NatGeo Article: Does Huqoq Mosaic Depict Alexander the Great?

NatGeo Article: Does Huqoq Mosaic Depict Alexander the Great?
 

In a recent article in National Geographic titled “Explore This Mysterious Mosaic – It May Portray Alexander the Great,” Professor Jodi Magness is interviewed regarding one of the most fascinating synagogue mosaics to have come to light from her archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee. The mosaic in question, discovered in 2014, is interpreted by Professor Magness as a portrayal of the legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jerusalem high priest.

The article not only explores the different interpretations that have been offered to explain this enigmatic scene, but it also contains an interactive visual tool that leads the reader through each part of the mosaic close-up. To read the NatGeo article, click here.

For a video clip (4:38) of Professor Magness discussing this mosaic and the NatGeo article on Fox News, click here.

Huqoq mosaic, head of military figure

Royal figure in Huqoq mosaic (Photo by Jim Haberman)

Posted in Faculty News on September 14, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

New Faculty Members

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.
 
 
MendezHugo 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. Bookmark the permalink.

David Lambert wins AAR Book Award

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 News, Faculty Publications on August 29, 2016. Bookmark the permalink.

Faculty Promotions

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. Bookmark the permalink.

New Mosaics from Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq (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. Bookmark the permalink.

Dr. Andrea Cooper Joins Department

Dr. Andrea Cooper Joins Department
 

CooperAndrea Cooper has joined the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies as the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture. Prof. Cooper holds a B.A. from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from New York University, where she recently served as Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. Her research and writing focus on modern Jewish thought, gender theory, and continental philosophy, and she will be teaching a variety of new courses at UNC in these areas.

Posted in Faculty News on September 3, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

Joseph Lam Becomes Assistant Professor

Joseph Lam Becomes Assistant Professor
 

LamJoseph Lam has become an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Prof. Lam holds a B.A.Sc. from the University of British Columbia, an M.Div. degree from Regent College in Vancouver, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the field of Northwest Semitic Philology. He has served as an instructor at N.C. State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Chicago, and Regent College, and he began teaching at UNC as a lecturer in our department in 2011. Prof. Lam’s research and teaching at UNC will focus on ancient Near Eastern religion, languages, and culture, including the Hebrew Bible.

Posted in Faculty News on September 2, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

Dr. Magness Uncovers Surprising Mosaics

Dr. Magness Uncovers Surprising Mosaics
 

Huqoq-mosaic-elephant-image-965x543Excavations led by Religious Studies faculty member Jodi Magness have uncovered well-preserved mosaics decorating a Late Roman synagogue at Huqoq. Some of these mosaics reveal surprising images – like the elephant pictured here – depicting scenes and objects unattested to in the Bible.

You can read more about these amazing discoveries below:

http://college.unc.edu/2014/07/02/mosaics2014

http://uncnews.unc.edu/2014/07/02/new-mosaics-discovered-synagogue-excavations-galilee/

http://www.timesofisrael.com/stunning-mosaic-found-at-ancient-galilee-synagogue/

Posted in Faculty News on July 15, 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

Dr. Maffly-Kipp Recognized for Work to Strengthen University-Community Relations

Dr. Maffly-Kipp Recognized for Work to Strengthen University-Community Relations
 

Dr. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Professor of Religious Studies, was one of eight Carolina faculty members honored recently for distinguishing themselves as engaged scholars through their commitment to connecting their research and teaching to real-life issues. As part of the Faculty Engaged Scholars program, these professors further developed connections to strengthen university-community partnerships through projects like integrating refugee children into local schools and developing custom assistive technology products for people with disabilities.

“My participation in the Faculty Engaged Scholars program, and particularly conversations with other scholars interested in reaching beyond the walls of the university, not only gave me new ways to think about my research and its significance, but also inspired me to consider all of my work in terms of broader outcomes,” said Dr. Maffly-Kipp. “I was encouraged—indeed pushed—to think more creatively and imaginatively.”

The program is an initiative of the Carolina Center for Public Service and has the goal of promoting engaged scholarship at the university. The curriculum is highly interactive and experiential, involving on site-visits and discussions with other Carolina faculty members and their community partners.

Dr. Maffly-Kipp worked to educate various communities about religious diversity and to encourage and facilitate more open dialogue of religious differences. Her work as a Faculty Engaged Scholar ranged from leading seminars for high school teachers around the nation to writing articles on Mormonism for the New York Times and the Congressional Quarterly. She also leads talks for audiences seeking to better understand the nature of religious faith in American political life.

The first class of Faculty Engaged Scholars was selected in October 2007. At least eight new scholars enter the program every other year. To date, 34 Faculty Engaged Scholars representing 21 departments have participated in the program. The third class graduated from the program on Nov. 2.

Read more about the 2012 graduating class of Faculty Engaged Scholars here.

About the Carolina Center for Public Service

The Carolina Center for Public Service engages and supports the faculty, students and staff of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in meeting the needs of North Carolina and beyond. The Center strengthens the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good. This award was established in 1995 to recognize the importance of graduate student mentorship to the health and vitality of UNC’s intellectual community. Faculty members are nominated through letters submitted by their students and are selected through an intensive review process.

Posted in Faculty News on November 12, 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

Bart Ehrman Blogs About Christianity to Raise Money for Charity

Bart Ehrman Blogs About Christianity to Raise Money for Charity
 

Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, has started a new Blog, “Christianity in Antiquity [CIA]: The Bart Ehrman Blog,” at www.ehrmanblog.org.

The Blog includes a public site with postings available to anyone who logs in; most postings, however, will be on the members-only site, which may be joined by paying a subscription fee.

None of the money collected from the site will be lining Prof. Ehrman’s pocket; he is giving all of it away to charities dealing with hunger and homelessness. And so, while the Blog is designed to deal with issues involving the New Testament and early Christianity, its ultimate goal is to raise money for those in need.

Posted in Faculty News on April 22, 2012. Bookmark the permalink.