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.

Ultimate Concerns Podcast with Ron Mourad (B.A., 1994)

Ultimate ConcernsDr. Ron Mourad is Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College in Michigan, where he specializes in the philosophy of religion and Christian theology. After graduating from the Religious Studies department at UNC-Chapel Hill (with Honors) in 1994, he pursued further studies at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.A. in Divinity (1995) and a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion (2002).

Dr. Mourad hosts a podcast called “Ultimate Concerns” in which he explores topics in religion and culture in dialogue with experts in religious studies. Recent episodes explore topics as varied as virtual reality, the nature of heaven and hell, and artificial intelligence.

To find the podcast on iTunes, see here.

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 ( on how to submit your video file, or if you have any other questions.

Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE (2/1/2017):
Here is an official waiver form that needs to be filled out (by everyone who appears in the video) and submitted before prize money can be given out. (You can submit the forms along with the video if you wish.)

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 30, 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:

Joseph Lam on

Professor Joseph Lam recently did an interview with Benjamin Perry on 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 site, click here.

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.

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):

Carl Ernst: Refractions of Islam in India

ErnstThe latest book from Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies, is Refractions of Islam in India: Situating Sufism and Yoga (Sage Publications/Yoda Press, 2016), a collection of some two dozen essays published over Professor Ernst’s decades-long career. From Sage Publications:

“The essays explore Sufism as it developed in the Indian subcontinent, including translations of previously unavailable texts, and revealing unexpected insights into the lives, practices, and teachings of Indian Muslims over nearly a thousand years. They also trace remarkable moments in the history of Muslim engagement with Indian religious and cultural practices. This includes not only Muslim participation in Indian art and literature, but also the extraordinary role that Sufis have played in the practice of yoga. Employing new approaches to religious studies that avoid essentialism and ideological concepts of religion, and shorn of unnecessary jargon, these compelling essays will be easily accessible to a larger audience.”

McLester Colloquium with David Lambert

On Wednesday, September 21st, our faculty and graduate students gathered in Hyde Hall for the first McLester colloquium of the academic year. The speaker was our own David Lambert, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, who gave a lecture titled “Toward a History of Tendentiousness: Biblical Studies and the ‘Penitential Lens.’” Drawing from his award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016), Professor Lambert argued that attending to the reading strategies we adopt toward ancient texts such as the Hebrew Bible can reveal much about our modern notions of the “self.” As is typical of McLester colloquia, the lecture was followed by a wide-ranging critical discussion as well as plenty of time for informal conversation over refreshments.


Prof. David Lambert


Question from the audience

Looking forward to the next McLester colloquium!