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Department of Theology and Religion

Current Postgraduate Students

Revd Edward Kaneen, MEng (York), BTh (Oxon), MA (KCL)

Contact Revd Edward Kaneen

Current Research Project

Slavery in the Synoptic Gospels

Slavery was fundamental to ancient society. This included 1st century Palestine, the milieu in which the Jesus movement began. It is therefore unsurprising that the gospels bear witness to this ever-present reality, both in terms of the characters depicted, and the teaching on discipleship which features slave images. However, what does stand out is Jesus' call for true disciples to be slaves of other disciples (Mark 10:44 and pars.), an idea echoed by Paul (e.g. Gal. 5:13). This is not obviously a liberating text for the many would-be disciples who were slaves themselves, then or now. The awkward social implications of these texts have been largely ignored by interpreters to date, preferring to theologise their meaning when they are considered at all. This research will consider the metaphor of slavery within its cultural context, and seek to understand the use of this imagery in the early teaching of the church.

Estimated completion date: September 2012.

Research Interests

  • The Social world of the first century. 
  • The Parables.
  • The Synoptic Gospels.
  • Slavery and the use of the Bible in Slavery debates.
  • Second-Temple Judaism.

Teaching Responsibilities

I am currently a Teaching Assistant and Module Administrator for one of the compulsory undergraduate modules in the Department: Introduction to the New Testament (1st year). I am also TA for an optional module: First Urban Churches (3rd year). Both commitments involve teaching and marking.

I have also done occasional lecturing in Durham's St John's College/Cranmer Hall, on their 2nd year BA in Theology and Ministry  course (BATM), Introduction to Paul, covering such topics as: Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon, and Pauline Eschatology. This will be extended this year 2011-12, as I will be one of the tutors for Lindisfarne Regional Training Partnership on their Biblical Studies modules for the BATM degree.

Departmental Responsibilities

I am currently the Research Assistant to Dr Lutz Doering, Reader in New Testament and Ancient Judaism.

I am the Department's student representative on the steering committee of the research Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East (CAMNE). Under this banner, in 2010 I co-organised an interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the Department of Theology and Religion, on Religion and Identity in the Ancient World. The programme is available here, and photos of the event here.


Prior to my theological training, I worked in Computer Science research, on an area of Computational Linguistics handling ill-formed natural language. In other words, given a system that interfaces with the user using their natural language, how can it cope if the person makes a linguistic 'mistake'? This led to a number of publications in the field.

After this, I trained to become a Baptist minister at Regent's Park College, Oxford. I worked with a church in the South of England for eight years following ordination. While I was there I studied for an MA in Biblical Studies, part-time, at King's College London. My dissertation looked at the Slave Parables in the Synoptic Gospels, and the ways in which they are representative of wider attitudes to slavery within Palestinian Judaism at the time.


Conference Paper

  • Kaneen, Edward (2011), 'That You May Believe': Reading John’s Gospel as a Missionary Text, Hearts and Minds: Baptists and the Mission of God. Regent's Park College, Oxford, Regent's Park College, Oxford.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2011), The Sacrificial Suffering of 'Servant' Leadership, Baptists Doing Theology in Context. Huddersfield, Huddersfield.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2011), The Suffering of the Willing Slave: Discipleship as Slavery in Mark 10:44 in the light of Conceptual Blending Theory, British New Testament Conference, Nottingham University.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2010), Christianity Salvation as Slavery?, Broaderlands Seminar. St John's College, Durham, St John's College, Durham University.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2010), Liberating Scripture? The challenge of slavery in the Bible to the redemptive-movement hermeneutic, Sam Sharpe and the Quest for Liberation. University of Oxford, University of Oxford.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2010), Refreshing and Reviving a Johannine Metaphor: Reading udwr zwn as waters of purification in John 4:10, British New Testament Conference. Bangor University, Bangor University.
  • Kaneen, Edward (2010), Slavery, Story, and the Shaping of Identity The Exodus and the expression of identity in the debt-slavery legislation of ancient Israel, Religion and Identity in the Ancient World. Durham University, Durham University.

Journal Article

  • Kaneen, Edward (2010). The apology, slavery, and the Bible reconciled. Baptist Ministers' Journal 306: 17-23.