Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands

14 July 2014 - 16 July 2014

CRASSH (SG1), Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DT

Registration is now closed.

Dr Gareth Atkins, CRASSH

Dr Shinjini Das, CRASSH

Dr Brian Murray, CRASSH


Chosen Peoples, Promised Lands: The Bible, Race, and Nation in the Long Nineteenth Century will bring together scholars from across a variety of disciplines to throw new light on biblical themes and metaphors that undergird ideas about racial and national identity in the modern world. More specifically, we seek to explore how biblical notions of lineage, descent and inheritance continued to inform ideas of race and nation in the increasingly secular and scientific atmosphere of the long nineteenth century. Notwithstanding the publication of several recent works on religion and nationhood, nationalism and race are still often considered in secular terms. The aim of this conference is to explore the means through which a range of nations and races have forged their identities in conversation with the textual traditions of Abrahamic religions.

For live tweeting from the conference, follow:




Stephen K. Batalden (Arizona)

Alex Bremner (Edinburgh)

Hilary M. Carey (Bristol)

Brian Cheyette (Reading)

John Coffey (Leicester)

Dorothy Figueria (Georgia)

Stephen R. Haynes (Rhodes College)

Hephzibah Israel (Edinburgh)

Halvor Moxnes (Oslo)

Anthony D. Smith (LSE)

Administrative assistance: 

We are unable to arrange or book accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help:

Visit Cambridge

Cambridge Rooms

University of Cambridge Accommodation

This event is supported by funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 295463


Day 1: Monday 14 July

12.30 - 13.45

Registration and lunch

13.45 - 14.00

Welcome and opening address, Dr Brian Murray

14.00 - 15.30


Professor Anthony D. Smith: Biblical ideals and modern nations

Chair: Dr Brian Murray

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee break

16.00 - 18.00


  • Dr Hephzibah Israel: The promise of translation: chosen languages, inherited nations and the Bible in nineteenth-century South Asia
  • Professor Hilary M. Carey: Biblical history and colonial linguistics: John Fraser & the Babylonian origins of the Australian aborigines

Respondent: Dr Shinjini Das

18.00 - 19.00

Drinks reception

Day 2: Tuesday 15 July

9.30 - 11.00


  • Dr Gal Manor: "A proper speech were this 'מאלהים'": Robert Browning and the Bible
  • Dr Richa Dwor: "The Bible, and that nation whose history it so vividly records": Grace Aguilart's Jewish Histories for England's Jews

Chair: Dr Alison Knight

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00


  • Professor Dorothy Figueira: Contested identity: the Veda as an alternative to the Bible

Chair: Professor Julius Lipner

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30


  • Sarah Weidenmuller: Circulating the Christian Scriptures in the Persian World: 1811-1914
  • Dr Angharad Eyre: A glow of patriotism: the national mission of Constance Maynard and her Followers
  • Rana Issa: Bible Translations and the Modernisation of the Arabic Language in the nineteenth century

Chair: Dr Emma Hunter

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee break

16.00 - 18.00


  • Dr Alex Bremner: Of tents and transepts: Church architecture, biblical authority, and the building of Anglican identity in the British Empire, 1840-1900
  • Professor John Coffey: "Exciting the negroes to rebellion": the problem of Scripture in the Demerara slave revolt of 1823

Respondent: Dr Gareth Atkins


Conference dinner

Day 3: Wednesday 16 July

9.30 - 11.00


  • ​Professor Stephen R. Haynes: The nineteenth-century roots of American segregationist folk theology

Chair: Dr Andrew Preston

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 13.30


  • Professor Halvor Moxnes: Galilee as model for nations in nineteenth-century lives of Jesus
  • Professor Stephen K. Batalden: Empire and nation in the politics of the nineteenth-century Russian Bible

Respondent: Dr Rob Priest


Lunch and close

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Race and the Noachic tradition (Semites, Hamites, Japhites)
  • Nation as covenant
  • New Israel and Modern Babylon
  • Zionism
  • National Bibles: translation, criticism, scholarship, distribution
  • National (and transnational) Missions
  • Resistance to the Bible in anticolonial and nationalist contexts
  • The postcolonial Bible
  • The contested antiquity of nations/races
  • New worlds amnd promised lands
  • Exile and Exodus