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Wednesday 12 June 2019

Old Testament vs New Testament: Passion, Poetry and the World’s Greatest Stories

History &
Social Policy

Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the parting of the Red Sea. These are a few of the stories from the Old Testament. And then there’s the New Testament, with its account of the life of Jesus, the Good Samaritan, the raising of Lazarus and the feeding of the five thousand. Whatever our creed or background, these stories are embedded in our consciousness. They inform our everyday speech and much of our art, music and literature – from Cranach’s depiction of Adam and Eve to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories and Stormzy’s ‘Blinded By Your Grace’.

Together the Old Testament and the New Testament make up the Holy Bible. The Old Testament contains the sacred scriptures of the Jewish faith, while Christianity draws on both Old and New Testaments, interpreting the New Testament as the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old.

But which of these books is the greater? Novelist Howard Jacobson, who will be making the case for the Old Testament in this debate, is in no doubt. ‘The God of the Old Testament,’ he says, ‘is wrathful, jealous, touchy, quick to judge, slow to forgive and stylistically forthright – favouring plain speaking over parables. The God of the New Testament, as incarnated in Jesus Christ, is altogether a different kettle of fish. More our friend than our parent. Those whose parents have been their friends know where that leads….” And for writer Anne Atkins, who will be arguing alongside him, there is no contest. Although she is a Christian, for her the Old Testament wins hands down, with its vast sweeps of history, tales of epic survival after exile and exodus, its poetry, prophesy and, as she puts it, ‘the most exquisitely erotic lyrics ever’.

The pathos and poetry of the Old Testament are all very well, theologian Robert Beckford will argue on the other side of this debate. But, for him, it is the New Testament’s revolutionary inclusivity with regard to race, class, gender and sexuality that makes it a more useful text for achieving human fulfilment and creating a better world. And for the Rev. Richard Coles, the Radio 4 presenter who went from pop star to priest, the New Testament is a kind of miracle in itself. Not only does it fulfil the law of God in its depiction of the life of Christ, but thanks to its being written in Greek, the lingua franca of the ancient Near East, the early Christians were able to carry the message of Jesus out beyond the Jewish world to make an inexpressibly huge impact on our history and civilisation.

Whether you belong to any faith or none, join us on June 12 when author and comedian David Baddiel will be chairing what promises to be a fascinating and informative debate.

Event Name

Old Testament vs New Testament: Passion, Poetry and the World’s Greatest Stories


Choose Tickets

Speakers for the Old Testament
  • Anne Atkins

    Novelist and broadcaster

  • Howard Jacobson

    Novelist, journalist and broadcaster

Speakers for the New Testament
  • Robert Beckford

    Professor of Theology and Culture in the African Diaspora

  • Rev. Richard Coles

    Anglican priest and presenter of the Radio 4 show Saturday Live

Chair
  • David Baddiel

    Award-winning comedian, author, screenwriter and director

 

Speakers are subject to change.


Location
  • Emmanuel Centre
  • 9-23 Marsham Street
  • London
  • SW1P 3DW
Time
  • Wednesday 12 June 2019
  • 7pm to 8:30pm



Speakers

Speakers for the Old Testament

Anne Atkins

Novelist and broadcaster


Christian novelist, writer and regular contributor to the Today programme’s Thought For The Day.

Howard Jacobson

Novelist, journalist and broadcaster


Novelist and journalist, who has been described as the British Philip Roth (only funnier). He is best known for The Finkler Question, which won the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
Speakers for the New Testament

Robert Beckford

Professor of Theology and Culture in the African Diaspora


Professor of Theology and Culture in the African Diaspora at Canterbury Christ Church University. He has presented over twenty television documentaries on Channel 4, BBC Two and BBC Four, and won numerous awards including a BAFTA.

Rev. Richard Coles

Anglican priest and presenter of the Radio 4 show Saturday Live


Presenter of the Radio 4 show Saturday Live. He is a parish priest and, as a former member of the Communards, is the only vicar in the UK to have had a number one hit. He was one of the inspirations for the BBC hit comedy Rev, and is the author of Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpit.
Chair

David Baddiel

Award-winning comedian, author, screenwriter and director


Award-winning comedian, author, screenwriter, director and television presenter known best for his work with Newman and Baddiel, Fantasy Football, Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned, and his platinum number one single Three Lions. An award-winning author, Baddiel has written five children’s books which have sold over one million copies. He has also written four critically-acclaimed adult novels and the film The Infidel starring Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Matt Lucas and Miranda Hart. David’s last stand-up show, My Family: Not the Sitcom, ran for 15 weeks on London’s West End.

 

Speakers are subject to change.