Fall Academy of Religion to Ponder ‘New’ New Testament

Annual lecture series at The College of Wooster ponders inclusion of previously omitted texts

4 August, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The ever-intriguing debate about why certain books were included in the Bible while others were not will resume in earnest next month when The College of Wooster's Fall Academy of Religion presents "Making the Old New: The 'New' New Testament." The annual lecture series, which is free and open to the public, will feature six speakers, each of whom will address a different aspect of the subject. The sessions will be held in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.) from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

"We will hear from scholars about how these books were chosen and what new insights they give us into Jesus and the early Jesus movement," said Charles Kammer, the James F. Lincoln Professor of Religious Studies at Wooster and academic dean of the Fall Academy. "In the process, we will be given access to additional insights and resources as we struggle, in the modern world, to become more richly and fully Human."

Archaeologists and scholars have identified close to a hundred documents over the years, highlighted by the discoveries of the Dead Sea scrolls between 1946-1956, that could have been included in the Bible. These documents date from the first-to-mid-century CE when the books of the canonical New Testament were written. From the Gospel of Mary to the Gospel of Thomas, these texts provide insight into the world in which Jesus lived, and how he was received and perceived by people of that period.

The series begins on Sept. 17 when John Gordon, chaplain and associate professor of religion at Baldwin Wallace University, presents "From Story to Canon: An Overview of the Formation of the New Testament." The following week (Sept. 24) Robert Fowler, professor of religion at Baldwin Wallace, will discuss "How Do We Know What We Know About the Books of the New Testament?"

In Week 3 (Oct. 1), Hal Taussig, visiting professor of New Testament at
Union Theological Seminary in New York, will address "What Is Spiritually at Stake in the Reading of A New New Testament?" The fourth lecture (Oct. 8) will feature Arthur Dewey, professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, exploring the topic, "Being Like Jesus: An Introduction to a Radical Reading of the Gospel of Thomas."

One week later (Oct. 15), Maia Kotrosits, assistant professor of religion at Denison University, will talk about "Making Sense of the Secret Revelation of John." The series concludes Oct. 22 when Kammer presents "Finding the New in the Old in an Age in Need of Wisdom."

Additional information about the Fall Academy of Religion is available by phone (330-263-2473) or e-mail.