• "This is a brilliant book - both quirky and thought provoking. Bearded or not you should definitely read it."

    Paula Gooder
  • "I love this hirsute ‘horrible history’ of the church. It’s funny, enlightening and completely novel - which is some achievement given the history of Christendom!"

    Dave Tomlinson
  • "On the face of it tracking the history and theology of men’s facial hair throughout the Bible and the history of the church may “be-a-rd-ifficult” concept for some of us to take seriously. But I “mustache-sure” you that it leads to an unusual yet intriguing read. Beyond the fuzz, Mouse helps us to explore male identity, gender disparity, cultural appropriation and the contextualisation of the gospel."
    Krish Kandiah
  • "Despite not having a beard (the occasional pre menopausal random chin hair aside) this is a hairy good read. Beard theology? I mean, who knew? A must for everyone from 70s style oxbridge chin stroking theologians to church in an industrial unit hipster evangelicals."

    Rev'd Kate Bottley
  • "Smart, funny and absolutely fascinating. Lurking behind all that facial hair is an unexpectedly profound exploration of the way beliefs turn to rules and change the way we look and act. This book is wonderfully revealing about human nature."

    Cole Moreton

Why beard theology

When I tell people that I have written a book about the religious history of beards, I usually get asked two questions.

The first one is 'really?'. Yes really.

The second is, 'why?'. Now that is a much better question.

The first part of my answer to that is simply because it is a darn good yarn. There are so many moments through the history of the church where you'll find yourself saying 'wow, I never knew that!' and moments when you will have to stop and laugh.

But the second part of my answer to the 'why' question is perhaps more important.

The Jews in Jesus's day thought it part of their religious duty to grow a beard - just as they would observe the kosher food laws. Church fathers like St Augustine and Clement of Alexandria thought it an essential part of Christian discipleship for men to grow a beard. As the eastern and western churches grew apart and eventually split in the Great Schism of 1054, one of the points of contention was a difference over beards and it became a point significant enough for popes and partriarchs to fight over. And protestant reformers and evangelical revivalists could be picked out by the hairiness of their faces.

So why on earth did they all think beards were so important?

Now we're getting to the really interesting question.

To answer that, we will find the revealing story of how cultural context gets imported into theology and our reading of scripture. We will see how divisions between 'us' and 'them' bring seemingly trivial issues to the fore when they become points of difference around which the groups can rally.

Sound familiar?

That is why I wrote a book on beards - because the story of our beard history tells us so much about ourselves. Those who do not know their beard history are bound to regrow it.

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Beard Theology is available from all good book shops (and probably some rubbish ones too).
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