Story

My Story (and obsessions)

I live in Bare, at the northern end of Morecambe, about a three-minute walk away from beautiful Morecambe Bay. I currently work as a freelance writer and speaker, while also teaching a course on theological approaches to mission for The Light College & Collective.

Early days

I grew up in Minden in northern Germany. Until I was about ten years old, we lived in an old farm house whose grounds provided an adventurous setting for a developing boy. Growing up in a Christian family, I encountered Christianity from an early age, but it was during my teenage years that I developed a strong interest in the New Testament gospels and the stories of the Old Testament. I also quickly found that I enjoyed reading the works of such writers as C. S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Some impressions from (sometimes) sunny Minden

Theology

All this eventually led me to study Theology at Gießen, which I pursued up to MA level. However, by the end of my studies, my interest, especially in the Old Testament, was far from exhausted. And so it was decided that I would take things to the next level.

Kwowadis

But my next step first took me to Bremen. Having got married to Maja, I joined her there, as she was still completing her degree course in Speech and Language Therapy. During this time, I worked for ‘Kwowadis’ (a cacography of Quo vadis?), a Christian student organisation.

Bremen’s marketplace and Schnoor quarter

PhD on Amos

The next step then was a big one because, with Maja having finished her course, we moved to Cheltenham in the UK in order for me to do a PhD in Old Testament Studies. More specifically, I decided to work on the book of Amos and eventually produced a thesis entitled ‘Presenting a Prophet in Debate: An Investigation of the Literary Structure and the Rhetoric of Persuasion of the Book of Amos’.

Early teaching days

During that time, I was lucky to get an opportunity to take my first steps teaching Old Testament at Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, which is now the University of Gloucestershire. Besides that, I taught some modules at Wycliff Hall, Oxford when their then Old Testament lecturer was on sabbatical.

Early research

In 1999, I became Project Administrator of the Scripture & Hermeneutics Project, an international project developed by Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education in partnership with The British & Foreign Bible Society. It generated the eight volumes of the Scripture and Hermeneutics series whose Consultant Editor I became. I also contributed a few articles on biblical interpretation and co-edited some of the volumes.

Academic posts

In 2000, I was appointed Course Co-ordinator at the Open Theological College, also based in Cheltenham, which offers distance-learning courses in Theology. In 2001, I became Research Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, which allowed me to prepare my PhD thesis for publication while also working on other research projects.

And then it was finally time to move on to the Lancaster/Morecambe area when in 2003 I joined St Martin’s College, now the University of Cumbria, where I taught Biblical Studies, Judaism and Study Skills until 2016.

Boats and sunsets – some Morecambe impressions

Preparing people for ministry in the Church of England

During that period, I also tutored for the Lancashire & Cumbria Theological Partnership, a local Anglican training course preparing ordinands and lay reader candidates for ministry in the dioceses of Blackburn and Carlisle. In 2016, after the University of Cumbria had closed its Religious Studies department, I was appointed Principal of Initial Ministerial Education at its successor Cumbria Christian Learning, and in 2018, I became Vice-Principal of the All Saints Centre for Mission & Ministry. That, in turn, came to an end with the opening of Emmanuel Theological College in the summer of 2021.

More of England’s beautiful northwest

Research, writing, and publications

I have always loved to read and during my studies found that I enjoyed writing, too. My research interests include:

  • biblical texts: Genesis 1–2, Exodus, Psalms, Song of Songs (sexuality and spirituality), the Old Testament prophets (with a particular focus on Amos and Jonah);
  • biblical hermeneutics: rhetorical criticism, speech act theory, theological interpretation, liberationist interpretation, ecological readings;
  • biblical theology: biblical-theological perspectives on migration, seeking sanctuary, and hospitality.

I have published a range of articles (mostly) on the Old Testament and co-edited four volumes on biblical interpretation. I am the author of three books, with my fourth one due to be published soon.

Talks and workshops

I have a passion for teaching and enjoy connecting with people who are curious and keen to explore things in a bit more depth. If that is you, and if you have an interest in exploring the biblical texts and thinking theologically about life and your own vocation, it would be great to meet you at one of my talks or workshops.

Family

I have already mentioned that I am married to Maja, and we have two children, Tobias, a civil engineer, who is married to Holly, a priest in the making, and Sarah, who is currently studying Linguistics at Newcastle University.

The five of us

Literature and other reading

I love good literature, and have been particularly drawn to the works of Margaret Atwood, Andrea Camilleri (Sicilian crimes, food, and scenery), Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Umberto Eco, Max Frisch, Gabriel García Márquez, Franz Kafka, Daniel Kehlmann, Pierre Magnan (irresistible crime fiction set in Provence), Ian McEwan, Pascal Mercier, Haruki Murakami, Connie Palmen, Ian Rankin (my third crime novelist of choice has to be the Dunediner), Salman Rushdie, Bernhard Schlink, Robert Seethaler, Patrick Süskind, Martin Suter, and Anne Tyler. A long list, I know, but it is much more selective than you might think.

A few of my favourite writers

As for poetry, my all-time favourite has to be Anne Carson, although I also enjoy the work of Mary Oliver, R. S. Thomas, Warsan Shire and others … as well as the Sufi wisdom of the medieval Persian poet Rumi.

Theological and spiritual writers that I keep returning to include Leonardo Boff, Walter Brueggemann, Terence Fretheim, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Etty Hillesum, Belden Lane, Michael Mayne, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, John O’Donohue, Sharon Ringe, Richard Rohr, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Phyllis Trible, Samuel Wells, and Rowan Williams.

And some inspirational theologians and spiritual writers

Other interests

I also enjoy cooking, with Nigel Slater being my favourite food writer. And I have a longstanding interest in football, mostly German, of course, although I was sad to see my favourite team Schalke 04 relegated at the end of the 2020/21 season. Lastly, I can at times lose myself (or should I say, find myself?) in the pursuit of photography, although I have always restricted myself to my iPhone camera.

Getting in touch

Please use the contact form if you would like to get in touch.