Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Gloucestershire
Unit of AssessmentTheology and Religious Studies
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies
Summary of the impact
Lincoln's research treats historical, literary, theological and
hermeneutical issues in New Testament studies. Aiming to be accessible in
its presentation, it has an impact throughout the English-speaking world
on leaders in churches, teachers and sixth formers in schools and a broad
audience interested in the interpretation of the Bible. In particular, it
has contributed to bridging the gap between academic biblical studies and
popular understanding in the church and society, as readers turn to his
work on New Testament texts and issues to find ways to integrate the
challenges of critical reading with an appreciation of the contemporary
significance of the Bible for theological thinking and the religious
Lincoln was appointed as Professor here in 1999. Four main areas
of his work since then have been selected as generating broader impact.
The first is the Gospel of John, on which he has written a major
monograph, Truth on Trial (research for which began elsewhere but
the writing of which was completed in 2000 after his move to the
University of Gloucestershire), a major commentary, The Gospel
according to St. John (2005), and a number of journal articles and
essays. These have established him as one of the foremost international
scholars on the Gospel of John and on issues such as its distinctiveness
in relation to the Synoptic Gospels, its historicity, its literary and
thematic structure, its place in early Christianity and relation to Second
Temple Judaism, its influential Christology, and its ongoing role in
Jewish-Christian relationships and in shaping the Christian theological
A second major area of research has been the birth of Jesus. Here Lincoln
has written an essay on some of the critical and hermeneutical issues in
relating the New Testament to contemporary understandings of conception
and to the church's creeds (2007) and given papers that resulted in two
detailed journal articles on the interpretation of Matthew's and Luke's
annunciation accounts (2012; 2013). His work has involved investigation,
among other matters, of the genre of birth narratives, the diversity of
New Testament perspectives on the conception of Jesus, and ancient
understandings of procreation. He has undertaken further research and
given lectures on how and why the virginal conception tradition became the
dominant one in the period up to Augustine, how it came under scrutiny
from Schleiermacher onwards and what the implications of contemporary
notions of biology are for scriptural interpretation and Christology. Lincoln's
research, papers and public lectures in this area have now culminated in a
comprehensive monograph Born of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in the
Bible, Tradition and Theology (2013) published in the UK and the
A third area is the study of the letter to the Colossians, one of the
disputed later Pauline letters. Lincoln has explored questions
about the letter's pseudonymity, its relation to the thought of the
undisputed Paul, its cosmic Christology and the nature of the spiritual
wisdom it advocates for its readers and produced a substantial commentary,
"The Letter to the Colossians" (2000).
Finally, a further piece of underpinning research should be mentioned.
With an eye on present disputes in the Anglican Communion, the Church of
England's Council for Christian Unity commissioned Lincoln to
write a paper on the concept of koinonia or communion in Paul's
letters. Among the results of this work were a critique of the way in
which much ecumenical literature has appropriated the concept and a
proposal for a more adequate way of appealing to and interpreting the New
Testament material. This research was published as an article in the
peer-reviewed journal Ecclesiology (2009).
References to the research
Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000).
"The Letter to the Colossians" in ed. L. E. Keck, The New
Interpreter's Bible, Vol. XI (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000), 551-669.
The Gospel according to St. John (Black's New Testament
Commentaries; London: Continuum, 2005). [Responses to and discussions of
this commentary constituted the bulk of one issue of the Journal for
the Study of the New Testament- JSNT 29.3 (2007)]
"Born of a Virgin: Creedal Affirmation and Critical Reading," in eds. A.
Lincoln and A. Paddison, Christology and Scripture:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives (London: T. & T. Clark
International, 2007) 84-103.
"Communion: Some Pauline Foundations" Ecclesiology 5 (2009)
"Contested paternity and contested readings: Jesus' conception in Matthew
1.18-25" JSNT 34 (2012) 211 - 231.
"Luke and Jesus' Conception: A Case of Double Paternity?" Journal of
Biblical Literature 132 (2013) 639-58.
Details of the impact
Indicators of the impact and benefit of Lincoln's research in
these areas include invitations to lecture to those training for church
ministry, clergy, teachers and members of the general public,
recommendations to such groups by writers in journals and blogs about the
outstanding value of his work for responsible preaching and teaching and a
significant number of unsolicited emails from those who have employed his
work in preaching or appreciated its enhancement of their understanding.
Links to aspects of it also regularly feature on the text this week,
a lectionary and Scripture study resource, one of the most influential
Christian websites in the USA, generating two million hits a month mainly
from ministers and educators.
The Truth on Trial monograph generated email correspondence from
seminary students in the USA for whom it had been assigned as a set text,
enthusiastic recommendations on internet sites, and quotations being
reproduced in lectionary studies for preachers. It led to the invitation
to give the only New Testament paper at a February, 2012 conference on the
Divine Courtroom in Comparative Perspective at the Centre for Jewish Law
and Contemporary Civilization, Yeshiva University, New York, where the
sessions were open to rabbis, students and members of the public. The
commentary on John's Gospel has been made available electronically for a
wide international audience through Logos Bible Software and is
consistently listed in the top five commentaries. In a recent article The
Expository Times, a journal designed to keep clergy and laity
abreast of developments in theology and ministry, states, "Lincoln's
commentary ... is up-to-date, elegantly written and at times inspiring. It
must be regarded as one of the best single volume commentaries in English
currently available." Research on John resulted in a variety of
invitations to address audiences beyond academia. These include a week of
lectures at the Vacation Term for Biblical Study — a course for RE
teachers, clergy, lay readers and interested members of the general public
— at St. Anne's College, Oxford (July 2008); four addresses on "Life and
Death in the Gospel of John" to the West of England Ministerial Training
Course's residential Holy Week at Trinity College, Bristol (April 2009); 3
lectures and 2 workshops for German Baptist leaders in Hannover (October
2009); the annual lecture to churches in the diocese of Winchester in its
"Unlocking the Bible" series (November 2009), attended also by tutors and
students from the Southern Theological Educational and Training Scheme,
where the commentary was being used as a set text. It was also a set text
at Oak Hill Theological College, where Lincoln gave four lectures
on John (April 2009; November 2010). Essays arising from the research,
presented at conferences and subsequently published in conference
proceedings volumes, have been singled out by reviewers as of outstanding
value for pastors and teachers. His videos on John for A-Level students
have also been noted and recommended by bloggers on biblical studies.
Lincoln's commentary on Colossians is regularly listed as among
the best available and frequently recommended for its usefulness for
teaching and preaching; pastors have sent emails expressing appreciation
for its help; and extensive quotations from it have been used, for
example, as the basis for Bible study materials in Lutheran dioceses in
the USA and in sermons for Earth Sunday, 2009. It led to Lincoln
writing the material on Colossians for the Bible Reading Fellowship's Guidelines
series, which has a distribution of 10,000.
The gap between the academy and popular understanding of the Bible in
both church and society is particularly evident in the treatment of the
stories of Jesus' birth at Christmas. Lincoln proposes ways of
being critically honest about the nature of the texts while negotiating
creedal statements on the birth of Jesus in a contemporary context.
Various parts of the research were presented, for example, to an audience
of students, faculty, clergy and members of the public in the Ethel M.
Wood annual lecture on the English Bible at King's College, London (March,
2009) and to the general audience of the Vacation Term for Biblical
Studies in Oxford in five lectures (August, 2011). One of the clergy
present for the Oxford course later sent a copy of the sermon he had
preached on the Sunday before Christmas, incorporating insights from the
lectures. Lincoln's recent JBL article on Luke has led to his
being commissioned to write a more popular article in this area for the Biblical
Archaeological Review, a magazine with a worldwide subscription for
a broad general audience eager to understand the world of the Bible
better. His very recent book on the overall topic of the virgin birth has
already attracted enthusiastic attention from bloggers and others both
before and after its publication.
The implications of Lincoln's research on the concept of koinonia
in Paul's Letters were presented as a keynote address to the Porvoo
Conference (a consultation between the Church of England and the state
churches of Northern Europe) on Ethics and Communion (January, 2008). This
contribution received a favourable mention in a more popular article in
the Church Times, because of its relevance to present problems
within the Anglican Communion, and led to participation in the Church of
England's further consultation with the German State Lutheran Church under
the Meissen Agreement in Düsseldorf (November, 2008) on the topic of "The
Authority and Uses of the Bible in the Life of the Churches."
Sources to corroborate the impact
- For commentary and research on John:
F. J. Moloney "Recent Johannine
Studies: Part One: Commentaries," ExpTim 123 (2012) 313- 22
Reviews in Currents in Theology and Mission 36.4 (2009)
illustrates the statement about the impact of the essays on John. Of the
book The Gospel of John and Christian Theology the reviewer
says, ". . . several essays deserve special attention for their depth
and practicality. `The Lazarus Story: A Literary Perspective' by Andrew
Lincoln demonstrates the centrality of the raising of Lazarus in John's
Gospel. Readers get a feel for the entire Gospel in his astute literary
analysis. No better summary of the Gospel is found than in this
chapter... Pastors will read with much profit."
- For Truth on Trial: Readers' reviews at
- Videos for schools — http://philosvids.wordpress.com/category/john/
- For commentary on Colossians:
Dr. Nijay Gupta, Northeastern Seminary of Roberts Western College —
- Advance expectations of impact for book on birth of Jesus:
Robert Morgan, Linacre College, Oxford — "Lincoln's masterly
literary and historical analyses of the traditions relating to Jesus'
birth in the New Testament and beyond offer theological and
hermeneutical reflection at its best, and a model for maintaining a
responsible conversation between opposing views. On a subject where
some think there is little more to say, this book provides a
theological education in miniature."
Helen Bond, University of Edinburgh — "With an engaging blend of
sensitivity and erudition, Lincoln charts the rise to dominance of the
`virgin birth' — despite other New Testament accounts of Jesus'
origins — and shows how recent biblical scholarship, biology and
worldviews demand a reappraisal of the tradition for the modern
Church. This masterly study will provide essential reading for
confessing Christians who struggle with accepting the historicity of
the virginal conception. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
"... a wonderful forthcoming book by Andrew Lincoln that deals
spectacularly well with this topic: Born
of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, Tradition, and
Theology. I expect it to be for our generation what Raymond
Birth of the Messiah was for the previous one."
indicates why this is a timely issue for Christians today, citing an
extended passage from the book.