S Barbara - Sistine Madonna detail_Fotor

It is always surprising to discover how the early Christian saints have lived on in the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean, and Saint Barbara is a perfect example of this. In Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, she is celebrated on 4 December as the protagonist of Eid-il-Bubara, a Hallowe’en-like festival in which children go […]

Resa Aslan - Does Islam Promote Violence?Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 13_Fotor

The recently published Global Terrorism Index 2013 is being reported  as confirming that “religion has become the main driver of terrorism”, surpassing nationalist and other motives. But there is a problem with the analysis. The report tracks the justifications claimed by terrorists for their actions, but this is very different from identifying ‘drivers’. Between the scholarly research and the […]

NT; (c) Stourhead; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Saint Catherine of Alexandria is my name-saint, so I always stop to remember her on her Feast Day even though sadly I don’t come from the kind of family where you celebrate your name-saint’s feast with honey-cakes and sparklers. But this year, I am seeing things in Catherine’s story that I never thought to notice before – […]

Jesus, Muhammad and Gender Poster

I doubt you could have found a more inspiring place to be, this past Saturday, than the inter-faith chapel at Lancaster University, where Christian-Muslim Encounters in Lancashire had organized a day of inter-faith discussion about Jesus in Christianity and Islam. My own role, with the marvellous Dr Shuruq Naguib was to lead a workshop on ‘Jesus, Muhammad, and Gender’, considering […]

TORCH - A Child's Sleeve

During 2014-15 the Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities is sponsoring a project on Objects of Love with the Ashmolean Museum, and as part of it teaching curator Senta German and I have been hosting behind-the-scenes sessions to discover how objects from the Museum’s ancient Mediterranean collections can shed light on the human relationships between people in […]

Martyrdom & Terrorism Dustjacket_Fotor

One of the nicest things to arrive in the post recently: a publication copy of Martyrdom and Terrorism, the product of a collaboration among historians working on different cultures and periods, in which I took part some time ago. Two of the volume’s three sections are useful in a way that might have been predicted from the title. […]

Perugino - altarpiece-of-st-augustine-scene-john-the-tufer-and-the-st-augustine-1510_Fotor

This week sees the publication of  Religion, Security, and Global Uncertainties a report by a Research Councils UK/Global Uncertainties team on Religion, Martyrdom, and Global Uncertainties sponsored by the Open University and the Research Councils UK Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research. I’ve had the good fortune to play a small part in the project, and an earlier […]


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