Dr. Brian J. Capper's research and teaching focuses on the New Testament in its contexts of ancient Judaism and the graeco-roman world. He has a particular interest in the advocacy of social justice in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, in particular where expressed through the development of virtuoso religious communities which formalise property-sharing amongst members and establish a community-external focus in practical care for the destitute and vulnerable.
He is presently preparing 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 of his essays on the origins of Johannine Christianity within the Essene communitarian stream of ancient Judaism.
He holds his 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 his present responsibilities as Reader in Christian Origins at Canterbury Christ Church University.
His recent PhD research students at CCCU have included Timothy J.M. Ling, The Judaean Poor and the Fourth Gospel (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 136, Cambridge University Press) and 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).
He teaches the modules Introduction to Biblical Studies, Jesus in History and Tradition, the Gospel and Letters of John, and Church, Society and Politics in the New Testament.
Research and knowledge exchange
Dr. Capper is particularly interested in the social form of the early Christian churches and their charitable activities, and has researched and published on: wealth, poverty and virtuoso religion 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.
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 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.
Publications and research outputs
Dr. Capper's recent publications include:
‘The Essene Religious Order of Ancient Judaea and the Origins of Johannine Christianity’, Qumran Chronicle 22 (2014), pp. 39–71.
‘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), pp. 71–101.
‘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), pp. 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), pp. 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) pp. 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), pp. 472–502.
‘Apôtres, Maîtres de Maison et Domestiques : Les Origines du Ministère Tripartite,’ Etudes Théologiques et Religieuses 81 (2006), 395–428.