Fellowship for Biblical Studies

FBS News and Events

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.

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.”
Venue and speaker details will be announced closer to the date.

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

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.

FBS Melbourne Meeting: David, Solomon, Rehoboam: the debate on the early kings of Judah

Thursday 27th April 2023

We warmly invite you to our next Melbourne event to be held on Thursday 27th April, 7:00pm–9:30pm at the Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville, Victoria Australia 3052.

This will be a special event run in partnership with the ACU Ancient Israel Program. Visiting scholar Professor Yosef Garfinkel will present a paper titled: David, Solomon, Rehoboam: the debate on the early kings of Judah.

This is a free public lecture, so please pass on the information to anyone who may be interested.

RSVP through Eventbrite by Thursday 20th April.

Since the 1980s hot debate arose about the early history of the Kingdom of Judah, and the historicity of the biblical tradition about the first kings: David, Solomon and Rehoboam. Did David establish a kingdom? Did Solomon build a palace and temple? Did Rehoboam fortify 15 cities in Judah? Since 2007 Prof. Garfinkel’s excavations have unearthed revolutionary data on the early history of the kingdom of Judah: fortified cities, public buildings, seals and inscriptions. Currently, in partnership with the Australian Catholic University, he is excavating the city built by Rehoboam. The lecture will present the results of the last excavation season in the winter of 2023.

2023 Lucy Davey Memorial Lecture

Friday 31st March 2023

I am excited to announce that our first Fellowship for Biblical Studies meeting for the year will be a public event in honour of our late colleague, the much-loved Lucy Davey, and in conjunction with the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney. The lecture will take place at 2:00pm on Friday, 31st March, 2023 in the Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium of the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney.

Our speaker will be Dr Louise Pryke on the subject “Conflict with Nature: Bioweapons in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature.”

Please register your attendance using this link (the event is free but registration is recommended to secure your spot).

This lecture will be open to the public. Feel free to forward this invitation to your colleagues, students, and friends.

Stephen Cook,
Sydney FBS Coordinator.

First Melbourne Meeting of 2023

Friday 17th March 2023

We warmly invite you to the third Melbourne gathering for 2023. It will be held on Friday 17th March, 2:00 – 3:30 pm. We will meet in person at the Centre for Theology & Ministry (CTM), 29 College Cres, Parkville VIC 3052. We will begin at 2:00 pm with a paper followed by discussion and questions.

We will also provide a live stream of the paper via Zoom for those that wish to attend remotely. The zoom link will open at 1:45 pm.

Brian Kolia, Lecturer in Old Testament at Malua Theological College, will present a paper from Samoa over Zoom titled: Judas greets Jesus with a sogi/hongi? A Talanoa of Judas’ kiss in Mark 14 with the kiss in Song of Songs 8:1 and the sogi of Limaleleima’oloa.

Abstract: The kiss by Judas in the synoptic gospels has long been interpreted as an act of betrayal. But is it? A closer reading of Judas’ kiss in Mark 14 might suggest other possibilities. In fact, there are elements in Judas’ kiss that echo the kiss of the lovers in the book of Song of Songs. As a Samoan, I am also intrigued at the use of the word ‘sogi’ in the Samoan translation which brings about different nuances of ‘kissing’ that resonate with the Maori hongi. The word sogi is also the word for smelling or breathing in, so the sogi for Samoans is not just a planting of lips on the other person, but a breathing in of that person’s scent and a breathing in of their spirit, much like the Maori hongi. Much of this nuance will be brought forth in talanoa with the story of Limaleleima’oloa and the origins of the sogi for the Samoans. Through this perspective of sogi/hongi, did Judas breathe in/suck out the spirit/life of Jesus? Does this mark a turning point in the Gospel narrative? This warrants an intertextual talanoa between the biblical and cultural texts so as to re-read Judas’ kiss in the garden at Gethsemane in Mark 14 from a Samoan/Pasifika perspective.

Please RSVP to Megan if you would like to attend in-person, or over Zoom.

2022 Issue of ABR is in the mail

Volume 70 of the Australian Biblical Review for 2022 has been produced and is in the mail to all subscribers. The list of articles is also available on this website here. The 2022 book reviews are available as PDF extracts from the journal on the reviews page.

2023 ABR Subscription Rates

The Executive of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies has decided that the subscription rates for the 2023 issue (Volume 71) of Australian Biblical Review will remain the same as for the 2022 issue. Postage rate changes may occur before the mailout in September 2023.

Current rates can always be found at fbs.org.au/abrsubscribe.

2022 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies was held in person and via Zoom on Thursday, 3 November, 2022. Following the AGM the outgoing president, Prof. Dorothy Lee, presented a paper entitled “Emotion, Beauty, and the ‘Sublime’ in the Gospel of John.”

The following officers and members of the Executive were elected to hold these positions for the next year:

President: Chris Monaghan
Vice-President: Elizabeth Boase
Secretary: Megan Turton
Treasurer: Tim Rafferty
ABR Editor (Old Testament): Rachelle Gilmour
ABR Editor (New Testament): Alan Cadwallader
ABR Book Review Editor: Gareth Wearne
Committee Member: Chris Porter
Committeee Member: Stephen Cook (Sydney Coordinator)

Final Melbourne Meeting for 2022: AGM and President’s Address

Thursday 3rd November 2022

Melbourne’s final meeting for the year will be held on Thursday 3rd November, 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 7:00pm. We will begin the AGM at 7:30, with the aim to begin the paper at 8pm, following the AGM.

Our President,

Professor Dorothy Lee, will present a paper titled, Emotion, Beauty and the ‘Sublime’ in the Gospel of John.

Dinner, dessert, and drinks will be at the cost of $30.00 to be paid on the night. Please let Megan 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.

Please RSVP to Megan by 12 midday, Friday 28th 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.

“At every street corner” (Ezek 16:25): The importance of space for the interpretation of emotion in the Hebrew Bible

Friday 28th October 2022

The next Sydney meeting of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies (and the last one for this year) will be on Friday 28th October at 2.30pm at the University of Sydney. Our speaker will be Dr Natalie Mylonas. The title of the paper will be:

“At every street corner” (Ezek 16:25): The importance of space for the interpretation of emotion in the Hebrew Bible


This paper explores the relationship between space, gender, power, and emotions and its relevance for interpreting the Hebrew Bible. First, the paper offers a novel interdisciplinary framework through which to examine emotions in antiquity that emphasises the fundamentally embodied and emplaced nature of emotions. This framework attempts to correct the tendency of many scholars to mainly focus on emotion lexemes when considering emotions in the Hebrew Bible. Space is a vital component of emotional expression, formation, and representation because emotions are embodied, dynamic, and situated (in time and space). Similarly, emotions have an indispensable role in the experience, formation, and representation of space itself. The paper then applies this framework to Ezekiel 16, in which gender, space, and emotion intrinsically combine to inform the portrayal of the main protagonist Jerusalem: a gendered, personified city who feels. Ezekiel 16 describes in sexually graphic and violent language Israel's disobedience to God and rejection of the covenant. Feminist scholarship on Ezekiel 16 has focused on the gendered violence and disempowerment of Jerusalem in this passage. This paper argues that these scholars have overlooked the power Jerusalem is afforded in Ezekiel 16:15–34, which is expressed through Jerusalem’s control over the city space and her embodied expression of emotions, many of which are communicated through Jerusalem’s interaction with space.


Dr Natalie F. Mylonas (FHEA) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Macquarie University. She is the primary investigator for the research project “Emotions, Space, and Identity Politics in Ancient Israel,” which examines the ways that emotions shape identity politics and narratives of displacement in ancient Israel, using the book of Ezekiel as a case study. She is currently writing a volume entitled Jerusalem as Contested Space in Ezekiel: Exilic Encounters with Emotion (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies), (Bloomsbury: 2023). This book reveals the critical relationship between space, emotion, and identity politics in the Hebrew Bible, using Ezekiel 16 and 40–48 as case studies. Natalie’s research interests include the history of emotions, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, late antique hagiography, and world mythologies. Natalie is the founder of Learn Ancient Hebrew Online Education, and a sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy.

Venue: The Rogers Room, N397, John Woolley Building, University of Sydney. The meeting will also be streamed via Zoom. After the meeting you are welcome to stay on for drinks and fellowship at the Courtyard Café in the Holmes building. I have attached a map below of that part of campus, or use the link below to an interactive campus map.

RSVP: Please RSVP by Friday 21st October and Stephen Cook know if you will be attending in person or will need a zoom link, and if you plan to join us at the Courtyard Café.

Sydney College of Divinity Lecture and Multi-Book Launch

Wednesday 28th September 2022

Wednesday 28 September 2022, 6pm at SCD, Unit 6B, 5 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park and via Zoom.

Lecture: Prof James Harrison, How would Roman audiences have reacted to Paul’s Groaning Creation?

Book launches:

James R. Harrison, Reading Romans With Roman Eyes: Studies on the Social Perspective of Paul (Fortress Academic, 2020)
To be launched by Alan Cadwallader, Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University.

James R. Harrison and L.L. Welborn, The First Urban Churches 6: Rome and Ostia (WGRWSup 18; Atlanta: SBL, 2021)
To be launched by Dr Rosalinde Kearsley, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History and Archaeology at Macquarie University.

Peter G. Bolt and James R. Harrison, Romans and the Legacy of St Paul (Macquarie Park, NSW: SCD Press, 2019)
To be launched by Dr Paul W. Barnett.

For further details or to RSVP please email Gillian McPherson or call on (02) 9889-1969 by 21 September 2022.

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