The UChicago Theology Workshop

You are invited to our last meeting of the year, cosponsored with the Divinity School Women’s Caucus and the Dean’s Office.

On Wednesday, June 3, 3:00 – 4:00 pm Professor Ellen Charry, Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS), will lead a conversation on women as leaders in the academy.

We will meet in the Common Room. A light reception and an off-site dinner with Prof. Charry will follow.

Thank you!  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Persons with disabilities who would request assistance, please use “contact us” form in advance.

Our last student presentation of the quarter is on Tuesday, May 19, noon –1:20 pm, in Swift 200. Delicious lunch will be served!

Drew Durdin (Ph.D. candidate in the HR) will present his dissertation chapter entitled “”A Roman ‘theological’ discourse: on empire, knowledge, and religion.” In this presentation he will use “theology” as an analytic term to emphasize a cognitive aspect of Roman religion that often gets eclipsed behind theories of ritual. The paper will investigate the employment of “theology” as a tool to explore how and why certain historical, social, and political conjunctions incited a self-conscious and self-reflective discourse among the Romans with which they rendered their traditional ritual practices as an object of knowledge.

Persons with disabilities who would request assistance, please use “contact us” form in advance.

You are cordially invited to a special meeting of the Theology workshop with Prof. Kevin Vanhoozer on Monday, May 4 2, 4:00 – 5:30 pm in the Common Room. He will give a presentation entitled “Being in Christ: The Church as Eutopic Theater.” The paper would combine a look at the reception history of Paul’s notion of union with Christ with a constructive proposal for understanding its meaning for today in terms of “doing” church.

Kevin Vanhoozer is an author of multiple books, including Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine (Westminster John Knox, 2014), Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion and Authorship (Cambridge, 2010), The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Westminster John Knox, 2005; Christianity Today Best Theology Book of the Year), and Biblical Narrative in the Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur (Cambridge, 1990, reprint 2007). He also served as an editor of several volumes, including Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Baker, 2005; Christianity Today Best Biblical Studies Book of the Year, 2006), Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends (Baker, 2007), and The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology (Cambridge, 2003). He is currently a Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Theological Interpretation and the International Journal of Systematic Theology.

Persons with disability who would request assistance, please use “contact us” in advance.

Our first student presentation of the quarter is on Tuesday, April 21, noon- 1:20 pm, in Swift 200.

Russell Johnson (Ph.D. student, PR) will present his paper entitled “Communication Breakdown: What Rhetorical Theory Is and Why Theologians Should Care.”

Delicious lunch will be served!


In this paper, I give an introduction to the themes, conclusions, and methodologies of rhetorical theory. Rhetorical theory, or the philosophy of communication, once flourished at the University of Chicago but many religion scholars are unfamiliar or only indirectly familiar with its ideas. Through the exegesis of several short quotes (like McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”), I will give an overview of rhetorical theory. In the process, I will discuss some writers who have worked at the intersection of rhetorical theory and Christian theology. I conclude with a few provocative and as-of-yet-unsubstantiated claims to suggest how rhetorical theory could spark further theological reflection. I hope to show that theologians can benefit from becoming more aware of their existence as communicative agents.

Persons with disabilities who would request assistance, please us “contact us” form.

You are invited to our first meeting of the quarter co-sponsored with the Global Christianities workshop:  Thursday, April 2, noon 1:20 pm at Swift 200.  

Elsa Marty (Ph.D. student, Theology) will present her paper entitled The Nemha Bible: Christians and Censorship in India

Delicious lunch will be served.


India’s laws that infringe on freedom of expression enjoy widespread support in the country. Many people believe they have a right to not be offended. Christians are no exception, demanding that the government ban The Da Vinci Code, bringing blasphemy cases against miracle debunker Sanal Edamaruku, and protesting the use of the word Hosanna in a Bollywood song. But Christians have also been the victims of these laws. In 2008, followers of a traditional tribal religion called Sarna objected to a translation of the Bible into their language, because they interpreted a passage from the book of Deuteronomy as a call for the destruction of their religion. In this paper I describe the case of the Nemha Bible in more detail and discuss arguments that the Lutherans who published the bible translation might use to influence their co-religionists to work for greater freedom of expression.

Persons with disability who would request assistance, please us “contact us” form

You are invited to our last meeting of the quarter co-sponsored with the Global Christianities workshop.  Please notice the unusual location:  Tuesday, March 10th, 12:00pm-1:20pm in the Pick Hall Lounge.  Erika Dornfeld (M.Div. student) will present a paper entitled, “Indigenous Knowledge and Western Expertise: a Collision for Christian Environmental Ethics in Tanzania, East Africa.”  Lunch will be served.

You are cordially invited to the next meeting of the Theology and Religious Ethics workshop on Tuesday, March 3, noon – 1:20 pm at Swift 200.

Dilara Uskup will present her paper entitled  Blue Bible, Red Bible: Sin or Right? Examining the Impact of Theology on Morality Based Opinions Among Faith Centered African Americans.  Marcella Wilkinson will respond.
This paper puts forth a multidimensional “measure of theology” (vs. traditional “religiosity”) as an alternative measure of examining religious influence on political behavior and public opinion of faith-centered African Americans. The measure of theology was used in research involving faith-centered African Americans to determine the extent to which their political orientation influences issues of morality, and what it says for support or opposition of same-sex marriage.

Lunch will be served.

Persons with disability who would request assistance, please use “contact us” form.

You are invited to our special meeting on Tuesday, February 17, 12:00 – 1:20 pm (room TBD). Prof. Barbara Vinken from the University of Munich will share about her work as part of the Neubauer Collegium research workshop.  Lunch will be served.

You are invited to our next meeting co-sponsored with the Global Christianities workshop on Thursday, February 5th, 12:00pm-1:20pm in Swift 200.

Raúl Zegarra (Ph.D. student in Theology) will present a paper entitled, “Interpreting Pope Francis: David Tracy, Ignacio Ellacuría, and the Method of Critical Correlation.”

Lunch will be provided.

Abstract: This paper aims to provide a theological hermeneutics of Pope Francis’ papacy, putting the emphasis on his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. In order to do so I will try to reconstruct what in my view is the hidden method operating in the document, namely, what we may call a “Latin American method of critical correlation.” I claim that Francis’ text is a representative of what David Tracy calls in his foundational Blessed Rage for Order a “method of critical correlation,” but I also maintain that such a method is somehow qualified and expanded by Francis while using something very much like Ellacuría’s understanding of the “Latin American method,” i. e., the method of liberation theology. The goal of the paper is to suggest that the best way to read Francis’ papacy and first important magisterial document, then, is by means of a combination of Tracy’s and Ellacuría’s methodological proposals.

Persons with disability who would request assistance, please use the “contact us” form.
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