Revd Dr Helen Paynter

Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, and Coordinator of Theological Education

Contact Helen:

Helen was a nephrologist (kidney doctor) when God called her to Baptist ministry. She trained at Bristol Baptist College and then became Associate Minister at Victoria Park Baptist Church in South Bristol, where she worked part-time for six years, followed by two more years as interim Associate Minister at Westbury-on-Trym Baptist Church. Following this she took up her current full-time role at the college in August 2020.

Helen has a Masters in Missional Church Leadership, another Masters in Biblical Studies, and a PhD in Old Testament. Her main research interests are in the narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible. Her second Masters dissertation was on ‘total annihilation’ in Deuteronomy and Joshua, her PhD thesis was on aspects of humour in the book of Kings, and her current research interest is in the violence of the Old Testament. She is the founding director of the College’s Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, which exists to facilitate cutting-edge research in the areas of hermeneutics of biblical violence and the abuse of the Bible in a violent world, and to serve the churches by providing resources in these areas.

Helen is passionate about helping people to get to grips with the Bible, because she has seen its power to transform lives. She loves to study it, preach it, teach it, encourage others to study and understand it, and help others to learn to read it in its original languages.

Helen loves to go on adventures with her husband and three teenage daughters, and to read anything that makes her think.

For more information about the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, please click here.

Research Interests:

Old Testament, with particular interest in Narrative Hermeneutics, Narrative Ethics, Intertextuality, Satire and Bakhtinian readings, Reparative reading, Feminist readings, Theodicy, Biblical Theology.


  • A Biblical Theology of Human Violence. Zondervan, 2023, forthcoming.
  • The Bible Doesn’t Tell Me So: Why you don’t have to submit to domestic abuse and coercive control. BRF, 2020
  • Telling Terror in Judges 19: Rape and Reparation for the Levite’s Wife. Routledge, 2020
  • God of violence yesterday, God of love today? Wrestling honestly with the Old Testament. BRF, 2019.
  • Reduced Laughter: Seriocomic Features and their Functions in the Book of Kings. Brill, 2016.
Short form publications
  • The Strange World of Elijah and Elisha. Grove, 2019
  • Dead and Buried: Attending to the voice of the victim in the Old Testament and today: Towards an ethical reading of the Old Testament texts of violence. Oxford: Regents Park College, Whitley Publications, 2018
  • Violence and Peace in Sacred Texts (co-editor with Maria Power). Palgrave McMillan, 2022.
  • Violent Biblical Texts: New Approaches (co-editor with Trevor Laurence). Sheffield Phoenix, 2022.
  • Map or Compass?: The Bible on Violence (co-editor with Michael Spalione). Sheffield Phoenix, 2022.
  • Bible and Violence: A Thick Description (co-editor with Michael Spalione). Sheffield Phoenix, 2020.
Edited collections
  • From the Rising to the Setting Sun: Global Perspectives on the Bible and Violence (co-editor with Michael Spalione). Sheffield Phoenix, 2023, forthcoming.
  • (co-editor with Peter Hatton). Regent’s Park College, 2022.
  • Immigration and the Church: Reflecting faithfully in our generation. Grove, 2017.
  • That the Next Generation Might Remember: The Conquest of Canaan in Israel’s Collective Memory and in the Psalms. Journal of Baptist Theology in Context, 2023, forthcoming.
  • Porous Borders and Textual Ambiguity: Why ancient Israel is no model for modern nationalism. Journal of European Baptist Studies, 2020 vol.20(1): 117-130.
  • The Gadarene swine and the conquest of Jericho: an intertextual reading. Pacific Journal of Theological Research, 2019 vol. 14(2): 13-24.
  • ‘Revenge for my Two Eyes’: Talion and Mimesis in the Samson narrative. Biblical Interpretation, 2018 vol. 26: 133-157.
  • ‘Make yourself at home’: Tensions and Paradoxes of hospitality in dialogue with the Bible. Bible and Critical Theory, 2018 vol 14(1):42-61.
  • Ahab: Heedless Father, Sullen Son: Humour and Intertextuality in 1 Kings 21. JSOT 2017 vol. 41(4): 451-474.
Book chapters
  • ‘Baptist Views on War and Peace’ in Oxford Handbook of Baptist Studies. Oxford University Press, 2023, forthcoming.
  • ‘I believe in the afterlife (of the word).’ In Helen Paynter and Michael Spalione (eds), From the Rising to the Setting Sun: Global Perspectives on the Bible and Violence. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2023, forthcoming.
  • ‘Redeeming the Prostitute? Babylon and her fate in Revelation.’ In Trevor Laurence and Helen Paynter (eds), Violent Biblical Texts: New Perspectives. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2022.
  • ‘Land, Seed and Promise. Jacob as Mise en Abyme to Israel.’ In Trevor Laurence and Helen Paynter (eds), Violent Biblical Texts: New Perspectives. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2022.
  • ‘Apologists and Appropriators: Protestant Christian reckoning with biblical violence.’ In Maria Power and Helen Paynter (eds), Violence and Peace in Sacred Texts. Palgrave McMillan, 2022.
  • ‘Erasing the troubling teens? What happens to the conquest of Canaan when the non-Deuteronomistic biblical writers tell the story?’ In Michael Spalione and Helen Paynter (eds), Map or Compass?: The Bible on Violence. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2022.
  • ‘Who is the Wife Whose Virtue is Tested in Numbers 5?’ In Helen Paynter and Peter Hatton (eds), Attending to the Margins: Essays in Honour of Stephen Finamore. Regent’s Park College, 2022.
  • ‘Towards a Thick Description of Biblical Violence’ in H. Paynter and M. Spalione (eds) Bible and Violence: A Thick Description, Sheffield Phoenix, 2020.
  • ‘Participation and goal: Creation and the church’ in A. Goodliff (ed) Rhythms of Faithfulness: Festschrift for John Colwell Eugene: Wipf Stock, 2018.
  • ‘Hope, Despair and the Prophetic Imagination’ in J. Andrews (ed) The Church in Disorientating Times – Leading Prophetically Through Adversity: Proceedings of the Middle East Consultation 2017 Langham, 2018.