Divided Worlds

Divided Worlds? Contexts of the New Testament Then and Now

Virtual Conference

November 6-8, 2020

Bridging disciplinary divides of the academy, this virtual conference brings together international scholars from New Testament Studies and Classics to examine if and how the New Testament can help us to understand our moral obligations on issues dividing our world with increasing fury. While conference sessions are offered as webinars open to the public, scholars will be summarizing their papers for discussion, not presenting them in full.

This conference is organized by faculty members from the departments of Religious Studies and Classics at the College of the Holy Cross with support from the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.

Conference Schedule

Session 1: Friday, November 6, 2020 | 9-10:15 a.m.

Presider: Caroline Johnson Hodge, College of the Holy Cross

An Argument for Being Studiously, Seriously Less Disciplined
Denise Kimber Buell, Williams College

This paper brings together the urgent need for racial justice in the United States (and beyond) and the widely perceived “crisis of the humanities” in higher education to explore how scholars of the New Testament and early Christian studies and of Classics do and might respond to these overlapping concerns.

Aesthetics as Ethics: New Testament, the Classics, and a Scrap of Lead
Laura Nasrallah, Yale University

This paper takes up the conference’s topic of using the texts of the New Testament and texts associated with the Classics “to think critically and creatively about how to conceptualize our obligations to take positive moral stands on issues of our own time that are dividing our world with increasing fury.”

Respondent: Timothy Joseph, College of the Holy Cross

Session 2: Friday, November 6, 2020 | Noon-1:15 p.m.

Presider: Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross

Citizenship and Equality
Jorunn Økland, Norwegian Institute at Athens, Greece and the University of Oslo, Norway

 The paper will preliminarily explore the ancient conceptual history of "equality" and other terms that implied some level of unity and oneness.

r  > g*
Allen Callahan, Independent Scholar

This paper triangulates between three stories: one about the Giving Pledge; another, about Jesus’ encounter with a chief tax collector named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); and third, about what to do and how to do it in "weeks where decades are happening."

Respondent: Douglas Boin, St. Louis University

Session 3: Saturday, November 7, 2020 | 9-10:15 a.m.

Presider: Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross

The World of Kandake: Foregrounding Ethiopian Queens and Empires 
Gay Byron, Howard University

Drawing upon ancient historians and classicists, this paper discusses queens and empires of “Ethiopia,” and reveals gender and ethnic interpretive biases that continue to keep the broad African origins of Christianity hidden and inaccessible.

Wayward and Willful: Porneia and Other Twists Among the Members Before and Beyond Paul’s Letters?
Joseph Marchal, Ball State University

This paper returns to arguments about immorality, perversion, and receptivity—not only because willfulness and waywardness are features of ancient arguments about a set of constructed Others (as one can find in several of Paul’s letters—Rom, 1 Cor, and Phil, among others), but because willful, wayward affects can also be techniques for approaching and archiving those figures targeted with such terms. 

Respondent: Shelley Haley, Hamilton College

Session 4: Saturday, November 7, 2020 | Noon-1:15 p.m.

Presider: Caroline Johnson Hodge, College of the Holy Cross

“You Are Not Your Own”: Master Jesus and the Enslaved Apostles
Jennifer Glancy, Le Moyne College

This paper focuses on the relationships between Master Jesus and enslaved apostles, and suggests that attention to the subtle representation of domination in early Christian writings points to some significant limitations of contemporary theory. 

Visualizing Oppression: Slavery and the “Arts of Domination”
Abraham Smith, Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University, USA

This paper discusses the work or effect of iconographical and metaphorical representation, including that of metaphorical uses of slavery, to understand the weight even today of metaphors and monuments that visually divide the world into the binary trap of the “conquerors” and the “conquered.

Respondent: Dominic Machado, College of the Holy Cross

Session 5: Sunday, November 8, 2020 | 9-10:15 a.m.

Presiders: Caroline Johnson Hodge, College of the Holy Cross and Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross

Apocalypse, Plague, and the Ethnic Other
Yii-Jan Lin, Yale University

This paper considers the phenomena of divinely inflicted plague and the association of outsiders with filth in the book of Revelation in conjunction with U.S. anti-immigrant rhetoric of the mid-19th century to our current COVID crisis.

What Large Letters: Invisible Labor, Invisible Disabilities, and Paul’s Use of Scribes
Candida Moss, University of Birmingham, UK

The purpose of this paper is both to examine the unspoken assumptions in scholarly analysis of Paul's letter to Galatians and to explore what it may tell us about the intersection between invisible labor (i.e. the bodies and skills of enslaved or formerly enslaved workers) and invisible impairments (i.e. ordinary disability) in the production of Paul’s letters. 

Respondent: Thomas Martin, College of the Holy Cross