Marian Miner Cook

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Crescit cum Religione Civitas: Why the Study of Religion Matters

Tue, October 10, 2023
Dinner Program
Esther Chung-Kim, Gary Gilbert, Daniel Michon, and Jamel Velji

Join members of the CMC's Religious Studies Department for a discussion of the study of religion at the Claremont Colleges. This roundtable includes experts on Reformation Christianity, ancient Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam, all of whom use a variety of methods, from archival research to archaeology and digital technology to study both ancient and modern religion. The discussion will highlight the ways in which the study of religion contributes to our understanding of cultures past and present.

(Parents Dining Room)

Esther Chung-Kim is Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. Her research focuses on religious conflict, biblical interpretation, and the history of poverty. Her books include: Inventing Authority: Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist (2011), Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Acts (2014), and Economics of Faith: Reforming Poor Relief in Early Modern Europe (2021, paperback 2023). Her articles cover topics such as moneylending, working women, and communal charity. Professor Chung-Kim was a Political Science-international relations major in college and received her PhD in Religion from Duke University. 

Chung-Kim regularly teaches courses on the History of World Christianity, European Reformations, Poverty & Wealth, and Christianity & Politics in Asia. She was previously the Associate Director of the Gould Center and currently serves as the President-Elect of the American Society of Church History

Gary Gilbert is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Jewish Studies Sequence at Claremont McKenna College.  His research and teaching focus on Jewish Studies, particularly Jewish communities in the Greek and Roman periods.  He is author of the commentary on Acts of the Apostles in the Jewish Annotated New Testament and of numerous articles on the Jewish community of late antique Aphrodisias and Jewish communal life in antiquity.  

Professor Gilbert teaches a wide array of courses in Jewish Studies, including courses on the ancient Jewish experience, Jewish art and identity, women and gender in Jewish tradition, a history of Jerusalem, and Zionism and Israel.  Professor Gilbert received his bachelors in Classical Studies from Haverford College and his doctorate from Columbia University, with additional studies in Jewish history at The Jewish Theological Seminary and early Christianity at Union Theological Seminary.  Professor Gilbert serves on the staff of the Tel Akko archaeological excavations in Israel.  In addition to his time at CMC, Professor Gilbert has been Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and at the Institute for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and has served President of the Pacific Region of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Daniel Michon is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He has published a series of articles and a book on archaeology, religion, and digital technology, as well as works on Taxila and Sanghol in India and on Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia. In his first book, Archaeology and Religion in Early Northwest India: History, Theory, and Practice, he investigated British interpretations of archaeological evidence, which led him to the colonial Indo-Portuguese world. His most recent book is To Serve God in Holy Freedom: The Brief Rebellion of the Nuns of the Royal Convent of Santa Mónica, Goa, India, 1731–1734.

Michon teaches courses on South Asian Religious Traditions (including Ancient India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, South Asian Islam, the Mahābhārata, etc.) as well as a First-year Humanities seminar entitled Religion and Modernity.

Jamel Velji is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. His work lies at the intersection between Islamic Studies and Religious Studies and is particularly concerned with the ways in which narratives, rituals, and symbols can effect social transformations. He has written extensively on various aspects of apocalypticism, and his book An Apocalyptic History of the Early Fatimid Empire was the inaugural volume of Edinburgh University Press’s series on Islamic Eschatology and Apocalypticism. His current research examines the Islamic history of coffee, and how that history becomes retold in various European and American contexts. 

Velji holds A Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Islamic Studies from McGill University, and a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College. His work has been funded by numerous fellowships, including a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, two fellowships from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Josephine de Kármán Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Institute of Ismaili Studies. 

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

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