The UChicago Theology Workshop

Olivia BustionMonday, January 13, 2014 12:00 noon-1:30 pm Swift Hall, Room 200

What do queer culture, Star Trek fandom, and the Quiverfull movement have in common?  Come find out at the next Theology Workshop, where Olivia Bustion will present her work-in-progress, “Counterpublic Theology and Pacifist Ways of Knowing (with John Howard Yoder and Virginia Woolf).”  The essay maps out a new way for theology to travel publicly, namely, ‘counterpublic theology.’

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20130926_162824Monday, December 2, 2013 12:00 noon-1:30 pm Swift 106

Join us for Barnabas Pusnur’s paper, “Narsai and the theological articulation of Identity”.

Narsai was a fifth century Syriac Christian theologian who wrote homilies in poetic form.He lived at the cultural and geographical boundaries of the Roman and Persian Empires. The paper attempts to study Narsai’s theological articulation of identity in relation to his historical context.
Evan Kuehn will be responding.

Berhan Selassie (1)

Monday, November 18, 2013 12:00 noon-1:30 pm Swift 106

Join us for Andrew DeCort’s paper, “”Authority, Martyrdom, and the Question of Axiality in Ethiopian Political Theology””

This paper will (i)  briefly converse with Bellah’s description of sacral kingship and the transition to ‘axiality’ in his Religion in Human Evolution; (ii) show how early Ethiopian Axumite civilization was essentially a sacral kingship; (iii) argue that this basic understanding of authority didn’t change substantially with the Christianization of Ethiopia in the fourth century under Ezana and following to the medieval period; and (iv) investigate to what extent Abba Estifanos should or should not be understood as one of the first clear cases of “axiality” in Ethiopian politico-religious history (in short, Estifanos challenged the emperor Zara Yaqob based on a notion of ‘divine law’ that transcended royal law and the king’s claim to represent God). As a final step (v) I will make some remarks about the ongoing relevance of this medieval martyr and his ‘school’ for contemporary Christian theology in Ethiopia confronted by political oppression and the temptation to retreat into political silence. In short, I will be making the claim that Christian theology in Ethiopia, among other things, should – and periodically has – challenge(d) prevailing notions of authority with a constructive vision of ‘martyrdom’ (which doesn’t simply mean dying).


Evan Kuehn will respond. You can find the paper here (UChicago ID and password needed). Please feel free but not obligated to read the paper in preparation. Please email contact if you are not a University of Chicago affiliate but would like to look at the paper in preparation for the workshop meeting.


A light lunch will be served.



Shannon Craigo-Snell, “Performing Epistemologies of Resistance”

Wednesday, November 13, 4:30-6pm, University of Chicago Divinity School, Swift Lecture Hall


The theme of Alternative Epistemologies raises the question: alternative to what? This presentation explores two different accounts of modern epistemology and its discontents. The first, articulated in feminist theory, implicates the drive to singularity in modern thought. It critiques the judgment that there is a single path to an objective, universal truth. The second, articulated in performance theory, analyzes the role of the written word in colonialism, identifying political imperatives and implications of text-based knowledge. Taken together, these distinct accounts offer insights into epistemology as a possible arena for political resistance.


Shannon Craigo-Snell is Professor of Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the Faculty Director for the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Her published works include Silence, Love, and Death: Saying “Yes” to God in the Theology of Karl Rahner (Marquette, 2008) and Living Christianity: A Pastoral Theology for Today, which is co-authored with Shawnthea Monroe (Fortress, 2009). More of her work on theology and performance will be found in her forthcoming book, The Empty Church: Theatre, Theology, and Hope (Oxford,  2014).


Elsa-Marty (1)
Monday, November 4, 2013 12:00 noon-1:30 pm Swift 106

Join us for Elsa Marty’s paper, “Inculturation or Christian Unity? Competing Visions for the Church among Lutheran Adivasis in Chotanagpur (India)”

The Lutherans in the Chotanagpur region of North India are predominantly adivasi (indigenous) and come from many different tribes. Since 1977, they have been divided into two churches: the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (GELC) and the North-Western Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (NWGELC). These two churches emphasize different aspects of Christian community. The GELC focuses on Christian unity and is comprised of members from all of regional tribes. The NWGELC was formed in 1977 by members from the Oraon tribe and stresses the importance of inculturation and contextualization. This paper explores the difficulty of “inculturating” into a multi-cultural community and various visions of Christian unity in such an environment.

Rick Elgendy will respond.

A light lunch will be served.

We recommend that you read the paper in advance of the workshop; you can find it here. If you are planning on attending the workshop and are not affiliated with the University of Chicago, please email to request access to the paper.



Sojung KimMonday, October 21, 2013
12:00 noon-1:30 pm
Swift 106

Join us as Sojung Kim kicks off our workshop this year with her paper, “Theopoetic and Vernacular: The Languages of Suffering People.”

In this paper Sojung will discuss the political and liberation theological movement in the 20th century by dealing with Metz, Moltmann, Soelle, Gutiérrez, and Cone.

She will compare how these theologians distinctly challenged the limitation of modern theological discourse and emphasized the importance of people’s language in Theology

Julius Crump will respond.

A light lunch will be served.


Join us Monday, October 7 (Week 2) for our first meeting of the new academic year!

We’ll be gathering for lunch to introduce the Theology Workshop, and offering a time for students and faculty interested in Theology to socialize and address questions about the coming year.

Lunch is cosponsored by the Theology Club.
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The Theology Workshop is pleased to be co-sponsoring, with the Late Antiquity & Byzantium Workshop, a presentation by Aaron Hollander, PhD student in Theology. The paper is entitled “Paradox and Wonder: The Catastrophic Holiness of Saint Symeon the Fool, and will be submitted as the orals statement for Aaron’s qualifying examination in the Autumn.

Tuesday, May 28th * 4:30 – 6:00 pm * Cochrane-Woods Arts Center, Room 152

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