300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Christianity about their New Books

New Books in Christian Studies New Books Network

    • Christianity

Interviews with Scholars of Christianity about their New Books

    Vanessa Cook, "Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left" (U Penn Press, 2019)

    Vanessa Cook, "Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left" (U Penn Press, 2019)

    In this episode of the podcast, Vaneesa Cook discusses her new book Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). The book shows that there is a deep religious strain within the American Left despite contrary common perceptions. Leftists Cook calls spiritual socialists believed the basic expression of religious values—caring for the sick, tired, hungry, and exploited members of one's community—was key to creating a functioning and more equal society. They emphasized these aspects of socialism and sought to implement them through their own actions and through a bottom up approach to activism. The book discusses a group of activists who practiced and shaped this intellectual tradition.
    In the episode, Cook discusses what she means by the term “spiritual socialists,” some of the individuals she discusses in her book, and how they distinguished themselves from communists both in their belief system and in the context of multiple American Red Scares. Cook also talks about her research process and some ways her book might be useful for thinking about the contemporary American political landscape.
    Christine Lamberson is a historian. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s.
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    • 53 min
    Kathleen Gallagher Elkins, "Mary, Mother of Martyrs" (FSR, 2018)

    Kathleen Gallagher Elkins, "Mary, Mother of Martyrs" (FSR, 2018)

    Throughout Christian history, the Virgin Mary has been idealized as a self-sacrificing mother and a model for all Christian women to emulate. However, she is one of many ancient maternal figures whose narratives pivot on violent loss. In her 2018 monograph Mary, Mother of Martyrs: How Motherhood Became Self-Sacrifice in Early Christianity (Feminist Studies in Religion, 2018), Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Elkins (Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI) examines ancient representations of mothers and children in the context of sociopolitical violence. She demonstrates that, as today, early Christian notions of motherhood are contextual and produced for specific political and social reasons. She also interrogates the tendency of both theologians and cultural commentators to read tales of early Christian mothers in an anachronistic manner informed by modern conceptions of the “natural” and “normal” family. Adding contemporary intertexts to the ancient texts at hand, each chapter juxtaposes an ancient maternal figure (including the Mother of Maccabees, Perpetua, and Felicitas in addition to Mary) with examples of contemporary maternal activism, such as Madre and Pussy Riot. Gallagher Elkins thereby shows the strategic, political charged, and rhetorically flexible conceptions of maternal self-sacrifice.
    Diana Dukhanova is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University in Providence, RI.
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    • 56 min
    Betsy Gaines Quammen, "American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West" (Torrey House, 2020)

    Betsy Gaines Quammen, "American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West" (Torrey House, 2020)

    In 2014, the cattle rancher Cliven Bundy entered the national spotlight after a showdown against federal officials over grazing rights on public lands. Two years later, his sons seized the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and occupied it for forty days with militia and sovereign citizen groups. As journalists rushed to the scene, trying to make sense of the motivations behind their anti-government politics, Betsy Gaines Quammen, a historian working on her history Ph.D., knew something was amiss. She had spent hours at the Bundy home, interviewing them for her dissertation on Mormon settlement in the West. She knew the Bundy’s rooted their politics in their Mormon faith, but their religious attitudes made few popular headlines. In her new book, American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West (Torrey House Press, 2020), Quammen situates the Bundy standoff within the long and convoluted history of Mormon migration into the American West—and provides an exciting new take on religion in modern American politics.
    Ryan Driskell Tate is a Ph.D. candidate in United States history at Rutgers University. He is completing a book on fossil-fuels and energy development in the American West. Twitter: @rydriskelltate
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    • 49 min
    John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope" (Fortress Press, 2015)

    John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope" (Fortress Press, 2015)

    John D. Caputo has a long career as one of the preeminent postmodern philosophers in America. The author of such books as Radical Hermeneutics, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, and The Weakness of God, Caputo now reflects on his spiritual journey from a Catholic altar boy in 1950s Philadelphia to a philosopher after the death of God. Part spiritual autobiography, part homily on what he calls the “nihilism of grace,” Hoping Against Hope (Fortress Press, 2015) calls believers and nonbelievers alike to participate in the “praxis of the kingdom of God,” which Caputo says we must pursue “without why.”
    Caputo’s conversation partners in this volume include Lyotard, Derrida, and Hegel, but also earlier versions of himself: Jackie, a young altar boy, and Brother Paul, a novice in a religious order. Caputo traces his own journey from faith through skepticism to hope, after the “death of God.” In the end, Caputo doesn’t want to do away with religion; he wants to redeem religion and to reinvent religion for a postmodern time.
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    Nijay Gupta, "Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies" (Baker Academic, 2020)

    Nijay Gupta, "Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies" (Baker Academic, 2020)

    Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies (Baker Academic, 2020) is an accessible and balanced introduction that helps readers sort out key views on the most important debated issues in New Testament studies. Well-known New Testament scholar Nijay Gupta fairly presents the spectrum of viewpoints on thirteen topics and offers reflections on why scholars disagree on these matters. Written to be accessible to students and readers without advanced training in New Testament studies, this book will serve as an excellent supplementary text for New Testament introduction courses.
    Dr. Nijay Gupta is Associate Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary at George Fox University. Dr. Gupta lives in Portland, OR. He can be found on Twitter @NijayKGupta
    Jonathan Wright is a PhD student in New Testament at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a ThM from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and can be reached at jonrichwright@gmail.com, on Twitter @jonrichwright, or jonathanrichardwright.com.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
    The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
    Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
    Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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    • 59 min

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