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Jesus and gender in Revelation

At the Society of Biblical Literature annual conference in Atlanta last week, I attended several papers on the Book of Revelation. The one that I have continued to think about—and which provoked most merriment when I reported it on Facebook—looked at the question of whether Jesus has breasts in Revelation 1.13. In case you have already switched off, please bear with me. Exploring this issue raises some central questions about what kind of text Revelation is, what it is doing, and how we read it. (I should say from the beginning that the title of this piece is wrong; the question is not so much Jesus ‘gender’ as masculine or feminine, but his ‘sex’ as male or female. But if I had ‘sex’ in the title it would be even more confusing.)

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Should we bomb ISIS in Syria?

I hesitate to comment on this, as the issues are so complex that it seems impossible to offer any clear opinion. But discussion and reflection suggest that we cannot ignore the following points. 1. The British public do not support it The Independent reports research by the Daily Mirror: The survey conducted for the Daily Mirror […]

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Compassion and clarity in the sexuality debate

I took a break from the regular meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature last week in order to attend an ‘affiliate’ organisation meeting where David Gushee was talking about his change of mind about sexuality. Gushee isn’t that well known on this side of the pond, but has been a significant figure in the […]

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Advent: The story is better when you know how it ends…

Last week, like many diehard fans, I finally got to see the latest James Bond film Spectre. As the lights went down and I chomped through the popcorn, I felt myself being drawn into the drama as Daniel Craig once again (for the last time?) did battle with the forces of evil—uncovering the cunning schemes […]

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Is the Lord’s Prayer offensive?

While I have been in the States for the weekend, I gather that back in the UK you’ve been experiencing a little local difficulty in relation to prayer, free speech, and the cinema. Digital Cinema Media (DCM), owned by Cineworld and Odeon and controlling about 80% of cinema advertising, decided not to screen a 60-second […]

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Preaching Christ the King

This Sunday, the last of the liturgical year, is Christ the king, and comes immediately before Advent. It is a slightly odd festival, since one of the key themes of Advent is not the anticipation of Christmas, but the anticipation of Jesus’ return as king; the Latin adventus is a translation of the Greek parousia […]

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Making sense of the Paris killings?

Even a few days on, it is hard to take in the horror of the Paris killings, and experience of those affected and their families. There are still those who do not know whether their relatives are alive and wounded or dead. But it hasn’t taken long for a whole series of questions to be […]

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Reading Luke’s gospel

As we approach Advent, we are coming into the new Liturgical Year, and in the lectionary we will be in Year C. This is the year when we focus on continuous reading of Luke’s gospel, though as in other years there are significant contributions from John. I have just been teaching about Luke in Hereford Diocese […]

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Fairer Sex—fair enough?

The latest Grove Biblical booklet is by Dr Richard Briggs, Lecturer in Old Testament at the University of Durham and Director of Biblical Studies at Cranmer Hall. The title is Fairer Sex and the blurb runs as follows: The church is often accused of being obsessed with sex—and contemporary discussion is often contentious and has a very […]

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Debating the Pemberton Tribunal

At the end of last week I cancelled my planned writing schedule in order to enter what felt like a parallel universe as I was invited to debate with Jeremy Pemberton on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme regarding the tribunal ruling that Jeremy had not been discriminated against by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. […]

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Jesus wasn’t born in a stable

I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas before the Christmas lights have even gone up—though perhaps it is better to do this now than the week before Christmas, when everything has been carefully prepared. But Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have […]

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