5 March–Michael Fishbane

For the final workshop of this winter quarter’s “Reckoning with Scriptures” series, we are delighted to welcome Professor Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies in the Divinity School and the College. The event is co-hosted with the Jewish Studies & Hebrew Bible Workshop, and will be held at 12:00, Monday, March 5th, in Swift 106.

Professor Fishbane will present a latest perspective on his highly-acclaimed work of contemporary theology, Sacred Attunement (2008), considering the role of ethics within the text and reflecting, phenomenologically, on the ethical dimension of attunement as he has defined it. As we move to the discussion segment of the workshop, the significance of such an ‘ethics of attunement’ to our broader constructive theological concerns and methods will also be in view.

We will have two respondents, to launch and help guide the conversation:

Sam Shonkoff, PhD Student in History of Judaism

Carly Lane, PhD Student in Social Thought

A version of Professor Fishbane’s presentation, which is soon going to publication (and so is not for distribution or citation), will be available for us to read in advance through the Theology Workshop listserve.

Lunch will be provided.

Any persons with a disability who believe they may require assistance, please contact Aaron Hollander in advance at athollander@uchicago.edu


20 February–Scriptures at the Faultlines

As we near the end of our Winter Quarter programming around the theme of “Reckoning with Scriptures,” the Theology Workshop has lined up two special events bringing together faculty, students, and six (6!) disciplines within and beyond the Divinity School. The first of these is a panel discussion on “Scriptures at the Faultlines,” Monday, February 20th, 12:00-1:30 pm, in Swift 106. 

In what ways does the presence of authoritative scriptures linger in supposedly secular spaces? How is scriptural authority negotiated among communities who do not share a common canon? Whose scriptures are they anyway, and who gets to appeal to them, and what are the ethics of doing so? Are debates about scriptural interpretation really about other things? Are debates about other things really about scriptural interpretation?

What these questions have in common is that they deal with the presence of scriptures at the boundaries between spaces with differing religious emphases or levels of authority, such as between religious communities in a common political body or natural watershed, between differing social norms within particular religions, or between exegesis and other forms of reasoning in the academy—all of which may or may not (or may not yet) be sites of conflict.

This panel will engage with how habits of reasoning, narrative motifs, and ethical priorities effervesce from the history of textual interpretation into a broad array of public interactions and spaces. Such patterns of scriptural logic may be explicitly “used” to strengthen the claims or behavior of agents, or they may be invisible and unvoiced—but no less informative.

Our guests for the panel are:

-William Schweiker, Director of the Martin Marty Center and Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School — reflecting on the general hermeneutical method that he has developed and used in order to deploy the “five dimensions” of theological ethics, in relation to scriptural claims and their potential orientation for the responsible life. In contrast to other “methods,” especially the approach of “scriptural reasoning” and the so-called method of correlation, he will contend that the method developed more adequately articulates and analyzes the structures of lived reality and therefore is important in addressing the interface between ethical and theological claims.

-Kristel Clayville, PhD Candidate in Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School — reflecting on the use and suspicion of Scripture in environmental ethics. She will focus particularly on the work of Holmes Rolston III, whose  argument for the preservation of endangered species as presented both philosophically and as an extension of Scriptural logic — thus overriding the typical binary between espousal and eschewal of scripture in this hotly contested field.

-Rachel Watson, PhD Student in Religion & Literature, University of Chicago Divinity School — reflecting on her research into the recent explosion of material (popular cultural, mass media disseminated, and academic) on the Gospel of Judas, part of the Codex Tchacos uncovered in Egypt in the 1970s and recently re-announced to the world in 2004. She will make a case that the introduction of this text as a “lost gospel,” one that was immediately put into conversation — if not competition — with other early Christian texts, sheds significant light on the contemporary discussion of and anxiety about ancient texts.

After presenting their reflections from the vantage of these three contested contemporary faultlines of scriptural application, our panelists will join in discussion with workshop participants in regard to the interpretive bases on which such patterns of use are founded, considering what criteria might be applied to evaluate them.

No preparation is expected of workshop attendees. Lunch will be provided. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance, or anyone with further questions, please contact Aaron Hollander at athollander@uchicago.edu.

6 February–Marsaura Shukla

The Theology Workshop cordially invites you to our upcoming workshop with Marsaura Shukla, PhD Candidate in Theology, Monday, February 6th at 12:00, in Swift 201.

“Reading and Revelation in Hans Frei and David Tracy”

Most maps of theology in the twentieth century, particularly theology in North America, would include the delineation of revisionist theology and postliberal theology as mutually exclusive, opposed options in theological method. Marsaura’s presentation begins to challenge the contours of this received map through a comparison of David Tracy and Hans Frei, preeminent figures in revisionist and postliberal theology, respectively. She will show that, for all their differences, both Tracy and Frei posit the reader-text relationship as the site and even in some sense the source of revelation, and elevate the activity of reading to the position of definitive religious activity.

This article is forthcoming in the Scottish Journal of Theology, and will be revised for use on the job market. Please come lend your support and insight!

Herbert Lin, 3rd year PhD student in Theology, will respond. The paper will be available through the Theology Workshop listserve, but no advance preparation is expected. Lunch will be provided.

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance, or with any other questions, please contact Kyle Rader at kgr@uchicago.edu.