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For our Summer 2023 courses, click HERE! For our Fall 2023 courses, click HERE!


Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth, with Professor Jodi Magness

Jodi Magness, Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism, recently appeared on an episode of Sparks of History. Generally, this podcast focuses on the intersection between Jewish and world history, and features a wide range of insightful, informative and entertaining video interviews and podcasts with renown authors, historians and rabbis. For more information, click here!

Click here, to watch the entire interview and learn from Professor Magness about Masada, the famous site and story of the last stand of a group of Jewish rebels who held out against the Roman Empire. To read her book Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth, click here.

Posted in News & Events on May 24, 2023  
Professor Hugo Mendez releases new book, The Cult of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem: Inventing a Patron Martyr

Congratulations to Religious Studies professor Hugo Mendez on the publication of The Cult of Saint Stephen in Jerusalem: Inventing a Patron Martyr (Oxford Early Christian Studies, 2023)! 

As the site of only a small and obscure Christian population between 135 and 313 CE, Jerusalem witnessed few instances of anti-Christian persecution. This fact became a source of embarrassment to the city in late antiquity―a period when martyr traditions, relics, and shrines were closely intertwined with local prestige. At that time, the city had every incentive to stretch the fame of its few, apostolic martyrs as far as possible-especially the fame of the biblical St. Stephen, the figure traditionally regarded as the first Christian martyr (Acts 6-8). What the church lacked in the quantity of its martyrs, it believed it could compensate for in an exclusive, local claim to the figure widely hailed as the “Protomartyr”, “firstborn of the martyrs”, and “chief of confessors” in contemporary sources.

This book traces the rise of the cult of Stephen in Jerusalem, exploring such historical episodes as the fabrication of his relics, the construction of a grand basilica in his honour, and the multiplication of the saint’s feast days. It argues that local church authorities promoted devotion to Stephen in the fifth century in a conscious attempt to position him as a patron saint for Jerusalem―that is, a symbolic embodiment of the city’s Christian identity and power. 


Posted in News & Events on April 13, 2023  

Professor Waleed Ziad’s book shortlisted for the British Association for South Asian Studies book prize!

Join us in congratulating Religious Studies professor Waleed Ziad. His book entitled Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints Beyond the Oxus and Indus (Harvard, 2021) has been shortlisted for the British Association for South Asian Studies book prize!

Hidden Caliphate (winner of the Albert Hourani Award from the Middle East Studies Association and shortlisted for the Bloomsbury Pakistan book award) examines the development across Asia of Muslim revivalist networks from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

For more information CLICK HERE!








Posted in News & Events on April 13, 2023  
Jocelyn Burney: Digging into the lives of ancient Jewish communities

Religious studies Ph.D. student Jocelyn Burney relishes the public humanities aspect of her graduate work — from contextualizing a pottery exhibit in Carolina Hall to teaching the Hebrew Bible at a Raleigh women’s prison to supervising the work of undergraduate students at an archaeological dig in Israel.

Jocelyn Burney is used to getting up early. Really early. For the last 10 years, her summer mornings have begun promptly at 4 a.m. as an area supervisor for an archaeological dig at Huqoq in Israel’s Lower Galilee.

Burney is a Ph.D. student in religious studies who got hooked on archaeology as a 19-year-old undergraduate at Carolina when Kenan Distinguished Professor Jodi Magness first took students to Huqoq. (Magness is now her dissertation adviser.)

After traveling to the site and setting up shade tents, work begins around 5 a.m. to avoid the blistering heat. There’s a morning respite for breakfast at 8 a.m., then another fruit/hydration break affectionally called “elevensies” at 11 a.m. Burney supervises a group of students — teaching them, taking photographs, helping to document the excavation — as the team continues to unearth nearly 1,600-year-old mosaics in an ancient Jewish synagogue. It’s intense, physical work that wraps up around noon each day. Afternoons for students involve lectures and lab work — washing and cleaning pottery — while Burney spends the time writing up reports of the day…

To read more of this article CLICK HERE!

Posted in News & Events on April 12, 2023  
Professor David Lambert on Podcast “The Bible for Normal People” hosted by Peter Enns

David Lambert, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible in its Ancient Near Eastern environment, recently appeared on an episode of the well-known podcast The Bible for Normal People. In this episode entitled “Is the Bible ‘Scripture'” Professor Lambert talks with hosts Peter Enns and Jared Byas about how scholars define “scripture,” how communities throughout history have changed the meaning and nature of biblical texts, and whether or not the Bible can ever be universally understood as scripture.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast as they explore the following questions:

  • What do we mean by “scripture”?
  • What kind of assumptions do people make about scripture?
  • What do scholars think about how and when the Hebrew Bible became viewed as sacred text?
  • How did ancient people throughout history understand what was going on with the books and writings that are now known as the Bible? How does that connect or relate to how we talk about it now?
  • How can we move toward a hermeneutic or a view of scripture that allows for a diversity of assemblages?
  • What does David mean by scripture being a “colonial project”?
  • What does David mean by the phrase “the tyranny of canonical assumptions”?
  • For religious communities moving into the future, or people who read the Bible devotionally, what does it mean if the Bible is (or isn’t) actually scripture? How does that change how people interact with the Bible?
  • Will there ever, or can there ever, be a universal understanding of what the Bible is?

Lambert         The Bible For Normal People

Posted in News & Events on April 5, 2023  
Professor Bart Ehrman on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross

Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor in Early Christian History, has recently appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. In this episode, Professor Ehrman discusses his new book Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End (Simon and Schuster, 2023).

As Terry Gross states, “Bible scholar Bart Ehrman says interpretations of the Book of Revelation have created disastrous problems — from personal psychological damage to consequences for foreign policy and the environment.”

You can read the transcript and listen to the episode by CLICKING HERE!

Ehrman     NPR - Wikipedia     Armageddon

Posted in News & Events on April 5, 2023  
Witch Please Podcast: Holocaust Studies, Prof Andrea Cooper

Professor Andrea Cooper, Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Scholar in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture, has recently appeared on an episode of Witch Please.

In this episode we bring in a guest, Andrea Dara Cooper (she/her), to talk about Holocaust Studies. Andrea is Associate Professor and Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Scholar in Modern Jewish Thought and Culture at UNC-Chapel Hill — and she is the author of Gendering Modern Jewish Thought (Indiana University Press, 2021). Tune in for a conversation about the function of allegory in Harry Potter. When does it work in this series? When does it fall short? What are the political implications of relying on the Holocaust to make new meaning in a fantasy world both chock full of stereotypes and severely lacking in diversity? If you enjoyed our episodes on Animal Studies, Eugenics, and Werewolves as Metaphor (just to name a few!), this is required listening!

Check out the podcast here!


Posted in News & Events on March 30, 2023  
Summer 2023 Classes!

Check out a few of our upcoming course offerings for the summer. For a complete list, click here!

Posted in News & Events on March 26, 2023  
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