The Theology of Craft and the Craft of Work: From Tabernacle to Eucharist


I draw upon design theory to probe the anthropology of work in the ancient near east, biblical exgesis and theological ethics around the concept of political economy and work.

Routledge (2016)

An important reconceptualisation is taking place in the way people express creativity, work together, and engage in labour; particularly with the rise of the maker movement and craft work. But is this a new phenomenon? In The Theology of Craft I explore the Hebrew bible and Greek New Testament in conversation with other ancient craft narratives to see whether there is a model for good work embedded there. Through an examination of themes such as agency, aesthetics, sociality, skill, and the material culture of work, I argue that the church (or ‘new temple’) is both the product and the site of moral work and furthermore that Christian worship provides a moral context for work.

Publisher - Hive Books (UK indy sellers) - IndieBound (Independent booksellers in the USA)

Reviews: Journal of Markets & Morality (Brian Dijkema)

Esther D. Reed, University of Exeter: “It matters that the work we do is meaningful, excellent, and beautiful. Jeremy Kidwell’s biblically informed theology of craft and analyses of the negative impact of modern labour practices on human well-being invite re-examination of the very foundations of our conceptions of work. Drawing attention to how, in the ancient world, the place of worship was the place of craft-work par excellence, Kidwell revisits creatively the notion of consecration for describing the relationship between work and worship. Innovative and wide-ranging, this is an important new contribution to the theology of work, and wider questions of what’s entailed in being human.”

Brian Brock, University of Aberdeen: “Jeremy Kidwell has offered us an exemplary performance of Christian ethics done in an exegetical key. Going far beyond most of what passes as ‘business ethics’ or ‘theologies of work’, Kidwell delves deep and sensitively into both the problems and promise of work in an information age.”

Eve Poole, Theologian and Leadership Consultant: “Kidwell has got into his time machine and whizzed off for a tour of both Old and New Testaments, to seek a better understanding of what God really means by work. Looking back at the Christian tradition, he thinks the customary preoccupation with ‘vocation’ doesn’t really nail it, because, like me, he think it prioritises ends to the detriment of a proper account of means: we need to think about how we work, as well as why we work. Engaging with his own rich experience of work, and the burgeoning literature of craft, he weaves together a narrative that rejuvenates familiar stories, pressing them into service as modem windows on our world of work. Drawing into the conversation just about every notable theologian one might meet at an SSCE conference, he carefully contextualises modern work in the ancient wisdom narratives in an extremely thorough and thought-provoking way. He wants us to stop seeing God through work, but see work through God, as an offering, a sacrifice and a gift. This s a wonderful book - do read it.”

Jeremy Kidwell
Jeremy Kidwell
Associate Professor in Theological Ethics

Ethicist, activist, hacker, ethnographer and eco-theologian. Interdisciplinary and unafraid.