The Bible, Zionism and Palestine conference, hosted by the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, brought together academics, activists and clergy from around the country and abroad to discuss the role that the Bible has played and continues to play in Palestine and Israel. The conference was spread over 3 gloriously sunny days, the 24- 26th May, and somewhat packed with 23 short papers, 4 key note addresses, and 2 panel discussions, as well as an open discussion session led by Naim Ateek.
A variety of voices and perspectives were represented at the conference. The keynote speakers were Ilan Pappé, a secular Jew, outspoken in his criticisms of Israel; Nur Masalha, a secular Muslim Palestinian; Dan Cohn-Sherbok, an ordained rabbi who claims that his recent book ‘The Palestinian State: A Jewish Justification’ was well received by some of his strongly Zionist friends; and Naim Ateek, whose work is of course known to everyone involved with Sabeel, and whose work inspired the organisation of the conference in the first place. In the short paper sessions a vast range of topics were covered, from C.I Scofield and his annotated Bible, to William Blake’s visions of peace, and from disputes surrounding biblical archaeology and ancient historiography, to modern US foreign policy, and its influence upon New Testament scholarship and theology.
I am hopeful that much was learnt during the conference, that links were made, ideas challenged and created, and important questions asked. Some of the conference papers will be available in the coming months, both online and in book form.