October 2009

Professor James Watts, Syracuse University, “Polemics about Scriptures in Western Culture”

October 21, 2009, 7:00 pm

Bible and notes

Betts Branch Library
Meeting Room
4862 S. Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13205

Criticisms of Western scriptures as being inaccurate and lacking historical basis are not unique to modern times. They have been a regular feature of inter-religious polemic since antiquity. What is unusual about the last two centuries is that believing scholars have engaged constructively with such criticisms. This talk will trace the history of controversies over scriptures in order to ask what made such constructive engagement possible in the 19th and 20th centuries and whether the changing world political situation will continue to be hospitable to it in the 21st century.

James W. Watts is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Syracuse University, where he has taught since 1999. Jim is a biblical scholar whose research focuses on the interplay of ritual and rhetoric in the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible. He also directs the Iconic Books Project, leading an interdisciplinary team of scholars in investigating the social functions of material texts. Jim teaches a large introductory survey course on the Bible, upper-division courses about religion in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East, and graduate seminars on scripture, ritual and rhetoric. He is the author of Ritual and Rhetoric in Leviticus: From Sacrifice to Scripture (2007) and Reading Law: The Rhetorical Shaping of the Pentateuch (1999).

Photo by jamelah on flickr.

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