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Overview

Professor Walter Moberly

Professor


Affiliations
AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of Theology and ReligionAbbey House 102+44 (0) 191 33 43953

Biography

The overall concern in my scholarly work is the responsible understanding and use of the Bible in the life, thought, and spirituality of Christian faith today. Although I wish to read and respect the biblical texts as ancient texts I wish also to articulate the dynamics of their enduring significance as Scripture. Thus, although my primary scholarly specialism is the Old Testament, I seek to overcome conventional scholarly divisions between Old Testament, New Testament, historical theology, systematic theology, ethics and spirituality, and to articulate a frame of reference for understanding the Bible that includes, but is much broader than, that of ancient history.

Two of my books, The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus (2000) and Prophecy and Discernment (2006), have been published in the Cambridge Studies in Christian Doctrine series - as a way of symbolizing the concern to contextualize the specifics of biblical exegesis within a broader theological frame of reference. Each book offers detailed interpretation of selected texts of Old and New Testaments in relation to their enduring significance today. The first book offers an in-principle account of the why and how of situating biblical interpretation within Christian thought and practice. The second book looks at an enduring critical problem: When people claim to speak for God, are there criteria for knowing when to credit, or not credit, the claim? Together they seek to show in both theory and practice how the Bible might appropriately be used to inform contemporary thought and life. Since then, I have been working specifically on the interpretation of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. The Theology of the Book of Genesis (2009), explores how best to relate the biblical text to enduring existential issues. Both my Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture (2013) and the published version of my Hulsean Lectures, The God of the Old Testament: Encountering the Divine in Christian Scripture (2020) seek to model my approach with selected passages from across the biblical canon. My The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith (2018) sets out a way of understanding biblical authority and interpretation as a whole.

I have been involved in two projects at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ, each of which has sought to articulate a renewed and robust understanding and use of the Bible for contemporary Christian life and thought. The initial Scripture Project led to the publication of Ellen Davis & Richard Hays (eds.), The Art of Reading Scripture (2003), while the fruits of the successor Identity of Jesus Project have been published as Beverly Gaventa & Richard Hays (eds.), Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (2008).

My main current project, during Covid and lockdown, is survival and the writing of various essays.

I have a steady stream of research students, all interested in the general area of theological interpretation of the Bible as Scripture. Current students are studying topics such as: Rejection as a corollary of electionthe Genesis flood narrative, the hiddenness of God (Isa. 45:15), the Book of Judges as Christian Scripture, Proverbs 30 as Christian Scripture.

The revised and published dissertations of former doctoral students include:
Peter Harland, The Value of Human Life: A Study of the Story of the Flood (Genesis 6-9) (VTS 64; Brill: 1996); Jo Bailey Wells, God's Holy People: A Theme in Biblical Theology (JSOTSS 305; Sheffield Academic Press: 2000); Kevin Walton, Thou Traveller Unknown: The Presence and Absence of God in the Jacob Narrative (PBTM; Paternoster: 2003); Keith Grüneberg, Abraham, Blessing and the Nations: A Philological and Exegetical Study of Genesis 12:3 in its Narrative Context (BZAW 332; de Gruyter: 2003); Nathan MacDonald, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of 'Monotheism' (FAT 2nd series, no.1, Mohr Siebeck: 2003) (this monograph was given a Templeton Award for Theological Promise in Jan. 2007); Michael Widmer, Moses, God, and the Dynamics of Intercessory Prayer (FAT 2nd series, no.8, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004); David Bostock, A Portrayal of Trust (PBM; Paternoster: 2006); William Ford, God, Pharaoh and Moses: Explaining the Lord's Actions in the Exodus Plagues Narrative (PBM; Paternoster: 2006); Joel Lohr, Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation (Siphrut; Eisenbrauns: 2009) (this monograph has received the 2011 R.B.Y.Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies); Rob Barrett, Disloyalty and Destruction: Religion and Politics in Deuteronomy and the Modern World (LHBOTS 511; T & T Clark, 2009); Douglas Earl, Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture (JTIS 2; Eisenbrauns, 2010); Havilah Dharamraj, A Prophet Like Moses? A Narrative-Theological Reading of the Elijah Stories (PBM; Paternoster, 2011); Julie Woods, Jeremiah 48 as Christian Scripture (PTMS; Wipf & Stock, 2011); Brad Anderson, Brotherhood and Inheritance: A Canonical Reading of the Esau and Edom Traditions (LHBOTS 556; T & T Clark, 2011); Kathleen Rochester, Prophetic Ministry in Jeremiah and Ezekiel (CBET 65; Peeters, 2012); Csilla Saysell, "According to the Law": Reading Ezra 9-10 as Christian Scripture (JTIS 4; Eisenbrauns, 2012); Zoltan Schwab, Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs: Selfishness and Secularity Reconsidered (JTIS 7; Eisenbrauns, 2013); Charlie Shepherd, Theological Interpretation and Isaiah 53 (LHBOTS; T & T Clark, 2014); Vincent Ooi, Scripture and Its Readers: Readings of Israel's Story in Nehemiah 9, Ezekiel 20, and Acts 7 (JTIS 10; Eisenbrauns, 2015); Andrea Saner, "Too Much to Grasp": Exodus 3:13-15 and the Reality of God (JTIS 11; Eisenbrauns, 2015); Angela Harvey, Spiritual Reading: A Study of the Christian Practice of Reading Scripture (Wipf & Stock, 2015); Benjamin Johnson, Reading David and Goliath in Greek and Hebrew (FAT, 2nd series; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015); Karlo Bordjadze, Darkness Visible: A Study of Isaiah 14:3-23 as Christian Scripture (PTMS; Pickwick: 2017); Josef Sykora, The Unfavored: Judah and Saul in the Narratives of Genesis and 1 Samuel (Siphrut 25; Eisenbrauns: 2018); Kumiko Takeuchi, Death and Divine Judgment in Ecclesiastes (BBRS; Eisenbrauns: 2019); Matthew Bell, Ruled Reading and Biblical Criticism (JTIS 18; Eisenbrauns, 2019); Nathan Chambers, Reconsidering Creation Ex Nihilo in Genesis 1 (JTIS 19; Eisenbrauns 2020); Stephen Campbell, Remembering the Unexperienced (BBB 191; Bonn UP: 2021).

I teach two modules in which my research interests are at the forefront: level three "Biblical Theology", which seeks to exemplify theological interpretation in relation to selected texts and topics - wisdom & theology, the nature of God and of religious language, moral and spiritual discernment; and level four (MA) "The Bible and Hermeneutics", which seeks to map modern and postmodern approaches to biblical interpretation and to explore what contemporary interpretation that takes seriously the Bible as an authoritative religious text might involve. I also teach a level two module "Hebrew Prose Texts", which is for students in their second year of Hebrew study to consolidate and develop their knowledge of Hebrew via close reading of Genesis 1-9 and Deuteronomy 5-10.

I have been at Durham for thirty five years. I first arrived in autumn 1985, after four years in Anglican parish ministry. Durham and its environs are both beautiful and full of interest. The hills and dales of the Pennines are close at hand, and Hadrian's Wall is an hour away. Top-class cricket is seven miles up the road at Chester-le-Street, while Premiership and League One football are only twenty minutes away (at St James' Park and the Stadium of Light). Overall, the Dept. of Theology and Religion is a congenial and supportive place to work, within a wonderful environment. I recommend it!

Research interests

  • Biblical Theology
  • biblical hermeneutics
  • spirituality

Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students