Interview: Luke Irwin


Durham University

Areas of Interest/Research:

Divine Transcendence, The Gospel of John, Invisibility, Philosophy of Place

What is it about your field that you love researching?

I’m fascinated with the congruencies and incongruencies in the NT and Hebrew Bible’s portrayals of God.  

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

God can be fully present in heaven and on earth at the same time.    

What is your current research about?

My thesis is on the relationship between seeing God and belief in Jesus in John. 

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

I have a huge amount of respect for my supervisor, Dr Jane Heath. I admire her commitment to mastering whatever research she undertakes, her wide-ranging theological and philosophical imagination, and her knowledge of primary texts. Likewise, I respect her unswerving insistence on clarity and structure. I also love J.E. Malpas for his erudite philosophy of place and his ability to navigate and apply Analytic and Continental thought. 

What books have been formative for you in your study? Why were they so important? How did they shape you?

The Birth of the Symbol by Peter Struck. Symbols have a rich and ancient history – one rooted in materiality and presence. 

Place and Experience by J.E. Malpas. Place defines experience, appearance, space, and time. 

The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel by Benjamin Sommer. God can have a body. 

Do you have any publications we can showcase?

Working on it!

Where can we follow you online?

I fear I am becoming a Luddite more each day, and I am increasingly not ashamed to admit it. I gave up my smart phone and most social media several years ago. You can mail letters to:

Luke Irwin, Abbey House, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RS, England

If we ran into you at SBL/AAR and you didn’t want to talk about your field what would you want to talk about?

I’ve developed an embarrassing love of fountain pens during my research. I find a lot of solace in novels (anything from the New Weird sci-fi authors to Proust and Austin).  

Other than your thesis, what research/writing project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

I’m working on an article about the gardens in John 18–20 and their relationship to divine presence

>> Thank you so much, Luke, for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work.

Are you a PhD student or Early Career Researcher working in Religion or Biblical Studies? If so, we’d like to hear from you. This website is dedicated solely to interviewing PhD students and ECRs on who they are, what they love about their work, and what has inspired them. If you’d like to be interviewed, head over to the Contact page and fill out the form. There’s no catch. Don’t be shy. Self-promotion is a virtue.

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