Dr Deryn Guest BA, PhD (Birmingham)

Dr Deryn Guest

Department of Theology and Religion
Senior Lecturer in Biblical Hermeneutics

Contact details

Address
ERI Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

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.

Biography

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.

Teaching

I teach modules on Queer Spiritualities, “Women” and wellbeing, and Bible and Ecology. I also participate in modules that are focussed on the contemporary interpretation of biblical texts or on theories of gender and sexualities.

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.


Find out more - our PhD Theology and Religion  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Research

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.

Other activities

  • Member of the Society for Old Testament Study

Publications

  • Teresa Hornsby and Deryn Guest Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation SBL Press, 2016
  • ‘Judging Yhwh in the Book of Judges’ in Dana Fewell (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Narrative, OUP, 2016
  • Beyond Feminist Biblical Studies by Deryn Guest. Sheffield Phoenix Press 2012
  • 'From Gender Reversal to Genderfuck:  Reading Jael through a Lesbian Lens' in Teresa J Hornsby and Ken Stone (eds) Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2011, pp. 9-43
  • ‘Liturgy and Loss: A Lesbian Perspective on using Psalms of Lament in Liturgy’ in Stephen Burns, Michael N Jagessar and Nicola Slee (eds.) The Edge of God: New Liturgical Texts and Contexts in Conversation London: Epworth Press.
  • ‘Encountering Beasts: Lesbian Biblical Hermeneutics on the Road’ Conclilium: International Journal for Theology  1 (2008) pp. 105-119.
  • 'Looking Lesbian at the Bathing Bathsheba' Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches, Vol. 16, No. 3. (2008), pp. 227-262
  • The Queer Bible Commentary  co-edited by Deryn Guest, Bob Goss, Mona West and Tom Bohache, SCM Press (2006)
  • When Deborah met Jael: Lesbian Biblical Hermeneutics, SCM Press (2005)
  • 'Judges' in JD Dunn & JW Rogerson (eds) Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, Eerdmans (2003)
  • 'Battling for the Bible: Academy, Church and the Gay Agenda', Theology and Sexuality (2001)
  • 'Hiding Behind the Naked Woman: A Recriminative Response' Biblical Interpretation VII/4 (1999)
  • 'Can Judges Survive Without Sources? Challenging the Consensus' Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 78 (1998)  

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

  • Biblical studies and biblical interpretation; lesbian and gay theology

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

Expertise

  • Gendered and queer readings of the Bible (including lesbian and transgender readings)
  • Thealogy (study of Goddess spiritualties)