Professor David Catchpole to Retire

David Catchpole

David CatchpoleProfessor David Catchpole has announced his intention to retire at the end of this academic year as director of the hugely popular Theology Quest and Questions course (TQQ).

A New Testament specialist, David has also lectured on Biblical Study Breaks and has been a scholar in residence at Sarum College since 1998.

David established the precursor to Sarum’s TQQ course while at Exeter University, where he is Emeritus Professor of Theology. Over the years, hundreds of people have gathered in the Cavell Room on Tuesday evenings to explore the gospels and Christian doctrine, some travelling a great distance to do so. One former TQQ student was so devoted to the course she flew from Guernsey for an overnight stay each week during term time throughout the two-year course.

‘Working with those who have come to study at Sarum College, whether on TQQ or Biblical Study Breaks, has been a great delight’, said David Catchpole. ‘I am extremely grateful for the happy years that are now coming to an end, and especially for the many friendships that have enriched my life.’

‘This whole community salutes David as he steps down from TQQ’, said The Revd Canon Professor James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College. ‘We offer him our deep gratitude for all that he has done to contribute to nourishing our learning at Sarum College.

‘David’s diligence, intellectual integrity and skill as a teacher have enriched us all. Many are indebted to his commitment to rigour and the search for truth in the study of Scripture.

We are glad that he will keep in touch with Sarum and look forward to seeing him in College in the future.’

TQQ and Biblical Study Breaks will continue to occupy a significant place in Sarum’s educational programme, which is committed to offering a diverse range of academic and experiential courses on matters of faith in an environment of open exploration.

Professor David Catchpole is a prolific author, including the following books: The Trial of Jesus (1971), The Quest for Q (1993), Resurrection People (2000), Jesus People (2006). Upon his retirement as Saint Luke’s Foundation Professor of Theological Studies at the University of Exeter, colleagues published Christology, Controversy, and Community: New Testament Essays in Honour of David R. Catchpole (2000).

The collection by an international team of prominent New Testament scholars represents a range of approaches and topics, connected by a focus on Christological claims and their link to the controversial formation of the early Christian community. The collection includes a profile by the late Graham Stanton which includes a full account of his many professional accomplishments.

Pamela Perry Proposes a Complementary Ministry

As a loyal Catholic, I have felt but not expressed a sense that women’s talents have been overlooked in ministry roles; that men and women working together naturally, supporting and complementing one another in ministry would allow all members of the church to use their god-given gifts.

How many “lapsed” Catholics would return if only they could witness women being taken seriously, in the roles for which they are best suited?

Many ordinary Catholics wish to be ministered to by women as well as by men. For some Catholics, sacramental confession to a women would be easier, more healing or more appropriate than confessing to a man. Women also bring a distinctive grace to presiding at weddings, funerals and baptisms, preaching and celebrating Holy Communion.

Various organisations express the wish many Catholic women have to respond to their call to ordained ministry. Parishioners’ Call is a local advocacy group which encourages an open-minded re-thinking of the role of women in the Catholic Church.

In leading and serving jointly in the Catholic Church as women and men do now in education, science, medicine, the law and politics, women men could together transform the Church as profoundly as did St Clare and St Francis.

— Pamela Perry

All those interested in continuing the discussion are welcome to come to the first meeting of Parishioners’ Call: Learning from Clare and Francis: Servant Leaders in a Transfigured Church. The meeting will be held on January 20th, from 13.30 – 17.00 in St Osmund’s Parish Hall, Exeter St. Salisbury SP1 2SF. Light refreshments available between 1pm and 1.30pm. Guest speakers are Fr Aloysius Beebwa, Missionary of Africa, in conversation with Canon Anne Long. This will be followed by discussion and a liturgy.

Sarum College Congratulates Sarah Mullally, new Bishop of London

bishop Sarah Mullally‘At Sarum College we are delighted to offer our congratulations and prayers to Bishop Sarah on her appointment to The Bishopric of London.

She brings to that post a wealth of skill and experience alongside a pragmatism and wisdom from which we benefited during her time as a Trustee of Sarum College.

‘As Principal I am especially grateful to Sarah as she was part of the discernment and interviewing process that led to my appointment here in 2015,’ says The Revered Canon Professor James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College. ‘We wish her and her family the very best for this new chapter.’

18 December 2017 Diocese of Salisbury article on the appointment

Photo courtesy of the Diocese of London

Sacred Geometry: Beauty in Biblical Proportions

For those of you who missed this terrific article on the biblical proportions and visual perspectives of Salisbury Cathedral, it’s reprinted below, with Sophie Hacker’s Sacred Geometry course in mind.

There are still a few places, contact Alison Ogden on or 01722 424826 to book.

Sacred Geometry?

by Richard Deane, vice chairman of the Salisbury Civic Society executive committee

The shelves in Salisbury reference library devoted to the cathedral contain many works of interest, not least a 2003 publication by John Wilkinson entitled ‘Salisbury Cathedral’s Secrets’. This is centred on the premise that numerous detailed elements within the cathedral’s ground plan are derived from systems of proportions contained within the Temple in Jerusalem, and other places and artefacts sacred to Judaism, generating a building which is, in a far more specific way than most of us would realise, a ‘statement about religion’. Adherence to this ‘secret formula’ is so rigid that ‘the cathedral’s lengths and rectangles vary by only two ten thousandths from the biblical proportions’.

This is extremely interesting, even if the author is venturing into arcane areas where not all readers may be willing to follow. This system has of course to be calculated from very precise and painstaking study of the building’s layout, rather than it being something which can be read from the visible structure. There is however another very simple but varying proportion, outside Mr Wilkinson’s remit, which is immediately apparent, and which has a stunning effect on the way we perceive the cathedral.

Simple pythagorean geometry tells us that the diagonal of a square is greater than the side by a factor of the square root of 2, which to three decimal places is 1.414. Lop the corners off the square and form an octagon, and the variation becomes much less. The dimension from corner to opposite corner is greater than that from side to opposite side by a factor of under 1.1. The cathedral’s tower and spire ensemble is of course an octagon sitting on a square, with a transition achieved internally and structurally by four squinch arches (at the level known as Eight Doors) and filled in externally with pinnacles. Thus we have a spire whose width, depending which direction we view it from, varies by less than 10%, while that of the tower below can vary by over 40%.

There is far more than just abstruse mathematics to all this. The practical effect is that viewed from northeast, northwest, southeast or southwest the tower appears much wider than the base of the spire, with the difference made up by pinnacles stepping back in from one to the other. Move round to one of the cardinal points and the spire’s width is virtually unchanged, while the tower becomes much narrower and the pinnacles virtually disappear as individual elements, merging to form a simple silhouette shape which melds spire to tower almost without being noticed. At any intermediate point between these two angles, the proportion and visual effect become different again.

Add in the varying perspective effects which derive from the distance of the viewer from the cathedral, or their height in relation to ground level in the Close, and the result is a structure of almost infinite visual subtlety, accentuated even more by differing weather conditions and angles of the sun, and the endlessly shifting shape of the main body of the cathedral below, as the viewpoint changes. Anyone who knows the building well will be aware of all this, even if they do not consciously think about it.

A first-time visitor may be more struck by it, by the whole series of differing buildings encountered – the tower and spire almost impossibly tall and slender over the low bulk of the rest of the building west from the A36 at Petersfinger, and around it little more than trees, no city apparent, or the brief glimpse northwards coming in from Harnham by the top of Ayleswade Road, that extraordinary vertical  again, and this time the building below stretched eastwards and westwards in a long low horizontal of lead roof, most other features masked by trees or houses – the cathedral’s geometry at its most extreme. Move from there down to the Exeter Street roundabout, and the tower thickens, pinnacles unclench, the elegance remains but supplemented now by a growing strength and power. Further north up Exeter Street, and by the entrance to Bishop Wordsworth’s School the cardinal point proportions have returned, but the building is now so close that it begins to loom, the proximity of five thousand tons of stone pressing down on the crossing piers conferring an almost awesome authority that the more distant building only hints at.

Most singular of all, perhaps, is the cathedral from the northwest, coming in from Wilton. Nothing is seen until the approach to Skew Bridge, when the tower and spire alone appear, suddenly, disembodied, framed in a gap to the right of the bridge. On a summer’s evening, as the structure catches the western light, it can seem for an instant to float, ethereal and other-worldly, only to become barely visible once more as the road turns to the left and other buildings interpose themselves. In recent years this vision has been somewhat disrupted by a cycle path sign placed after the Skew Bridge rebuild of 2004, and by encroaching tree growth, a commentary on how fragile the city’s relationship with its dominant building can be. The effect is still worth looking out for, though.

The ever-changing relationship between tower and spire cannot necessarily be ascribed to a conscious choice by whatever medieval genius designed them – octagonal spires sitting on square towers are very much the norm. What that person can be credited with, however, is the decision to make the tower so much proportionally taller than we generally expect. Other cathedral spires – Chichester, Norwich, the triple at Lichfield – sit on squat towers which act as little more than plinths for them. At Salisbury, perhaps uniquely, the tower is tall enough to take equal billing with the spire. It is the ensemble that counts, one whose design, both in overall form and in the detail of its decoration, it is difficult not to describe as being as close to perfection as a building gets.

In 1995 the Civic Society tentatively suggested to the government that it might consider putting Cathedral and Close forward for World Heritage Site status. The answer that came back was that there wouldn’t be much point, since Unesco felt that it had enough in the way of Sites that were assemblages of historic buildings, and was looking at other types – hence, some years later, the Jurassic Coast. Fair enough, perhaps, but the rationale behind that suggestion remains intact. How one would rate the cathedral if it had remained with its original stumpy lantern tower is an interesting question, but not an important one. Once tower and spire had been added the cathedral became what it remains today, by any reasonable estimation a masterpiece of world art. It is inevitable that many, perhaps most people living close to it end up taking it for granted, and seldom really looking at it. It does no harm to remind ourselves, every now and then, what a stupendous building it actually is.

Reprinted, by kind permission of Richard Deane, from the September 2016 issue of the Salisbury Civic Society magazine

06 November 2017

Centuries-old Bibles Part of Secret Library Display

Here’s a sample of some of the treasures you’ll find in the Sarum College Library as part of Libraries Week.

Jayne Downey, Sarum College Librarian, also has compiled ‘The Bible in English – A Potted History’ The Bible in English or available in the library.

(Bible – 1545)
Biblia. Quid in hac editione praestitum sit, vide in ea quam Operi Praeposuimus, ad Lectorem Epistola.
Luteliae, ex Officina Roberti Stephani, typographi, regii, MDXLV. Cum Privilegio Regis.

The Bible. For whatever is proposed in this edition, refer to the preface, the letter to the reader.

The preface states that this version is a faithful translation into Latin from the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the Apocrypha. (It does not include the New Testament). There is a summary of biblical themes with reference both to the O.T. and the N.T.

The Historie of the Holy Warre, by Thomas Fuller, B.D., Prebendarie of Sarum, late of Sidney College in Cambridge.

Printed by Thomas Buck, one of the printers to the Universitie of Cambridge.  1639.

A history of the Holy Land form the sack of Jerusalem by Titus in 72 CE down to the final defeat of the Christians in 1291.  A supplement discusses related events and issues.  The frontispiece illustrates the course of the Crusades.  (“We went out full but returned empty”) and there is a map of the Holy Land.

Thomas Fuller (1608 – 1661) was a prolific and erudite author, a Royalist who suffered during the Commonwealth but was restored to his livings and his prebend in 1660.  (New DNB Vol.21. pp. 159-163).


Ecclesia Restaurata: or, the History of the Reformation of the Church of England: Conth lots of notes – 1661)taining the Beginning, Progress and Successes of it;  the Counsels, by which it was conducted;  the Rules of Piety, and Prudence upon which it was Founded;  the several steps, by which it was promoted, or retarded, in the Change of Times:

From the first Preparations to it by King Henry the Eight, untill the Legal Setting, and Establishment of it under Queen Elizabeth:

Together with the Intermixture of such Civil Actions, and Affairs of State, as either were Co-incident with it, or related to it.

By Peter Heylyn.

London, Printed for H. Twyford, T. Dring, J. Place, W. Palmer;  to be sold in Vine-Court, Middle temple, the George in Fleet Street, Furnival’s Inne Gate in Holborn and the Palm Tree in Fleet Street.  MDCLXI

Peter Heylyn, 1559 – 1662, historian, was associated with the Laudian movement and advocated a moderate view of the Reformation.  This is the first volume of a trilogy.  (See New Dictionary of National Biography, vol 26, pp 954 – 959)

Elaine Graham: How to Speak of God

The Cavell Room was packed on 23 September for the 2017 Niblett Memorial Lecture with Professor Elaine Graham.

The lecture entitled, How to Speak of God? Challenges for the Churches in a World ‘Troubled’ by Religion, considered the implications of the post-secular for the public witness of Christianity and its representatives.

The full transcript of the lecture is available to download here.

To explore the topic further, Elaine’s recent book, Apologetics without Apology, is available from Sarum College Bookshop (email or telephone 01722 326899) or online from Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Claire Horton: Lay Ministry Was Answer to God’s Call

‘Five years ago God was calling me to do something,’ says Claire Horton, a Licensed Lay Minister (LLM) in the Benefice of Atworth with Shaw and Whitley. Having completed her studies, Claire celebratef the renewal of her licensing on September 30 in Salisbury Cathedral.

Before embarking on the LLM programme Claire helped with administration and was involved in putting together services to introduce contemporary worship.

With encouragement from her vicar, Claire set out to explore this calling and attended the Salisbury Diocesan Vocations Day.

Claire says that she felt sure that lay ministry was the pathway for her, and was pleased Sarum College was recommended to her.

‘The team at Sarum were amazing,’ she says. Claire’s training spanned a period of transition between the Oxford Brookes and Durham University, which now validates the programme.

Being part of that transition was both a privilege and a challenge. Claire says she valued ‘working with the Sarum College staff and appreciated the training. I also benefited from the Formation Days at Church House.’

She also values the new model of lay and ordained ministry training together.

‘Learning alongside one another is so important. That way, collaborative practice begins at the outset and is more likely to encourage a foundation for future working together in parish life,’ she says.

A placement at Alabare, as part of the chaplaincy team, working with adults with learning disability ‘was a huge joy and blessing’ and also one that helped her to discern that, although she enjoyed her time there, she recognised that chaplaincy isn’t her calling at this stage: ‘I realised I have a heart for pioneer ministry in some form,’ she says.

Claire says she now approaches her ministry with a different perspective.

‘LLM training has helped me to grow – I now feel more confident about preaching and about engaging with scripture.’ she says. ‘I also have a sense of recognition by the church and the congregation, and of having a distinctive role as a bridge between the Church and all aspects of community life.

‘Working collaboratively alongside others, I look forward to finding ways to connect with people so that God’s love may be known.’

The new Licensed Lay Ministers with those who led their training at Sarum College (left to right) Anne Mantle, Michelle Cobley, the Revd Paul Burden, Claire Horton, the Revd Jennifer Totney, Kerri Canepa, Adrian Light

For more information about LLM training, visit the Diocese of Salisbury website, or take a look at the LLM page on the Sarum College website.

Sarum Graduate Takes Study to the Next Level

Congratulations to The Revd Steve Sheppard who completed his MA at Sarum in 2016, and will embark on a doctorate in practical theology (DTh) at Roehampton University.

The pastor of Waters Edge Elim Church in Poole plans to develop his Sarum dissertation on ideas formed from his 17 years as an iron worker.

His dissertation, ‘I’m an iron worker you can trust me’ explores a model of leadership and teamwork amongst ironworkers.

Steve smiles wryly as he recalls the collective gasp – ‘like “who’s this?”‘ – when he walked into that first module in cut-off jeans, the engine of his Harley Davidson cooling in the car park.

As there were no academic records of study in the area, Steve used photos and articles, historical narratives and says he is grateful for the College’s willingness to support his research without a scholarly back catalogue.

In his conclusion, Steve states: ‘Despite the lack of academic writing on this subject … mutual trust has always been an essential central component in the work ethic of many generations of ironworkers…. Their contribution to the advancement of ironwork mastery which resulted in the Industrial Revolution, not only provided the world with a trusted material to build with, but laid a foundation for the future development of mutual trust in leadership and teamwork. ‘

Steve plans to expand his dissertation into a book complete with some of those familiar and iconic images of ironworkers in high risk settings.

‘Not bad for a former iron worker who didn’t even get an O level,’ he says.

Not bad at all. Congratulations, Steve.

Learn more about our study programmes

Commemoration on 6 July Will Restrict Access to The Close

A commemorative event to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Army Air Corps on Thursday July 6th will cause disruption to the Salisbury Cathedral Close.

There will be a formal military parade on the West Lawn, followed by a service in Salisbury Cathedral with invited guests.

Anyone wishing to gain access into the Close by vehicle this day must arrive by 11.30 am. Without exception, only those cars whose drivers have provided the Salisbury Cathedral a car registration by 29 June will be permitted to enter.

No vehicle movement will be allowed from 11.30am to 14.00 (2pm). The lawns will be closed apart from an area outside the Bell Tower Tea Rooms and Chorister Green. Between 11.30 and 13.15 there will be restricted pedestrian access, especially along the West Wall. A one-way system will be in operation with vehicle entry via the High Street Gate and exit via the Harnham Gate. Pedestrians are respectfully asked to enter and exit via the High Street Gate only.

The Cathedral and Chapter House will be closed on 5th & 6th July, but Morning Worship and Evensong will take place as normal on both days.