November 2019

  • November 19 | The Invention of Religion: Jews in Babylon and the Evidence of Language and Literature | Jan Joosten
  • New History of Religion Course this Spring
  • BCSR Welcomes Visiting Scholar Anna Hennessey
The Invention of Religion: Jews in Babylon and the Evidence of Language and Literature

November 19, 5:00-7:00 pm
Social Science Matrix, 8th Floor, Barrows Hall

Jan Joosten, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford

At some time after the end of the First Temple period, the religion of ancient Israel became independent of the nation. Language and texts are key to this change. Hebrew turned into a sacred language, not one learned from one's parents, but from the study of ancient texts. The process didn't come to full fruition until after the fall of the Second Temple. But its earliest effects can be traced already in writings of the exilic period. This linguistic development is rooted in a profound change affecting Judean religion. Before the fall of Jerusalem, the cult of the God of Israel was part and parcel of a national existence with strong territorial and cultural components. In exile, worship of this same God was motivated differently, with the reference to ancient texts—history, law, and prophecy—taking on a new and ever-increasing role. The result was a new phenomenon in the ancient world... (more)

Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion.
New History of Religion Course this Spring

Ethan Shagan, a BCSR affiliated faculty member and winner of the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award, will be teaching the new course History 20: Introduction to the History of Religion this spring. The course will introduce students to the history of religion from the earliest written records to the modern world, including the monotheistic traditions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the Asian traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, and much else besides. Along the way, students will consider such topics as: the relationship between myth and religion; the ways religions define their boundaries, both to create community and to exclude outsiders; religion as a tool of imperial power, as well as a weapon of emancipation; secularization; the rise of fundamentalism; and the modern relationship of religion and science.

Look out for a follow-up news item about spring Religious Studies courses.

BCSR Welcomes Visiting Scholar Anna Hennessey

Anna Hennessey joins BCSR as a Visiting Scholar through September 2020.

Anna Hennessey is a San Francisco author and scholar whose work explores the religious, artistic, and philosophical dimensions of birth. Her recent book, Imagery, Ritual, and Birth: Ontology Between the Sacred and the Secular (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) explores ways in which religious imagery is secularized and re-sacralized during the contemporary rituals of birth. Anna’s work is highly interdisciplinary; she has a PhD in the History of Chinese Religions from UC Santa Barbara, an MA in Art History from UC Santa Barbara, and a BA with a double major in Philosophy and Romance Language from New York University... (more)

Want to know more?
BCSR advances critical and creative scholarship on #ReligionInTheWorld

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