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Title: A Critical Reading of the Writings of John Shelby Spong: With a Focus on His Treatment of the Resurrection in Early Christianity
Contributor(s): Lilley, Gordon Mitford (author); Garland, Lynda (supervisor); Forrest, Peter  (supervisor); Dillon, Matthew  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2015
Copyright Date: 2013
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: John Shelby Spong (born June 1931), retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, has been a controversial speaker and writer on religious and social matters since the 1960s. He retired in January 2000, but has continued to speak and write. His activities have attracted both strong acclaim and strong criticism. Spong presents himself as a biblical scholar. However, he does not write for the academic community, but for the laity whom he refers to as, inter alia, "believers in exile". Spong also regards himself as a "believer in exile". However, that should not absolve him from the need to observe a high standard of academic rigour in his writing. Research for this thesis has included a personal discussion with Bishop Spong, in addition to reading all of his books on the general topic of biblical literalism. The major focus is on Spong's book 'Resurrection: Myth or Reality? A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity' (1994), Spong's analysis of the traditions surrounding the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. There is also a brief overview of other Spong books; his 'Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus' (1992), Spong's views on the Virgin Birth traditions, will be examined in greater detail than the remainder. Also, books by other authors writing in the same "popular" genre as Spong will be briefly reviewed. The question examined is: Is Bishop John Shelby Spong, in his writings, successful in his aim of demystifying and demythologising the Christian Scriptures for the lay reader? Should he be accorded the status of a biblical scholar or a credible author in the field of the Early Christian mythology and tradition, on the basis of his writing and speaking to the wider, non-academic community?
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research (FoR): 220401 Christian Studies (incl Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Rights Statement: Copyright 2013 - Gordon Mitford Lilley
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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