Cherryl Hunt

Department: Theology and Religion
Discipline: Theology and Religion
Research Centre/Unit: EXCEPT (Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology)

Project Summary

My PhD research project involved analysis of, and theological reflection upon, responses to a pilot programme designed to promote biblical engagement by ordinary Christians in churches. This programme, called ‘Pathfinder’ was devised and run by Bible Society in response to research findings that suggested that Bible reading and engagement is in decline within British churches. My fieldwork involved the use of questionnaires and focus groups of those following the programme in seven churches of different denominations, supplemented with one-to-one semi-structured interviews of individual participants.

A number of general observations emerged from the fieldwork, including the importance of accessibility of language and concepts and the necessity of organising any such programme holistically, rather than merely assembling a collection of individual resources. However, I chose to reflect upon three specific issues which were found in my data:

  1. the importance of audio-visual resources: the ways in which they articulated the texts and the contexts  in which they might be fruitfully deployed within a larger programme.
  2. the generation of a multiplicity of different readings when a group of Christians encountered their scriptures together, and the value of different articulations of the biblical texts
  3. the tensions expressed by the programme participants between what they perceived as ‘intellectual’ or ‘head’-oriented resources and those seen as sponsoring a ‘spiritual’ or ‘heart’-directed approach to the texts.

Consideration of theological resources and sources relevant to these three issues has led me to propose some principles for the design of a programme aimed to promote biblical engagement by ordinary Christians i.e. those not trained in academic theology or biblical scholarship.

Having completed my PhD I am now working on writing some papers to publish my findings. (Details of those already published are below.) See also here and  here.

At the same time I am pursuing research funded by a seedcorn grant by Durham University's Common Awards Research Network . This project will examine the impact of embarking on academic study of the Bible upon individuals' devotional practices, particularly their approaches towards their sacred texts.

October 2017

Supervisory Team

My doctoral research was supervised by Dr Louise Lawrence of the University of Exeter and Prof. Mike Higton of Durham University.

Wider Research Interests

My background in biological sciences gives me a keen interest in issues regarding science and faith, especially those concerning evolution, the debate on the status of the very early human embryo, and Christian approaches to environmental ethics. The latter led to my participation in the Uses of the Bible in Environmental Ethics project which also involved my ongoing interest in the theology of Paul, the Apostle. I also very much enjoy teaching on 'student selected units' for medical students, on religious approaches to early human life and on transhumanism.

Authored Publications/Reports

() My previous publications are listed under CV/Professional Research experience

Hunt, Cherryl (28th September 2018) Be Ye Speakers of, and Listeners to, the Word: The Promotion of Biblical Engagement through Encountering the Scriptures Read Aloud, The Expository Times, 129 (4), 149-57

Hunt, Cherryl (1st January 2018) Seeing the Light: Ordinary Christians Encountering the Bible through video, The Expository Times, 129 (7), 307-316

Hunt, Cherryl (2019) People of the Book? Responses to the Bible as ‘Big Story’ or ‘Drama’, Expository Times, 130 (8), 337-44