Morpeth Lecture

The Morpeth Lecture was established in 1967 in partnership between the University of Newcastle and the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. The name of the Morpeth Lecture comes from the College of St John the Evangelist at Morpeth, the previous ministry training and education centre of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.


The Case of the Trafficked Princesses (Jer 40-44): Trauma Hermeneutics as Pedagogical Tool for Teaching on Gender-Based Violence

Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle 2300
Tuesday 5 June from 6pm - 8pm 

The 2018 Morpeth Lecture will explore recent hermeneutical approaches to Jeremiah 40-44 such as feminist critical and postcolonial biblical interpretation have highlighted the presence of some Judean princesses that in the past have not received much attention. This quite minor story of the daughters of King Zedekiah who had been taken hostage by the renegade leader Ishmael and then passed like pawns from one group of leaders to the next draws our attention to the myriad ways in which women in particular are vulnerable in the aftermath of war and forced migration.

This talk proposes that stories like the one of the “trafficked princesses” in Jeremiah (to use Wilda Gaffney’s creative designation) hold great promise in helping raise awareness in the reality of sexual violence in many communities around the world, and especially in the context of migration and the recent refugee crisis. Professor Claassens proposes that stories, both ancient and modern, that reflect the trauma of sexual violence are vital in the broader task of teaching students about the reality of sexual violence, and particularly the systemic nature thereof, as well as the creative possibilities of female agency within dignity denying circumstances.

About the speaker

Prof Juliana Claassens is Professor in Old Testament and Head of the Gender Unit at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. Her most recent book Claiming Her Dignity: Female Resistance in the Old Testament has been published with Liturgical Press in 2016, and won third prize in the Gender section of the Catholic Book Association Book Awards. She is also the author of Mourner, Mother, Midwife: Reimagining God's Liberating Presence (Westminster John Knox 2012) and The God who Provides: Biblical Images of Divine Nourishment (Abingdon, 2004).

Her research and teaching interests include Gender, Postcolonial and Trauma Hermeneutics and the Old Testament. She has written across the canon, but particularly enjoys teaching and writing on the Prophets and the Pentateuch. She is an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa with special assignment Theological Education

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