Dr Kathy Ehrensperger PhD

Reader in New Testament Studies


Tel: +44 (0) 1570 424 844
E-mail: k.ehrensperger@tsd.uwtsd.ac.uk

Kathy Ehrensperger

  • Teaching (BA and MA)
  • Supervision of Research Students
  • Research
  • Member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas
  • Member of the Steering Committee of the SNTS Seminar Reading Paul’s Letters in Context: Theological and Social-Scientific Approaches (2011-present)
  • Member of the Society of Biblical Literature
  • Chair of SBL Romans Through History and Cultures Group (2004 - 2011)
  • Co-Chair of the Paul and Pauline Literature Group SBL International (2011-Present)
  • Member of the Steering Committee of the SBL Group Paul and Judaism (2012-present)
  • Member of the Steering Committee of the SBL Group Polis and Ekklesia (2013-)
  • Member of the British New Testament Society  (Member of the Executive Committee (2010-12)
  • Member of the Centre of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ, (in residence August-December 06)
  • Member of the European Society of Women in Theological Research
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the Series ‘Neutestamentliche Entwürfe zur Theologie’ (NET)

I am passionate about the theological, cultural, social, and religious richness of biblical texts and enjoy providing guidance to students in this fascinating area of academic studies.

My teaching at undergraduate level includes ‘Introduction to the Bible (NT) ’ (co-taught with Dr. Martin O’Kane); ‘Story and History-The Narrative of Luke-Acts’, and as part of the team ‘Jesus Through Faith and Culture’; at MA level I teach ‘The Bible: Contemporary Approaches’ and ‘Paul – His Life, Activity and Theological Thought’.

I have supervised numerous research students to successful completion of their degrees, and I am currently supervising theses on ‘The Dynamics of Human Transformation:Paul’s Eschatological Anthropology’, ‘Ephesians and Artemis: The Cult of the Great Goddess of Ephesus as the Epistle’s Context’, ‘The Divine Warrior Motif in the Gospel of Mark’.

All my research is based on a thorough exegetical analysis of the biblical text, including the relevance of the Old Testament for the New as well as the consideration of hermeneutical presuppositions in interpretation.

It is my conviction that research in New Testament Studies has to engage and interact with other disciplines, such as Classics, Ancient History, and Social Sciences, at the forefront of their research, in order to be able to meaningfully communicate the relevance and substance of New Testament insights within a university context.

Although I regard the New Testament texts to be at the centre of New Testament research, insights and approaches from other disciplines may prove useful and illuminating in seeing familiar texts in fresh perspective.

I have engaged in such interdisciplinary research in all my publications, particularly in my three monographs, interacting with Gender Studies (That We May Mutually Encouraged), insights on power from Social and Political science (Paul and the Dynamics of Power), and insights from Sociolinguistics, Classics and Cultural Studies (Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures).

These monographs are indicative of the scope of my work in that they are explicitly based on, and serve to illuminate, the biblical texts in their historical contexts and role in early Christianity. The most recently completed monograph, Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures - Theologizing in the Space-Between, can be summarized as follows:

The Christ-movement emerged from within a specific cultural and religious tradition, Judaism, and developed into a movement which encompassed people of diverse ethnic and cultural traditions. Thus a process of cultural translation lies at the core of emergent Christian self-understanding. Previous and current research has analysed this process from the presupposition that the cultural blend of 'Hellenism' played the decisive transmitting role, with the apostle Paul as a key actor in this process in the earliest days of the movement.

This paradigm of ‘Hellenism’ as a blending of Greek and ‘oriental’ cultures has been complemented in recent years by concepts of hybridisation, fusion, and creolisation which emerged from postcolonial studies.  

In this project I draw on insights gained from the growing inter-disciplinary research into the significance of inter- cultural encounter and cultural translation, particularly on research into language and identity (J. E.Joseph) and bi/and multilingualism and bi/and multiculturalism (M.J. Adams,S. Swain).

Informed by the use of insights from the latter research areas as taken up in Classical Studies (A.Wallace-Hadrill), I provide a critical analysis of the hermeneutical presuppositions of the ‘old’ concept of Hellenism as well as of some of the more recent concepts (hybridisation, fusion) used in New Testament Studies. Since no evidence has been found for the fusion or creolization of languages in antiquity, but significant evidence exists for bi/multilingualism (which includes not only the linguistic aspect but the cultural dimension as well) in the Graeco-Roman world of the first centuries CE, the perception of the Pauline discourse as an example of blended or hybrid culture needs to be challenged.

Based on insights from studies into bi/multilingualism which demonstrate that one of the characteristics of bi-and multilingualism is the clear awareness of the difference between the languages and cultures involved, I advocate an alternative paradigm to the paradigms of Hellenism or hybridisation, for interpreting Paul's letters, that is, a paradigm of bi/multiculturalism (in analogy to bi/multilingualism).

Paul's theologizing in his letters is thus seen not as an example of blending or hybridization but as an example of a cultural translation process in which values, beliefs, and narratives are being translated from one cultural, symbolic and social universe (Jewish) into another (non-Jewish/gentile).

There are aspects of loss and of gain, understanding and misunderstanding in this translation process. In this monograph I explore some of these aspects in their relevance for the identity formation of the Christ-movement in its social and theological dimension. 

Plans for Future Research

I was aware from the beginning of my research for my recent British Academy project Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures, that it encompassed much more than could be encapsulated in one monograph. Thus this monograph serves as the first stage of an ongoing research project on ‘Cultural Translation and Christian Origins’ which has the potential for being extended into a series of collaborative projects resulting in further publications. The bi-cultural paradigm I advocate for Paul will be extended and applied to other parts of the New Testament.  

My current focus in this extended research project is on Pauline community formation as a process of embodiment in the multi-lingual/multi-cultural context of the Roman Empire. Following from my research on power dynamics in the early Christ-movement and the cultural translation processes evidenced in the Pauline letters, particular attention will be paid to the transmission not only of cultural codes but of their embodiment in the process of collective identity formation.

This project is in its initial stages but already a number of invited articles are in the process of being published and invited research papers are in preparation for presentation at international conferences (SBL, SNTS, Enoch Seminar etc.), which will form part of a further monograph length publication. I plan to continue to research in the area of bilingualism/biculturalism in its relevance for Pauline Studies and further publications on aspects of Paul’s Letter will follow.

In addition I consider this approach to have potential for major funding applications as there is scope to extend it beyond Pauline Studies, into other areas of the New Testament and Christian Origins. In its interdisciplinary dimension it is ideal for interdisciplinary collaborative projects.

In the Wintersemester 2014-15 I I held a Guest Professorship at the Zacharias Frankel College Berlin and the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam in conjunction with the Centre for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg.


The main non-academic audience of my research are RE teachers, Clergy, interested church members, members of other faiths. My research is disseminated to these professions through public lectures, further education projects, and publications for a general public and contributes to social and cultural wellbeing, identity related issues in a multi-cultural context as set out in the ‘Translating Cultures’ agenda of the humanities.

I have given a series of lectures and seminars at regional organisations of the Council of Christian and Jews Perth, and to interested lay audiences in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia in July/August 2013 and at an interfaith conference on Forgiveness in Birmingham, UK as part of the dissemination agenda of my research project funded by the British Academy.

Books (authored)

  • 2013 Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures – Theologizing in the Space-Between.London, New York: T&T Clark 2013
  • 2009 Paul and the Dynamics of Power: Communication and Interaction in the Early Christ-Movement. London, New York: T&T Clark, pb
  • 2007 Paul and the Dynamics of Power: Communication and Interaction in the Early Christ-Movement. London, New York: T&T Clark, hb
  • 2004 That We May Be Mutually Encouraged: Feminism and the New Perspective on Paul London,UK, New York: T&T Clark International

Books (edited)

  • 2012 Decisive Meals – Table Politics in Biblical Literature. K.Ehrensperger, N.MacDonald, L.Sutter Rehmann, eds. London, New York: T&T Clark
  • 2010 Reading Paul in Context: Explorations in Identity Formation, Essays in Honour of William S. Campbell. London, New York: T&T Clark, J.B.Tucker, K.Ehrensperger, eds.
  • 2008 ed. with Ward Holder Reformation Readings of Romans. Romans Through History and Cultures Series vol 8. London, New York: T&T Clark International

Chapters in Books and Journal Articles in Print

  • 'The Question(s) of Gender', in Mark Nanos, Magnus Zetterholm, eds. Paul Within Judaism: Restoring the First Century Context to the Apostle. Minneapolis:Fortress Press 2015,245-76.
  • 2013 The New Perspective on Paul and Beyond’ in Modern Interpretations of Romans: Tracking Their Hermeneutical/TheologicalTrajectory , Romans Through History and Cultures vol 10, C. Grenholm and D. Patte, eds. London,New York: T&T Clark, 191-219.
  • 2012 ‚Paulus, sein Volk und die Rassenterminologie: Kritische Anfragen and den ‚Race-Diskurs’ in neuerer englischsprachiger Paulus-Forschung’, Kirche und Israel27.2012, 119-33
  • 2012 ‘Speaking Greek under Rome: Paul, the Power of Language and the Language of Power’, Neotestamentica 46.1, 10-31
  • 2010 ‘Transformed to be Holy – the Identity Forming Dimension of Paul’s Priestly Discourse in Romans’ in Reading Paul in Context: Explorations in Identity Formation, Essays in Honour of William S. Campbell. London, New York: T&T Clark, J.B.Tucker, K.Ehrensperger, eds.
  • 2010 ‘Current Trends in Historical Jesus Research’, in Paul Badham ed., Verdict on Jesus.London: SPCK.
  • 2010 ‘Striving for Office and the Exercise of Power in the ‘House of God’: Reading 1 Tim 3.1-17 in Light of 1 Cor 4.1’, in The Bible in Academy, Church, and Culture. Festschrift. Alan Sell ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf&Stock 2010.
  • 2008 ‘Reformers in Conversation over Romans – Diversity in Renewal and Continuity’ in Reformation Readings of Romans. Romans Through History and Cultures Series. Eds. Kathy Ehrensperger and Ward Holder, London, New York: T&T Clark, pp.193-200.
  • 2008 ‘The Significance of New Frameworks of Thinking in New Testament Interpretation' in Maya Warrier, Simon Oliver (ed.) Theology and Religious Studies: Methodological Convergence and/or Divergence? London, New York: T&T Clark, pp. 119-128.
  • 2008 ‘Paul and the Authority of Scripture: A Feminist Perception’ in As it is Written: Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture.Eds. Stanley N. Porter and Christopher D. Stanley. Atlanta: SBL, pp. 281-308.
  • 2007 Reading Romans ‘in the Face of the Other’ : Levinas, the Jewish Philosopher meets Paul, the Jewish Apostle, in Reading Romans with Contemporary Philosophers and Theologians vol 7 of the Romans Through History and Cultures series, ed. by David Odell Scott, London, New York: T&T Clark 2007 , pp.115-54.
  • 2005 ‘New Perspectives on Paul but No New Perspectives in Feminist Theology’ inGender,Tradition, and Romans: Shared Ground, Uncertain Borders, Cristina Grenholm and Daniel Patte (eds.), in the “Romans Through History and Cultures Series”, London, New York: T&T Clark, pp. 227-255.
  • 2004 ‘Scriptural Reasoning – the Dynamic that Informed Paul’s Theologizing’ Irish Biblical Studies, 26/1 2004, pp. 32-52., also in Journal of Scriptural Reasoning 5/3/2005 http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/ssr.


British Academy mid-career Fellowship 2012-13 £122,822

Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures - Theologizing in the Space-Between

This project focused on the interplay between cultural translation, power dynamics and identity formation in first century intercultural interaction investigating how this contributed to the emergence of the Christ-movement. The outcome was the monograph: Paul at the Crossroads of Cultures – Theologizing in the Space-Between.London, New York: T&T Clark 2013

Collaborative research:

Roman Through History and Cultures Projects – I was one of the lead researchers (2004-11); I am currently involved in the ‘Religious Secrecy as Contact: Secrets as Promoters of Religious Dynamics’ project at the University of Bochum as well as in the SBL projects ‘Paul and Judaism’, and ‘Polis and Ekklesia’, all leading to collaborative publications.

Co-editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia Bible and Ethics  

Member of the Centre of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ; 

PhD Examinations

In addition to numerous internal examining I  have been external examiner for PhDs at the Universities of Birmingham, St.Andrews and Leeds

Recent Conference Presentations

Keynote lecture at the New Testament Society of South Africa Annual Meeting,  University of the Northwest, Potchefstrom, SA, Sept 11: ‘Speaking Greek under Rome – Paul, the Power of Language and the Language of Power’ invited main paper at the British New Testament Conference, St. Andrews, UK, 2013: '”United Nations” under Rome or in Christ ? Paul’s Challenge of Cultural Translation’,

  • 2013 ‘Shared Culture and Diverse Ethnic Identities: The Pauline Discourse of Israel and the Nations’, Seminar ‘Social World of the New Testament’, SNTS Annual Meeting, Perth, Australia
  • 2013 ‘The Ministry to Jerusalem (Rom 15.31): Paul's Hopes and Fears’, SBL International Meeting, St. Andrews,UK
  • 2012 ‘Negotiating Polis and Ekklesia: Challenge and Re-Assurance in 1 Cor 12.1-11’, SBL Annual Meeting Chicago
  • 2012 ‘The Pauline ‘genos’ Discourse’, Short Paper at SNTS Annual Meeting, Catholic University of Leuven
  • 2012 ‘Paul a Hybrid Jew?’, invited lecture, Centre for the Study of Christian Origins, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
  • 2011 '”All things are lawful but not all things are helpful – all things are lawful but not all things build up” (1 Cor 6.12 and 10.23) – Identity Formation in the Space Between’, Invited Seminar Paper, SNTS Annual Meeting, Baard College, Anandale-on-Hudson, NY
  • 2011 ‘Table Disputes in Corinth in Intercultural Perspective’, EGLBS Annual Meeting, Richfield, OH, invited paper
  • 2011 'To Eat or  Not to Eat – Is This the Question ?’, Symposium Decisive Meals – Was sich beim Essen entscheidet, Theologische Fakultät, University of Basel
  • 2010 ‘Lost in Translation: Paul a Broker in Inter-cultural Communication ?’, SBL Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA
  • 2009 ‘Striving for Office and the Exercise of Power in the ‘House of God’: Reading 1 Tim 3.1-17 in Light of 1 Cor 4.1’, invited paper at the SBL Annual Meeting, New Orleans
  • 2009 '…nothing is in itself profane’:  Hospitality and Holiness Discourse in Romans 14’,  Short Paper at SNTS Annual Meeting, Vienna