Prof David Chalcraft

Humanities and Social Science

I joined Liverpool John Moores as Professor of Sociology and Head of Department/Subject Head on September 1st, 2014. Prior to this I held the Chair of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield (2011-14) before which I was Professor of Classical Sociology at the University of Derby (2002-2011), having previously served as Head of Department of Sociology at Derby (1996-2002). During my time at Derby I spear-headed the formation of the Society, Religion and Belief Research Group which is now a fully –fledged Research Centre at the university. I began my research and teaching career at Oxford Brookes University (1990-1996), which I joined whilst completing my graduate studies in the Faculty of Social Studies at Oxford University (Hertford College, 1985-1992). For my Master of Letters at Oxford I was supervised by Dr Bryan Wilson of All Souls. My first degree was in Biblical Studies from the University of Sheffield where I also received the Epworth Prize for Greek and Hebrew Translation and Exegesis.
Throughout my career I have researched in the interface between sociology and the humanities, particularly between biblical studies and the social sciences. I have held Chairs in both Biblical Studies and in Sociology in the course of my career. My PhD (Derby) was entitled: ‘Reading Max Weber and Developing Neo-Weberian Sociology with specific reference to ancient biblical social worlds’.
Put simply, within sociology I make use of hermeneutics and close textual study in my analysis of the life and work of classical sociologists (especially Max Weber, Herbert Spencer, W.E.B. Dubois), combining an interest in their biographies, cultural settings, travels, and written output when researching their sociological ideas in context. I am interested in the relation between sociological, theological and literary imaginations, and the sociology of the text, both its materiality and the socio-cultural context of readers.
Within biblical studies I use sociological concepts, methods and theories to reconstruct the ancient biblical social worlds and, more significantly, to sociologically examine the role of the Bible in contemporary society and culture. In the latter area I promote the development of sophisticated research methods for working in the field, including ethnography, life story capture, and visual documentation and interpretation.
Past and Current Projects
I was the founder of the Max Weber Study Group of the BSA in 1989. From the networks established I was co-founder of the international journal Max Weber Studies, and co-edited the first 3 volumes before moving to the editorial board to concentrate on the editing of the monograph series, Rethinking Classical Sociology, and the International Library of Classical Sociology (edited with Alan Sica) for Ashgate. I also serve on the editorial board of The Journal of Tribal Studies, the only non-Indian to do so. I also am the series founder and editor of the Phoenix Press monograph series, The Bible and Social Science. Some of the published output relating to these projects include: D.J. Chalcraft and Austin Harrington (eds.) The Protestant Ethic Debate: Max Weber’s Replies to Critics, 1907-1910, (Liverpool University Press, 2001); D.J. Chalcraft (ed.), Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances (London: Equinox, 2007); D.J. Chalcraft et al (eds.), Max Weber Matters (Ashgate, 2009), and Chalcraft, Uhlenbruch and Watson (eds.), Methods, Theories, Imagination: Social Scientific Approaches in Biblical Studies (Sheffield Phoenix 2014).

Current projects include, writing the Routledge Guide to Weber's Protestant Ethic and completing a monograph on the Bible and the Sociological Imagination (Bloomsbury) and continuing to lead a research team for the development of ethnographic methods for the analysis of Bible reading in India.
Recently I have begun to understand aspects of my research work as inter-related around the concept of Mobilities and sociological theorising. For example, the contextualising of the life and work of the classical sociologists involves retracing their journeys and recapturing their sense of place and developing identities; my interest in the impact and reception of the Bible in India, China and Samoa can be theorised through changing notions of the mobile biblical text- how it is carried to new places, how readers move through the text, and how the text moves people to new ideas and practices or encourages resistance to the biblical world view as they draw on their own traditions and vernacular religious texts. Equally I ask questions about how the material form of the text corresponds to different modes of mobility dominant in societies and how both these features of culture impact on how readers interact with texts and utilise metaphors of movement and travel in their self-reflections about the meaning and significance of the texts they hear and read for their own lives. For some migrant and diaspora groups their own visceral experience of movement, or for readers who are movement impaired, biblical notions of mobility, and the experience of exodus, migration and exile are profound.
International Perspectives and Comparative Work
I have always been interested in promoting international perspectives in my work and pursuing comparative work, often working with colleagues from overseas.
I have held a Leverhulme Advanced Studentship to be visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg (improving my German language skills and researching the novels of Max Weber’s maternal uncle and Professor of Church History at Heidelberg, Adolf Hausrath), have been a guest of the Collegium for Advanced Studies at University of Helsinki, held a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Zhejiang University, China and been Visiting Professor at United Theological College in Bangalore, India.
I have delivered invited lectures in New York at New School for Social Research, and in India, including at UTC, Bangalore, the University of Madras, Chennai, and Eastern Theological College, Assam. In China I have given invited lectures at Nanjing University, at Shanghai University, and given a key note address to the Oceania Biblical Studies Association Conference in Samoa.
Developing Ethnographic Methods for Biblical Studies: India
I am the Principal Investigator (with Dr Dexter Maben of UTC Bangalore as Co-Investigator) of a British Academy International Partnership and Mobility grant which, over three years (2013-16), is developing in partnership with colleagues across India, appropriate ethnographic methods for use in the field to research the ways in which ‘ordinary readers’ in a variety of collective, group and individual settings, in a arrange of social and cultural contexts, read, understand and appropriate the Bible in their everyday life and social, cultural and political struggles. The project seeks to conceptualise more clearly what ‘context’ is constituted by, and to understand the historical, social and cultural variables that impact on engagement with biblical texts. The project asks how these variables allow certain texts to resonate and also provoke institutional and professional conceptions of the vocation of the biblical scholar and the sociologist working in a global and post-colonial world. After appropriate training in research ethics, governance and research methods field work projects are being developed by a group of scholars, and include the use of text to convey identity among Auto-rickshaw drivers in Chennai and the engagement of Madiga Dalit communities with biblical texts in relation to landlessness, hope and social justice in rural Andhra Pradesh. In the final year (2016), a second workshop will be held in the Sociology Department at Liverpool John Moores University to explore our findings and to consider whether the lessons learned are generalizable to other parts of Asia, with delegates attending from Myanmar and Malaysia in addition to India.

Doctoral Supervision
I have supervised doctoral students, and examined a number of doctorates, in a range of areas related to my research interests and welcome applications to work with me in the following areas in particular:
-the sociology of mobilities
-life, work and legacy of classical sociology
-classical sociology and death
-sociology of religion
- ethnography of reading sacred scriptures
-researching the personal
-social scientific biblical criticism




2010, University of Derby, United Kingdom, PhD
1992, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, Master of Letters
1985, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, BA (Hons) Biblical Studies


Chalcraft D, Elton-Chalcraft S. 2022. Decolonizing Christian Education in India? Navigating the complexities of Hindu Nationalism and BJP Education Policy The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religious Education in the Global South Bloomsbury. London 9781350105829

Chalcraft D. 2021. Strategies past, present and future: The Context and Variety of Biblical Studies in Indian Culture and Society Chalcraft DJ, Angami Z. A Biblical Masala: Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies :31-77 Christian World Imprints. New Delhi

Chalcraft D. 2021. English and Indian Readings of Naboth's Vineyard: The Role of Identity and Context in the Sociological Meaning and Use of Biblical Text Chalcraft DJ, Angami Z. A Biblical Masala: Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies :78-125 Christian World Imprints. New Delhi

Chalcraft D, Ravela JK. 2021. Encountering the Bible; Listening to the Voices of Madiga Christians Chalcraft DJ, Angami Z. A Biblical Masala: Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies :195-217 Christian World Imprints. New Delhi

Chalcraft D. 2021. A Biblical Masala: An Orientation to our Book Chalcraft DJ, Angami Z. A Biblical Masala: Encountering Diversity in Indian Biblical Studies :1-30 Christian World Imprints. New Delhi

Chalcraft D. 2019. Matthew Henry’s Exposition of Joshua 7 in Socio-legal and Sociological Perspective. Mathew Henry: The Bible. Prayer and Piety: A Tercentenary Celebration. 1 Bloomsbury 9780567670212 Publisher Url Public Url

Chalcraft D. 2018. Sectarianism T&T Clark Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls Bloomsbury T&T Clark Publisher Url Public Url

Chalcraft DJ. 2012. Jane Addams, The Devil Baby of Chicago and the Gendered Study of Memory in Biblical Studies Carstens P, Hasselbalch T, Lemche NP. Cultural Memory and Biblical Exegesis :201-225 Gorgias Press. Piscataway, New Jersey

Chalcraft DJ. 2011. Is a Comparative Sociology of (Ancient) Jewish Sects Possible? Stern S. Sects and Sectarianism in Jewish History :235-286 Brill. Leiden

Chalcraft DJ. 2011. Sociology and the Book of Chronicles: Risk. Ontological Security, Moral Panics and Types of Narrative Edelman D, Zvi B. What is Authoritative for Chronicles? :197-223 Eisenbrauns. Winona Lake, Indiana

Chalcraft DJ. 2011. Is a historical comparative sociology of (Ancient Jewish) sects possible? 12 :235-286 9789004206489 DOI Publisher Url

Chalcraft DJ. 2010. Herbert Spencer's Dangerous Pilgrimage: In America 1882 Shrecker S. Transatlantic Voyages: Exchange and Influence. Transatlantic travel and the development of Sociological Ideas :129-46 Ashgate

Chalcraft DJ. 2010. Is Sociology Also Among the Social Sciences? Some Personal Reflections on Sociological Approaches in Biblical Studies Pfoh E. Anthropology and the Bible: Critical Perspectives :35-71 Gorgias Press. Piscataway, New Jersey

Chalcraft DJ. 2009. Towards a Sociology of Bible Promise Box Use Evans C, Zacharias D. Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon T&T Clark and Continuum

Chalcraft DJ. 2008. Why hermeneutics, the text(s) and the biography of the work matter in max weber studies Max Weber Matters: Interweaving Past and Present :17-40 9780754673408

Chalcraft DJ, Howell FJ, Menendez ML, Vera H. 2008. Series editors' preface 9780754673408

Chalcraft DJ. 2008. Introduction: Interweaving past and present :1-14 9780754673408

Chalcraft DJ. 2007. Max Weber Key Sociologists: The Formative Theorists :203-208 Routledge. London

Chalcraft DJ. 2007. Towards a Weberian Sociology of the Qumran Sects Chalcraft DJ. Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances :74-105 Equinox. London

Chalcraft DJ. 2007. Weber's treatment of Sects in Ancient Judaismn: The Pharisees and the Essenes Chalcraft DJ. Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances :52-73 Equionx. London

Chalcraft DJ. 2007. The Development of Weber's Sociology of Sects: Encouraging a new fascination Chalcraft D. Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances :26-51 Equinox. London

Chalcraft DJ. 2004. Comparative Sociology on Israel: Herbert Spencer's Contribution Lawrence L. Anthropology and Biblical Studies: Avenues of Research Deo

Chalcraft DJ. 2004. Sectarianism in early Judaism: Sociological advances? Some critical sociological reflections :1-24 9781845530839

Chalcraft DJ. 2002. Max Weber on the Watchtower: On the prophetic Use of Shakespeare's Sonnet 102 in 'Politics as a Vocation' Rowland C, Barton J. Apocalyptic in History and Tradition :253-270 Continuum. Sheffield Publisher Url

Chalcraft DJ. 1998. Love and Death: Weber, Wagner and Max Klinger Max Weber and the Culture of Anarchy :196-213 Macmillan. Basingstoke

Chalcraft DJ. 1994. Bringing the Text Back In: On Ways of Reading the Iron Cage Metaphor in the two editions of The Protestant Ethic Ray L, Reed M. Organizing Modernity: New Weberian Perspectives on Work, Organization and Society Organizing Modernity: New Weberian Perspectives on work, organization and society :16-45 Routledge. London

Chalcraft DJ. 1990. Deviance and Legitimate Action in the Book of Judges Clines DJA. The Bible in Three Dimensions :177-201 Sheffield Academic Press. Sheffield

Journal article

Chalcraft D. 2021. Ehud, Stigma and the Management of Spoiled Identity: A Sociological Retelling of Judges 3:12-31 with Goffman as Conversation Partner Postscripts: the journal of sacred texts and contemporary worlds, 11 :201-236 DOI Publisher Url Public Url

Chalcraft D. 2014. Biblical Literacy and Two Classical Sociologists Postscripts: the journal of sacred texts and contemporary worlds, 7 :225-240 DOI Publisher Url

Chalcraft DJ. 2005. Reading Weber's patterns of response to critics of the protestant ethic: Some 'affinities' in and between replies to Felix Rachfabl and Werner Sombart Journal of Classical Sociology, 5 :31-51 DOI Publisher Url

Chalcraft DJ. 2001. The Lamentable Chain of Misunderstanding: Weber's Debate with H.Karl Fischer Max Weber Studies, 2 :65-80

Chalcraft DJ. 1993. Weber, Wagner and Thoughts of Death Sociology, 27 :433-449 DOI Publisher Url


Chalcraft DJ. 2004. Sectarianism in early Judaism: Sociological advances :1-267 9781845530839

Book review

Chalcraft DJ. 2001. Max Weber democracy and modernization. HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES, 14 :105-118 DOI Author Url

Chalcraft DJ. 2001. Weber studies: Division and interdependence History of the Human Sciences, 14 :105-118 DOI Publisher Url