How the "New Testament" Shaped Deaf People at St Saviour’s, Oxford Street: A Study in Reception History and in Reception Exegesis

William John Lyons


Within the burgeoning area of the Bible's reception history is a variant approach, termed "reception exegesis" by Paul Joyce and Diana Lipton. Investigation of an occasion of reception can generate new insights into the meaning of the biblical texts, they suggest. Introducing the results of a Leverhulme Trust Research Project on Britain’s first purpose-built deaf church to a scholarly readership interested in biblical reception, I show here how the New Testament—especially Mark 7:32–37—was used to construct the deaf people of Victorian London. Specific details of my argument will be compared with the Markan text as constructed by modern commentators in order to test Joyce and Lipton’s hypothesis. The article questions reception exegesis’s usefulness as a generator of long-term interest in biblical studies and proposes a different response to its difficulties, that biblical scholars dedicate themselves to developing a broad conception of reception history in order to generate collaborations across disciplinary boundaries while they are still in a position to do so.

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