FBS News and Events

Second Sydney Meeting: Dr Chris Thomson, Righteousness in the Hebrew Bible and Implications for Pauline Theology

Friday 21st June 2024

The second Sydney meeting of 2024 will take place on 21 June at 2:00pm in the Rare Books and Special Collections Seminar Room, Level 2, Fisher Library, University of Sydney.

Please register for both in person attendance or for a zoom link using this link.
Speaker: Dr Chris Thomson
Chris Thomson is an honorary research associate at Morling College. His research interests include sin and righteousness in the Bible, biblical languages, and lexical semantics. He has taught biblical studies and biblical languages at Moore College, Oak Hill College, Cambridge University, and Edinburgh University, and been a Junior Research Fellow at Tyndale House, Cambridge. He has degrees in law from Oxford University and in Theological and Pastoral Studies from Oak Hill College, and an MPhil and PhD in Theology and Religious Studies from Cambridge University. His PhD dissertation was entitled "The Removal of Sin in the Book of Zechariah.”
Subject: Righteousness in the Hebrew Bible and Implications for Pauline Theology
It is widely recognised that Paul’s use of the term “righteousness” (δικαιοσύνη) must be understood against the background of the Hebrew equivalents צדק and צדקה. This paper explores the meaning of the Hebrew terminology and identifies various ways in which it has been misunderstood in Pauline scholarship. In particular, it will be argued that the Old Testament evidence does not support the common claim that δικαιοσύνη denotes a relationship with God, either in the sense of a status of justification or in the sense of covenant membership. In non-forensic contexts, most commonly denote moral rectitude and morally right behaviour, respectively. The words צדקה and צדק themselves appear to be rather general and not to encode a specific basis according to which rectitude is assessed, such as conformity to a norm of creation or covenant, satisfaction of the demands of relationships or, as recently suggested by Niehaus, “conformity to God’s Being and doing.” In a forensic context to be צדיק is to be in the right on the merits of the case, not to have been vindicated by the court, and צדקה is one’s objective innocence or just cause, not a status of vindication. Paul’s language of “having” δικαιοσύνη in Phil 3:9 is best understood against the background of the equivalent Hebrew idiom in Deut 6:25; 24:13, where “having” righteousness means having the credit ordinarily belonging to those who have done right. Contrary to what is often argued, the second occurrence of δικαιοσύνη in Phil 3:9 does not denote the believer’s relationship with God; rather, the two occurrences can be understood to have the same meaning, the difference being the basis on which righteousness is credited. Paul’s citation of Ps 32:1–2 in Rom 4:6–8 indicates that he sees the reckoning of δικαιοσύνη to the undeserving as equivalent to the non-reckoning of sin. Although the result is a right relationship with God, what is graciously reckoned is not the relationship but the appropriate moral behaviour which is its prerequisite.

This meeting will also provide a rare opportunity to view some of the precious Bibles and Manuscripts in the Fisher Library Rare Books collection.

2024 Melbourne Meeting Dates

Please be aware of the upcoming dates and times for Melbourne’s 2024 FBS Meetings.

Friday 22nd March, 2:00 – 3:30 pmNaomi Wolfe
Monday 22nd July, 6:30–9:00 pmProf. Adele Reinhartz
Friday 13th September, 2:00 – 3:30 pmDr Chris Segleneiks
Thursday 7th November 6:30 – 9:00 pm (AGM + paper)Assoc. Prof. Liz Boase

FBS Sydney Meeting

Friday 12th April 2024

The first Sydney meeting for the year will be held in conjunction with the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney and is open to FBS members as well as colleagues and friends. This is a great opportunity to showcase the work of Australian biblical scholars to a wider audience.

Please note the earlier than usual starting time of 1:00pm.

Our speaker will be Dr Lisa Agaiby (Ph.D. Macquarie University and University of Göttingen). Lisa is the Academic Dean and Senior Lecturer in Coptic Studies at St Athanasius College, an affiliated college of the University of Divinity. She is currently leading a flagship project to digitise and catalogue the precious collection of manuscripts at the ancient Coptic Monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea, Egypt.

Her subject is: Unveiling Hidden Treasures: Manuscripts of the Coptic Monastery of St Paul the Hermit, Egypt.

Full details are found at this link.

You will need to register for this event using the above link.

The lecture will be livestreamed via zoom. There is no need to register if joining by zoom, for details please email the Sydney FBS Coordinator.

Melbourne FBS Meeting: Naomi Wolfe, Decolonizing Ourselves and Biblical Studies

Friday 22nd March 2024

Where: Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Road, Parkville.
The meeting will take place upstairs in the library meeting room. Enter via the glass doors of Dalton McCaughey Library, and take the lift to the second floor. The meeting room is on the left.

When: Friday March 22; 2:00pm – 3:30pm.

The recent highly successful “Raising Our Tribal Voices for Justice” conference highlighted colonialism in many area of our lives. Naomi’s talk will challenge us as Bible scholars to resist colonialism in our own areas of study.

Naomi is a Trawlwoolway woman with Jewish German, and Irish heritage. An academic at ACU, she teaches Indigenous and Ancient histories. She is also Director of Academic Programs for NAIITS College, part of the Sydney College of Divinity. Naomi shares a home with her nephew Ollie and is a member of Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions of Christianity.

RSVP by 20 March to Barbara Deutschmann.

Book Launch: Habitats of the Basileia, a compilation of essays in honour of Emeritus Professor Elaine M Wainwright RSM

Wednesday 20th March 2024

You are invited to a book launch: Habitats of the Basileia, a compilation of essays in honour of Emeritus Professor Elaine M Wainwright RSM.

An event page is now set up for the online book launch on 20th March where you can register to receive the Zoom link. Please distribute widely through your own networks, associations, and on social media.

Note the time for your own time zone: March 20th (2pm Perth / 4pm Brisbane / 4.30pm Adelaide / 5pm Melbourne / 7pm Auckland).

Rev Assoc Professor Monica Melanchthon has kindly agreed to launch the book.

Book Launch: Janine Luttick, Jairus’s Daughter and the Female Body in Mark

Friday 8th December 2023

FBS members are invited to attend the launch of Jairus’s Daughter and the Female Body in Mark by Dr Janine Luttick.

The book will be launched by Amy-Jill Levine (Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace).

Friday 8 December 2023 at 5–7pm, ACU Strathfield Campus, The Function Room (600.G.04-05), 25A Barker Road, Strathfield.

About the author: Janine Luttick is a lecturer in biblical studies at Australian Catholic University (ACU). Her research focuses on the depictions of children in the Bible. She has published in the areas of the Gospel of Mark and contemporary biblical hermeneutics.

Please RSVP by Monday 4 December 2023 to the author, noting any dietary requirements.

Melbourne Meeting Dates

Please be aware of the upcoming dates and times for Melbourne’s FBS Meetings. You may note that the date and time of the first and second meeting has been changed since the AGM, due to scheduling conflicts, and to accommodate an international speaker, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel:

Friday 17th March, 2:00 – 3:30 pmDr Brian Kolia (via Zoom)
Thursday 27th April, 7:00–9:00 pmProf. Yosef Garfinkel
Friday 11th August, 2:00 – 3:30 pmDr Rosemary Canavan
Thursday 2nd November 6:30 – 9:00 pm (AGM + paper)Dr Chris Monaghan

2023 FBS AGM and President’s Address

Thursday 2nd November 2023

FBS members are warmly invited to Melbourne’s final meeting for the year, to be held on Thursday 2nd November at 6:30 pm at the Centre for Theology & Ministry (CTM), 29 College Cres, Parkville VIC 3052. This meeting will include both the AGM and the President’s Address.

We will gather at 6:30 and sit down for dinner at 7:00 pm. We will begin the AGM at 7:30, with the aim to begin the paper at 8:00 pm, following the AGM. Our President, Dr Chris Monaghan, will present a paper titled, The Gospel of Thomas, where to from here? Dinner, dessert, and drinks will be at the cost of $30.00 to be paid on the night. Please let me know if you have any dietary requirements.

Zoom will also be available for those who are unable to attend the AGM or the paper in person.

Regarding the AGM and the upcoming vote for the 2024 executive members, the executive has recommended the creation of an extra position on the committee for a person residing outside Victoria and New South Wales. We have seen an increase in FBS membership from almost all the states/territories and would like to better represent this membership in the executive. I invite such members to consider nominating themselves at the AGM; please contact me if you are interested and would like more information on this position (or any other position on the executive).

Finally, please send Megan Turton your publications and accomplishments for the year, so that they can be shared at the AGM and published on the website.

Please RSVP to Megan Turton by 12 midday, Friday 27th October, if you would like to attend and specify whether you would like to do so in person or on Zoom. Please note that, as the dinner is being professionally catered, your in person RSVP cannot be altered after the RSVP date.

Sydney FBS Meetings in 2023

The 2023 Sydney programme for Fellowship for Biblical Studies meetings is shaping up to be very exciting with a variety of speakers, subjects, venues and formats.

Please mark these dates in your calendar and keep them free. Further details will be sent closer to each meeting.

Friday 31 March: Lucy Davey Memorial Lecture.
This will be an opportunity to remember and pay tribute to a remarkable biblical scholar, and to hear Dr Louise Pryke speak on “Conflict with Nature: Bioweapons in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature.” Venue: University of Sydney. 2:00pm.
Friday 26 May: Dr Karl Hand on “Queering Ephesians”
New Testament scholar Rev. Dr Karl Hand is the author of the commentary on Ephesians in the Queer Bible Commentary (2nd edn.). At this meeting he will speak on “Queering Ephesians.” Venue: United Theological College, North Parramatta. 2:00pm.
Friday 28 July: Dr Jonathan Thambyrajah on the law in Daniel and Esther; Rev. Dr Tom Habib on John’s Gospel
Dr Jonathan Thambyrajah will speak about the irrevocability of the law in Daniel and Esther and Rev Dr Tom Habib will speak about complex characterisation in John’s Gospel (subjects TBC). Venue: Moore Theological College, Newtown. Meet for lunch at 1:00pm, with the meeting to commence at 2:00pm.
26–28 September (Tue–Thurs): FBS NATIONAL CONFERENCE.
Watch your emails for full details including a call for session proposals (already sent) and a call for papers. Venue: Australian Catholic University, North Sydney.
Friday 27 Oct: Symposium: “Wine and wine-making in the Bible and ANE.” — postponed until 2024

Wine and Wine-making in the Bible and ANE Symposium Postponed

Friday 27th October 2023

The Symposium on "Wine and Wine-making in the Bible and ANE" scheduled for this coming Friday has been postponed to 2024.

Australian Association of Jewish Studies: 2024 Conference call for papers

Sunday 22nd October 2023

Conference Theme: Deadline for submissions extended to 22 October 2023

Creation – Re-Creation is the theme for the 2024 Australian Association for Jewish Studies Conference. The conference will be held at the Sydney Jewish Museum on 11–12 February 2024, and the conference committee invites submissions of abstracts that address all elements of the themes of Creation and Re-Creation — broadly defined — with reference to Judaism, Jewish History and Culture, and Jews.

Papers may explore, extend or challenge Jewish ideas of the Origin. Creation as an ongoing category of meaning, both divine and secular, has been fundamental to Jewish belief, thought and politics. Creation may hence be investigated through the various forms of human expression that seek to mirror Divine perfection, but also through protagonists of new ideas: material construction, or innovative contributions through scientific, political, artistic, philosophical, legal, and other fields.

Re-Creation indicates a resumption of Creation after a period of stasis or change or may denote reinvention. This includes themes of Jewish Diaspora and phases of migration; or changes both individualised and of the Jewish people, such as during eras post-destruction, including the return of antisemitic tropes and the Holocaust.

We encourage application by academic scholars and professional practitioners from all areas of Jewish Studies and related fields including (but not limited to):

  • Tanakh and Biblical Studies
  • Antisemitism, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
  • Memory Studies
  • Jewish Cultural Studies, including the Visual Arts and Literature
  • Jewish Life and Jewish identity
  • Jewish Education
  • Gender Studies
  • Literary and Film Studies
  • Israel and Diaspora Studies
  • Museums, Architecture, and Arts Professionals

Please send an abstract of no longer than 200 words and a short bio to Dr. Lynne Swarts and/or Dr. Jonathan Kaplan by 22 October 2023. Online speaker presentations may be accepted in special circumstances.

Fellowship for Biblical Studies 2023 National Conference

The Fellowship for Biblical Studies 2023 Conference will be held in Sydney from 26 – 28 September 2023 (Tuesday to Thursday).

Some sessions will be grouped into themes, which are expected to cover a range of FBS member interests such as Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Cognate Literature, Indigenous scholarship, Feminist scholarship, Environment, and Gender and Sexuality.

We invite proposals for:

  • Themed session of 1.5 hours;
  • Panel discussions;
  • Suggestions of other sessions or formats;
  • HDR/ECR workshops.

If you’d like to propose and/or chair a session, please submit your proposal to the organising committee by Friday 24th March via sydney@fbs.org.au.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch by email — our organising committee is ready to help in any way we can.

Once we finalise the sessions we will call for individual papers (expected to be early April).

We are looking forward to hearing the latest research from our Australian Biblical Studies community and research partners around the world.

Third Melbourne Meeting of 2023

Friday 11th August 2023

We are excited to invite you to Melbourne’s third meeting for the year, to be held on Friday 11th of August, 2:00–3:30pm. Please note that there is a change from our usual venue: the meeting will be held at Trinity College Theological School, Old Warden’s Lodge, 100 Royal Parade, Parkville VIC 3052.

At 2:00pm, Dr Rosemary Canavan will present a paper titled, The Public Inscriptions and Their Iconography: The Potential of Visual Exegesis.

Public inscriptions and their iconography in the Greco-Roman world offered visual presence and communication in evocative ways. What emerges from the time of Augustus (27 BCE–14 CE) is a cultural phenomenon, especially among the elite, to leave a lasting record of individual presence and achievement. Yet inscriptions had other purposes too. In this paper, after a brief introduction of the influence of Augustus on public inscriptions, I will elucidate a specific example in the ancient city of Aphrodisias where the public inscriptions and their iconography interact in a visual way with the Letter to the Colossians and the believing community in Colossae. Inscriptions rarely stand-alone but are part of a web of imagery and meaning in the culture of the day. It is this complementarity and building of a schema of meaning that offers the potential for visual exegesis. This is predicated on the propensity of words, whether an inscription or a biblical text, to conjure images in the minds of the hearer/reader. This paper will illustrate how New Testament writers, specifically exemplified through the author of the Letter to the Colossians, drew upon existing images in the Greco-Roman world rhetorically and strategically to portray the kingdom of God as a new way of living.

The paper will be followed by question time, and then nibbles and drinks will be provided at the cost of $5.00 per person.

Please RSVP to me by Thursday 10th August if you would like to attend and specify whether you would like to do so in person or on Zoom.

I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Megan Turton (FBS Secretary)

Sydney Meeting: Dr Jonathan Thambyrajah and Rev Dr Tom Habib

Friday 28th July 2023

The next meeting of the Sydney Fellowship for Biblical Studies will be on Friday 28th July at Moore Theological College, Newtown.

Our meeting will commence at 2:00pm. You are welcome to come earlier at 1:00pm, bring your own lunch, and enjoy some casual fellowship time with other members and guests. Further venue details will be sent closer to the date.

This meeting is free but to help us with planning please reserve your spot by responding via this link.

If you wish to attend virtually via Zoom, please respond using this link (note that this is not the Zoom link itself — you will receive that after completing the form and closer to the event date.

At this meeting we will have two speakers (and two papers):

Dr Jonathan Thambyrajah: “The Irrevocability of the Law in Daniel 6 and Esther”

Abstract: Interpreting Esther and Daniel 6 has often begun with the belief that these texts claim that the Persian law was irrevocable. This has been seen as a problem, because the historical Persian empire does not seem to have operated in this way (and it is hard to imagine how it could have). However, taking that claim seriously creates even bigger exegetical problems within these two texts. To solve the exegetical problems, it is necessary to revisit the concept of irrevocability. Upon closer inspection, the idea is not that the king cannot revoke his own laws, but that lesser authorities may not. The occasions when the king appears trapped by the law are not to do with the idea of irrevocability, but rather the trope of the king’s regret—one that is common in literature and histories about the Persian empire.

Bio: Jonathan Thambyrajah is the lecturer in Biblical Studies at BBI—TAITE and also teaches Biblical Studies and Hebrew at the University of Sydney. His PhD research on loanwords in Biblical literature was recently published in the LHBOTS series. His research focuses on Biblical languages, translations, and literature in the cross-cultural context of the Second Temple period and its aftermath (particularly Esther). He is also interested in how early translations of Biblical Books reflect the exegesis and interpretation of early Jewish and Christian communities.

Rev Dr Tom Habib: “Bringing Nicodemus into the Light: Complexity & Dialectics in Johannine Characterisation”

Abstract: It is near consensus now that some Johannine characters are more complex than was once thought. Far from being flat, representative types, these characters are present conflicting traits and remain somewhat ambiguous in their faith response to Jesus. No-one fits this description better than the character of Nicodemus, who has been described as a ‘tertium quid’; ‘an in-between’; and ‘one who emerges from the dark of night, but never completely’. But what is the function of such complexity? My paper explores this question by considering the form and function of complex characterisation in Greek tragedy and how this might help us to better understand the portrayal of Nicodemus in John’s Gospel. From this heuristic approach, I argue that Nicodemus’s complexity is best understood as part of a broader dialectic within John’s Gospel that explores the tension between the Judean law and cult, and the claims of Jesus.

Bio: Thomas Habib. BA (Sydney); BD (Moore); PhD (Cantab. Tom is a lecturer in New Testament and Greek at Moore Theological College, Sydney. He has recently completed his PhD at Cambridge University, exploring the moral characterisation of the ᾽Ιουδαῖοι in the Gospel of John. Tom’s research interests include Johannine narrative studies, Johannine ethics, New Testament and Graeco-Roman literature and communicative approaches to ancient language learning.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Stephen Cook
Sydney FBS Coordinator
Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
University of Sydney

Call for Papers: FBS 2023 Conference

Friday 14th July 2023

The call for papers for the 2023 FBS conference has now been published on the conference page. To submit a proposal for a paper to be presented at the conference, please complete the form on that page.

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