In what turned out to be a very nice surprise indeed, St Mary’s University has appointed Chris Meredith. Chris will take up one of the new positions as Academic Directors (teaching) and will be an Internal Affiliate of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible. Chris joins St Mary’s from the University of Winchester where he has been Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Critical Theory and worked extensively on issues relating to teaching and learning and prior to that he was a colleague of mine at the University of Sheffield.
Chris did his PhD with Cheryl Exum on Song of Songs and spatial theory and his research generally combines expertise in philology, literary studies, critical theory, and reception history, as well as a related interest in Walter Benjamin. His publications reveal this broad range and the kinds of things biblical studies can do. He has published work of the more traditional variety, such as:
- 'The Conundrum of חתר in Jonah 1:13’, Vetus Testamentum 64/1 (2014), pp. 147-152
As expected, Chris has various Song of Songs publications, such as:
- Journeys in the Songscape: Space and the Song of Songs (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013)
- ‘Eating Amnesia: Revisiting Food and Sex in the Song of Songs’, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (in press, forthcoming)
- ‘The Lattice and the Looking Glass: Gendered Space in Song of Songs 2:8-14’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80/2 (2012), pp. 1-22
As this already implies, he also likes to look at boundaries:
- ‘Sodom, City of the Line: Sexuality, Hospitality and the Limits of Interpretation in Genesis 19’, Biblical Interpretation (in press, forthcoming)
- ‘A Case of Open and Shut: The Five Thresholds of 1 Samuel 1:1-7:2’, Biblical Interpretation 18.3 (2010), pp. 137-157
Chris is also producing more and more work not only on receptions of biblical texts but also on what the Bible is deemed to be and notions of ‘biblical literacy’:
- ‘Civic Bible as Civic Breach: Reading Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth’, Biblical Reception 3 (2015), 161-172
- ‘Zombie Bible: Stant Litore’s Strangers in the Land and the Conditions of Bibleness', Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception 4/1 (2014), pp. 65-84
- ‘A Big Room for Poo: Eddie Izzard’s Bible and the Literacy of Laughter’, Bible and Critical Theory, 9/1-2 (2013), pp. 61-77
Two contracted books give an idea of what’s soon to come from Chris:
- Biblia Excrementa: Abjection, Obsolescence and Insurrection in Biblical Reception (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; forthcoming)
- The Bible and Spatial Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; forthcoming)
Chris is a well-known figure in various conferences, including the most important ones like Bible, Critical Theory and Reception, and is involved in steering committees and chairing at SBL and EABS.
But what is also great about this appointment is that, for all the gloom surrounding Biblical Studies, Theology and Religious Studies in the UK, there are places where the subject is growing. The appointment of someone like Chris is an important statement of intent for the importance of biblical studies in higher education, as well as an indication of where the centres of the field are now shifting.
And if you fancy doing a PhD in the area of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and/or the reception of the Bible and/or critical theory and the Bible and/or spatial theory and the Bible, or something Benjamin, Chris will be taking on new students.