Sacred Texts and their Reception

Reading Egyptian

From the Bible to the Koran, from China to Wales, and from the libraries of Ancient Egypt to the use of cyberspace in the present day, our research investigates how sacred texts (and images) and the messages they convey were transmitted to, and received by, their textual communities.

International research projects and publications relating to the preservation, transmission and interpretation of sacred texts include work on:

  • The libraries and archives of Ancient Egypt;
  • The reception of Jewish scripture and tradition in the Gospel of John;
  • Transcribing, editing and translating Middle Welsh and English religious and hagiographical texts;
  • Religious orders, manuscript production and the social, cultural and economic development of medieval monastic houses;
  • Chinese sectarian scriptures from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries;
  • Nonconformist history and theology;
  • The interface between history, theology and creative literature;
  • The interaction of Islam, politics and the internet.

Research Activities

2018 T. Klutz, C. Strine & Jessica Keady (eds) Scripture as Social Discourse: Social-Scientific Perspectives on Early Jewish and Christian Writings. London: Bllomsbury.

2018 D. Prees (trans) & Harriett Webster (ed.). The Annals of Dunstan Priory. Boydell.

2018 Gary Bunt How Cyber-Islamic Environments Are Transforming Religious Authority. University of North Carolina Press.

2017 Jane Cartwright, ‘The Cult of Saints in Wales’ AHRC-funded research project- transcriptions, editions and translations of Buchedd Gwenfrewy/The Life of Gwenfrewy, Buchedd Ieuan Gwas Padrig/ The Life of St Ieuan Gwas Padrig, Buchedd Mair Fadlen/The Life of Mary Magdalene, Buchedd Martha/ The Life of Martha, Buchedd Margred/The Life of St Margaret of Antioch, Hystoria Gweryddon yr Almaen/The Life of St Ursula, Website hosted by the National Library of Wales

2017 Jessica Keady Vulnerability and Valour: A Gendered Analysis of Everyday Life in the Dead Sea Scrolls Communities. London@ Bloomsbury.

2017 Harriet Webster (ed. and trans.), ‘The miracle of the resuscitation of the twice-hanged William Cragh’ available online at and currently being turned into a critical edition and translation for Boydell Medieval Texts

2016 Gary Bunt, ‘Is it possible to have a ‘religious experience’ in cyberspace?’, chapter in Bettina E. Schmidt (editor), The Study of Religious Experience, (Sheffield: Equinox Publishing)

2016 Gary Bunt, Entry on 'Islam and Social Media', for the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, (editor: Richard C. Martin (Gale)

2016 Jane Cartwright (ed.), The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press)

2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘(Not) Seeing God in the Prologue and Body of John’s Gospel’, in Jan G. van der Watt, R. Alan Culpepper, and Udo Schnelle (eds), The Prologue of the Gospel of John: Its Literary, Theological, and Philosophical Contexts. Papers Read at the Colloquium Ioanneum 2013 (WUNT 359; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), 79-98.

2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘Text and Experience: Reflections on “Seeing” in the Gospel of John’, in B. Schmidt (ed.), The Study of Religious Experience (London: Equinox), 135-50.

2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘(Not) Seeing God in the Prologue and Body of John’s Gospel’, in Jan G. van der Watt, R. Alan Culpepper, and Udo Schnelle (eds.), The Prologue of the Gospel of John: Its Literary, Theological, and Philosophical Contexts. Papers Read at the Colloquium Ioanneum 2013 (WUNT 359; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck), 79-98.

2015 Gary Bunt, ‘Decoding the Hajj in Cyberspace’ in Eric Taglicozzo and Shawkat M. Toorawa (editors) The Hajj: Pilgrimage in Islam.  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

2015 Janet Burton and Karen Stöber, Abbeys and Priories of Medieval Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press)

2015 Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (ed.), Women in the Medieval Monastic World (Turnhout: Brepols)

2015 Janet Burton , P. Schofield and B. Weiler (ed.), Thirteenth Century England XV: Authority and Resistance in the Age of Magna Carta (Woodbridge: Boydell)

2015 Harriet Webster, ‘Mediating Memory: Recalling and recording the miracles of St Thomas de Cantilupe’, in H. Webster and C. A. Clarke (eds.), Journal of Medieval History.

2015 Catrin H. Williams, ‘Another Look at “Lifting Up” in the Gospel of John’, in J.G. McConville and L.K. Pietersen (eds.), Conception, Reception, and the Spirit: Essays in Honor of Andrew T. Lincoln (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2015), 58-70.

2014 Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen, John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow: Authority and Autonomy at the End of the Antique World (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing)

2014 Thomas Jansen, ‘Sectarian Responses to Foreign Presence in China in the Nineteenth Century: The Wanbao baojuan 萬寳寶卷 (1858) and other examples’, in T. Jansen, Thoralf Klein and Christian Meyer (eds.), Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present (Boston: Brill, 2014), 115-35.

2014 Catrin H. Williams, I am He: The Interpretation of ’Anî Hû’ in Jewish and Early Christian Literature (WUNT II: 113; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000).

2013 Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (eds) Monastic Wales: New Approaches (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press).

2013 Jane Cartwright, Mary Magdalene and her Sister Martha: An Edition and Translation of the Medieval Welsh Lives (Washington: Catholic University of America Press), 146 pp. + 1 Plate, Winner of the Vernam Hull Memorial Prize 2014.

2013 Catrin H. Williams and Tom Thatcher (eds) Engaging with CH Dodd on the Gospel of John: Sixty Years of Tradition and Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

2013 Catrin H. Williams and Christopher Rowland (eds), John’s Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic (London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark).  

2012 Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen, “They Who Give From Evil”; the Response of the Eastern Church to Moneylending in the Early Christian Era. (Cambridge: James Clarke an Co.).

2011 Janet Burton and Julie Kerr (eds), The Cistercians in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)

2011 Gary Bunt, iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam (Editions: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. London: C. Hurst & Co. Kuala Lumpur, The Other Place. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press). 358pp. Arabic translation: (Cairo: Sutour Press)

2006 Janet Burton (ed. and trans.), The Foundation History of the Abbeys of Byland and Jervaulx (York: University of York Press)

2006 Janet Burton and Emilia Jamroziak (eds) Religious and Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400: interaction, negotiation and power (Turnhout: Brepols)

2008 Janet Burton and Karen Stöber (eds), Monasteries and Society in the British Isles in the Late Middle Ages (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)

2008 Jane Cartwright, Feminine Sanctity and Spirituality in Medieval Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2008), xv, 301pp. + 25 Plates

2003 Jane Cartwright (ed.), Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), vi + 339pp + 12 Plates

2003 Gary Bunt, Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environments, (London: Pluto Books, 2003/New York: Macmillan, 2003) Turkish edition: 'Dijital Çajda Islam: E-Cihad, Online Fetvalar ve Siber Islami Çevreler', (trans. Nil Erdogan), (Istanbul: Babil Yayınları, 2007)

2004 Janet Burton (ed.), The Cartulary of Byland Abbey (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)

2002 Catrin H. Williams, Llyfr Datguddiad (Caernarfon: Gwasg Pantycelyn).

2001 Gary Bunt, The Good Web Guide to World Religions, (London: The Good Web Guide), 160pp.

2000 Gary Bunt, Virtually Islamic: Computer-Mediated Communication and Cyber-Islamic Environments, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, /Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2002/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) 190pp.

1999 Janet Burton, The Monastic Order in Yorkshire, 1069-1215 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

1999 Jane Cartwright, Y Forwyn Fair, Santesau a Lleianod: Agweddau ar Wyryfdod a Diweirdeb yng Nghymru’r Oesoedd Canol (Cardiff: University of Wales Press)

1998 Janet Burton, The Estates and Economy of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire (Citeaux: van Nazareth)

Our ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research is reflected by the various papers presented by colleagues in conferences and public lectures at academic institutions both in the UK and overseas.

February 2017 Jane Cartwright, The Lampeter Society Lecture ‘The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins’, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David.

February 2017 Catrin H. Williams, ‘John’s Christology and Catchword Links’, New Testament Seminar, University of Cambridge.

November 2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘Jeremiah and Jesus: (The) Signs of a Suffering Prophet’, Writing/Reading Jeremiah: Intertextual Readings of Jeremiah Beyond the Hebrew Bible, Society of Biblical Literature, San Antonio, Texas.

October 2016 Janet Burton, ‘The Monastic Wales Project’, at ‘Where is the History of Religious Orders Going?’ International Workshop, Technische Universität, Dresden.

September 2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘The Reception of the Book of Revelation in the Celtic Countries: Wales’, British New Testament Society.

September 2016 Catrin H. Williams ‘The Future of New Testament Studies in the United Kingdom’, Plenary Presentation, British New Testament Society.

June 2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘Johannine Christology and Prophetic Traditions’, Jesus the Jew: John’s Gospel as a Form of Jewish Messianism, Enoch Seminar: Camaldoli, Italy.

July 2016 Gary Bunt, Conference Convener: BRISMES Annual Conference 2016 Networks. 'Connecting the Middle East through Time, Space and Cyberspace.'

July 2016 Gary Bunt, 'Interpreting Networks in Cyberspace: the ‘Fatwa Machine’ and Religious Authority Online'  as part of the 'Security, Activism and Mobilisation in Cyberspace' panel. University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter. 

July 2016 Jane Cartwright, ‘The Cult of Saints in Wales with special reference to St Ursula’, University of Marburg, Germany, invited guest speaker.

July 2016 Jane Cartwright organised session consisting of three papers on ‘Saints in Wales’, including delivery of a paper on ‘Saints in Wales: editing the Middle Welsh prose Lives’, chaired by Janet Burton, Leeds International Congress.

July 2016 Harriet Webster, ‘’MonkBook': Towards an understanding of social networking in medieval monastic orders', International Medieval Congress, Leeds University.

June 2016 Jane Cartwright, ‘Buchedd Gwenfrewy: the Middle Welsh Life of St Winefride’, Church of St James and Winefride’s Well, Holywell, AHRC project open day.

May 2016 Janet Burton, ‘Serving Two Masters? Cistercian abbeys in conquered Wales’, at ‘Monasteries, Convergences, Exchanges, and Confrontations in the West of Europe in the Middle Ages’, University of Toronto.

March 2016 Gary Bunt, Invited Paper:  'Jihad: Between Theory and Practice' Conference. 'E-Jihad 2.0: The Evolution of Jihad in Cyberspace.' University of Leiden.

March 2016 Catrin H. Williams, ‘John’s Gospel and Catchword Associations’, British New Testament Society: The Use of the OT in the NT, Hawarden Seminar.

November 2015 Janet Burton, ‘The Cistercian Monasteries of Wales and the Papacy, post Lateran IV’, at Concilium Lateranense IV, Rome.

November 2015 Jane Cartwright, ‘Mair Fadlen a’r Bucheddau Cymraeg’ (Mary Magdalene and the Welsh Lives), Church of St Illtud, Llanilltud Fawr, AHRC project open day.

November 2015 Catrin H. Williams, ‘John, Judaism, and “Searching the Scriptures”’, Mercer Conference on John and Judaism, Atlanta, Georgia.

September 2015 Catrin H. Williams, ‘The Voice in the Wilderness and the Way of the Lord’, Colloquium Ioanneum, Ephesus, Turkey, September 2015.

August 2015 Janet Burton, ‘Tensions in a Border Abbey: Strata Marcella, its patrons, friends and, enemies’, at ‘Monastic Europe: landscape and settlement’, Ennis.

July 2015 Harriet Webster, ‘Giant Teeth and Green Children: The Marvellous in the Chronicon Anglicanum, International Medieval Congress, Leeds University.

June 2015 Janet Burton, ‘King John and the Cistercians’, at AHRC conference on ‘King John and Magna Carta’.

May 2015 Gary Bunt, Programme Committee member and Workshop participant: ‘Religion on Social Media’. The Ninth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM), University of Oxford.

April 2015 Gary Bunt, Keynote paper: ‘Relocating Middle East Studies’ Conference. ‘Interpreting Cyber Islamic Environments'. American University in Dubai/British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Dubai.

November 2014 Janet Burton, ‘The Augustinians in England and Wales’, at ‘The Augustinian Canons in Britain: architecture, archaeology, and liturgy 1100-1540’, Oxford Department of Continuing Education.

November 2014 Catrin H. Williams, ‘John and Jewish Apocalyptic: Recent Trends and New Possibilities’, Society of Biblical Literature, San Diego.

September 2014 Gary Bunt, ‘Muslims Negotiating Modernities’ Conference. 'Islam, Social Media and the Cloud.' Vanderbilt University, Nashville. September 2014.

August 2014 Gary Bunt, Workshop (convener and presenter): International Society for Media, Religion and Culture, International Conference. University of Canterbury. ‘Islam, Social Media and the Cloud.’

July 2014 Janet Burton, ‘Conflict and Authority at Strata Florida Abbey’, Leeds International Medieval Congress.

July 2014 Harriet Webster, ‘Digital Perspectives: Re-imagining Narratives’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds University.

May 2014 Janet Burton, ‘Monastic Wales’, at ‘Culture Encounters on the Medieval March of Wales’: St John’s College, Oxford.

May 2014 Janet Burton, Keynote lecture, ‘The Cistercians in Wales and on the Welsh Border’, at conference organized by the ‘Ancient Abbeys of Brittany Project’, York University (Toronto) and the University of Toronto.

May 2014 Harriet Webster, ‘City Witness: Linking Medieval and Modern Swansea’, CUIVC 2014: Beyond Engagement: Creating Integration, Innovation and Impact, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

April 2014 Harriet Webster, ‘Viking Swansea: City Witness’ findings’, Viking Swansea: Fact or Fiction, Swansea University.

We work hard to engage audiences not only from our student body and the wider public with our research. Examples of our impact include:

Monastic Wales

This project aims to disseminate knowledge about the medieval monasteries of Wales to a wider public, through our website, a series of public lectures, workshops, tours and talks to local history societies, as well as a book aimed at the general reader, commissioned by the University of Wales Press. Specifically, we aim to encourage visitors to specific sites, both through the website.

Saints in Wales

This major AHRC-funded project aims to make available to as wide an audience as possible editions and translations of a vast corpus of Welsh texts related to saints (including poetry, prose Lives and genealogies).

The project, based at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies with Co-Investigators at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and King’s College London, sheds light on the traditions of many native Welsh saints as well as the Welsh texts associated with universal Christian saints.

As well as conferences at the National Library of Wales (2013 and 2017), and Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen (2014), a series of public talks and open days have encouraged people to find out more about their local saints at various churches and cathedrals across Wales including Llanilltud Fawr (2015), Bangor Cathedral (2015), St Davids Cathedral (2016), Holywell (2016) and Llanbadarn Fawr (2017).

A public exhibition entitled The Stories of the Saints at the National Library of Wales 18 February-10 June 2017 displayed the original medieval and early modern manuscripts used as part of the project, as well as visual imagery depicting the saints. The exhibition demonstrates the survival of medieval traditions about the holy men and women who represent an important part of Wales’s cultural and religious inheritance.

Many of the public talks are available on the project’s website and the project has enabled the National Library of Wales to provide high quality images of many of the manuscripts containing the hagiographical writings or sacred texts associated with saints.

Our research is embedded in our teaching, giving students the opportunity to reflect upon the production, use and transmission of religious texts and traditions, as well as the historical, cultural, theological and political importance of sacred texts in modules such as:

  • Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults
  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Political Islam
  • Religions in Antiquity
  • The Bible: Text and Transmission
  • The Female Saints of Wales
  • The Modern Middle East: Religion Culture and Politics


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