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The UNC Department of Religious Studies is dedicated to the study of religions as historical and cultural phenomena. We take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding religious traditions from around the world: their history, sacred texts, beliefs, rituals, and institutions.


Recent News:


New Faculty Members

As the semester begins, we would like to extend a warm welcome to two new members of our faculty:

KamathHarshita Kamath joins us as Assistant Professor in Hinduism and South Asian Religions. Dr. Kamath holds a Ph.D. in West and South Asian Religions from Emory University, and her research focuses on the textual and performance traditions of Telugu-speaking South India. Her forthcoming book, Constructing Artifice: An Ethnography of Impersonation in South India, analyzes gender impersonation in the Telugu dance style of Kuchipudi. She has co-translated the sixteenth-century classical Telugu text Parijatapaharanamu (Theft of a Tree) with Velcheru Narayana Rao, which will be published as part of the Murty Classical Library of India by Harvard University Press.
Hugo Mendez joins us as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Mendez received his Ph.D. in 2013 from the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Program at the University of Georgia, and he comes to us from Yale University, where he served as Lecturer and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music for the past two years. He specializes in the reception of the Bible within Christian communities in late antiquity.

Welcome, Harshita and Hugo!

Posted in Faculty News on August 30, 2016  
David Lambert wins AAR Book Award

LambertIt was recently announced that Professor David Lambert received the 2016 AAR Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Textual Studies) for his book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016). From the American Academy of Religion website:

“In order to give recognition to new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion, the American Academy of Religion offers Awards for Excellence. These awards honor works of distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity, and importance; books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.”

Congratulations, David!

Posted in Faculty Publications on August 29, 2016  
Faculty Promotions

We are pleased to announce that, as of July 1, 2016, three members of our faculty have been promoted to new ranks in the department:

BoonJessica Boon has been promoted to Associate Professor. Dr. Boon specializes in the study of medieval and Renaissance Catholicism, particularly mysticism in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. She teaches a range of courses in the area of Christianity and Culture, including recent courses on “Mysticism” (RELI 165), “Mary in the Christian Tradition” (RELI 362), “Body and Suffering in Christian Mysticism” (RELI 665), and “Spanish Religions: Medieval Convivencia and Colonial Encounter” (RELI 668).
LambertDavid Lambert is now Associate Professor in the department. Dr. Lambert teaches courses on Hebrew Bible, including the popular RELI 103, “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Literature,” as well as other upper-level courses that combine critical approaches to the biblical text with attention to the history of biblical interpretation. His new book, How Repentance Became Biblical, was published earlier this year.
pleseZlatko Pleše has now been promoted to Professor. Dr. Pleše is a specialist in early Christianity, Greco-Roman religion, and religions of late antiquity. He has published widely in these areas and offers courses in our department on ancient philosophy, Gnosticism, the history of early Christianity, and Coptic language and literature.
Congratulations to Jes, David, and Zlatko!

Posted in Faculty News on August 25, 2016  
New Mosaics from Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq (2016)

Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in our department, has led archaeological excavations at the site of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee since 2011, revealing an ancient synagogue from the 5th century containing a set of beautifully preserved and highly distinctive mosaic floors. This summer, the excavations at the site uncovered more stunning mosaics, including biblical scenes depicting Noah’s ark and the exodus from Egypt. For links to the press coverage, click here.

Fish swallowing Pharaoh's soldiers
 Fish swallowing a soldier in the Red Sea (Photo by Jim Haberman)

donkeys Noah's ark
 Donkeys in Noah’s ark (Photo by Jim Haberman)

UNC students
 UNC students at Huqoq (Photo by Jim Haberman)

Posted in Faculty News on July 6, 2016  
Joseph Lam: Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible

Joseph Lam, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, recently gave an interview with the New Books Network regarding his book, Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible: Metaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept (Oxford University Press, 2016). In the interview he addresses a wide range of topics, including his academic background, the relationship between language and culture, and the definition of metaphor. To listen to the interview, click here.

Posted in Faculty Publications on June 27, 2016  
David Lambert: How Repentance Became Biblical

HowRepentanceBecameBiblicalProfessor David Lambert, who teaches in the area of Hebrew Bible and its history of interpretation, was recently interviewed for the OnScript podcast regarding his new book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016). Professor Lambert talked about how his book made him as a scholar, how the book came to be, and the scholarly alternatives to the ‘colonizing mode of interpretation’. Click here to hear the podcast.

Posted in Faculty Publications on April 21, 2016  
Woman-Led Prayer: A Conversation with Juliane Hammer

Hammer Interview

Professor Fareen Parvez and Mariam Awaisi conducted an interview with Juliane Hammer, Associate Professor and Kenan Rifai Scholar of Islamic Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Professor Hammer specializes in the study of American Muslims, contemporary Muslim thought, women and gender in Islam, and Sufism. She reflects here on the topic of woman-led ritual prayers in Islam and the debate surrounding them. Click here to read the interview.


Posted in Faculty Publications on September 30, 2015