New academic centre to 'recover confidence' in the Old Testament

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A new academic centre has been set up at Bristol Baptist College to promote research into the relationship between the Bible and violence.

The Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence also seeks to develop conversations among scholars from different faiths and countries who are already involved in this field of research, the Baptist Times reports

At present, the centre is only offering postgraduate study in the field but it is in the process of establishing bible and violence studies in its MA programme, to be available from September 2019.

In addition to research, the centre will work to provide resources for churches that are designed to support a 'counter-violence, counter extremist narrative' and 'promote confidence' in the value of the Old Testament and the goodness of God. 

Overseeing the centre is the Rev Dr Helen Paynter, an Old Testament tutor at the college, who said that getting to grips with the texts of violence in the Old Testament was 'one of the pressing issues facing the church today'. 

'I believe it is vital that we recover our confidence in the value of the Old Testament; that we stand upon the absolute assuredness of the goodness of God; and that we learn to interpret our Old Testaments in ways that do not endorse violent action in our own time,' she said. 

The centre is already planning its an inaugural symposium for 17 June 2019, to be joined by keynote speaker Professor James Crossley Professor of Bible, Society and Politics at St Mary's University, Twickenham.

The symposium will coincide with the launch of Dr Paynter's new book, God of violence yesterday, God of love today? - Wrestling Honestly with the Old Testament.

'It is not, of course, a final word on the subject, it is probably not even my final word on the subject, but it is an attempt to contribute to the conversation,' she said.