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Institute for Bible, Theology & Hermeneutics

Inaugural address given by Dr. Mark Elliott

The conference is a beginning not an end. Not that the end is the publication of papers, although that is vital, and we are pleased to have had our last two conferences published by Eerdmans and Continuum. The end is: -- discussion, both at a level of general ideas and on points of detail, both which can lead research in new directions. The rich legacy of the Hebrews conference was a buzz among our own postgraduates which endured well into the next academic year in the form of conversations on and off-line, and our own seminars were enriched by these debates. We hope for the same, and now that blogging is no longer something to be ashamed of, to see the conference spill over into the wider world. We would like, with authors¿ permission to put précis of papers on the conference website.

The conference has a prehistory, not only in those successful 2003 and 2006 ventures, but also in the year-in, year-out efforts, principally by Chris Seitz and Richard Bauckham (at St Andrews since the mid-1990s) to make sure that biblical and Theological studies were allowed to be mentioned together: weekly seminars, successfully defended doctoral theses, and since 2007 a MLitt in Scripture and Theology.

What is different about this series of conferences? It takes a book of the bible, but unlike the Colloquium Biblicum in Louvain, it is not content to be about biblical studies for biblical scholars. Dr MacDonald and myself speak from experience of the one on Leviticus-Numbers when the hottest issue seemed to be the extent of the Priestly Grundschrift, or corresponding with Erich Zenger while he was preparing one on the Psalms, when canon seemed to work as an outer cage for the biblical text rather than as a hermeneutical help.  We hope in this conference to open the windows of biblical studies to chat with neighbours from systematic, practical, pastoral theology, who are also interested in the bible. We resist polarities. We do not devalue historical criticism. We do not devalue Christian Dogmatics.

With this in mind we are launching a new University Institute for Bible, Theology and ¿Hermeneutics, housed in the School of Divinity. This will aim to bring colleagues together, to help work WITHIN the School. For example two colleagues who will arrive next month have expressed interest in this common life and thinking. One is an OT/HB expert; the other is a Professor in Patristics and Theology. An institute, or a intradisciplinary conference does not mean we don't do any other type of research or teaching: Grant Macaskill will continue to wrestle with the texts of Slavonic Enoch. I shall continue to contemplate Early Modern spirituality. Yet we are aware that where our interests overlap, colleagues in St Mary's want to work together. The inclusion of the word 'Hermeneutics' indicates that we are not closed to the obvious reality that bible and theology are coloured, even shaped by other disciplines, subjects and experiences.

But as for Genesis, where would we be without it? To paraphrase John Lennon, Genesis is bigger than Darwin, big as he undoubtedly was and is. In this Darwin year (yes, still...) we aim to consider what Genesis has to say about God, humanity and the planet. Part of its message has to do, obviously with 'origins', but that is only the setting of the scene, and the story and the message continue and evolve...


Contact Details

Institute for Bible, Theology & Hermeneutics

St. Mary's College
University of St. Andrews
St. Andrews, Fife
KY16 9JU
Scotland, UK


Director of Institute for Bible, Theology and Hermeneutics

Prof. Mark Elliott
Room H104
+44 (0)1334 46 2825

Dr William Tooman
Dr T.J. Lang

Honorary Fellow 
Dr Scott Hafemann