2020 Biblical Studies Symposium

Conference Postponed

Due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 we believe the best course of action is to cancel this summer’s conference. We want to do our part to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved. Nonetheless, the Divinity school at St Andrews remains invested in this project and we aim to reorganise the event with the same topic for some time next school year, either in the spring or summer of 2021. Further information will be available once details are finalised.

Aspects of Belief in West Asia and the Mediterranean Basin (1000 BCE – 100 CE)
University of St. Andrews — Dates TBD

Discussions of the ancient world usually assume that the ancients believed the gods were intimately involved in everything from the realm of politics and climatological phenomena to cultic rituals and daily activities. Yet, recent scholarship challenges this reductive presentation of ancient belief and its place in cults and in society. As such, we might ask: What does it mean to “believe” in the ancient world?

The 2020 University of St Andrews Biblical Studies Symposium is now accepting abstracts of 500 words or less from professional scholars and postgraduate students. We encourage scholars from a number of disciplines to participate, as our symposium aims at fostering an interdisciplinary discussion about ancient belief. Therefore, scholars in Classics, Assyriology, archaeology, the philosophy of religion and biblical studies are welcome.

Plenary speakers include:

  • Dr. Erin Darby, University of Tennessee
  • Prof. Tom Harrison, University of St Andrews
  • Prof. Teresa Morgan, University of Oxford
  • Prof. Hindy Najman, University of Oxford
  • Dr. Matthew Novenson, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr. Brent Strawn, Duke University
  • Prof. Tim Whitmarsh, University of Cambridge

The following topics are a selection of possible focal points for research papers:

  • The etymology of “belief” in ancient textual traditions
  • The extent to which particular texts reflect the beliefs of the people they discuss
  • The use of belief as a boundary marker for social and religious groups
  • Non-belief and the issue of “atheism” in the ancient world
  • The relationship between belief and ritual
  • Individual versus group beliefs
  • How material culture can inform our interpretations of belief
  • Differences or similarities of beliefs cross-culturally
  • Belief and “faith” in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament
  • Belief and the philosophy of religion
  • Belief as a literary motif in textual traditions

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