Richard Britton

Richard Britton
Research Scholar
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Richard Britton is a theologian who uses critical theory, philosophy, and ancient literature to unlock the meaning of religious texts to connect the hearers from then to now He places sacred and theological texts alongside those from other genres from the high literary to the ancient letter, shopping list or farming notes. He looks at the semiotic ranges of key words and how they would be understood by the everyday person, from the high culture to the seemingly mundane. He uses deconstruction theory to explore the intertextual chemistry, and then places this in the context of philosophical approaches. Richard specialised in New Testament and Pauline studies but has explored beyond. His theoretical core is Saussure, Barthes and Derrida but he retains exegetical and hermeneutical principles in his work.

The title of Richard’s doctoral thesis is What is Gained? Economic and Olive Grafting Metaphor in Romans 4 and 11. This examined the metaphor of accounting, gift and olive tree grafting and its relationship to the role of the believer. It was supervised by Professor Peter Oakes and Professor Jeremy Tambling and examined by Dr Michael Hoelzl and Dr Ward Blanton. Alongside this work he has written a lot on Pauline and other New Testament theology, including Galatians, Hebrews and the gospels. Much of his work focuses at word level, playing with the semantic potentialities using an interdisciplinary methodology he has designed from Derridean deconstruction called the Usure-Retrait Method (URM). URM helps the analyst access the unconscious and subliminal senses of words that are subtracted and supposed conscious ones enforced due to flawed Ricouerean “dead metaphor” proposal and the pervasive cognitive linguistics.

Richard challenges the boundaries between cultures, traditions and religions. Just as there is no visible line between his town and another, neither is there between Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Buddhism beyond a given definition. Instead there is a tension between iterability and alterity. Richard seeks to show how diverse texts, ideas and traditions inform each other and loves to find patterns, paradox and exchanges and consider what they could mean. For instance, he examines the Stoic and Buddhistic traces in Paul. There he finds a deconstruction theology already present in these epistles in which presupposed wisdom is questioned, making way for faith as a collaboration between insight and imagination. He has examined contemporary religious extremism and how everyday notions of absolute truth feed into it. As an undergraduate Richard studied literature and has delivered papers on the poetry of John Ruskin and Edgar Allen Poe amongst others. In short, Richard’s theology values the literary and philosophical disciplines to contextualise religion, texts and traditions.

As a civil servant Richard uses his skills developed in academic study, such as critique and analysis, to enhance his assessment. He is combining his research on extremism with his criminological study to inform another strand of his interdisciplinary work. Richard is an experienced teacher, lecturer and preacher. He is an ordained elder of the United Reformed Church and as a lay preacher there he crafts his sermons not only for worship but psychosocial therapy. Another interest is the relationship between the New Testament and Qur’an. Richard continues to research and write and is available to engage in the traditional scholarly capacity as well as to provide commentary and exposition for a range of different mediums.

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Theology, New Testament, Critical Theory, Philosophy