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The UNC Department of Religious Studies is dedicated to the study of religions as historical and cultural phenomena. It examines the history, texts, artifacts, beliefs, values, and rituals of a variety of religious traditions. Inherently interdisciplinary in its approach, religious studies explores religions in light of related fields in the humanities and social sciences such as anthropology, classics, archaeology, sociology, philosophy, and history.


For the RELIxperience Undergraduate Video Contest, click here.


Recent News:

Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical

LambertSyndicate Network, an online forum for facilitating conversations on topics in the humanities, is currently hosting an online symposium on Prof. David Lambert’s award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016).

The symposium consists of critical reviews of the book by four scholars of different theoretical perspectives, with subsequent responses by Prof. Lambert leading to further back-and-forth dialogue. This format allows for an in-depth, illuminating exploration of the many issues that the book raises.

The online symposium can be found here. Currently the site has posted the responses of Joel Kaminsky (Smith College) and Susanne Scholz (Southern Methodist University); the responses of Reed Carlson (Harvard Divinity School) and Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago) are still to come.

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on November 30, 2016  
Carl Ernst: Podcast Interview on Islamophobia

Ultimate ConcernsProfessor Carl Ernst recently conducted an interview with the Ultimate Concerns podcast on the topic of “American Islamophobia,” in which he addressed the many dimensions of this problem, from the possible causes of Islamophobia to the ways in which one might respond. The discussion relates to the topic of his edited book, Islamophobia in America: The Anatomy of Intolerance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

For the podcast interview, click here.

“Ultimate Concerns” is a podcast on religion and culture hosted by Ron Mourad, Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College and a graduate (B.A. 1994) of our department. For more information click here.

Posted in Faculty News on November 25, 2016  
RELIxperience Undergrad Video Contest

Video Contest

We are excited to announce our first ever RELIxperience Undergraduate Video Contest! Submit a video up to five minutes long focused on religion at UNC: this could be how you found your way into Religious Studies, interviews with your favorite professors or TAs, or your favorite UNC traditions. The more creative, the better!

The top three submissions will each receive a $100 prize and be featured on the Department of Religious Studies website!

The contest is open to any undergraduate who has taken a RELI course. (Group submissions should include at least one member who has taken a RELI course.)

The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2017. Contact Professor Joseph Lam (jclam@email.unc.edu) on how to submit your video file, or if you have any other questions.

Stay tuned for updates!

Posted in News & Events on November 2, 2016  
Study Abroad: 2017 Huqoq Excavations with Jodi Magness

UNC students

Since 2011, Prof. Jodi Magness has led archaeological excavations at the site of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee, where she and her team have garnered international attention for their discovery of an ancient synagogue building with stunning mosaic floors. She is returning to Huqoq in summer 2017 and invites students to participate in the excavation through UNC’s Study Abroad program.

This coming season, the excavations will take place May 29-June 29, 2017. The deadline to apply for the program is February 9, 2017 (the online application system opens on December 1, 2016). The field school program offers students 6 hours of academic credit.

For more information, see the flyer for the field school program, the description on the UNC Study Abroad website, or the Huqoq Excavation Project website. You might also be interested in the previous coverage of her work on our website here (9/14/2016), here (7/6/2016), and here (7/15/2014).

In addition, Prof. Magness recently did an interview with UNC’s podcast series, “Well Said,” in which she described the goals and methods of archaeology as well as the specific implications of her work at Huqoq:

Posted in Faculty News on October 25, 2016  
Joseph Lam on MeaningOfLife.tv

Professor Joseph Lam recently did an interview with Benjamin Perry on MeaningOfLife.tv regarding his book, Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible: Metaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept (Oxford University Press, 2016). They discussed a variety of topics, including the “life” and “death” of metaphors, ancient vs. modern notions of sin, and the role of metaphor in contemporary religious and public discourse. Watch the video below:

To view the video on the MeaningOfLife.tv site, click here.

Posted in Faculty News, Faculty Publications on October 18, 2016  
Faculty Highlight: Andrea Dara Cooper

CooperAndrea Dara Cooper is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture. Her current book project explores representations of family in the writings of major Jewish thinkers, and recent courses that she has taught include: “Introduction to Jewish Studies” (RELI 123), “The Sacrifice of Abraham” (RELI 426H: Honors Course), and “Human Animals in Religion and Ethics” (RELI 079: First-Year Seminar).

At the last AJS (Association for Jewish Studies) conference in Boston, Prof. Cooper participated in a session on “Teaching Beyond the Canon: New Approaches to Jewish Studies,” and summarized the pedagogical insights coming out of the session for the AJS website.

Earlier this year, Prof. Cooper was part of a panel at Elon University responding to Geoffrey Claussen’s new book, Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar. Prof. Cooper’s remarks highlighted the implications of the book when viewed through the lenses of gender and the human/animal opposition. (The video below begins with Prof. Cooper’s response at the 21:36 mark.)

A recap of the book panel can also be found on the Elon website.

Posted in Faculty Spotlight on October 13, 2016  
Todd Ochoa on IAH Podcast

Todd Ochoa, Associate Professor in Religious Studies, was recently featured in an episode of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities podcast. In this 11-minute interview, Prof. Ochoa discusses his course on “Introduction to Religion and Culture,” his ongoing research in Cuba, and his love of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Listen to the podcast below:

Posted in Faculty News on October 9, 2016  
Bart Ehrman: Jesus Before the Gospels

EhrmanThe most recent popular book by Bart Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies, is Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior (HarperOne, 2016). In the book, Prof. Ehrman examines the role of memory in the earliest transmission of stories about the historical Jesus.

For an extensive two-part debate (hosted by the “Unbelievable?” radio program) with Richard Bauckham on the relationship of the New Testament Gospels to eyewitness testimony, see the following links: [part 1] [part 2]

The following is a 28-minute interview (with the American Freethought podcast) in which Prof. Ehrman discusses some of the main points of the book (the actual interview begins at the 2:44 mark; see also YouTube):

Posted in Faculty Publications on October 4, 2016