“Satiating and Starving the Yahwistic Imagination: The Weaponization of Food in the Elijah Cycle”
David Priddy of Wake Forest University suggests that the Elijah cycle has a critical ideological and theological function within the Deuteronomistic history. More than only a narrative interlude of legendary material, the Elijah cycle threatens and comforts its agrarian hearers into obedience to Yahweh. Through a persistent use of the satiation and hunger motif, the Deuteronomistic storyteller fashions a narrative that makes food a weapon in an ideological battle between the Omridic dynasty and Yahweh.
“The Violence of Shame: Sexuality and Luke 17:21 in Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets”
Michael Carlson of Yale Divinity School explicates the “accidental theology” of the art in Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets. Beginning by diagnosing the systematic elements of fundamentalist scripture-based sexual repression in Blankets, he argue that Thompson’s work espouses an explicitly mystical theology founded on gratitude for corporeality and the sexual self. He ultimately argue that Thompson’s novel engages scripture as artistic hermeneutics; it is a work which cannot be fully appreciated without understanding its incorporation of scripture.
“Mangalasutta: A Buddhist Blessing Persecuting Muslims in Myanmar”
Sunil Kumar Yadav of University of Chicago Divinity School will present how Buddhist scriptures have influenced anti-Islam legislatures, racial/ethnic discriminations and boycotting of Muslim businesses in Myanmar’s society. Rife with fear of Islamization, and grounded in Buddhist fundamentalist notion of purity, he argues that Myanmar’s society is moving towards a systematic and gradual genocide of Muslims. Using ethnographic evidence, he will present a critical analysis of the Mangalasutta – its interpretation, its influence and its application – in Myanmar’s society, and Buddhist texts’ role more generally in Myanmar’s newly established democracy.
“An African-American Pentecostal Reading of Hagar: Through the Aesthetics of Silence and the Politics of Recognition”
Valerie Landfair of Regent School of Divinity will present a Pentecostal perspective of Hagar’s story that can be read as an empowering use of vision and gender for women. Hagar’s narrative in Genesis 16 will be used examine the power of recognition and the aesthetic of silence. This study argues that African-American women become Hagar’s daughters when moved into a place where God sees them, speaks to them directly, and calls them by name. This transformation liberates them to be able to fulfill their unique purposes for, and in the kingdom of God, even though they remain subject to shackles, including racism, classism, and sexism.
“Origen, Power, and the Naturalness of Names”
Mark James of the University of Virginia will present Origen’s version of linguistic naturalism as a potentially viable alternative that anticipates a pragmatic alternative to structuralism. Taking up and transforming earlier Stoic accounts of the mimetic function of names, Origen argues that the naturalness of names consists also in their real power in the world, by which, we might say, the scriptural word becomes a kind of weapon in the martyr’s ‘struggle even to death’ against the physical weapons of Rome (CC 1.24). Origen can help us see how power relations not only distort language but can also be part of the meaningful (and liberating) operation of language in its integrity — not least the language of scripture.
“The Hermeneutics of an Outsider: Torah, New Testament, and Quran in Simon Duran’s Bow and Shield”
Ezra Blaustein of the University of Chicago Divinity School will examine the hermeneutics of Simon Duran (1361-1444), a Jewish scholar who lived under both Christian and Muslim rule, as found in his work Qeshet u-Magen [Bow and Shield], a work that provides an instructive example of how scripture was used in medieval inter-religious disputation. This analysis will uncover the complicated relationship between a canonical text and the religion that sees it as sacred by demonstrating how Duran can dismiss claims against the Torah as based on incorrect interpretations, but his own arguments against Christian and Muslim scriptures are similarly weakened.
“Male Violence: A Biblical Exploration of Male Rape and Sexual Assault”
Ardaine Gooden of Howard University School of Divinity will present an exploration of the phenomenon of male rape, supported mainly by biblical literature. By employing Genesis 19 and Judges 19 narratives which are commonly used to justify anti-homosexual stance, the paper indicates that an alternate reading of the text indicates the presence of male rape. This analysis raises questions of the nature of rape and how it is perpetrated upon the victims regardless of the sex of the victim and makes the claim that it is essential that male rape be recognized in order to unconditionally understand the nature of sexual violence.
Evan Anhorn is a third year PhD student in the Religion department at Boston University. His work engages the role of Islamic law and theology in promoting and shaping civic participation and engagement for Muslims in Canada and Germany. He is furthermore interested in minority Muslims in the West, the problem of tolerance and community boundaries, the social construction of sacred knowledge and the relationship of religious institutions to the center of society.
Ezra Blaustein is a third year PhD student in the History of Judaism division of the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is interested in the intellectual history of medieval Jews living under Islam, with a focus on texts written in Judeo-Arabic. Prior to his time in Chicago, he received a MA in Medieval Jewish History from Yeshiva University.
Michael Carlson is Master’s Candidate at Yale Divinity School, concentrating in Religion and Literature. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, majoring in Literature and Theology, he has also been a high school English teacher, a Jesuit novice, and communications associate at Franciscan Mission Service. Currently, his studies involve the intersection of faith and art, particularly through literature.
Follow Michael here: @mcarlson1985
Mitchell Chilcot is a Master’s student at Duke Divinity School and a graduate of William Jessup University. He is primarily interested in the interactions between Judaism and Christianity during the first three centuries of the Common Era. In addition, he is interested in issues related to the study of the Synoptic Gospels, the historical Jesus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For more about Mitchell, click here.
Follow Mitchell here: @MitchChilcott
Ben Dillon is a PhD Candidate at Duke University. This is in his final year of a doctorate in Christian theology. His research has focused on early modern philosophy (especially Spinoza and Hobbes), the thought of Augustine, and the relation between western Christianity and political liberalism. His dissertation treats the theological argumentation undergirding Thomas Hobbes’s defense of state sovereignty. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a MA in Religion from Yale Divinity School.
Khadeega M. Ga‘far is an MA fellow at the American University in Cairo where she studies philosophy and an MA candidate at Cairo University where she researches Islamic Philosophy. In her studies, she tries to bring philosophical perspectives to understanding of contemporary concerns in religion and politics. Currently, she is an Essayist at al-Hayat newspaper writing on the contemporary and historical Islamic thought.
Follow Khadeega here: @khadeega
Matthew Goldstone is a fourth year PhD candidate at New York University. Prior to beginning his doctoral work he received his Master’s Degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Judaic Studies and spent two years of intensive study in Jerusalem. His dissertation explores the discourse surrounding rebuke in the rabbinic corpus of Late Antiquity in addition to a selection of Christian texts from the Persian Empire.
Adraine Gooden comes from the island of Jamaica, the “land of wood and water.” He is a second year MA student in Religious Studies at Howard Univeristy School of Divinity and holds a BA in Religion & Theology from Northern Caribbean University. He served as a former pastoral intern in the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church, where he supervised 14 congregations. His interest is in New Testament studies and his thesis topic is “From God and a Woman: the Moral Integrity of Womanhood in the Birth Narrative.”
For more information about Adraine, click here.
Mark Randall James is a PhD student in religious studies at the University of Virginia. His work focuses on Jewish and Christian interpretation of scripture and the distinctive rationalities of scriptural religious traditions. His dissertation, ‘Learning the Language of Scripture: Origen and the Logic of Induction,’ is a re-examination of Origen’s hermeneutics in light of Origen’s Stoic philosophy of language.
Follow Mark here: @interpretweeter
Christine Landau is a PhD Candidate in Religious Studies in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at the University of Virginia. Her dissertation is a comparative study of early rabbinic culture in Palestine and early Christian monastic culture in Egypt. She has worked in academic and trade publishing, in nonprofit fundraising, and as an editor, freelance writer, and translator. She has an MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and a BA in English Literature from Swarthmore College.
Valerie Landfair is a PhD Candidate in theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach. Her research interests include African and African-American prayers, Pentecostal and Charismatic theology, contextual theology, and leadership in the public square. Her recent publications include: “Eschatological Prayer in African Pentecostalism” in Pentecostal Theology in Africa (2014), and “Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism and Shalom” in CCDA Theology Journal (2014). She holds a MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary and a BS in Organizational Management from Illinois State University.
David Priddy is an MA student at Wake Forest University. H is an a ordained Baptist minister serving as interim minister at two Presbyterian Churches and an adjunct Professor at Campbell University in the Religion Department. He loves to travel, read, play string instruments, and raise chickens along with this wife, Mikaela Aryn, and son, Liam.
Meg Stapleton Smith is a Master’s Candidate in Ethics at Yale Divinity School. A graduate of Boston College, her current research interests lie mainly in Salvadoran Liberation Theology and contemporary Christian Social Ethics. Meg has studied under renowned liberation theologians such as Roberto Goizueta and Jon Sobrino, has lived in El Salvador, and has a continued relationship with a Christian Base Community, Pueblo de Dios en Camino, in San Ramon, El Salvador. Meg is also a writer and a regular contributor to the blog, Daily Theology. For more information about Med, click here.
Follow Meg here: @mstapletonsmith
Sunil Yadav is a second year Master of Divinity student at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is currently investigating applications of inter-religious engagements in conflict resolution/reconciliation process within religiously plural societies. Primarily based upon the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, his studies attempt to explore the tools, techniques and methodologies that are effective in approaching modern-day religious conflicts. He recently conducted a two-month long field research in Myanmar investigating theological, historical, political, social and economic factors influencing Buddhist-Muslim conflict.