The Fraumunster, Zurich Detail from the Fourth window: Celestial Jerusalem, Marc Chagall.

PURPOSE

The Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center Detail of the first window of the East wall entitled The Tribe of Reuben, Marc Chagall, 1961.

Many religions share a kindred sense that what is most real is most hidden. Yet the dawn of a new millennium seems like an appropriate time to consider differing ways God is known to billions of people throughout the earth. How are human concepts of God, the varied symbols of ineffable reality, changing in the light of human experience -- whether through mysticism or the fruits of human reason? In what ways have the modernization of traditional cultures, the secularization of society, the insights of current scholarship, and the discoveries of contemporary science affected the perception men and women have of the divine? Has contact between faith traditions resulted in one religion borrowing elements from another in ways that alter the receiving religionís ideas about the transcendent spirit it names as the source of being? How are notions of God likely to evolve in the years to come? To explore such provocative questions, eighteen scholars from the domains of theology and science gather in Americaís oldest university town under the aegis of the John Templeton Foundation. With perspectives shaped by their experience and knowledge of varied Eastern, Western, and indigenous faith traditions, they probe the mystery of a Deus velatus by examining Godís chosen modes of revelation of Godís self to believing hearts and questing minds throughout the world.

That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?
Ecclesiastes 7:24

CHAIR

Cathedral of Metz Detail from a window of the triforium of the North transept, East side: Beasts, Flowers, and Birds, Marc Chagall, 1968.

Lawrence E. Sullivan, a professor of the history of religions at the Harvard Divinity School and director of the schoolís Center for the Study of World Religions, is a widely-respected authority on native religions of South America and other tribal religions without written scripture. He has examined Shamanism in non-literate societies and religious beliefs and practices centered on health and healing in various faith traditions as part of an ongoing ethnographic investigation of religions of the world. A graduate of St. Francis College in Milwaukee, he was ordained and served as a Roman Catholic parish priest for several years before matriculating at the University of Chicago, where he studied with Mircae Eliade and took a Ph.D. in the comparative history of religions in 1981. Dr. Sullivan, who had earlier taught at Chemehem College in the Congo (then Zaire), lectured at Chicago for two years before becoming an associate professor of the history of religions at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He returned to Chicago in 1985 and was named a full professor of the history of religions four years later. In 1990, he accepted the appointments he now holds at Harvard. Dr. Sullivan has held research and travel grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Missouri Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Buddhist Association of China, and the Fulbright Foundation, as well as a Henry Luce Fellowship. A former president of the American Academy of Religions (AAR) and a former deputy secretary- general of the International Association for the History of Religions, he has been the University Lecturer at Arizona State University, Woodward Court Lecturer at the University of Chicago, the ACLSís and AARís American Lecturer in the History of Religions, and a visiting professor at Villa I Tatti, the Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. In 1993-94, he served on an expert review board convened to submit recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice and The Treasury in the aftermath of the federal assault on David Koresh and the Branch Davidian community in Waco, Texas. Dr. Sullivan holds an honorary degree from Soka University in Japan. A member of the editorial boards of ten academic journals, he is the author some sixty-five scholarly articles, the editor of eleven books, and an associate editor of the sixteen-volume Encyclopedia of Religion (1987), which received the Hawkins Prize and the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association for the best work in any category of publishing. His acclaimed study, Icanchuís Drum: An Orientation to Meaning in South American Religions (Macmillan, 1988), won the Association of American Publisherís award for the best book in philosophy and religion and the ACLSís best first book award.

PARTICIPANTS

Cathedral of Metz Detail from two windows of the triforium of the North transept, West side: Flowers and Birds, Marc Chagall, 1968.

A professor of Hebrew Bible at the Harvard Divinity School, Gary A. Anderson is currently serving as acting director of the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions. Before joining the Harvard faculty five years ago, he taught Hebrew Bible for fourteen years at the University of Virginia. Dr. Anderson is a summa cum laude graduate of Albion College where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a M.Div. from the Duke University Divinity School and a Ph.D. in near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard in 1985. Recipient of research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the University of Virginia, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jerusalem in 1988-89 and held a Henry Luce Fellowship in 1997-98. Dr. Anderson is the author of some twenty scholarly articles, which have focused, in many cases, on comparisons of Judaism and Christianity. He has published two books, Sacrifices and Offerings in Ancient Israel: Studies in their Social and Political Importance (1988) and A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance: The Expression of Joy and Grief in Israelite Religion (1991) and edited a synoptic edition of the important Pseudepigraphical text, The Life of Adam and Eve (with Michael E. Stone), which was recently re-issued in a second and completely revised edition.

Bridie Andrews is an assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she majored in biological sciences, she was a research assistant in the department of forestry at Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany before going to China to study at Xiamen University and then China Pharmaceutical University. She received her Ph.D. in the history of science from Cambridge University in 1996. The recipient of research scholarships from the British Council/Chinese Government, the European Union Human Mobility Program, and the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, she has held post-doctoral fellowships awarded by the Wellcome Trust and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dr. Andrews is the editor (with Andrew R. Cunningham) of Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge: Studies in Imperialism (1997) and the author of The Making of Modern Chinese Medicine, which will be published later this year by Cambridge University Press.

An authority on Hindu life and thought, John Braisted Carman is the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Religion at the Harvard Divinity School. Born in India to American parents and graduated with highest honors in philosophy from Haverford College, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Leiden before going on to earn a bachelor of divinity degree summa cum laude from the Yale Divinity School. Ordained in 1957 as a Baptist minister, he returned to India for six years as a missionary. He taught for a year at the Ramapatnam Baptist Theological Seminary in Andhra Pradesh, India before receiving a Ph.D. in religion from Yale and joining the Harvard Divinity School faculty in 1963. Dr. Carman served as the director of the Center for the Study of World Religions from 1973 to 1989 and was for a year acting dean of the Divinity School. The author of some twenty articles appearing in scholarly journals, he has edited three volumes on comparative religion and published four books. His latest work is Majesty and Meekness: A Comparative Study of Contrast and Harmony in the Concept of God (William B. Eerdmans, 1994).

Nicholas B Constas, a scholar in Eastern Christianity, is an assistant professor of theology at the Harvard Divinity School. A summa cum laude graduate of Hellenic College in Brookline, MA, he earned a M.Div. from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and took his Ph.D. in patristics and historical theology from The Catholic University of America in 1994. Dr. Constas taught at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology before joining the Harvard faculty in 1998. A former assistant editor of the Greek Orthodox Theological Review, he is the author of more than a dozen scholarly articles and book chapters in addition to a 1991 monograph, The Testament of Saint Theodore the Studite: Translation, Notes, and Commentary. He has recently prepared a critical edition, translation, and commentary of Four Christological Homilies of Proclus of Constantinople.

The author of The Secular City (1965), a best-selling theological treatise for a ďpostreligious ageĒ that has been hailed as one of the most influential works of Protestant thought written in the twentieth century, Harvey Cox is the Thomas Professor of Divinity and the chair of the department of religion and society at Harvard University. His work appears frequently in both scholarly journals and magazines of general interest, and he writes a column for beliefnet.com, an on-line inter-faith religious magazine. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he took honors in history, he received a B.D. cum laude from Yale Divinity School and was ordained to the American Baptist ministry in 1956. After serving as a campus minister at Temple University and Oberlin College, he went on to Harvard where he studied with James Luther Adams and Paul Tillich and completed his Ph.D. in 1962. He served the next year in a divided Berlin as an ecumenical fraternal worker with an international religious group trying to maintain communication between eastern and western sectors of the city. On returning to the United States, he worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under the direction of Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped found the SCLC Boston chapter. In 1965, he joined the Harvard faculty. Dr. Cox has been a visiting lecturer or professor at universities around the world, including the University of Michigan, the Naropa (Buddhist) Institute in Colorado, Brandeis University, the Pontifical Catholic University of Lima, Kyoto University, the Gregorian University in Rome, and Moscow University. The latest of his seven books is Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentacostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century (Addison-Wesley,1995). He is currently working on a study of Jewish-Christian relations.

Anne Ashley Davenport is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at the Harvard Divinity School. Raised in France, she received a diploma from the University of Nancy before entering Harvard College where she earned a bachelor of arts degree cum laude. She received a masterís degree in teaching from Simmons College and completed her Ph.D. in the history of science at Harvard in 1998. Recipient of grants from the Cades Foundation and the Institute for Medieval Philosophy and Theology at Boston College, Dr. Davenport was a Dibner Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has written a number of scholarly articles. Her first book, Measure of Greatness: The Intensive Infinite, 1250-1650, was published by Brill last year.

An expert in both Jewish and Islamic thought, Lenn E. Goodman is a professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University, where he has taught since 1994. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Hawaii for twenty-five years. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he was a Marshall Scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and received his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1968. He served as a visiting assistant professor of philosophy and near Eastern languages and literatures at the University of California at Los Angeles before accepting an appointment to the Hawaii faculty in 1969. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of Hawaii Foundation, and the Vanderbilt University Research Council, Dr. Goodman has been a Littman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, an East-West Center Humanities Fellow, a Humanities Faculty Fellow at the University of Hawaii, and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Jerusalem. Dr. Goodman is the winner of the Baumgardt Memorial Prize of the American Philosophical Association and the Gratz Centennial Prize. He serves on the editorial boards of Philosophy East and West, Asian Philosophy, and Medieval Philosophy and Theology and was formerly on the editorial board of the History of Philosophy Journal. The author of more than eighty scholarly articles and the editor of two books, of several volumes in the Brown Judaic Studies, and of the section on Jewish philosophy in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Dr. Goodman has published a dozen books of his own, including God of Abraham, On Justice, and Judaism, Human Rights, and Human Values. His latest book is Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Crosspollinations in the Classical Age (Edinburgh University Press, 1999).

Sidney H. Griffith is a professor of Syriac patristics and Christian Arabic at The Catholic University of America. The former chair of the universityís department of Semitic and Egyptian languages and literatures and the former director of its graduate program in early Christian studies, he serves as secretary of CUís Institute of Christian Oriental Research. He earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and sacred theology at Holy Trinity Mission Seminary and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965. After earning a masterís degree in library science and a licentiate in theology at CU, he received his Ph.D. in Syriac and medieval Arabic from the university in 1977, the year he joined its faculty. Dr. Griffith has also taught at the Washington Theological Union and been a visiting professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. A former president of the Byzantine Studies Conference and the North American Patristic Society, he has been a fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies and the Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He serves as co-editor of Early Christian Texts in Translation, a monographic series published by Peeters in Leuven, Belgium, as associate editor of the Journal of Early Christian Studies, as consulting editor of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and as a member of the editorial boards of Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue and the Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. The author of more than sixty scholarly articles and three books in his field, Dr. Griffith is an editor of The Blackwell Dictionary of Early Christianity (1999).

A scholar of Indian Buddhist thought, Paul J. Griffiths is a professor of the philosophy of religions in The Divinity School of the University of Chicago and in the universityís South Asian languages and civilizations department. His wide-ranging intellectual interests also include Christian theology and inter-religious dialogue and apologetics. A graduate of Oxford University where he took first-class honors in theology, he received a M.Phil. in classical Indian religion and Sanskrit from Oxford and a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1983. After teaching South Asian studies for a year at Wisconsin, he went on to Chicago as an assistant professor of South Asian languages and civilization in 1984, joined the University of Notre Dame faculty as an assistant professor of theology in 1986, and returned to Chicago in 1990. The recipient of an American Academy of Religion research grant and a Henry Luce Fellowship, Dr. Griffiths was elected to the American Society for the Study of Religion in 1993. He is the author or co-author of more than thirty journal articles and book chapters, the editor or co-editor of six volumes, and the author of five books, including On Being Buddha: The Classical Doctrine of Buddhahood (1994) and, most recently, Religious Reading: The Place of Reading in the Practice of Religion (Oxford University Press, 1999). A new study, Exploring Religious Diversity, will be published by Basil Blackwell next year.

Charles S. Hallisey is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. A graduate of Colgate University, he earned an M.Div. at the Harvard Divinity School, a masterís degree in South Asian studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in the history of religions at The Divinity School of the University of Chicago in 1988. Having taught earlier at Penn and Swarthmore, he then joined the theology faculty of Loyola University of Chicago. Four years later, he went back to Harvard as an assistant professor of Buddhist studies, a post he held until being appointed to his present position in 1996. Dr. Hallisey has been the recipient of an American Academy of Religion research assistance grant and research fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author of some thirty scholarly articles and of A Glossary of Proper Names in The Catalogue of the Hugh Nevill Collection of Sinhalese Manuscripts in the British Library (1995). Dr. Hallisey recently completed a new translation and a comprehensive edition of a major Buddhist text. His current research interests are focused upon Buddhist ethics and Buddhist literature.

A specialist in Islamic studies, Syed Nomanul Haq is an assistant professor of religion at Rutgers University. He took an undergraduate degree at the University of Hull in England, where he majored in applied physics and electronics, and went on to receive a Ph.D. in Islamic philosophy and science from University College, London in 1990. While pursuing postdoctoral research at Harvard Universityís Center for Middle Eastern Studies, he lectured at Tufts University and Merrimack College. He joined the religious studies faculty at the College of the Holy Cross in 1993 and then at Brown University, where he taught for three years before assuming his present post in 1996. The general editor of Studies in Islamic Philosophy, a series being published by Oxford University Press, he is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Islamic Studies, Periodica Islamica, and Islamic Studies. Dr. Haq has published more than twenty-five scholarly articles and book chapters in addition to the book, Names, Natures, and Things: The Alchemist J‚bir (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993 and 1995). Oxford will bring out his recently completed Epiphanies: Unveiling Hall‚j next year.

Massimo Introvigne is the managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions in Turin. A native of Italy, he received a bachelorís degree in philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in law from the University of Turin in 1979. He has a teaching appointment at the Pontifical Athenaeum Queen of the Apostles in Rome. The author of more than one hundred scholarly articles, he has written thirty books. His first volume in English, The Unification Church of Reverend Moon, will be published later this year by Signature Books.

An assistant professor of religion and of Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, Christopher R. Jocks was graduated with honors from Lewis and Clark College and took his Ph.D. in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994. He was the first recipient of Dartmouthís Charles A. Eastman Dissertation Fellowship and has held additional grants from both Dartmouth and Santa Barbara. He served as associate editor of New Scholar: An Americanist Review for three years. The author of a number of articles and book chapters on traditional thought and practice among Native Americans, he is completing a study on healing and militancy in a postmodern Mohawk community.

Peter Franz Knecht is a professor of cultural anthropology at Nanzan University in Japan and director of the universityís Anthropological Institute. A native of Switzerland, he received a licentiate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a masterís degree in sociology from Tokyo University, where he also pursued doctoral studies in cultural anthropology. He joined the Nanzan faculty as an assistant professor in 1978 and was promoted to full professor in 1997. For nearly thirty years, Mr. Knecht has been doing field work on belief systems in the mountain villages of northern Japan. He has focused on new religious movements. He is the author of more than a dozen scholarly articles and book chapters and is pursuing studies of sacred space and the symbolism of rice in Japanese culture.

A professor of the history of religions at Le Moyne College in Syracuse and, during the current academic year, a visiting professor at the Harvard Divinity Schoolís Center for the Study of World Religions, Mary N. MacDonald is a specialist in the religions and cultures of Melanesia. She began her academic career in her native Australia, where she earned a teaching certificate from Kedron Park Teachersí College and a baccalaureate degree with honors from the University of Queensland. During the 1970s and early 1980s, she spent eight years as a missionary teacher and researcher in Papua New Guinea. Moving on to the University of Chicago for graduate study, she took a masterís degree in divinity and received a Ph.D. in the history of religions in 1988, the year she joined the Le Moyne faculty. Dr. MacDonald has served as president of the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion and on the boards of directors of the InterReligious Council of Central New York and the Southeast Asian Center in Syracuse. She is a member of the editorial board of the South-Pacific Journal of Mission Studies and the author of some forty articles and book chapters as well as of Mararoko: A Study in Melanesian Religion (1991). Her newest book, Local Religions, will be published by Orbis later this year.

Azim A. Nanji is director of the Institute for Ismaili Studies in London. Born in Kenya, he took a first-class degree with honors in literature and religious studies at Makerere University in Uganda and received a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from McGill University in 1972. After spending a year as a post-graduate research and teaching fellow at McGillís Institute of Islamic Studies, he joined the religious studies faculty of Oklahoma State University, where he became a full professor in 1983. In 1988, he was named professor and chair of religion at the University of Florida, a position he held for next ten years. Dr. Nanji also has been a Visiting Killam Fellow at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a Margaret Gest Visiting Professor of Religion at Haverford College. He has received a Rockefeller Fellowship, an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship, a Canada Council Award, and a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. An elected member of the American Society for the Study of Islam, he delivered the plenary lecture at the National Conference on Religion, Philanthropy, and Civil Society in Washington in 1994. He is a member of the steering committee for the Aga Kahn Award for Architecture and was previously co-chair of the Islam Section of the American Academy of Religion, as well as a member of the editorial advisory board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Nanji has published some forty scholarly articles and book chapters and is the editor of three books and the author or co-author of two others. His 1978 study, The Nizari Ismaili Tradition, won a Council of Canada Publication Award.

Cathedral of Metz Detail from two windows of the triforium of the North transept, West side: Flowers and Birds, Marc Chagall, 1968.

The Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor of Roman Catholic Studies and professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, David Tracy is also a professor in the University of Chicagoís Committee on Social Thought. The distinguished theologian received a licentiate and a doctorate in theology from Romeís Gregorian University and joined the Chicago faculty in 1969 after teaching for two years at The Catholic University of America. A member and former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, he is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Theological Society. Dr. Tracy has given invited lectures throughout the United States and Europe as well as at the Beijing Institute for the Scientific Study of Religion and at the Hartmann Institute in Jerusalem. He has been awarded honorary degrees by the University of the South, Fairfield University, Dominican University, Catholic Theological Union (Chicago), Georgetown University, and Williams College. A former editor of The Journal of Religion, Religious Studies Review, and Concilium, he has served on the editorial boards of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion and Theological Studies and presently serves on the editorial boards of The University of Chicago Press, Theology Today, and the Journal of Pastoral Psychology. Dr. Tracy has published numerous articles in scholarly journals along with eleven book chapters. He has served as editor or co-editor of nine books and is the author or co-author of nine others. His most recent book, On Naming the Present (Orbis Books, 1995), is a collection of essays that demonstrates his widely-hailed ability to situate current intellectual movements within the larger narrative of change taking place in Western theology at the start of the twenty-first century.

How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
Psalm 89:46

Detail from the window of the Assy Baptistery, Marc Chagall, 1957.


Cathedral of Metz Detail from the window of the North transept,
West side, Third lancet: Eve and the Serpent, Marc Chagall, 1964.

 

The Humble Approach Initiative
Contact Mary ann Meyers, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

A Program of the John Templeton Foundation
300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 500
West Conshohocken, PA 19428
610.941.2828 Fax 610.825.1730

Top of Page