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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Misah Ivrit: A Hebrew Mass and the Intersection of Worlds

Olin Hall  8:00 pm
World premiere of Noach Lundgren's Misah Ivrit. An unprecedented approach to the Mass, yet one deeply rooted in it's origins, Misah Ivrit presents a full setting of the Mass text in Biblical and Modern Hebrew, along with supplemental texts taken from Jewish liturgy.

Conducted by
Noach Lundgren

Performed by
Students of Bard College and Conservatory, Bard alumni, and members of the area community

Preceded by new solo music performed by the composer and a guest appearance by local trio Waterdove.

Contact: Noach Lundgren
  Monday, May 9, 2016

"Study, Stemma, and Society: Rabbinic Scholasticism, the Family, and the Making of Judaism in Sasanian Iran"

Olin, Room 202  6:00 pm
Shai Secunda
The Martin Buber Society of Fellows
Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sponsored by: Dean of the College; Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335
Monday, May 2, 2016

The Japanese Buddhist World Map: Religious Vision and the Cartographic Imagination

Olin, Room 102  6:30 pm
D. Max Moerman
Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures
Barnard College
Sponsored by: Asian Studies Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program; Religion Program; The Japanese Program; Theology Program
Contact: Luke Thompson  845-758-7384
Monday, April 18, 2016

Religion, witchcraft, magic and kinship in former colonies of Great Britain and Portugal

Peter Fry

Olin, Room 201  5:00 pm
Peter is a scholar, social commentator and public intellectual with an unusual range of research experience. Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, his career has taken him to Southern Africa and to Brazil, where he has lived and taught for forty years. He is one of Brazil’s most distinguished anthropologists, a former Vice-President of the Brazilian Association of Anthropologists, and editor of the leading anthropological journal Vibrant.
Sponsored by: Africana Studies Program; Anthropology Program; Environmental and Urban Studies Program; Global and International Studies Program; Religion Program
Contact: Drew Thompson  845-758-4600
Monday, April 4, 2016

World as (Arabic) Text:
An Introduction to Islamic Neopythagoreanism

Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium  6:00 pm
 Matthew Melvin-Koushki (PhD Yale)
Assistant Professor of History at the University of
South Carolina
 Western—i.e., Islamo-Christian—understandings of nature have long been logocentric: the world as text. For medieval and early modern thinkers, this logocentricity was mandated by the common neopythagorean doctrine that the uncreated, all-creative divine Word is expressed in twin Books—revealed scripture on the one hand (the Bible or the Quran) and the book of nature on the other. The commensurability of the two Books encouraged, in turn, the application of the hermeneutical methodologies that scripture elicits to the physical and metaphysical worlds, giving rise in Europe to Newtonian “scientific modernity” in its drive to mathematize the cosmos.

This early modern neopythagorean turn is exemplified by the emergence of Christian kabbalah in Renaissance Italy; yet the Arabic science of letters ('ilm al-huruf), or lettrism—the primary expression of Islamic neopythagoreanism—, was even more widespread and intellectually mainstream throughout the contemporary Islamicate world than its Hebrew cognate was in Europe.  Due to persistent scholarly positivism and occultophobia, however, this basic problematic has been wholly elided in the literature to date.  I therefore introduce lettrism as a primary methodology for mathematizing the cosmos, with a focus on thinkers in 15th- and 16th-century Iran, and propose it as an essential node for comparative early modern Islamo-Christian history of philosophy-science.

Sponsored by: Middle Eastern Studies, Medieval Studies, Mathematics and Religion Programs
Contact: Tehseen Thaver  845-758-7207
  Thursday, March 3, 2016

"From Apostle to Apostate & Rabbi to Rebel: Jewish Perspectives on Paul"

Hegeman 204  5:30 pm
Allan Nadler
Professor of Religion
Drew University
Sponsored by: Dean of the College; Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335
  Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Law, Ethics and Social Sciences in Contemporary Islamic Thought

Olin, Room 102  6:00 pm
Alexandre Caiero
Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies
Hamad Bin Khalifa University
 Since the turn of the millennium, state and non-state actors in the Middle East have energetically sought to regulate and reform Islamic authority in order to counter the fragmentation induced by mass literacy, new media technologies and global jihad. Various proposals have been formulated targeting state institutions, religious scholars, and wider publics. The call to incorporate social scientific knowledge into Islamic normative deliberation, notably through what is known as the jurisprudence or understanding of reality (fiqh al-wāqi'), and the emphasis on ethics rather than law have emerged as increasingly popular solutions. In this talk I ask what social scientific insights and conceptions of ethics are invoked in these debates, and how they relate to the modes of reasoning that characterize traditional Islamic law. I argue that the debates prompted by these proposals can be best understood as attempts to move beyond the jurists' methodological individualism in order to account for the impersonal powers of modern institutions. 

Alexandre Caeiro is Research Assistant Professor at the Center for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies located at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. He studied sociology and Islamic studies in France (Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales) and the Netherlands (ISIM). He has taught in the Netherlands, Germany, Egypt and Qatar and is currently working on two book projects. The first deals with jurisprudence of minorities and the integration of Islam in Europe. The second examines debates about the chaos of fatwas in the Arab World.
Sponsored by: Religion, Middle Eastern Studies, Historical Studies and Global and International Studies programs
Contact: Tehseen Thaver  845-758-7207
  Thursday, February 18, 2016

"Judaism and Christianity through the Lens of the Other: Martin Buber on Jesus and the Baal Shem Tov"

Hegeman 204  5:30 pm
Shaul Magid
Professor of Religious Studies,
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Sponsored by: Dean of the College; Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335
  Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Heidegger and the Kabbalah: Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiesis"

Olin, Room 203  5:30 pm
Elliott R. Wolfson
Distinguished Professor of Religion
University of California, Santa BarbaraMartin Heidegger (1889-1976) powerfully transformed the philosophical landscape in the twentieth century and exercised an inordinate influence on a wide variety of other disciplines. His personal shortcomings and ethical transgressions attested in his explicit complicity with National Socialism are well known and cannot be easily justified or dismissed as miscalculations based on inadequate knowledge or lack of savvy. In spite of Heidegger’s explicit anti-Judaism and his deplorable political judgment vis-à-vis Jews, there are themes in Heidegger’s oeuvre that bear a striking affinity to and can be utilized philosophically to elucidate the phenomenological aspects of kabbalistic esotericism and hermeneutics. My lecture will explore three Heideggerian themes that can be profitably compared and contrasted with some rudimentary tenets of the kabbalah: the depiction of truth as the unconcealedness of the concealment; the construal of language as the house of being within which all beings are disclosed in the nothingness of their being; and the understanding of the origin of timespace arising from an inceptual act that is, concomitantly, a contraction and an expansion, a withholding of the boundless ground that results in the self-extending delineation of boundary. The comparative analysis of Heidegger and kabbalah is justified hermeneutically by the principle that things belong together precisely because of the unbridgeable chasm that keeps them separate: what is the same is the same in virtue of being different.
Sponsored by: Dean of the College; Religion Program
Contact: Bruce Chilton  845-758-7335