What were the secrets guarded by ancient Essenes, on pain of eternal damnation? What motivated the Jews who joined this sectarian movement? How did the rigorous religious life in this movement “work” for them? This lecture starts with reviewing popular conceptions of the Dead Sea Scrolls and moves to consider what was important to the communities who wrote and cherished these scrolls.
Daniel Falk is Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and the Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies at Penn State University. He is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and his research focuses on prayer and biblical interpretation in early Judaism and Christianity. Falk is the author of two books (Daily, Sabbath, and Festival Prayers in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1998; Parabiblical Texts: Strategies for Extending the Scriptures in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2007) and numerous articles, and co-editor of 6 books. He is co-editor of the Brill Dead Sea Scrolls Editions.
In the 1970s, churchgoing women became caught up in a much larger debate about women’s work. In the heat of these culture wars, a significant shift in leadership roles for women took place. From Mormon mommy bloggers to HGTV reality show stars and MOPS franchises, Christian women found that power lay in claiming sacred motherhood.
Kate Bowler is assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. Her first book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford, 2013), traced the rise of Christian belief in divine promises of health, wealth, and happiness. She researched and traveled Canada and the United States interviewing megachurch leaders and everyday believers about how they make spiritual meaning of the good or bad in their lives.
She has written widely in scholarly journals such as Religion and American Culture and popular venues such as CNN, The Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail on topics ranging from the prosperity gospel’s music, gender politics, economics, political theologies, to its racial and denominational differences.
She recently received a sabbatical grant for researchers from The Louisville Institute to write a book tentatively entitled Co-Pastor: Women and Power in American Megaministry. It follows the rise of celebrity women who go by many names: pastors, co-pastors, executive directors, or, more commonly, pastor’s wives. They pitch their expertise in any number of ways, from women’s ministry directors to singers, bloggers, parenting experts, sex therapists, prophetesses, life coaches, and television hosts. Whether they stand alone on a stage or smile demurely at their husband’s catchphrase, they are leading women who play many parts: faithful wife, spiritual authority, and Hollywood celebrity.
Since the years of the Cultural Revolution, when all outward expression of faith were banned across China, religion in general and Christianity in particular have made a significant comeback. Through four decades during which the government offered a policy of increasing religious freedom, China has seen a remarkable revival of both Catholic and Protestant forms of Christianity much of that growth coming among new believers operating outside of state sanctioned churches. Now, the continued shifting relation between the church and the government has reached an important crossroads. Currently serious proposals are being considered to bring those church groups now outside the state regulatory system into a new more cordial relation with the Chinese government. Such proposals would bring legal status to the churches, but come with possible high costs. Given the spectacular growth of the church that has happened outside the system, would being incorporated into it stop the continuation of their outreach? Would the development of a friendly relationship with an atheist government compromise the churches’ witness? As the situation in China continues to change, how should Christians outside of China show their support for the continued mission of China’s Christians?
To explore answers to these and additional related questions, Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion has invited two outstanding scholars of Christianity in China to Waco to engage the Baylor community in an in-depth dialogue on “A Relationship in Transition: The Christian Church and China.”
“The Protestant Churches in Contemporary China”
Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology and Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society, Purdue University
He is the founding Editor of the Review of Religion and Chinese Society (launched in 2014) and the author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule (2012) and Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities (1999)
Professor of Sociology the University of California, San Diego and Director, Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China
He is the author/editor of Unofficial China (co-edited with Perry Link and Paul Pickowicz) (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989), China and the American Dream (UC Press, 1994), China’s Catholics: Tragedy and Hope in an Emerging Civil Society (UC Press, 1998), and Popular China: Unofficial Culture in a Globalizing Society, co-edited with Perry Link and Paul Pickowicz (Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).
David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Honors College, Baylor University(ISR)
Daniel Williams, Professor of Religion in Patristics and Historical Theology in the Department of Religion of Baylor University.
J. Gordon Melton, Distinguished Professor of American Religious History of Baylor University (ISR)
Jean Bethke Elshtain, an American political philosopher, was a visiting distinguished professor at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Department of Political Science from 2011 to 2013. She held many prestigious academic appointments and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and she served on the Boards of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the National Humanities Center. She was the recipient of many awards and honors. In 2006, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and also delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. In 2008, Elshtain received a second presidential appointment to the President’s Council on Bioethics.
She published over five hundred essays and authored and/or edited over twenty books, including Democracy on Trial, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, Augustine and the Limits of Politics, and Sovereignty: God, State, and Self.
The focus of her work was on the relationship between politics and ethics. Much of her work concerned the development of male and female gender roles as they pertain to public and private social participation. Jean Elshtain contributed to national debates on the family, the roles of men and women, the state of American Democracy, International Relations, and Just War.
Today’s panel discussion hosted by Baylor ISR, Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor Honors College and the Baylor Department of Political Science will provide a venue to honor her remarkable career, as well as an occasion to dedicate the Jean Bethke Elshtain book collection, which her family bequeathed to Baylor University. The collection is housed at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion in Pat Neff Hall.
Susan Hanssen – Elshtain on Jane Addams: The Role of Private Charity in a Welfare State
Susan Hanssen is Associate Professor and Chair of History at the University of Dallas, where she teaches American Civilization courses in the liberal arts core curriculum as well as British and American intellectual history.
Moderated by Byron R. Johnson, Director, Institute for Studies of Religion Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences
L. Gregory Jones – Executive Vice President and Provost
David Corey – Associate Professor of Political Science in the Honors Program
Darin Davis – Vice President for University Mission, Director of the Institute for Faith and Learning
World War I Symposium:
In April 1917, after passionate debate, the United States joined the First World War on the side of the Allied Powers. This decision was taken amidst fervent religious and patriotic rhetoric, and widespread confidence in the justice of the Allied cause. But the realities of war forced the country to revise its early optimism, so that later generations came to wonder whether American participation had been necessary or justified.
This seminar brings together scholars who will discuss aspects of the American wartime experience. In particular, they will describe the debates over the justice of the war effort, and the whole concept of Christian warfare.
10:30 am Philip Jenkins lecture – “Merchants of Death and Dreams of Peace: How Americans Came to Condemn the Great War”
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University, and the author of The Great and Holy War
2:00 pm Barry Hankins lecture – “From Westminster to Versailles: Woodrow Wilson in the Aftermath of WWI”
Barry Hankins is history professor and chair of the department of history, Baylor University, and the author of books including Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President (2016).”
3:30 pm Jonathan Ebel lecture – “Thou Shalt Kill: American Christians, European Weapons, and the Sanctification of Killing in the Great War”
Jonathan H. Ebel is associate professor of religion at the University of Illinois. He is the author of G.I. Messiahs: Soldiering, War, and American Civil Religion, (Yale, 2015), and Faith in the Fight: Religion and the American Solider in the Great War (Princeton, 2010). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.