I joined the University of Sheffield in 2013 as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow. In 2016, I started in the Department of History, teaching Ancient Near Eastern History and Literature.
My doctorate is from the University of Oxford in 2011. The monograph emerging from my thesis was awarded the Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise in 2015.
I study the history, literature, and cultures of the ancient Near East (the area now known as the Middle East) with a specialization in ancient Israel and Judah, the two societies that produced the texts known widely as the Old Testament. My approach employs the study of migration to reconstruct ancient history and to interpret ancient texts. I’m especially interested in how involuntary migration—people fleeing environmental disasters, war, or persecution in various forms—influences the ways groups construct their history, tell those stories, and respond to the other cultures they meet in their movements.
My research focuses on how the experience of involuntary migration influences the development of ethnic, national, and religious identity. For instance, consider this summary of the main characters in the book of Genesis: Abraham migrates to Canaan, where environmental factors (famine, Gen 12) force him to migrate to Egypt; Isaac, born to Abraham in his old age, assimilates into the local culture to the extent that he will not leave it even when an environmental disaster strikes (again famine, Gen 26) even though he must drift around to survive; Jacob grows up in Canaan, but spends his early adulthood seeking asylum in Mesopotamia to avoid the aggression of his brother Esau, where he remains a refugee for 20 years (Gen 31); Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons, becomes a victim of human trafficking, sold into slavery in Egypt (Gen 37).
This is an atypical summary of the patriarchal narrative. It nevertheless reflects the concerns of the text and underscores how inextricably Gen 12–50 is linked with the migratory experience, specifically involuntary migration, and how deeply that shapes ancient Israelite and Judahite identity. I am, therefore, developing a fresh approach to interpreting these texts and to analaysing where and when they were written, which will be the focus of a monograph entitled Get Thee Out of Thy Country: Involuntary Migration and the Development of the Ancestral Narrative (Gen 12–50).
I am keen to supervise postgraduate students working in History or through the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. Students with interests in the political, social and cultural history of ancient Israel and Judah—particularly those exploring the impact of migration on these societies and their texts——the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, and the relationship between the visual arts and the Bible are welcome to be in touch with me.
- Young Gil Lee
- Mohammed Alruwaili
All current students by supervisor | PhD study in History| PhD student in the Sheffield Institute for Biblical Studies
Books and Monographs
|Sworn Enemies: The Divine Oath, the Book of Ezekiel, and the Polemics of Exile. Walter de Gruyter, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 436, 2013.
Sworn Enemies: The Divine Oath, the Book of Ezekiel, and the Polemics of Exile. Walter de Gruyter, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 436, 2013.
Sworn Enemies explains how the book of Ezekiel uses formulaic language from the exodus origin tradition – especially YHWH’s oath – to craft an identity for the Judahite exiles. This language openly refutes an autochthonous origin tradition preferred by the non-exiled Judahites while covertly challenging Babylonian claims that YHWH was no longer worthy of worship. After specifying the layers of meaning in the divine oath, the book shows how Ezekiel uses these connotations to construct an explicit, public transcript that denies and mocks the non-exiles’ appeals to a combined Abraham and Jacob tradition (e.g. Ezek 35). Simultaneously, Ezekiel employs the oath’s exodus connotations to support a disguised polemic that resists Babylonian claims that YHWH was powerless to help the exiles. When YHWH swears “as I live” the text goes on to implicitly replace Marduk with YHWH as the deity who controls nations and history (e.g. Ezek 17). Ezekiel, thus, shares the “monotheistic” concepts found in Deutero-Isaiah and elsewhere. Finally, using James C. Scott’s concept of hidden transcripts, the author shows how both polemics cooperate to define a legitimate Judahite nationalism and faithful Yahwism that allows the exiles to resist these threatening “others”
Winner of Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise
|When the Son of Man Didn’t Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia, in collaboration with C. M. Hays, B. Gallaher, J. Konstantinovsky, and R. Ounsworth. Fortress Press, 2016.
When the Son of Man Didn’t Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia, in collaboration with C. M. Hays, B. Gallaher, J. Konstantinovsky, and R. Ounsworth. Fortress Press, 2016.
The delay of the Parousia—the second coming of Christ—has vexed Christians since the final decades of the first century. This volume offers a critical, constructive, and interdisciplinary solution to that dilemma. The argument is grounded in Christian tradition while remaining fully engaged with the critical insights and methodological approaches of twenty-first-century scholars. The authors argue that the deferral of Christ’s prophesied return follows logically from the conditional nature of ancient predictive prophecy: Jesus has not come again because God’s people have not yet responded sufficiently to Christ’s call for holy and godly action. God, in patient mercy, remains committed to cooperating with humans to bring about the consummation of history with Jesus’ return.
Collaboratively written by an interdisciplinary and ecumenical team of scholars, the argument draws on expertise in biblical studies, systematics, and historical theology to fuse critical biblical exegesis with a powerful theological paradigm that generates an apophatic and constructive Christian eschatology. The authors, however, have done more than tackle a daunting theological problem: as the group traverses issues from higher criticism through doctrine and into liturgy and ethics, they present an innovative approach for how to do Christian theology in the twenty-first-century academy.
Selected Journal Articles and Essays
‘Your Name Shall No Longer Be Jacob, but Refugee: Insights into Gen 25:19–33:20 from Involuntary Migration Studies’ pp. 51-69 in C. Strine, T. Klutz, and J. Keady (eds) Scripture in Social Discourse: Social Scientific Perspectives on Early Jewish and Christian Writings. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018
“Sister Save Us: The Matriarchs as Breadwinners and Their Threat to Patriarchy,” in M. Halvorson-Taylor and K. Southwood (eds) Women and Exile. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, forthcoming 2016.
“On the Compositions Models for Ezekiel 38–39: A Response to William Tooman’s Gog of Magog.” Vetus Testamentum, forthcoming.
“Chaoskampf Against Empire: YHWH’s Battle Against Gog (Ezek 38–39) As Resistance Literature,” pp. 87-108 in A. Lenzi and J. Stökl (eds.), Divination, Politics and Ancient Near Eastern Empires. Ancient Near Eastern Monographs, Society of Biblical Literature, 2014.
“The Ritual Body in Ezekiel 37,” pp. 41-57 in J. E. Taylor (ed.), The Body as Cultural Entity in Biblical, Early Christian and Jewish Texts. T & T Clark, Library of Second Temple Studies 85, 2014.
“Ezekiel’s Image Problem: The Mesopotamian Cult Statue Induction Ritual and the Imago Dei Anthropology in the Book of Ezekiel.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 76:2 (2014): 252-72.
“Yhwh’s Battle Against Chaos in the Book of Ezekiel,” co-authored with C. L. Crouch. Journal of Biblical Literature 132:4 (2013): 883-903.
“The Role of Repentance in the Book of Ezekiel: A Second Chance for the Second Generation.” The Journal of Theological Studies 63:2 (2012): 476-91.
|Life Worth Living (level 1)
What does it mean for a life to go well? What would it look like for a live to be lived well? In short, what shape would a life worth living take? We will explore these questions through engagement with the lives and visions of founding figures from six diverse traditions that imagine a good life: Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the work of Karl Marx. The module will feature lectures on the various traditions, seminars on their central texts, and visits from contemporary individuals who understand their lives to be shaped by the traditions in question. Module assessments are designed to help students develop their own vision of a life worth living.
This module is based upon the Yale University course Life Worth Living. Casey will be teaching the class at Sheffield as part of a partnership with Yale.
|Epics and Myths from the Ancient World (level 1)
This module examines epics and myths from ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, Israelite, and Greek culture under three themes: creation and order; epic journeys; suffering and meaning. The module explores interpretative issues in each text and examines their relationship to religion, politics, ethics, and economics.
This unit aims to teach students a basic knowledge of 1st millennium BCE history, to provide them an introduction to the genre and function of myth and epic in the ancient world, to appreciate the role(s) of literature in ancient society, to develop their critical reading and thinking skills, to introduce them to a range of exegetical methods, to examine how stories function as entertainment, didactic tools, and mechanisms of power simultaneously.
The assessments will develop students’ ability to structure and write a persuasive essay and give them transferable skills useful in other modules and in whatever career they pursue after university. In addition, this module considers how and why themes and images from these ancient texts continue to be adopted and adapted by contemporary artists, filmmakers, and musicians, among others. Students explore this ‘afterlife’ (academics like to say reception history) by creating their own artefact: an image, a series of photos, or even a piece of music that adopts and adapts images from one or more of our ancient texts to engage with contemporary issues related to one of our three themes.
|The Ten Commandments (level 2)
This module examines the Ten Commandments, perhaps the most well known `legal’ code in the world. Through the close study of key primary sources from the Hebrew Bible and the cultures that informed its writing, all readily available in modern English translation, the module explores the ancient Near Eastern context for these commands, the four texts in the Hebrew Bible that might be given the name Ten Commandments, and the role these texts played in the political, social, economic, and ethical aspects of ancient life.
|Forced Into Being: How Involuntary Migration Created Ancient Israel (level 3 special subject)
Religious conflict and migration shape the Middle East now, just as they have for nearly 3000 years. Case in point: ancient Israel and its sacred texts—known widely as the Old Testament—are the product of a rather small satellite nation whose primary experiences included subjugation by larger military powers, resistance against the potential influence of foreign religious practices, and forced migration from its land that resulted in life among unfamiliar peoples. Indeed, the Old Testament is a collection of texts written by involuntary migrants to involuntary migrants, often about involuntary migration. This special subject examines how the migratory experiences of this relatively small society shaped some of the most important religious texts in history—which are sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and remain influential factors in the international conflicts of the 21st century Middle East.
Back Where You Came From
Casey leads a socially engaged project in which asylum seekers and refugees read and discuss texts from the Book of Genesis dealing with involuntary migration in order to inform art making (monoprints, ceramic vessels) expressing their interpretation of and reaction to these stories.
He co-curated with Emilie Taylor the ‘Back Where You Came From’ Exhibition, hosted in The Gallery @ 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield, during Refugee Week 2015.
What Does the Bible Say about Migration?
Casey has written for the British Bible Society on the topic of the Bible and migration, including a recent article titled ‘More than Neighbours? The Old Testament as a Resource for Thinking about Migration’.
Casey will be hosting and participating in a discussion with documentary photographer Alison Baskerville as she speaks about and shows her work on this topic. They will be joined by journalist Issa Awdat, who has first hand experience of the conflict in Syria and the effect on its people.
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