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Friday, December 12, 2008

New/Updated EABS Sessions

There are more research seminars sessions for European Association of Biblical Studies (the next conference will be in Lincoln, 2009) that of direct interest to the things discussed on this blog:

Social History of Modern Biblical Scholarship
Ward Blanton, James Crossley and Halvor Moxnes
The purpose of this programme is to foster cross-disciplinary and collaborative research into the social history of modern biblical scholarship. A growing number of scholars have pursued such research of late, with the salutary effect of producing self-reflexive histories of the cultural, ideological and political entanglements of biblical studies as an academic discipline.

This research programme intends to (a) provoke more professionally trained biblical scholars to examine the social and historical construction of the field in which they practise; and (b) give concentrated visibility to emerging work that defines this trajectory among the sub-divisions of contemporary biblical research. The programme was launched in 2007, with lectures by scholars who have devoted significant energies to this type of intellectual history. All colleagues who are currently carrying out research on this topic or interested in participating in the programme, are cordially invited to contact the chairs.

Sociology and the Bible
David Chalcraft (David.Chalcraft@homecall.co.uk)
In the light of increasing interest in the use of the social sciences in Biblical Studies this research programme concentrates on the use of sociological theory and method in particular, but expands the role of sociology in Biblical studies to cover a number of distinct, yet related areas of interest. The extension of the role of sociology in Biblical studies is predicated on the notion that since sociology emerges from and seeks to address the rise of modernity, its nature and its possible futures, any use of sociology to understand the ancient social worlds of the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, and the New Testament, involves appreciating the nature of the social realities in which we live and conducting a constant dialogue in which past and present are both needed to be interwoven but also kept separate. The past and present need to be kept separate so as to appreciate both the continuities and the ruptures between modern social forms and social life and social life in the past.

The Research Programme includes:
1. Sociology and Historical Reconstruction: The use of sociology for the analysis of biblical and related (especially Qumranic) texts for the reconstruction of ancient social worlds and processes of social change. Theoretical, methodological and substantive contributions are relevant. 2. Sociologists and the Bible: (a) the work of specific sociologists (e.g. Spencer, Durkheim, Weber and more recent sociologists such as Talcott Parsons, Barrington Moore and Harvey Sacks) and how they themselves sought to make sense of ancient Israel and emergent Christianity, and (b) analysing the texts of these sociologists for the manner in which they directly and indirectly make use of Biblical ideas, themes, tropes and metaphors in their sociological writing. The aim is to contextualise and understand the merits and limitations of their approaches to Biblical history, and to assess their contributions in the light of developments in Biblical studies (based on improved data as well as methodological advances) and in the light of contemporary social theory. A central question involves the extent to which sociologists disenchanted their moral worlds and how this process can be mapped through analysis of their use of the Bible. 3. The Sociology of The Bible in Historical and Contemporary Culture and Society: promoting (a) theoretical and empirical work, grounded in sociological method, concepts and theorisations, on the actual use by specific individuals and groups, especially in contemporary society, of the Bible in their everyday lives, for example in recovering previous ethnographic and survey work by sociologists, theologians and other agencies on individual and social use of the Bible; and (b) advancing methodological debate through field work application of sociological research methodologies and modes of theorising and gaining sociological understanding of the use and abuse of the Bible in various social settings such as kindergartens, schools, churches, Sabbath schools, sports, local and national political arenas.
This Research Programme will thus offer a space in which empirical work and its methodological issues can be discussed and presented and seek to raise the profile of such work and encourage further research.

Programme for 2009
In the first instance the research programme will accept papers addressing any of the above themes. It is hoped to create a session in which aspects of the three themes articulated above can come together, under the theme of 'The Bible and the Sociology of Disaster'. Papers are invited that make use of sociological and social science research on the nature of disasters and trauma and their impact on individual and group life to reconsider biblical narratives of natural and political disasters (the defeat in war, the destruction of Israel and Judah, and the exile) and to consider the way in which contemporary sociology of disaster and trauma (e.g. on 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or the Holocaust) might benefit from or is comparable to, biblical responses.

Paper proposals are invited, to be sent to David Chalcraft (David.Chalcraft@homecall.co.uk)

Anthropology and the Bible
Emanuel Pfoh (epfoh@yahoo.com.ar)
The aim of this unit is to foster ethnographic readings of biblical stories and anthropological perspectives on the archaeology and history of ancient Palestine. Relevant topics for discussion are:

Political and historical anthropology of ancient Palestine (city-states, urbanization, state-formation processes, ethnogenesis)
Mediterranean anthropology in biblical narratives (patronage, hospitality,feud, honour and shame, food)
Sociology and anthropology of religion and ancient Palestinian cultic and ritual data (aniconism, iconography, burial, cultic places, etc.)

Proposals for papers should be sent by the end of January 2009 to Emanuel Pfoh (epfoh@yahoo.com.ar)


OpenID patmccullough.com said...

Those all sound great! I don't think I'll be able to make it, though.

December 12, 2008

Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Why not study the sociologists for the traumas and disasters they cause?

December 12, 2008

Anonymous Emanuel Pfoh said...

Let's hope to explore, among other things, what Mediterranean ethnography has to offer to biblical studies beyond the Context Group. We'll see.

December 12, 2008

Blogger James Crossley said...

Emanuel: should be an important group. You know the area far better than me, but it seems to me that the work done on state formation etc has not been fully absorbed into studies of ancient Israel/Palestine. Is that right? I also have a friend working on anthropology, death, burial and the HB and it seems like there are lots of new things to be done in such areas.

December 13, 2008

Anonymous Emanuel Pfoh said...


as far as I know, everybody is asking what kind of state we find in Iron I Palestine but nobody has asked if we have a state at all. State formation and state dynamics are two important issues that need to be discussed without the Bible in mind. Eveline van der Steen has done her part in the last EABS meeting (and before), but fortunately there's still a lot to be done.
The anthropology of death and burial is another new field. I know a couple of books about it but they are more biblical than anthropological. Of course, Francesca is doing her share here, and there's a lot to be done too.

December 13, 2008

Anonymous Emanuel Pfoh said...

By the way, James: I know Keith Whitelam is preparing a monograph dealing with city-states, urbanisation and state-formation in Iron Age Palestine. Do you know when it will be out?

December 13, 2008


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