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Winners of the 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise

The Awards Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise:

Ammann, Sonja (University of Göttingen)

Award-Winning Work: Götter für die Toren. Die Verbindung von Götterpolemik und Weisheit im Alten Testament (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2015).


Current Position: Research and Teaching Associate (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) in Hebrew Bible, Humboldt University Berlin


Current Research Activities:

My current research project investigates the place of the Babylonian exile in biblical and modern narratives of Israel's history.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

The biblical polemics against other gods are not generally known for their theologically sophisticated line of argumentation. However, in my book, I bring out how “idol” polemics tie in with fundamental theological questions. Not only do the polemical texts take a stance on whether one should rely on God or on humans and their fabrications, but they also participate in the debate about what and who is to be worshipped as god. The analysis of sapiential patterns of thought underlying the biblical polemics shows that the knowledge of God is conceived of as a cognitive insight accessible to every reasonable person. Although the argument of the polemical texts is inconclusive without prior commitment to the biblical god as the Creator, the worship of other gods is construed as an intellectual failure. Both the theological issue raised in these texts (i.e., how can human beings know God?) as well as the social impact of such polemics (i.e., the notion that certain religious beliefs indicate a lack of rationality) continue to affect present reflections on God and humanity.


Academic Address:

Theologische Fakultät Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin, Germany
E-Mail: sonja.ammann@hu-berlin.de



Breed, Brennan (Emory University, Atlanta)

Award-Winning Work: Nomadic Text: A Theory of Biblical Reception History (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2014).


Current Position: Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, USA.


Current research activities:

I am currently co-authoring a commentary on Ecclesiastes and its reception history with Davis Hankins. My next monograph will trace the history of the four kingdom schema, found in Daniel 2  and 7, as it has been used and transformed in various communities from the ancient world to the present day. The four kingdom schema has proven one of the most influential time-structuring devices ever produced; within its heterogenous history of impact, however, I discern several distinct, persistent trajectories of interpretation and provide examples of each.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Nomadic Text focuses on one broad question: how do sacred texts function? Whereas most biblical scholars study the text as it functioned in its ancient context, arguing explicitly or implicitly that the true function of the text lies in its origin, recent work in “reception history” traces the uses of biblical texts in Jewish, Christian and Muslim contexts from the ancient to the modern world. Nomadic Text argues that sacred scriptures are most rigorously understood by investigating all that they have done throughout history in a variety of cultural and religious contexts and in the broad diversity of their manuscript forms. It then offers a theoretical orientation for researching the history of a biblical text’s history of use and interpretation. As an illustration of my theory, I survey several broad interpretive trajectories of one particular biblical text, Job 19:25-27, from antiquity to the present day. For text-centric religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, understanding the meaning of sacred texts is a crucial aspect of both theology and spirituality. If the nature of a sacred texts is best expressed by what it does over the course of its history of use, rather than what it meant at the end point of its history of production, then Nomadic Text will have wide-ranging implications for theology and spirituality in multiple religious traditions.


Academic Address:

Columbia Theological Seminary
701 S. Columbia Dr.
Decatur, GA 30030, USA
E-Mail: breedb@ctsnet.edu



Brown, Kenneth (University of Göttingen)

Award-Winning Publication: The Vision in Job 4 and Its Role in the Book: Reframing the Development of the Joban Dialogues (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015).


Current Position: Research Associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) in the Department of Protestant Theology at Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz.


Current research activities:

Ken Brown's current research focuses on the reception history of the Hebrew Bible, aiming to write a Habilitation on the intimate relation between the redaction and reception of the biblical text.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

The Book of Job does not merely ask why the innocent suffer, how they should react, or whether God cares – it questions the very link between human behavior and God’s rule of the cosmos. The Vision in Job 4 and Its Role in the Book (Mohr Siebeck, 2015) explores this dynamic through a detailed study of the synchronic and diachronic development of the Joban dialogues, with particular focus on the vision recounted in Job 4:12–21. Though commonly read as little more than a “banal” affirmation of universal sin, the vision directly challenges the traditional theology of Job’s friends, and forms the basis for Job’s own claim that God has turned against him. In that light, the vision’s present attribution to Job’s friend Eliphaz seems to have resulted from a deliberate reframing of the dialogue, intended to distance Job from its challenge to God’s justice. This shift represents a crucial step between the accusing Job of the canonical book, and the “patient” Job emphasized in its earliest reception history.


Academic Address:

Seminar für Altes Testament und Biblische Archäologie
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Saarstraße 21
55099 Mainz, Germany

E-Mail: kenbrown@uni-mainz.de



Coyne, Ryan (University of Chicago)

Award-Winning Publication: Heidegger’s Confessions: The Remains of Saint Augustine in Being and Time and Beyond (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).


Current Position: Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religions and Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School.


Current research project:

Ryan Coyne is currently finishing a book on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche entitled, A Spectacle for the Gods: Nietzsche and the Question of Faith.  Drawing upon recent work in European philosophy, the books reconsiders the role that suspension of belief plays in Nietzsche's critique of Christianity.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Heidegger's Confessions: The Remains of Augustine in Being and Time and Beyond uncovers the surprising significance of Augustine of Hippo in the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Starting with Heidegger's early period leading up to the publication of Being and Time (1927), the book examines the ways in which Heidegger continued to employ Augustinian terms and concepts throughout his career, particularly in texts devoted to the so-called "history of Being."  On this basis Heidegger's Confessions reconsiders the task of the philosophy of religion in its contemporary European or 'continental' context.


Academic Address:

The University of Chicago Divinity School
Swift Hall 303A
1025 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637 USA
E-Mail: rcoyne@uchicago.edu



Decosimo, David (Princeton University)

Award-Winning Publication: Ethics as a Work of Charity: Thomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014).


Current Position: Assistant Professor at Boston University in the School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religious Studies.


Current Research Project:

Examining Christians and Mulsims such as al-Ghazālī, Aquinas, Ibn Taymiyya, and more contemporary figures, No Lord but God: Domination in Christianity and Islam examines domination in Christian and Muslim thought and argues that both traditions possess resources that enable adherents to agree on what constitutes domination and to resist it together. Four Tasks of Christian Ethics, a draft of which is nearing completion, presents a novel way of mapping and understanding the history and work of Christian ethics. Analyzing topics from Ignatius and war to liturgy and Luther and advancing a typology meant to succeed Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture” paradigm, Four Tasks shows why Christian ethicists so often fail to coordinate the tasks and  sketches my “prophetically Thomistic” way forward.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Ethics as a Work of Charity: Thomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue represents the first analysis of Thomas’s complex account of “pagan virtue,” of whether non-Christians can lead truly virtuous lives – a question vital to Christian thought since Augustine. Taking us to the heart of Thomas’s theology, the topic demands consideration of its overall shape, especially its synthesis of Augustinian and Aristotelian commitments. Where almost everyone imagines that Thomas either follows Augustine and rejects pagan virtue or honors Aristotle and affirms it, the book argues that Thomas welcomes pagans and their virtues not as a betrayal but an expression of his Christian convictions. This Christian commitment to charity impels a synthesis in which Thomas strives to be Augustinian by being Aristotelian and vice versa: just where it seems he must choose between faith and reason, Bishop and Philosopher, he finds a way to honor both. Thomas not only prescribes the welcome of outsiders, in his relation to Aristotle, he performs it. Beyond reinterpreting Thomas’s moral theology and synthesis, the book offers a vision of what it means to do theology and ethics in charitable conversation with its “others” and a proposal for our own efforts to welcome outsiders without betraying our convictions, whatever they may be.


Academic Address:

Boston University School of Theology
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA. 02215, USA
E-Mail: jddecosimo@gmail.com



Friesen, Courtney (University of Minnesota)

Award-Winning Publication: Reading Dionysus: Euripides’ Bacchae and the Cultural Contestations of Greeks, Jews, Romans, and Christians (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015).


Current Position: I am Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Arizona (Tucson), where I teach classical Greek language, religion, and literature, including New Testament and early Christianity.


Current Research Project:

My current projects investigate the diverse encounters of ancient Jews and Christians with Greek drama in the process of cultural negotiation and the formation of religious identity. I explore, for example, the ways in which heroes and heroines from the stage are appropriated as exempla of virtue, and how “tragic” deaths come to influence representations of martyrdom.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Reading Dionysus explores conceptions of God and spirituality across shifting boundaries of ancient religions and ethnicities by way of the reception of an especially popular tragedy, Euripides’ Bacchae. As a play staging political crises provoked by the arrival of a “foreign” god and his ecstatic cult, audiences and readers throughout antiquity found ongoing resonances with their own cultural moments. This dramatic deity became emblematic of exuberant and liberating spirituality and, at the same time, a symbol of imperial conquest. Thus, readings of the Bacchae frequently foreground conflicts between religious autonomy and political authority, and between ethnic diversity and social cohesion. Such literary engagements are evident not only among “pagans” but also Jews and Christians. Therefore, this study is a cross-disciplinary exercise that traces a series of appropriations and evocations of this drama ranging from the fifth century BCE through Byzantium. Of particular interest are the manifold ways in which Jewish and Christian writers articulated their own theological visions over against Dionysus, often while paradoxically adopting the god’s language and symbols. Consequently, in the reception of the Bacchae, imitation and emulation are at times indistinguishable from polemics and subversion.


Academic Address:

University of Arizona
202 Learning Services Building
1512 E First St., PO Box 210105  
Tucson, AZ  85721, USA
E-Mail: friesen@email.arizona.edu



Joseph, Alison (University of California, Berkeley)

Award-Winning Publication: Portrait of the Kings: The Davidic Prototype in Deuteronomistic Poetics
(Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015).


Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor of Ancient Judaism at Towson University, Towson, MD USA.


Current Research Project:

My current project, Priestly Persecution: Women, Intermarriage, and Sexuality in the Second Temple Period, examines the issue of intermarriage and women’s sexuality in the exilic and post-exilic periods.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Portrait of the Kings: The Davidic Prototype in Deuteronomistic Poetics considers the theological motivations of the Deuteronomistic Historian (Dtr) in writing the book of Kings. When making choices of selection and composition, Dtr has many methodological priorities that guide his historiography. One of the strongest principles is a desire to attribute theological explanations for historical and political events. From start to finish, the book of Kings is a theologically focused history. Dtr narrates the history of the ancient Israelite monarchy and the evaluation of its kings through a theological lens. Any significant event in the history of the monarchy, including the advent of kingship, is attributed to God’s influence and reflects God’s desires. The kings and the peoples of Israel and Judah are held up to a clear standard of fidelity. They are to emulate the literary portrait of the good King David constructed through the history. If they are faithful like David they will prosper, but if they violate the covenant they will be punished: kings will be dethroned and die and the people will be exiled.


Academic Address:

Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Towson University
8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252, USA
E-Mail: alison_joseph@yahoo.com



Perrin, Andrew (McMaster University, Ontario)

Award-Winning Publication: The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).


Current Position: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Co-Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.


Current Research Project:

Andrew Perrin's research interests converge on the transmission and reception of Hebrew Scripture in Second Temple Jewish writings. His current research project is a commentary on a cross-section of Aramaic texts attested at Qumran (e.g., Daniel 2–7, Tobit, Aramaic Levi Document) for the Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls series.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

The potential for ongoing divine disclosure in the “post-biblical” world presents both great prospect and problems. The Dynamics of Dream-Vision Revelation in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls explores how some ancient writers and communities at once showed reverence and respect for their inherited scriptural traditions as well as ingenuity in extending these antique materials with “new” revelation. By redrawing patriarchal and diaspora personae as dreamers and relating their tales with an accentuated interest in dream-vision episodes, allusions, and interpretations, writers of the Qumran Aramaic texts, such as Genesis Apocryphon, Visions of Amram, and Four Kingdoms strategically opened up the tradition to hear more from the “God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Dan 2:28). The book details how at least twenty Aramaic texts participated in and contributed to a shared revelatory discourse for the purposes of scriptural interpretation, endorsing priestly thought and praxis, and glossing Israelite history with an apocalyptic outlook.


Academic Address:

Department of Religious Studies
Trinity Western University
7600 Glover Road
Langley, British Columbia, V2Y 1Y1
E-Mail: andrew.perrin@twu.ca



Wells, Kyle (Durham University)

Award-Winning Publication: Grace and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism: Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart (Leiden: Brill, 2015).


Current Position: Senior Minister of Christ Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara. Kyle Wells frequently serves as an adjunct professor at various institutions and stays active in research.


Current Research Project:

I am currently working on an article looking at how Paul’s use of the “heart-circumcision” motif was taken up by Christian communities in the second century, and how that motif was radicalized by some of Paul’s earliest interpreters in polemics against Judaism. In the coming years, I am looking to investigate and compare the diverse New Testament configurations of the relationship between ecclesia, kingdom, and culture in dialogue with the interpretive and theological tradition.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

My work examines how convictions about God’s grace relate to conceptions of human agency in the thought of Paul and his Jewish contemporaries. Following recent intertextual studies, I argue that ancient Jews read descriptions of ‘heart-transformation’ in Deuteronomy 30, Jeremiah 31–32, and Ezekiel 36 as the solution to human ineptitude. Paul was no exception and his reading of those texts had a profound influence on his articulations of divine grace and the moral self. On Paul’s complex understanding, moral competence is dependent upon divine agency, and divine and human agencies co-exist and co-inhere in, but never outside of, Christ.


Academic Address:

Christ Presbyterian Church
36 East Victoria
Santa Barbara, CA
93105 USA
E-Mail: kylebwells@gmail.com



Wilson, Brittany (Princeton Theological Seminary)

Award-Winning Publication: Unmanly Men: Refigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).


Current Position: Assistant Professor of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School.


Current Research Project:

Brittany E. Wilson's research focuses on constructions of bodies, gender, and ethnicity in the Gospels and Acts, and her current project is entitled The Embodied God: Corporeality in Acts and the Early Church. This project explores how Christians narrate corporeality in the early church and how corporeality connects to core tenets of the Christian faith.


"God and Spirituality“ in the award-winning publication:

Unmanly Men examines key male characters in Luke-Acts in relation to constructions of gender and masculinity in the Greco-Roman world. Of all Luke’s male characters, four in particular problematize elite masculine norms: John the Baptist’s father Zechariah, the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul, and, above all, Jesus. These men disrupt elite masculinity because they do not protect their bodily boundaries or embody corporeal control. Instead, Zechariah loses his ability to speak, the Ethiopian eunuch is castrated, Paul loses his ability to see, and Jesus is crucified. With these bodily violations, Luke points to the all-powerful nature of God and in the process reconfigures—or refigures—men’s own claims to power. At the same time, Luke also refigures the parameters of power itself. According to Luke, God provides an alternative construal of power in the figure of Jesus and thus redefines what it means to be a man. Indeed, in Luke-Acts, “real” men look manifestly unmanly.


Academic Address:

Duke Divinity School
Duke Box 90967
Durham NC 27708, USA
E-Mail: bwilson@div.duke.edu



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