On De-Reifying Traditional Boundaries: Christian vs. Greco-Roman

July 13th, 2015

Thomas J. Whitley Last month I wrote about a group of early Christians that believed in the transmigration of souls (or, reincarnation). One of the factors that I suggested contributed to modern scholars not accepting the Carpocratians as Christians or transmigration as a “Christian” belief is the delineation between the categories “Greco-Roman” and “Christian.” Thus, when a person or

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Ministers Don’t Use Libraries, and Nobody Knows Why

June 29th, 2015

Meredith Ross In 1970, Dwight A. Huseman contributed an article to Drexel Library Quarterly in which he argued for wider use of ministerial book allowances. He found that the Lutheran ministers he studied spent a great deal of money on books, and were often forced to choose between, Huseman evocatively claimed, “the book or the

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Purging Landscape in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History

June 19th, 2015

Brandon W. Hawk Pope Francis yesterday released an encyclical letter addressing the environment, an event garnering quite a bit of discussion.[1] As others have noted, this encyclical is just one instance of the Catholic Church addressing environmental issues over the past few decades, but it marks a particular milestone.[2] Environmentalism as such may be a recent

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Early Christian Reincarnation

June 9th, 2015

Thomas Whitley Some early Christians believed in reincarnation. At least this is part of what I am arguing in my dissertation. Scholars of antiquity and early Christianity don’t call it reincarnation, though. We call it metempsychosis, a transliteration of the Greek, or transmigration, for the dominant Greco- Roman understanding that a soul transmigrated from body

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On Interdisciplinary Religious History: Thoughts on Studying the Past Productions of Academic Disciplines

June 3rd, 2015

Leslie Ribovich Nineteen and early twentieth century works by psychologists and sociologists frequently line the shelves of scholars of religion as canonical works in the theory and method of the field. Current historians of religion often admire and cite the work of contemporary sociologists, such as Robert Wuthnow and Wendy Cadge, and, increasingly, psychologists of

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Review of Elizabeth Pritchard’s Religion in Public: Locke’s Political Theology

May 28th, 2015

Jeffrey Wheatley I have spent the past year thinking primarily about the relationship between religion, race, and political order through both the particular history of the US nation-state and a global comparative framework. Somewhat to my surprise, I have found Elizabeth A. Pritchard’s Religion in Public: Locke’s Political Theology to be one of the more

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Pulling the Holy Spirit off the Bookshelf: Towards a Theory of Prayer and Information

May 22nd, 2015

Meredith Ross In his 2008 dissertation examining sermon preparation, Daniel R. Roland found that consultation with the Holy Spirit was an important part of the sermon-writing process for his informant, a Midwestern Lutheran minister. The informant, in fact, identified his sermons as work produced in “collaboration” with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.[1] However, Roland seemed uneasy

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Religion and the GOP Presidential Hopefuls

May 20th, 2015

Emily Johnson The Republican Party’s field of Presidential hopefuls is getting crowded, with eight candidates officially running and four more expected to announce by June 1. We’re into double digits already, without counting the half-dozen others who have publicly expressed interest but not yet filed with the Federal Election Commission. This last group includes some

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Are We Seeing the Fall of the Religious Right?

May 11th, 2015

Thomas Whitley I must admit that I’ve grown quite accustomed to using the phrase, “the rise of the Religious Right.” It’s a phrase that hearkens back to the coalescence of the “moral majority” and the linking between the religious right and the Republican party during the late 1960s and 1970s. The Religious Right was ostensibly

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May 6th, 2015

The American Society of Church History announces a search for new editors and a new institutional home for the journal Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, currently housed at Florida State University.  Published quarterly by Cambridge University Press, the journal seeks essays that advance knowledge of the role Christianity has played in mediating larger

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