Annual Conference – 28-29 June 2023

Let Justice Roll: Scripture and Power in Palestine

Day 1
Day 2 AM
Day 2 PM
Final Session
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Day 1
Day 2 AM
Day 2 PM
Final Session
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Our annual conference ran 28-29 June 2023 in association with Christ at the Checkpoint (a part of Bethlehem Bible College) and was titled: Let Justice Roll: Scripture and Power in Palestine. It was held in Bristol, UK.

For many Christians today, support for the state of Israel is a direct consequence of their reading of the Bible. But how does that square with human rights abuses that the state is committing? Does the Bible really endorse the expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral homes? How are our interpretations of Scripture influenced by the power that we hold?

We were delighted to host this research conference examining issues of New Testament interpretation and post-colonial hermeneutics in the context of settler-colonialism in Palestine from both Palestinian and Western perspectives.

The final session from the ‘Let Justice Roll’ conference held in collaboration with Christ at the Checkpoint in June 2023 took place online in December 2023. Revd Dr Niveen Sarras and Dr Ashley Hibbard examined Old Testament prophetic texts concerned with justice, and their application to Israeli settler colonialism and the oppression of Palestinians. Dr Brandon Hurlbert served as the respondent.

Conference Schedule

Wednesday 28th June

7.15pm“Let us be Ambassadors of Justice” with Jack Sara
8.15pm“Power and Interpretation” with Helen Paynter

Thursday 29th June

9.00amMorning devotions (optional)
9.30amCounterstory I
9.50amPapers from Munther Isaac and John Barclay
11.15amResponse by Jamie Davies, followed by Q&A
12.20pmCounterstory II
2.15pmPapers from Mitri Raheb and Alison Walker
3.40pmResponse by Sara Améstegui Deik, followed by Q&A
4.40pmCounterstory III

Friday 1st December (online)

7.00pmIntroduction from Trevor Laurence
7.15pmPaper from Niveen Sarras
7.50pmResponse by Ashley Hibbard
8.30pmResponse by Brandon Hurlbert

Contributors included:

Revd Dr Jack Sara

Revd Dr Jack Sara is President of Bethlehem Bible College and an ordained minister with Evangelical Alliance Church in the Holy Land. After committing his life to Christ and his teachings, Jack attended Bethlehem Bible College, where he earned a BA in Biblical Studies and Christian Education. Soon after graduating from BBC, he became a member and leader in the ministry of the Jerusalem Alliance Church who in turn recognised his gifts and calling and encouraged him to study further for the work of the Gospel. Acting upon this directive, Jack went to the Philippines to study at the Alliance Biblical Seminary where he earned his M. Div degree in Pastoral Studies. Jack later obtained a doctorate degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Missions and Cross-Cultural Studies.

Jack has worked extensively in the area of peace and reconciliation and has played a pioneering role in several local and international ministries. His joy in life is to see young leaders grow and flourish in the work of the Kingdom; therefore he continues to motivate, coach, and stand beside them as they begin their ministries. Rev. Jack travels the globe, speaking in conferences and teaching about Missions and Cross-Cultural work in the Middle East. 

Revd Prof. Dr Mitri Raheb

Founder and President of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem, Dr Raheb holds a Doctorate in Theology from the Philipps University at Marburg, Germany. The most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr Raheb is the author and editor of 40 books including: The Cross in Contexts: Suffering and Redemption in Palestine; Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. He was elected in 2018 to the Palestinian National Council and to the Palestinian Central Council.

Dr Raheb has received a number of awards, including the Tolerance Aware (2017), the Olof Palme Prize (2015) and the German Media Prize (2012). The work of Dr Raheb has received wide media attention from major international media outlets and networks including CNN, CBS, BBC, Premiere, The Economist, Al-Jazeera, al-Mayadin, Vanity Fair, and others.

Revd Dr Munther Isaac

Dr Munther Isaac currently serves as Academic Dean at Bethlehem Bible College and Director of the influential Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. He is also a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Munther is also a speaker on Palestinian theology and the theology of the land, active with Kairos Palestine, and Blogger.

Included in his publications are From Land to Lands and The Other Side of the Wall: A Palestinian-Christian Narrative of Lament and Hope, which was recently discussed in our Lent Book Club session, which can be accessed here.

Prof. John Barclay

John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University. After studies in Classics and Theology he taught at Glasgow University for 19 years, and moved to Durham in 2003. He is the author of several books on Jews in the ancient world and on the social history of early Christianity, and has focused in recent years on the theology of Paul (e.g., Paul and the Gift, 2015).  

Dr Niveen Sarras

The Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras is pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church of Wausau in Wausau, Wis. She earned her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. She was born and raised in Bethlehem, Palestine. She published articles relating to violence in the Hebrew Bible, including “Daughter Zion Identifies with Syrian and Iraqi Women: a Reading in the Book of Lamentations,” Word and World, Jan. 2017. In July 2018 she presented an article entitled “Refuting the Violent Image of God in Joshua 6-11,” at the Otto A. Shults Community Center, Nazareth College, Rochester, N.Y.

Revd Dr Alison Walker

Alison is a priest in the Church of England and currently Interim Tutor at Trinity College Bristol teaching Christian Doctrine, Black Theology, and Anglican History. She served her curacy in Hereford Diocese in a rural team of churches where she completed a PhD alongside parish ministry. Her PhD research focused on the work of Willie James Jennings, attending to a theology of race and creation. Her work offers an assessment of the Anglican parish in the Church of England, applying the theology of Jennings to discern whether the parish and parish church can be a place of joining and belonging in the face of social exclusion and racism, as well as be a place for local engagement with creation to aid in its flourishing. She has presented her work at the annual gatherings of the Society for the Study of Theology and the British New Testament Society. Her predominant research interests include the theology of Willie James Jennings, a theology of land and place, theology and race, the Anglican parish, liberation theologies, systematics, and New Testament and theology.

Dr Ashley Hibbard

Ashley is currently adjunct faculty at Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She has a BRE from Great Lakes Bible College (2010), an MDiv from Heritage Theological Seminary (2014), and a PhD in Theology from Trinity College/University of Aberdeen (2020). Her PhD dissertation was entitled, “Deep Calls to Deep: an investigation into a chain of intertextualities between some Genesis narratives and Deuteronomic laws.” Ashley is the lead editor of the Journal for the Study of Bible and Violence.

Dr Jamie Davies

Jamie Davies (PhD, St Andrews) is Tutor of New Testament and Director of Research at Trinity College, Bristol (UK). His research largely concerns apocalyptic thought in the New Testament and other Second Temple Jewish and Christian literature, with a particular focus on the letters and theology of Paul. He is the author of Paul Among the Apocalypses (London: T&T Clark, 2016), The Apocalyptic Paul: Retrospect and Prospect (Eugene: Cascade, 2022), and Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Smyth & Helwys, in press 2023).

Dr Brandon Hurlbert

Brandon Hurlbert (Ph.D., Durham University) is a lecturer in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Durham University. His doctoral dissertation explored the possibilities of reading the book of Judges as Christian Scripture. He is a research associate at the Centre for the Study of the Bible and Violence and a co-host on the Two Cities Podcast. His other research interests include the Bible and Film and the reception history of the Bible.

Sara Améstegui Deik

Sara is a PhD student at Bristol Baptist College. Sara’s research focuses on how dispensational eschatology influences Palestinian reception of the gospel. Sara lives in Cambridge with her husband and their daughter.