Dr Deryn Guest BA, PhD (Birmingham)

Dr Deryn Guest

Department of Theology and Religion
Honorary Senior Lecturer

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am interested in two main areas of research. First: contemporary biblical hermeneutics, specifically in the ways gender theory, queer theory and psychological theory can inform the interpretation of texts. Much of my work to date attends to lesbian, transgender and queer interpretations of scripture and I remain interested in ways in which masculinities and femininities are constructed in biblical texts, not necessary as binary options. Currently, I am currently working on how the Book of Judges can be read from the perspective of environmental studies and how this challenges our notions of biblical commentaries and their purposes. Second: I am interested in the cultural constructions of femininity and idealised body bodies and how various spiritual practices enable resistance by providing tools to re-align the psyche to alternative ways of Being.


I ventured into academic life relatively late having spent some years as a minister of religion with the Salvation Army, working in Manchester. During the Salvation Army residential training I took up study for a Cambridge Diploma which introduced me to biblical study, church history and theology from academic perspectives. I was an engaged student and when my ministerial vocation unravelled I furthered this study by undertaking a BA Theology at Birmingham. Enthusiastic and encouraging tutors encouraged me to stay for a PhD which I completed in 1996. While studying for the PhD I worked full-time at Westhill Teacher Training College, delivering modules on Greek and Hebrew, Biblical studies, and Women and Christianity.  In 2002 I moved to the University of Birmingham where I am now Senior Lecturer in Biblical Hermeneutics.

In my work I have always been interested in how the experiences of being both LGBT+ and Christian or Jewish can be theorised and you can read more about this journal on my LGBT profile.



Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from potential students in biblical hermeneutics, especially in areas of feminist, postfeminist, masculinities and queer areas. I am also interesting in supervising projects that incorporate ecological concerns e.g. the way biblical interpretation has fuelled exploitation of the environment and how texts can be read from ecological perspectives, particularly ecofeminist perspectives.

I also welcome enquiries in the area of psychology, mental health and the development of the Self both from biblical perspectives and within the field of women’s spirituality.

At Birmingham, I currently supervise the following students:

Hannah Stammers, part-time PhD in Theology (College Scholarship award), as primary supervisor. Thesis entitled: Christian Women, Anorexia and Theological Responses: Towards a Feminist Theology of Liberation from Anorexia Nervosa.
Simeon Whiting, part-time PhD in Theology as primary supervisor. Thesis entitled: ‘Can trauma theory and collective memory studies illuminate the characterisation of YHWH in Exodus 13.17 – 15.21 in ways that are helpful for a concerned evangelical reader?’
Sarah Schofield, part-time PhD in Theology as primary supervisor. Thesis entitled: The experiences of women ordained in the Church of England between 1995 and 1999.
Sheryl Metzgner, full-time distance learning PhD in Theology, (College Distance Learning Scholarship award) as primary supervisor. Thesis entitled: “Queer-freedom” in the face of oppression: Post-structural spiritual transformations in the lives of LGBTQ Christians. A grounded theory of pneumatological liberation.
John Rogers, part-time distance learning PhD in Theology as primary supervisor. Thesis entitled: Siege Mentality in the Book of Deuteronomy

I enjoy working with doctoral students and find it one of the most rewarding aspects of being an academic. I attained the College of Arts and Law ‘Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision’ award in 2016 and have been nominated again in two successive years.

I work flexibly with part-time students using a range of supervision modes (email, skype, face-to-face) to ensure that all students feel comfortable and supported in their preferred style of research. I am happy to work with them on papers they are writing for publication or conferences, support them with library purchases applications for funding.


I research, or have researched in the following areas:

Transgender, lesbian and queer interpretations of biblical texts, masculinity studies and biblical texts, the application of psychological theory to biblical texts, contemporary interpretation of the Book of Judges, ecofeminist theory and its application to biblical texts, biblical archaeology and revisionist views on the date, audience and purpose of biblical texts, spiritual perspectives on ‘women’ and wellbeing in particular the usefulness of personal altar construction and use as a means of development of the Self, the debate between feminism and postfeminism as it applies to biblical hermeneutics.


Recent publications


Guest, D 2018, YHWH and Israel in the Book of Judges: An Object-Relations Analysis. Society for Old Testament Study Monographs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108568562

Hornsby, T & Guest, D (eds) 2016, Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta. <https://secure.aidcvt.com/sbl/ProdDetails.asp?ID=060686C&PG=1&Type=BL&PCS=SBL>

Guest, D 2012, Beyond Feminist Biblical Studies. The Bible in the Modern World, vol. 47, Sheffield Phoenix Press, Sheffield.


Guest, D 2020, 'The End of the Beginning: Joshua and Judges, Johanna W. H.Van Wijk‐Bos, Eerdmans, 2019 (ISBN 978‐0‐8028‐6838‐1), xiv + 354 pp., pb $29.99The Road to Kingship: 1–2 Samuel, Johanna W. H.Van Wijk‐Bos, Eerdmans, 2020 (ISBN 978‐0‐8028‐7744‐4), xiv + 418 pp., pb $29.99', Reviews in Religion and Theology, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 429-432. https://doi.org/10.1111/rirt.v27.3

Guest, D 2008, ''Because They're Worth It! Making Room for Female Students and Thealogy in Higher Education Contexts'', Feminist Theology, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 43-71. https://doi.org/10.1177/0966735008095641

Guest, D 2008, ''Encountering Beasts: Lesbian Biblical Hermeneutics on the Road'', Concilium, vol. 1, pp. 105-119.

Guest, D 2008, ''Looking Lesbian at the Bathing Bathsheba'', Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 227-263. https://doi.org/10.1163/156851508X27611

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Guest, D 2015, Gender Transgression. in J O'Brien (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies . Oxford encyclopedias of the Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Guest, D 2015, Judging YHWH in the book of Judges. in D Nolan Fewel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Narrative . Oxford University Press, Oxford. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199967728.013.14


Guest, D 2016, Modeling the transgender gaze: performances of masculinities in 1 Kings 9-10. in D Guest & T Hornsby (eds), Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta.

Guest, D 2016, Troubling the waters: Tehom, transgender and reading Genesis backwards. in T Hornsby & D Guest (eds), Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta.

Guest, D 2010, From Gender Reversal to Genderfuck: Reading Jael through a Lesbian Lens. in TJ Hornsby & K Stone (eds), Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship. Semeia Studies, vol. 67, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, pp. 9-43.

Book/Film/Article review

Guest, D 2008, 'Engaging the bible in a gendered world: An introduction to feminist biblical interpretation in honor of Katharine Doob Sakenfeld', The Expository Times, vol. 119, no. 11, pp. 561-562. https://doi.org/10.1177/00145246081190111103

Guest, D 2008, 'Fundamentalism and women in world religions', Journal of Beliefs and Values, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 108-109.

Guest, D 2008, 'Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, 2nd edition', The Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 59, pp. 720-722. https://doi.org/10.1093/jts/fln084

View all publications in research portal