Pandemic and the Common Good – call for papers for our online journal

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Bible and the Contemporary World Journal

Issue Title:  Pandemic and the Common Good

Closing date for submissions: 15 May 2021

The current global pandemic is much more than a viral disease. It is a complex set of phenomena that discloses aspects of what it means to be human together, and that demands scientific, political, social, biblical and theological responses. A complex mixture of fear and compassion, two emotions naturally provoked by the crisis, yield responses that are unexpected. Christians around the world are both victims of the virus and members of professions deeply engaged in advancing public health.

Decisions to act are taking place not only at international levels but in communities and families. Those decisions are shaped by multiple factors including religious faith. In many contexts the appeal is to ‘look after one another’ and ‘protect others’, because ‘we are all in this together’. This may mean accepting limitations on personal liberty that would have been unthinkable for many people a year ago.

Now more than ever, societies are called to appreciate how each person’s flourishing depends upon the flourishing of others. The Roman Catholic Church expresses this in terms of the common good: ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily’ (Catechism §1906). The common good is not an exclusively religious, or even Christian, concept. Its definition is contested but often serves as a rallying cry against claims of exclusive self-interest.

In this special issue of the journal we are breaking from our customary practice of soliciting submissions from work (usually dissertations) that have already been written for this MLitt course. The editors are keen to receive newly written articles specifically on some aspect of the global pandemic in the light of the common good. Such pieces might approach the topic from one or other of the following angles, always critically considering the role of the common good:

  • church practices in response to covid-19;
  • historical studies of Christian intellectual and spiritual responses to earlier epidemics or pandemics;
  • theological interpretations of scientific, political or cultural response to this current pandemic;
  • biblical hermeneutics used in Christian responses to covid-19.

Other angles are welcome.

We plan to publish this special issue at the end of September 2021. All submissions will be peer-reviewed prior to acceptance. Articles should not be longer than 7,500 words (including footnotes and bibliography).  Submission is via the online editorial system: and must be received by 23:59hrs UK time on 15 May 2021.

If you have questions, including an initial suggestion for an article, please contact the managing editor, Daniel Rentfro at: [email protected].