Dr Rachel Kevern

The majority of my academic career has been as a Research Fellow working at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), University of Birmingham. There, I worked mainly on the Codex Sinaiticus Project and the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP). I was involved in the preparation of electronic transcriptions and xml conversion of individual manuscripts, and taught and managed an international team of transcribers. The IGNTP transcriptions provide initial data for the Editio Critica Maior, the fullest presentation of the evidence for the Greek New Testament.

However, over time I have discovered that two deeply-held convictions preoccupy me and drive my work.

The first, rooted in my Catholic background, is that the human spirit reaches for the Divine, that we are made to “look up” and be part of something bigger than ourselves. My own reaching for the Divine led me to study Jewish Kabbalah, and thence into an academic exploration of Christian theology and mysticism. My PhD, completed in 2006, was on the Jewish mystical origins of the eastern Christian doctrine of mystical ascent and vision of God. I still have a passionate interest in mystical theology and the Christian mystics.

The second conviction is that we are, absolutely and completely, physically embodied and benefit from understanding our bodies and psyches in order to be authentically ourselves. This drove me to explore the Alexander Technique, a body/mind discipline that encourages a contemplative or mindful attitude to everyday living. I trained as a teacher in 2014 and have since built up a business offering lessons in the Worcestershire area (I am currently on sabbatical).

These two convictions come together in my present research, which is an investigation of the relationship between mystical experience and the physical body. The resource I am using is a database created at the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre that contains 6,000+ first-hand accounts of religious and spiritual experiences. This project is part of a programme funded by the John Templeton Foundation that seeks to develop science-engaged theologians. The programme addresses the question of “how humans conceive of and think about divine realities”.

Qualifications

Teacher of the Alexander Technique2014Alexander Technique International
PhD Theology2006University of Birmingham
BA (Hons) Theology2000University of Birmingham

Roles at Queen’s

Research Fellow

Roles outside of Queen’s

I am an Alexander Technique teacher and have built up a private practice teaching students on a one-to-one basis (I am currently on sabbatical from this role).

In addition, I am creating a website that showcases the stained glass art of A.J. Naylor (my father). The website sits at the intersection of art and theology. The images are of a selection of windows designed and made by my father alongside which I am writing theologically informed commentary. The creation of the website is ongoing and pages are added periodically, see https://www.ajnaylorartonglass.com/.

Research interests and supervision

My main research interest at present is the ambivalence within Christianity about the human body. On the one hand, Christian theology affirms the importance of the body but on the other, the body is often neglected in spiritual practice. This ambivalence is particularly apparent in Christian mystical theology which has traditionally expressed a dualism in which the soul and spirit experience God while treating the body as irrelevant.

The Alexander Technique counters this dualism in which body and mind have become separated and instead proposes mind/body unity, sometimes called “embodied mindfulness.” I hope at some point to bring my hands-on experience of teaching the Alexander Technique into conversation with my academic interests in the mind/body ambivalence within Christian theology.

I have extensive research experience of biblical scholarship and textual criticism of the New Testament, having worked at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), University of Birmingham between 2007 and 2019.

Other research interests include the intersection of Theology and Psychology, Jewish and Christian mysticism, biblical exegesis and Temple Theology.

I would be interested in supervising research at Masters and Doctoral level in the following areas: the intersection of Theology and Psychology, Christian mystical theology; Jewish mysticism; Temple Theology.

Publications

  • Contributor to The New Testament in Greek IV, The Gospel According to St. John, edited by the American and British Committees of the International Greek New Testament Project, volume two: The Majuscules, edited by U.B. Schmid with W.J. Elliott and D.C. Parker (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 2007). Electronic edition.
  • Contributor to The Gospel According to John in the Byzantine Tradition, edited for the United Bible Societies by R.L. Mullen with S. Crisp and D.C. Parker, and in association with W.J. Elliott, U.B. Schmid, R. Kevern, M.B. Morrill and C.J. Smith (Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007). Electronic edition.
  • Contributor to Codex Sinaiticus Digital Edition, London: British Library, 2009. Electronic edition.
  • Contributor to Text und Textwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments 5. Das Johannesevangelium, The Full Collation of Chapter 18, M.B. Morrill and D.C. Parker in association with W.J. Elliott, U.B. Schmid, R.L. Mullen and R. Kevern (Berlin, De Gruyter, 2012).
  • Contributor to IGNTP Transcripts: Full Electronic Transcriptions of the Gospel According to John in Greek Papyri, Majuscules, Minuscules and Lectionaries. Electronic edition.
  • Kevern, R, ‘Reconstructing Quire 17 Folio 1: Joshua 12.2-14.4’, Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript, ed. McKendrick, S., Parker, D., Myshrall, A. and O’Hogan, C., (The British Library, Hendrickson, 2015).
  • Kevern, R, ‘Codex Sinaiticus’, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions, ed. Orlin, E., Fried, L.S., Knust, J.W., Satlow, M.L., Pregill, M.E., (Routledge, 2016).
  • Contributor to the transcriptions of the Palimpsest Undertext of Codex Zacynthius for the Codex Zacynthius project, Cambridge Digital Library, 2020. Electronic edition.
  • Naylor, A.J. and Kevern, R. (in progress), A. J. Naylor Art on Glass, website about the stained glass art of A.J. Naylor with theologically informed commentary by R. Kevern, www.ajnaylorartonglass.com.

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