Friday, 1st March 2019Seminar Thursday 14 March 2019:
The Book of Job: speaking faith in the midst of trauma

This seminar took place on Thursday 14 March 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury; Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:


The book of Job, more than any in Scripture, is one that explores the very possibility of faith and hope in the midst of despair. It is articulated around three sets of protagonists: Job, his friends and family, and God. The drama of grief and trauma for Job is one that is profoundly grounded in his understanding and practice of faith, as shaped by the culture that his family and friends represent. It also revolves around the need to find a language to talk of and to God from within a space of mental distress and the breakdown of usual categories of thought. It is a drama, which explores relationships between characters, modes of being and social relationships, and which climaxes in the interaction between Job and Yahweh. This brief analysis of Job will reveal a desperate search for meaning, for ways of being a person of faith within the challenges of grief and trauma, in ways that both connect with tradition, yet are authentic to the experience of collapsing certainties and complete alienation. It will explore how grief and trauma lead to the breakdown of existing spiritual language and practices, and how this breakdown affects both Job and those who care for him. The journey Job and his friends go on is one that will leave neither Job, nor his friends, untouched, but re-shape their language, spirituality, personal narratives of the wider world, and ways of relating to the divine. This is in turns leads to reflections on the nature and role of the community of faith, the place that spirituality can play in exacerbating mental distress, but also avenues of thought for exploring news ways of construing faith and theology.


Isabelle Hamley is currently Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. She previously taught Biblical Studies and Practical Theology at St John’s College, Nottingham, as well as being the vicar of the parish of Edwalton. Her interest in academia has been nurtured through the years with a spell as a university chaplain at the university of Leicester and ten years teaching in the School of Continuing Education at the university of Nottingham. She has always had a passion for integrating theology, ministry and engagement with the wider world, and therefore trained and practiced as a Probation Officer whilst also teaching theology in the evenings in Nottingham.