Specific research interests:
My research began with study of the archaeology and history of the Roman colony of Philippi. I tried to model the society and church in the town and, on the basis of this, to think about the issues that Paul's letter would have raised for people in that situation. I continue to be fascinated by the lives of first-century Christians in the Graeco-Roman world and by the question of how the New Testament texts would have been received by them.
From Philippians, I have moved more broadly into Pauline study, especially on Romans and Galatians. For the past twelve years, I have been interested in the archaeology of Rome and of Pompeii. I think that recent social study of the Vesuvian towns has a great deal to teach us about the context of NT texts. This led to a 2009 book Reading Romans in Pompeii: Paul's Letter at Ground Level (SPCK/Fortress).
Current research projects:
I recently published a commentary on Galatians for the Paideia series (Baker Academic, 2015). I am a member of the academic committee of the CNRS GDRI that developed the ERC project, Judaism and Rome, and continue to be heavily involved in the project. I am currently contributing articles on politeuma (Phil. 3:20) and Revelation 17-19 to project volumes. I am also editing a project volume on Herodian temple building and its reception.
I very much enjoy meeting with a wide range of colleagues to discuss research. The weekly Ehrhardt Seminar in Biblical Studies, here at Manchester, never fails to bring new light on papers that one brings to it. The same can be said of the weekly Classics and Ancient History research seminar. Our department's regular colloquia with the universities of Lausanne, Geneva and Sheffield are always a source of new ideas. I chair the Paul seminar of the British New Testament Society and am a member of the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research. I take part in meetings of the Context Group for Biblical Research, an International group specializing in the application of the social sciences to Biblical interpretation, and have recently been part of a working group of the Paul and Politics group of SBL, studying Philippians in its context.