Click below to watch “Scriptures as Operational Artifacts,” Libyan Ambassador to the U.A.E., Dr. Aref Nayed’s plenary address for the “Weaponizing Scripture?” conference put on by the graduate students in the Scripture, Interpretation and Practice (SIP) Program in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia on March 22-23, 2015.
For more information about the SIP Program please click here.
With the “Weaponizing Scripture?” conference only one week away we are pleased to announce the faculty who will be responding to the graduate student panels. Please click on each picture below to reach their faculty bio pages.
Panel 1: Scripture and the Passions
Panel 2: Scripture and the State
Panel 3: Scripture and Subversion
Panel 4: Scripture: Who's In? Who's Out?
For the conference schedule of events, click here. To see a list of graduate presenters, click here. For information on our plenary speaker, Ambassador Aref Nayed, click here.
Mitchell Chillcot of Duke Divinity School explores the close connection between חרב (sword) and the Kittim (a term commonly understood as a reference to imperial rule) in the Dead Sea Scrolls. He argues that this relationship is intended to highlight the Kittim as curators of violence throughout history, whereas the Qumran community itself is diametrically opposed to such a violent way of life.
“Three Models of Wielding Lev. 19:17 in Antiquity”
Matthew Goldstone of New York University describes the diverse spectrum of responses to the biblical injunction of Leviticus 19:17 that commands that one actively rebuke his or her fellow. The semi-isolated members of the Qumran center strove to forge a system of complete control over daily life while the culturally insecure position of the early rabbis motivated them to formally recognize the danger of verbal offense. The mixed message that we find in the gospels reflects the tension between the ideal of love and humility and the practical demands of communal stability. The juxtaposition of these traditions reveals the divergent ways religious leaders of antiquity wielded this biblical passage as a means to ensuring their formative goals.
“In the interests of peace: Jews, gentiles and land management in Mishnah Peah”
Christine Landau of the University of Virginia demonstrates how how the rabbis, who lived in a culturally and religiously diverse area, wielded Scripture alongside the sickle to define themselves as a community that farmed the land God had given them in accordance with God’s commands. At times, rabbinic and gentile farmers appear to have collaborated quite closely in harvesting and other tasks, and the rabbis explain some of their legal positions as being “in the interests of peace.” Yet for them coexistence with gentiles required careful self-definition and negotiation of boundaries, together with the awareness that scripture itself required such boundaries to remain somewhat fluid.
“Revealed Words and Subjunctive Worlds: The Uncreated Qur’an and the Order Transforming Power of God’s Speech”
Evan Anhorn of Boston University will take up Eisenstadt’s theory on the order-maintaining and order-transforming dimensions of culture. He will apply his findings to the role of Sunni theology as a social institution of Islamic civilization—an institution which establishes social boundaries, distributes power and meaning and maintains social roles and authority. Building on this, he will examine the createdness of the Qur’an as a specific location of charismatic social renewal. The contours of this theological debate suggest alternate visions of society and the division and regulation of power within it.
“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.