UoA 33 Theology and Religious Studies

The Department of Theology and Religion's research encompasses biblical studies, early Jewish studies, early Christian history, patristics, modern theology, practical and ecumenical theology, ethics, philosophy of religion, and the interface between science and religion.

Our research has a broad and interdisciplinary focus upon the Christian religion, the Jewish and other traditions and sources that have shaped them; their challenges in the contemporary world; and encounters between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the ancient and modern world.

Much of the Department’s research engages with issues of public and ethical importance and entails collaboration not only across the sub-disciplines of theology but also with other disciplines such as geography, law, archaeology, classics, Islamic studies, and environmental and biological sciences.

Key results

  • 83 per cent of research rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*).
  • This unit is ranked 2 out of 33.
  • 100 per cent of impact in this unit was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Using biblical texts and archaeology to challenge and inform religious and political beliefs

Certain figures and stories from the Hebrew Bible – such as Abraham or King David, or the story of the Garden of Eden – are familiar to most people, yet their historical and cultural contexts are still being explored and only just beginning to enter public consciousness. Biblical history, too easily dismissed as marginal in a secular age, remains highly pertinent to modern convictions and conflicts, as these biblical stories are central to both the Jewish and Christian faiths, and highly relevant to present-day territorial disputes in the region popularly known as the Holy Land.

Influencing urban planning policy

Professor Timothy Gorringe’s research examines issues in urban planning and transition towns from a theological and ethical perspective. It places moral, spiritual and aesthetic values alongside economic and physical considerations at the heart of the planning process, and provides analyses of movements seeking environmental and social change. Professor Gorringe has presented and discussed his research in policy-shaping fora, and as part of interactions with churches, charities and campaigning groups including the Transition Network, who form the main beneficiaries of his work. His research has had international impact beyond the higher education academy, influencing the work of urban planners and shaping public education about the urban environment, especially in regard to ethical, spiritual and environmental considerations.

Research strengths

 StrengthAbout the strength
Biblical studies

We have a range of research projects ranging from philological and historical studies to work on the contemporary interpretation, reception and impact of biblical texts.

Reception of Jewish and Christian traditions

We have particular strengths in historical and theological work on the Church Fathers and their significance for present-day theological hermeneutics; ancient and modern Syrian studies, with particular attention to their consequences for inter-faith dialogue; Jewish studies, particularly regarding post-holocaust cultural theory and criticism.

Theology, ethics and public issues Our reputation has been substantially built upon major Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded projects on environmental ethics, British Academy-funded work on religion in public life, research on issues such as intersex and sectarianism.

Research centres

CentreAbout the centre
Centre for Biblical Studies

The centre includes distinctive work on identity, belief and the body (living and dead); the nature and role of religious belief and practice (including magic); plus research into the historical and philological context of biblical texts through to study of the reception and interpretation of biblical texts among diverse contemporary reading communities and in contemporary ethics.

It also includes within its scope historical and theological work on the early Church, which often focuses on biblical interpretation in the Church Fathers, or on the significance of the Fathers’ readings of the Bible for contemporary theological hermeneutics, and philological work on Jewish, Christian and Islamic artefacts from the early Christian and Islamic periods.

Exeter Centre for Ecumenical and Practical Theology (EXCEPT)

EXCEPTs key strategic aims are to supply the Christian churches with sound research to help them develop effective strategies for working within and across the boundaries of difference in today’s world; to commission and support theological research on practical and ministerial concerns; to develop research projects in collaboration with a range of academic, artistic, faith-based and social-justice-seeking partners at regional, national and international levels.

The Centre’s research strategy responds to the current need for better understanding of the role of religion in social formation, and proceeds via scholarly attention to the nuances of the personal, local, and contextual manifestations of those debates.

Research networks

NetworkAbout the network
Network for Religion in Public Life

The Network for Religion in Public Life promotes understanding and interdisciplinary co-operation between academics and religious communities to address major issues of ethical and religious significance.

A series of public lectures in 2008 addressed the question of access to justice; scriptural reasoning meetings with Jews, Christians and Muslims have been held in Exeter since 2007; and a current research project (2011-14) in collaboration with the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies is comparing the place of religion in public life in Britain and Iran.

UoA 33 Theology and Religious Studies

The Department of Theology and Religion's research encompasses biblical studies, early Jewish studies, early Christian history, patristics, modern theology, practical and ecumenical theology, ethics, philosophy of religion, and the interface between science and religion.

Our research has a broad and interdisciplinary focus upon the Christian religion, the Jewish and other traditions and sources that have shaped them; their challenges in the contemporary world; and encounters between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the ancient and modern world.

Much of the Department’s research engages with issues of public and ethical importance and entails collaboration not only across the sub-disciplines of theology but also with other disciplines such as geography, law, archaeology, classics, Islamic studies, and environmental and biological sciences.

Key results

  • 83 per cent of research rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*).
  • This unit is ranked 2 out of 33.
  • 100 per cent of impact in this unit was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Using biblical texts and archaeology to challenge and inform religious and political beliefs

Certain figures and stories from the Hebrew Bible – such as Abraham or King David, or the story of the Garden of Eden – are familiar to most people, yet their historical and cultural contexts are still being explored and only just beginning to enter public consciousness. Biblical history, too easily dismissed as marginal in a secular age, remains highly pertinent to modern convictions and conflicts, as these biblical stories are central to both the Jewish and Christian faiths, and highly relevant to present-day territorial disputes in the region popularly known as the Holy Land.

Influencing urban planning policy

Professor Timothy Gorringe’s research examines issues in urban planning and transition towns from a theological and ethical perspective. It places moral, spiritual and aesthetic values alongside economic and physical considerations at the heart of the planning process, and provides analyses of movements seeking environmental and social change. Professor Gorringe has presented and discussed his research in policy-shaping fora, and as part of interactions with churches, charities and campaigning groups including the Transition Network, who form the main beneficiaries of his work. His research has had international impact beyond the higher education academy, influencing the work of urban planners and shaping public education about the urban environment, especially in regard to ethical, spiritual and environmental considerations.

Research strengths

 StrengthAbout the strength
Biblical studies

We have a range of research projects ranging from philological and historical studies to work on the contemporary interpretation, reception and impact of biblical texts.

Reception of Jewish and Christian traditions

We have particular strengths in historical and theological work on the Church Fathers and their significance for present-day theological hermeneutics; ancient and modern Syrian studies, with particular attention to their consequences for inter-faith dialogue; Jewish studies, particularly regarding post-holocaust cultural theory and criticism.

Theology, ethics and public issues Our reputation has been substantially built upon major Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded projects on environmental ethics, British Academy-funded work on religion in public life, research on issues such as intersex and sectarianism.

Research centres

CentreAbout the centre
Centre for Biblical Studies

The centre includes distinctive work on identity, belief and the body (living and dead); the nature and role of religious belief and practice (including magic); plus research into the historical and philological context of biblical texts through to study of the reception and interpretation of biblical texts among diverse contemporary reading communities and in contemporary ethics.

It also includes within its scope historical and theological work on the early Church, which often focuses on biblical interpretation in the Church Fathers, or on the significance of the Fathers’ readings of the Bible for contemporary theological hermeneutics, and philological work on Jewish, Christian and Islamic artefacts from the early Christian and Islamic periods.

Exeter Centre for Ecumenical and Practical Theology (EXCEPT)

EXCEPTs key strategic aims are to supply the Christian churches with sound research to help them develop effective strategies for working within and across the boundaries of difference in today’s world; to commission and support theological research on practical and ministerial concerns; to develop research projects in collaboration with a range of academic, artistic, faith-based and social-justice-seeking partners at regional, national and international levels.

The Centre’s research strategy responds to the current need for better understanding of the role of religion in social formation, and proceeds via scholarly attention to the nuances of the personal, local, and contextual manifestations of those debates.

Research networks

NetworkAbout the network
Network for Religion in Public Life

The Network for Religion in Public Life promotes understanding and interdisciplinary co-operation between academics and religious communities to address major issues of ethical and religious significance.

A series of public lectures in 2008 addressed the question of access to justice; scriptural reasoning meetings with Jews, Christians and Muslims have been held in Exeter since 2007; and a current research project (2011-14) in collaboration with the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies is comparing the place of religion in public life in Britain and Iran.