.

And then

7 November 2012 – Dr Mark Finney, ‘Resurrecting Jesus: Pauline Thought in Sheffield and Beyond’, Humanities Research Institute, 6.30pm.

You can download all the cool upcoming lectures here. The Department’s 65th Anniversary page is here. And of course the main page of the Department is here.

And here are some photos of Sheffield (just because I love it there as I do) –

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(yes, the photo of the white building with the two blue doors is the Department home and Philip Davies requested to be able to use my snapshot for the Department page- which I was more than thrilled to grant).

More on Malina

Robert Myles, who has a pretty good series going on reviewing Crossley’s ‘Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism’, has another post along the same lines- this time focusing on the views of Bruce Malina.

I’d just add two observations (and I am not a ‘fan’ of Malina’s work, but when someone is telling the truth, well, he’s telling the truth).

1- Malina is simply following Shlomo Sands and other researchers when he points out that there is no connection between modern Israelis and ancient Israelites.

2- There is in fact something amiss in our labeling of Israeli’s as ‘settlers’ when they take Palestinian land.  And it is in fact the case that Christian Zionism is tremendously problematic as both something Christian and as Zionism.

Indeed, Myles’ quote from Malina isn’t at all evidence of Malina’s ‘wrongness’ on the subject.  Quite the contrary, Malina is right when he says-

Consider the language used in the United States relative to contemporary Israel. Israeli squatters are called ‘settlers’; Israel’s army of occupation is called a ‘defense force’; Israel’s theft of Palestinian property is called a ‘return’; Israel’s racist anti-Gentilism is called ‘Zionism’; and any and all criticism of Israel’s chosen people’s behavior is labeled ‘anti-Semitism’!… Dissidence, as my statements indicate, is in essence a semiotic phenomenon employing meaningful signs that result in cognitive disorientation of true believers. Israelis and Christian fundamentalists in the United States find my statements quite disorienting; as a matter of fact, they are sufficient to label me ‘an enemy of Israel,’ or, more derogatorily, ‘an anti-Semite.’

There’s nothing untrue in that paragraph.

As to Myles’ other points they are of less interest to me (sorry).  But Myles’ criticism of Malina on the above two points seems inappropriate.

Robert Myles’ Pretty Good Review of Crossley’s ‘Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism’

Over on his blog, Myles writes

Following on from my previous multi-post review of James Crossley’s recent book Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism (here and here), I want to skip a few chapters (hopefully returning to them at a later stage) and focus on Crossley’s eighth chapter, “‘Forgive Them; for They Do Not Know What They Are Doing!’ Other Problems, Extremes and the Social World of Jesus.” In terms of the overall argument of “neoliberalism” as an ideological context for Jesus scholarship, Crossley situates this chapter as dealing with an “extreme” that is able to become centrist and pose as non-ideological. The chapter makes an important contribution, and while I do not have space to go into all the details, I have raised some particular points of interest.

It’s a pretty good review actually and especially insightful is the following snippet-

To confirm Crossley’s observations [about Malina] up to this point, we need only to turn to a quote by Malina in the recent edited volume, Methods for Matthew (2009). In his contribution, which introduces the social scientific approach and its influence on Matthean scholarship, Malina writes (158):

the social systems, cultural values and behaviors, and person types of Mediterraneans are all alien to modern Western readers. The way to access those social systems begins with a comparative understanding of contemporary Mediterranean people and their traditional values. Thus, we may access some of the social systems of biblical peoples through comparative analysis of villagers in Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt (but not Israelis, since Israelis are a non-Semitic, central European people of Turkic origin).

Not only is the blurring of ancient and contemporary geographical regions somewhat awkward, but the last statement is, one might reasonably conclude, most revealing.

Readers will know that Crossley takes Malina to task for his rather bizarre views on ‘Jews’.  Give Myles’ whole series a look.

Answering Your Letters


I noticed today that you have been supportive of Francesca but you were never that charitable towards John Loftus or Richard Dawkins. All of them are atheists. Why do you like one but not the others? I think it’s just because Francesca is a pretty woman.


Dear Tony,

I’ve tried to explain this before but since you ask I’ll explain it again. I draw a distinction between atheists and angry atheists. Atheists are disbelievers in God who have arrived at their (erroneous) conclusion because they find no evidence for God. Angry atheists are either former Christians who worshiped a God of their own making who, consequently and inevitably, didn’t live up to their expectations; or, like Dawkins, are just atheists for the novelty of it because they love to be controversialists (akin to the folk who are gay simply because it’s chic).

These angry atheists aren’t atheists by conviction, they’re atheists by convenience. And I find that simultaneously loathsome and childish.

As to your intimation that I only am friendly with the good looking:  Francesca is, in fact, a very attractive young lady. But that’s hardly the reason I am willing to befriend her. I’ve also befriended James Crossley and Philip Davies- neither of whom are Christians and yet both are incredibly unattractive (no offense). A person’s physicality has nothing to do with whether or not I am willing to operate on friendly terms with them. My criteria are more cerebral. Atheists who have respect for Christians in spite of their differing opinions are excellent dialogue partners and in my experience, excellent friends.

Angry atheists, on the other hand, are mouth-breathing, dull witted, wretched little complainers and life is too short to engage with such things on anything but the level which they deserve: contempt.

I hope this clears things up, Tony.

If Biblioblogs Had Movie Titles… An Observation

If biblioblogs had movie titles… the titles of the blogs authored by the people below would be-

Joel Watts: The Expendables.
Mark Goodacre: The Godfather.
Near Emmaus: 12 Angry Men.
James McGrath: Fight Club.
Chris Tilling: Forest Gump.
Aren Maier: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Rod Thomas: Psycho.
Mark Stevens: The Shining.
Jim West: The Pianist.
Antonio Lombatti: The Great Escape.
James Crossley: The Untouchables.
Michael Barber: Up.
Robert Cargill: Driving Miss Daisy.

Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism: Quests, Scholarship and Ideology

James Crossley’s long awaited volume which serves as something of a follow-up to his earlier ‘Jesus in an Age of Terror‘ has been sent for review courtesy the great folk at Equinox.

Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism analyses the ideology underpinning scholarly and popular quests for the historical Jesus in a neoliberal age. The book focus is cultural and political concerns, notably postmodernism, multiculturalism and liberal masking of power. The study explores a range of issues: the dubious periodisation of the quest for the historical Jesus; “biblioblogging”; Jesus the “Great Man” and western individualism; image-conscious Jesus scholarship; the “Jewishness” of Jesus and the multicultural Other; evangelical and “mythical” Jesuses; and the contradictions between personal beliefs and dominant ideological trends in the construction of historical Jesuses.

As he notes in the Pre(r)amble (!) I saw this fantastic volume in the earliest stages of its existence and have been anticipating its publication since.  My review is available here.

Just How Jewish Was Jesus Anyway?

It’s an interesting question which the inimitable James Crossley poses in his latest posting.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

Given that he is so vocal of late in his political theory of marriage and sexuality, let’s try and cross swords again with Mike Bird – who identifies with ‘subversive ideological terrorists’ and enjoys family picnics – in the ongoing promotion of Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism. Which is now published, incidentally.

And really just to shoehorn this in, I’m going to turn to what is now an old ‘problem’ of Jesus being as Jewish as the Judaism constructed by scholarship, and how this is compensated in scholarship by the dominant ‘Jewish…but not that Jewish’ Jesus. To repeat yet again, many historical Jesus scholars will now emphasize how Jewish their Jesus is, tell us what constituted Jewish identity in the first century, before having their Jesus transcend this Jewish identity, or at least do something new and unparalleled either generally or on some specific (and often crucial) issue, typically involving the Torah and/or Temple. Subtly or otherwise, this pattern is relentlessly found from the more obscure Jesus scholarship through to the major works on the historical Jesus…whilst claiming how ‘very Jewish’ their Jesus is.

I’ve seen the book which James references in an early pre-publication form- it’s a true thriller in the best sense of the word and the perfect follow-up to his earlier Jesus in an Age of Terror.  So is the present post, which I know you’ll enjoy.