Biblical Anthropologies of God and Humanity

Course details

From £67.00

Sat 03 Nov 2018

Biblical Anthropologies of God and Humanity


This study day explores depictions of the divine body in biblical texts, as well as examining the portrayal of human persons in relations with the divine. The underpinning theme is that of body and embodiment, drawing from recent biblical scholarship on these topics. This scholarship in turn depends on wider cultural reflections on the role of embodiment in the production of culture. The focus is to take embodiment seriously as a religious medium.  Starting with the meanings that emerge from key vocabulary on the body the course explores the link between person, community and deity in selected texts from the Bible: the Book of Daniel; Ruth and Esther; 1 Corinthians.

Key questions to be asked are, Does God have a Body and if so what is it like? To what extent is an individual body a private matter? What is the correlation between individual bodies, behaviour and the group identity? How does culture shape discussion of embodiment? These wider anthropological issues will be addressed via the study of fictive persons who operate within biblical texts. Rather than embodiment being confined to medical, biological modelling the topic will be approached through the lens of society and social constructions of body, bodily behaviour and identity.

The course will engage with two identities of Daniel - as a human exile in a foreign culture in chapters 1-6 and as a visionary with temporary residence in the heavenly court in chapters 7-12. This second section also raises questions regarding anthropomorphic language about the deity. The next session engages with two short stories dealing with the relationship between women and community. Although God is not directly portrayed in these books the deity is not absent altogether, especially with regard to care of the home community. The third session moves to the New Testament and to the subject of how Christian identity relates to existing social conventions in which the body and its use are defined by cultural norms. The text explores how those Graeco-Roman norms need to change or be reframed in the new cultural identity.

Programme details

9.45am            Registration

10.00am          Bodies, Embodiment and Theology

                        Mary Mills

11.15am            Coffee/tea

11.35am           Individual bodies, visionary bodies and God in Daniel

                         Mary Mills

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            The female body and the community in Ruth and Esther

                         Mary Mills

3.15pm             Tea/coffee

3.45pm             Human Body, Holy Body in 1Corinthians

                         Mary Mills

5.00pm           Course disperses

Recommended reading

Berquist, J. Controlling Corporeality: the body and the household in Ancient Israel, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2002

Still, T. & Horrell, D. (eds.)  After the First Urban Christians, London, T&T Clark/ Coninuum, 2009


Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £67.00
Baguette lunch: £4.90
Hot lunch : £14.00


Professor Mary Mills


is Professor of Biblical Studies at Liverpool Hope University. She studied theology at the University of London and has published several books on the Old and New Testaments.

The Revd Canon Dr Robin Gibbons

Director of Studies

The Revd. Canon Robin Gibbons is Director of Studies for Theology and Religious Studies at OUDCE. He is a member of the Theology and Religion Faculty, Regents Park College and an Honoraray Canon of Christ Church Oxford.