My research and teaching focus on the New Testament in its ancient Jewish and Graeco-Roman contexts. I am particularly interested in social justice in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, in particular where expressed through property-sharing, intentional religious communities which establish a community-external focus on practical care for the poor and vulnerable.
I am presently preparing research monographs entitled Jesus and the Poor and The Social Interpretation of Essenism on the origins of mutually supportive Christian community forms in Judaea at the time of Jesus' death and resurrection, and a collection revising his essays on the Essenes and on the origins of Johannine Christianity within the Essene communitarian stream of ancient Judaism.
I hold my doctorate from Cambridge University, taught as a full-time lecturer at the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, and St. Andrews, and was Gastprofessor at Tübingen University for two years before taking up my present responsibilities as Reader in Christian Origins in Canterbury.
My recent PhD research students have included Laura Mills, Jesus, social reform and virtuoso religion: a study of Jesus’ practice and teaching concerning wealth and poverty (2014); Stephane Saulnier, Calendrical Variations in Second Temple Judaism: New Perspectives on the Date of the Last Supper Debate (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Brill Academic Publishers, 2012); and Timothy J.M. Ling, The Judaean Poor and the Fourth Gospel (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 136, Cambridge University Press, 2006), whose monograph won a $20,000 Templeton Award for Theological Promise. Tim's achievement was reported in the Timed Higher Educational Supplement:
I teach first years the Certificate in New Testament Greek and Introduction to Biblical Studies; the second year modules Jesus in Christian Doctrine History and Gospel and Letters of John; and my research-based honours module Church and Society in the New Testament.
Research and knowledge exchange
My research on the social form of the early Christian churches and their charitable activities has led to many speaking engagements and publications in the areas: wealth and poverty in the Bible; virtuoso religion and care for the poor in ancient Judaism, the ministry of Jesus and the early Jesus movement; the relationships between Essenism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the social form of earliest Judaean Christianity; the community of goods of the early Jerusalem Church; Essenism and the origins of the Johannine tradition; covenant, fictive kinship and social caring in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and second century Christianity; the roles of women in the early church; and the pattern of order and ministry in early Christianity.
Dr. Capper speaks about the heart content of his university researches in under two minutes in this Youtube clip:
Dr. Capper is married to Irena, who teaches and plays the French horn locally and in the University
Teaching and subject expertise
New Testament Studies; Ancient Judaism; Dead Sea Scrolls; social-scientific approaches to the Bible.
Dr. Capper has presented papers at the Christian Origins Seminar, Cambridge University; Oxford University's New Testament Seminar; the Ehrhardt Seminar, Manchester University; the Biblical Studies Seminar, King's College, London University; the Society for Biblical Literature; and the British New Testament Studies Conferences. He contributes to ministerial training in the Anglican dioceses of Southwark, Rochester and Canterbury.
Dr. Capper has presented study days for churches in Kent. He recently gave a lecture on 'What Do We Know About Jesus' at St. William's Church, Walderslade, which may be viewed on Youtube:
Publications and research outputs
Dr. Capper's recent publications include:
‘The Judaean Cultural Context of Community of Goods in the Early Jesus Movement. Part I’, Qumran Chronicle 24.1–2 (2016), 29–49. ISSN 0867-8715.
‘Essene adoptions and the Essene Houses of the Community (CD XIV.12-17 and 4Q266 I 5-13) as the charitable educational institutions of the villages and towns of ancient Judaea’, Qumran Chronicle, 23. 1–2 (2015), 345–371. ISSN 0867–8715.
‘The Essene Religious Order of Ancient Judaea and the Origins of Johannine Christianity’, Qumran Chronicle 22 (2014), 39–71. ISSN 0867-8715.
‘Islam, The Rape of Europa and the Woman astride the Beast: Current Scaremongering Readings of Revelation 17,’ Polish Journal of Biblical Research 13.1–2 [25–26] (February 2014), 71–101. ISSN 1641–7224
‘Apostles, Householders and Honoured Household Servants: The Transition of Christian Worship from Domestic to Public Space and the Origins of the Threefold Ministry in the New Testament Church’, Polish Journal of Biblical Research 12 (2013), 5–44.
‘Community of Goods in the Rule of the Community (1QS) and Comparative Analysis of the Advanced Probationer’s Renunciation of Administration of his Property in other Fully Property-Sharing Communities’, Qumran Chronicle 20 (2012), 89–150.
‘How did Jesus Help the Poor?: Virtuoso Religion as Stimulus to Economic Sharing in the Jesus Movement’, Qumran Chronicle 19 (2011), 97-139.
‘Jesus, Biblical Covenant, and The Essene New Covenant of Ancient Judaea: On the Origins of the Early Christian Familial Economic Covenant,’ Qumran Chronicle 19 (2011), 1-30.
‘Jesus, Virtuoso Religion and Community of Goods.’ In Bruce Longenecker and Kelly Liebengood, eds., Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Interpretation ( Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 60–80.
‘Holy community of life and property and amongst the poor: A response to Steve Walton’, Evangelical Quarterly 80 (2008), 113-27.
‘Essene Community Houses and Jesus' Early Community,’ in James H. Charlesworth, ed., Jesus and Archaeology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 472–502.