Dr Ann Conway Jones

Department of Theology and Religion
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

My research interest is early Jewish–Christian relations, focussing particularly on biblical exegesis and the origins of mysticism.  My PhD research, involving a range of Jewish and Christian mystical writings about the heavenly temple, has been published by OUP as Gregory of Nyssa’s Tabernacle Imagery in Its Jewish and Christian Contexts.

I teach biblical studies, early Jewish–Christian relations, and the development of mystical theology for The Queen’s Foundation; Woodbrooke Quaker Studies Centre; Birmingham Church of England diocese; and Oxford University Department of Continuing Studies.  For six years I taught biblical Hebrew in the Department of Theology and Religion. 

I am actively involved in Jewish–Christian dialogue, and am Chair of Birmingham Council of Christians and Jews.  Through a range of popular writing, I aim to make academic scholarship accessible.  For example, I write Bible and sermon notes for the ecumenical magazine Roots, which provides liturgical resources for the weekly lectionary.

Qualifications

  • PhD (Religions and Theology), University of Manchester 
  • MA (Jewish–Christian Relations), Centre for the Study of Jewish–Christian Relations, Anglia Ruskin University
  • BLitt (Theology), University of Birmingham
  • MA (Natural Sciences), Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
  • Accredited Lay Worker of the Church of England

Biography

I trained as an Accredited Lay Worker for the Church of England at The Queen’s College, Birmingham, completing a B.Litt. in theology at the University of Birmingham in the process.  Whilst working in the parish of St Matthew’s and St Chad’s, Smethwick, I taught myself Hebrew.  After my first son was born, I worked part-time as an Anglican chaplain at the University.  It was during that time that I embarked on an M.A. in Jewish–Christian relations by distance learning, at the Centre for the Study of Jewish–Christian Relations (now the Woolf Institute) in Cambridge.  CJCR awarded me the Sternberg Prize.  From the M.A., I progressed to a PhD at the University of Manchester, supervised by Professor Philip Alexander, and funded by the AHRC.  My academic research into early Jewish and Christian mystical exegesis has been complemented by involvement in Jewish–Christian dialogue.  I was secretary, and then chair, of Birmingham CCJ (Council of Christians and Jews).  I have now been elected joint Honorary Secretary of national CCJ.

Teaching

I have been involved in a wide range of teaching, in both academic and church settings.  Past and present courses include:

Department of Theology, University of Birmingham

  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

School for Professional and Continuing Education, University of Birmingham

  • The Narrative Art of the Hebrew Bible
  • Ways of Reading the Hebrew Scriptures

The Queens Foundation

  • Introduction to the Bible
  • Tabernacle and Temple in Old and New Testaments (MA module)

Woodbrooke Quaker Studies Centre

  • Poetry in the Hebrew Bible
  • The Hebrew Bible
  • Living in Harmony with the Other
  • Prophetic Witness in Turbulent Times
  • Moses on Mount Sinai and the Life of Prayer

The Church of England ­– Birmingham

  • Explorations in the Hebrew Bible
  • Heavenly Ascent: The Beginnings of Christian Mysticism
  • Prophets and Prophecy
  • Introduction to New Testament Greek
  • The Passion according to Mark and John

Research

I am continuing my research into early Jewish and Christian mystical exegesis by focussing on ‘interiorised apocalyptic’: the process whereby the imagery of the pseudepigraphic ascent texts (such as the heavenly merkavah throne), itself based on biblical texts in Exodus, Isaiah and Ezekiel, was converted into metaphors for the inner life of faith. I am also interested in the role played by anti-Judaism in the process of early Christian identity formation, and the implications for Christian preaching today.

Publications

Monograph

Articles

  • “The Greatest Paradox of All”: The “Place of God” in the Mystical Theologies of Gregory of Nyssa and Evagrius of Pontus’, Journal of the Bible and Its Reception 5:2 (2018), 259-79.
  • The New Testament: Jewish or Gentile?’, Expository Times (published online November 2018).
  • ‘Is the God of the Old Testament a God of Violence?’, Friends Quarterly 46:4 (2018), 4-17.
  • Teaching early Jewish-Christian relations: Negotiating the tensions between history and theology’, Jewish/non-Jewish Relations – Between Exclusion and Embrace: An Online Teaching Resource (2017).
  • Sermon Preached in the Chapel of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: Evensong, Remembrance Sunday, 2016, The Expository Times, 128:8 (2017), 385–8.
  • ‘An Ambiguous Type: The Figure of Aaron Interpreted by Gregory of Nyssa and Ephrem the Syrian’, in Markus Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica 95 (Leuven, Peeters, 2017), 389–98.
  • ‘Interiorised Apocalyptic in Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius of Pontus and Pseudo-Macarius’, in Markus Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica 74 (Leuven, Peeters, 2016), 191–202.
  • ‘Moses Ascends to Heaven: Gregory of Nyssa’s Tabernacle Imagery in Life of Moses 2.170-201’, in Philip Rousseau and Janet Timbie (eds), The Christian Moses: From Philo to the Qur'an, CUA Studies in Early Christianity (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming).
  • ‘Contempt or Respect? Jews and Judaism in Christian Preaching’, The Expository Times 127: 2 (2015), 63-72.
  • ‘Uncreated and Created: Proverbs 8 and Contra Eunomium III/1 as the Background to Gregory’s Interpretation of the Tabernacle in Life of Moses II 173–7’, in Johan Leemans & Matthieu Cassin (eds), Gregory of Nyssa: Contra Eunomium III: An English Translation with Commentary and Supporting Studies (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 528–39. 
  • ‘Gregory of Nyssa’s Tabernacle Imagery: Mysticism, Theology and Politics’, in Markus Vinzent (ed.), Papers Presented at the Sixteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held in Oxford 2011. Volume 15: Cappadocian Writers, The Second Half of the Fourth Century, Studia Patristica 67 (Leuven: Peeters, 2013), 143–9.
  •  ‘“Whether in the Body or out of the Body I Do Not Know”: Corporeality and Heavenly Ascent’, PaRDeS, 18 (2012), 79–90.
  • ‘The Garments of Heaven: Gregory of Nyssa’s Interpretation of the Priestly Robe (Life of Moses 2,189–191) Seen in the Light of Heavenly Ascent Texts’, in Allen Brent and Markus Vinzent (eds), Studia Patristica 50 (Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 207–15.
  • ‘Filled with the Glory of God: The Appropriation of Tabernacle Imagery in the New Testament and Gregory of Nyssa’, in Michael Tait and Peter Oakes (eds), Torah in the New Testament: Papers Delivered at the Manchester-Lausanne Seminar of June 2008, Library of New Testament Studies 401 (London: T&T Clark, 2009), 228–38.

Selected Reviews

  • Review of Hans Boersma, Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa: An Anagogical Approach.  Journal of Ecclesiastical History 65: 1 (2014), 150–2.
  • Review of Mike Higton and Rachel Muers, The Text in Play: Experiments in Reading Scripture. Reviews in Religion and Theology 20: 3(2013), 424–6.
  • Review of Paul M. Joyce and Andrew Mein (eds), After Ezekiel: Essays on the Reception of a Difficult Prophet.  Reviews in Religion and Theology 20: 2 (2013), 254–6. 
  • Review of Kenneth E. Pomykala (ed.), Israel in the Wilderness: Interpretations of the Biblical Narratives in Jewish and Christian Traditions.  Journal of Jewish Studies 61 (2010), 180.
  • Review of Naomi Seidman, Faithful Renderings: Jewish–Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation. Journal of Jewish Studies 58 (2007), 352-3.

Bible Notes and Other Popular Writing

  • "The Divine Colour Blue" on the OUPblog (Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World", 8th October 2014.
  • Chapters in Words for Today (ed. Nicola Slee) and Fresh from the Word (ed. Nathan Eddy), International Bible Reading Association
  • Bible and Sermon notes, Roots: Adult and All Age (resources for the weekly lectionary)
  • Short articles in the Church Times and Reform