Can new art reimagine the biblical Paul?

A newly launched project entitled ‘Reimagining Paul’ is inviting artists to reimagine the biblical Paul as mother, enslaved, disabled and scarred, for a commission of up to £10k.

St. Paul coin

The project intends to inspire fresh imaginings of the apostle within the contested area of  religion and gender in the form of newly commissioned art. It is planned that the work will tour  several cathedrals later this year in the form of an exhibition, inspiring dialogue on biblical texts  and their relationship to contemporary conversations about gender. 

Grace Emmett, Visiting Researcher at the Sheffield Centre for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (part of the University of Sheffield), said: 

"The ‘Reimagining Paul’ project is an exciting opportunity to visualise a familiar biblical  figure in unfamiliar ways. We’re used to seeing Paul depicted in certain modes— convert, letter-writer, preacher—but I’m fascinated to see how our perspective on Paul  and his letters might change if we draw inspiration from texts not commonly subject to  artistic imagination." 

‘Reimagining Paul’ will create an exchange of ideas between the artist, experts in biblical  criticism, and the general public who will be invited to give their own opinions and views on  Paul. The project description can be found here. 

Jeremy Clines, coordinating chaplain at the University of Sheffield’s Chaplaincy Centre said: 

"We’re delighted that the university’s Sir Henry Stephenson Trust has funded a radical  and daring project that will help broaden and deepen the conversation about an  important figure in both Jewish and Christian narratives. Grace’s project will carefully  open up new conversations and different ideas for interpreting Paul as someone whose  letters continue to be central to debates about gender in contemporary Christian communities."

Proposals for the project are being accepted for artwork in any medium, and applicants do not  need to be particularly familiar with Paul’s letters, nor espouse any particular faith or belief  identity. The deadline for submissions is 11th March, and the full call for proposals can be found here. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Grace Emmett before the  deadline on to discuss their initial proposal. 

Additional information: 

- The full title of the project is: Reimagining Paul: Apostolic Portraits of Masculinity. - Sheffield Centre for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SCIBS) is based in the Faculty of  Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield. 

- For a conversation about the project, contact Grace Emmett on email

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