Biblical Studies research cluster

Biblical Studies is one of the central areas of Theology and Religion and one in which the University of Birmingham has a body of staff with excellent international reputations in a variety of areas. Biblical Studies therefore forms one of the Department’s four research groupings along with the Religious Studies research cluster, the Centre for Philosophy of Religion and the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies.

Detail of crown of thorns

Some research topics that are of particular interest to the Biblical Studies cluster include:

  • Biblical hermeneutics
  • Gender criticism and the Bible
  • New Testament textual criticism
  • The study of the manuscripts of the New Testament
  • Queer approaches to the Bible 
  • The Latin Gospel Harmony tradition
  • The text of John's Gospel
  • The Bible in the Arts, particularly film and music
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Second Temple Judaism
  • Contemporary commentary on Judges, Samuel and Kings
  • Evangelical and Pentecostal approaches to the Bible
  • Biblical studies and the social sciences


The core members of staff who work in Biblical Studies are:

Dr Andrew Davies is a cultural critic and biblical scholar whose Sheffield PhD, in the field of biblical ethics, established his interests in literary-critical approaches to the Hebrew Bible (particularly in the utilisation of a resistant reader-response methodology for reading biblical texts), and in the use of the Bible as a moral resource.

Dr Deryn Guest is interested in contemporary biblical hermeneutics, specifically in the ways gender theory and queer theory is utilised in the interpretation of scriptural texts.

Dr Charlotte Hempel’s main research interests are the communities reflected in the non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls and the complex literary development of major texts found at Qumran. More recently she has been exploring the ways in which the socio-religious milieu that gave us the Scrolls shares much more with the social matrix that gave us the emerging Hebrew Bible than customarily supposed.

Dr Hugh Houghton works on the text of the New Testament in Latin and Greek, using and developing electronic tools to create digital editions of individual manuscripts and biblical books which will provide the basis for future generations of scholarship.

Prof David Parker’s current work is editions of the Gospel of John funded by the AHRC. One is a critical edition of the Greek text in the series Novum Testamentum Graece.  Another is an edition of the Gospel of John in Latin in the Vetus Latina series with Philip Burton, Hugh Houghton, and Rosalind MacLachlan.

Dr Karen Wenell is a New Testament scholar concerned with the engagement between Biblical Studies and the Social Sciences, and the ways the text relates to lives in the ancient and contemporary world.

Dr Philip Burton is a Reader in Biblical Language and New Testament Studies within the Classics and Ancient History area of Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, part of the School of History and Cultures. He is specialist on the relationship between early Christianity and the wider world of Graeco-Roman literature and thought.

Postgraduate research

Postgraduates can undertake research in this field by registering for either the PhD or MA by Research in Theology and Religion (Biblical Studies specialism).

We have a number of postgraduate researchers interested in Biblical Studies at Birmingham, with current theses including:

  • An Ancient Text and its Transcriber: an investigation of the scribal habits of Papyrus 46 (Chester Beatty Papyrus II/P. Mich. Inv. 6328), supervised by David Parker
  • The significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Understanding the History of the Textual Transmission of the Hebrew Bible, supervised by Charlotte Hempel
  • Images of God the father and the holy trinity in illuminated manuscripts 550-720,  supervised by Philip Burton
  • Commentary manuscripts of Paul, supervised by David Parker
  • A Jungian Interpretation of Wisdom Literature in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels, supervised by Charlotte Hempel

All of our postgraduate students benefit from the academic strengths of our research clusters and are often co-supervised by members of staff from associated clusters across the College of Arts and Law, so that they have access to different perspectives on their research topic.   If you are interested in doing postgraduate research in Biblical Studies at Birmingham please feel free to contact the member of staff in the cluster that you think will be best suited to supervising your work here.

Selected publications

  • The Qumran Rule Texts in Context: Collected Studies (Texts and Studies on Ancient Judaism, 154) Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013
  • 'Who is Making Dinner at Qumran?', Journal of Theological Studies 63 (2012) 49-65

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