Meet our Faculty Respondents!

Meet our Faculty Respondents!

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
Peter Ochs.2
Peter Ochs, Department of Religious Studies
Panel 2: Scripture and the State
Shankar Nair Photo
Shankar Nair, Department of Religious Studies
Panel 3: Scripture and Subversion
maurice_wallace
Maurice Wallace, Department of English
Panel 4: Scripture: Who's In? Who's Out?
ESA 2
Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Department of Religious Studies

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.

“Weaponizing Scripture?” Finalized Conference Schedule

“Weaponizing Scripture?” Finalized Conference Schedule

When does scripture serve as a resource for or against the communities that are formed by it? 

How is it instrumentalized for formational, popular, political, and/or polemical agendas?

How does scripture transform the character of the debates and purposes for which it is deployed?

Weaponizing Scripture? Flyer
Click on the poster above for a printable PDF version.

Sunday, March 22nd
Nau Hall 342 (unless otherwise noted)

12:00 pm — Registration and Opening Reception

12:30 pm — Introduction

12:45 pm — Panel 1: “Scripture and the Passions” 

⇒David Priddy, Wake Forest University – “Satiating and Starving the Yahwistic Imagination: The Weaponization of Food in the Elijah Cycle”

⇒Michael Carlson, Yale Divinity School – “The Violence of Shame: Sexuality and Luke 17:21 in Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets”

⇒Sunil Kumar Yadav, University of Chicago Divinity School – “Mangalasutta: A Buddhist Blessing Persecuting Muslims in Myanmar”

Respondent: Peter Ochs, Department of Religious Studies

2:45 pm — Break

3:00 pm — Text Study

4:00 pm — Panel 2:  “Scripture and the State”

⇒Khadeega M. Gafar, American University of Cairo 

⇒Ben Dillon, Duke University – “Squelching the Double Vision: Hobbes’s Subversion of Sola Scriptura”

⇒Meg Stapleton Smith, Yale Divinity School – “Vision of Hope: Scripture in the Context of the Salvadoran Civil War”

Respondent: Shankar Nair, Department of Religious Studies

6:00 pm — Break

6:15 pm — Plenary Address by Ambassador Aref Nayed
“Scriptures As Operational Artifacts”
Location: Nau Lecture Hall 101, Open to the Public

8:00 pm — Dinner
Location: Nau Hall Manley Commons, Limited to Conference Participants and Invited Guests

Monday, March 23rd
Nau Hall 342 (unless otherwise noted)

9:00 am — Coffee and Pastries

9:30 am — Panel 3: “Scripture and Subversion”

⇒Valerie Landfair, Regent School of Divinity – “An African-American Pentecostal Reading of Hagar: Through the Aesthetics of Silence and the Politics of Recognition”

⇒Mark James, University of Virginia – “Origen, Power, and the Naturalness of Names”

⇒Ezra Blaustein, University of Chicago Divinity School – “The Hermeneutics of an Outsider: Torah, New Testament, and Quran in Simon Duran’s Bow and Shield”

⇒Ardaine Gooden, Howard University School of Divinity – “Male Violence: A Biblical Exploration of Male Rape and Sexual Assault”

Respondent: Maurice Wallace, Department of English

11:45 am — Lunch

1:15 pm — Panel 4:  “Scripture – Who’s In? Who’s Out?”

⇒Mitchell Chillcot, Duke Divinity School – “(De)weaponizing Scripture at Qumran”

⇒Matthew Goldstone, New York University – “Three Models of Wielding Lev. 19:17 in Antiquity”

⇒Christine Landau, University of Virginia – “In the interests of peace: Jews, gentiles and land management in Mishnah Peah”

⇒Evan Anhorn, Boston University – “Revealed Words and Subjunctive Worlds: The Uncreated Qur’an and the Order Transforming Power of God’s Speech”

Respondent: Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Department of Religious Studies

3:30 pm — Text Study
Location: Gibson 441

4:30 pm — Closing Reception
Location: Gibson 441


Preview of “Scripture and Subversion” Panel

Preview of “Scripture and Subversion” Panel

Scripture and Subversion


Valerie Ranee Landfair“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.

Mark James“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.

Ezra Blaustein“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.

Ardaine L. Gooden“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.

Preview of “Scripture and the State” Panel

Preview of “Scripture and the State” Panel

Scripture and the State

Ben Dillon“Squelching the Double Vision: Hobbes’s Subversion of Sola Scriptura

Ben Dillon of Duke University will present an examination of two cases of Thomas Hobbes’s controversial exegesis in his masterpiece Leviathan that have profound political implications: his treatment of the term “spirit,” which issues in the denial of any incorporeal substance; and his account of martyrdom, which effectively renders true martyrdom impossible. The effect of these exegetical moves is, first, to deny any spiritual realm beyond the material; and second, to render all claims by clergy to authority over citizens’ bodies illegitimate; combined, they serve to bolster his claims for absolute civil sovereignty, all while appealing to the Protestant principle of sola scriptura.

 Meg Stapleton Smith“Vision of Hope: Scripture in the Context of the Salvadoran Civil War”

Meg Stapleton Smith of Yale Divinity School will present an examination of the ways Scripture was utilized as a way to justify the violent acts of the Salvadoran government, as well as critically examine how Scripture became a source of inspiration within the Christian Base Communities to authenticate and validate the humanity and faith of the poor. Ultimately, Scripture was weaponized within the context of the Salvadoran Civil War to be both a modicum of violent governmental rationale, as well as a vehicle of expression for the poor’s national liberation, economic amelioration, and spiritual enlightenment.

“Scriptures As Operational Artifacts” — Plenary Title Announced!

“Scriptures As Operational Artifacts” — Plenary Title Announced!

“Weaponizing Scripture?”–the 2nd annual graduate colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation and Practice–will convene at the University of Virginia on March 22-23, 2015.

On March 22nd at 6:15pm as part of this conference, Ambassador Aref Nayed will give the plenary lecture entitled: “Scriptures As Operational Artifacts” This plenary session will be held in Nau 101 and is open to the public.

For more information on the conference, see the conference schedule, paper panels, and graduate presenters.

Ambassador Aref NayedDr. Aref Nayed is the Libyan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. This year, Ambassador Nayed was ranked among the top 50 most influential Muslims in the 2014/15 edition of The Muslim 500 published by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan. During the Libyan revolution he was also the Chief Operations Manager of the Libya Stabilization Team, and before the liberation of Tripoli in 2011, he was appointed by the National Transitional Council of Libya as the coordinator of the Tripoli Taskforce.
In addition to his ambassadorial duties, Dr. Nayed is the founder and director of Kalam Research and Media, Senior Advisor to the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, Fellow of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute in Jordan, Visiting Professor at Fatih Sultan Mehmet University in Istanbul, and a member of the Board of Advisors at the Templeton Foundation. Among his past positions are professorships at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies in Rome and the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization in Malaysia. His published works include Operational Hermeneutics: Interpretation as the Engagement of Operational Artifacts (KRM, 2011), and the forthcoming Catholic Engagements: A Muslim Theologian’s Journey in Muslim-Catholic Dialogue (KRM) and The Future of Muslim Theology (Blackwell).
For more information on Dr. Nayed, visit his profile on Kalam Research and Media’s website.