Dr Karen Wenell discusses her research in how the bible relates to lived in the ancient and contemporary world; christmas and ethical consumption and the historical Jesus.
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I’m Karen Wenell, I’m a lecturer in new testament theology at Birmingham. I started in this post in the Summer of 2011 and my interests centre around the bible and the social sciences and the relationship between these. My doctoral research was about Jesus in relation to the land so I looked at the Abrahamic land promise and how that was part of first-century society, and what it might have been for Jesus to think about the Abrahamic land promise. Part of that was a spatial-critical approach which I have developed in other work. So looking at how space makes a difference to lives in the ancient and contemporary world. So that’s central to my interests – how the bible makes a difference. How we can relate it to lives in the ancient world and how we can relate it to lives in the contemporary world.
A more contemporary project I’ve been involved in was about Christmas and ethical consumption. So we looked at the origins of Christmas and how Christmas plays out in contemporary society, and what sort of ethical impulses there might be that could be studied further, to work towards more of an understanding of Christmas in a contemporary society.
Another aspect of research I’m currently working on is related to historical Jesus studies, which I’ve been involved in throughout my career, but now I’m trying to look at a critique of context of historical Jesus studies. How the historical Jesus is reconstructed using context, and how we might critique how that context is constructed. So looking at the work of Bruno Latour and how that is a critique to the way social sciences use context to fill in all the gaps in knowledge and how we might do a more connected approach to the study of the historical Jesus.