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News from the Religious Studies Chair August 2015

Conference Participation and Invited Talks, Publications, Research News, Graduate Student Papers, Graduate Student Publications, Graduate Students Awards, Recent PhD Defenses, Alumni News

Aug 31, 2015

2015-16 marks the 50th anniversary of our PhD program in Religious Studies at McMaster. This will be a year of much celebration, and I will have more to report to you as the year unfolds. In the meantime, I would like to bring you up to date on our many activities over the summer. In addition to the achievements highlighted here, our students and faculty members have all been occupied with research, writing, presentations, language training, comprehensive examinations, and thesis writing.

Conference Participation and Invited Talks

James Benn was a participant in the Buddhist Studies Today symposium held at UBC to honour the new Robert H. N. Ho Fellows in Buddhist Studies, including our recent alumna Stephanie Balkwill (PhD Asian). 

Dana Hollander presented "Hermann Cohen’s Epistemologies of Philosophy and Judaism: The Meaning of 'Source'" at the workshop: "How Jews Know. Epistemologies of Jewish Knowledge," held at the Freie Universität Berlin in June.

Peter Widdicombe, "Slave, Son, Friend, and Father in the Writings of Clement of Alexandria," XVII International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford.


James Benn, review of Practicing Scripture: A Lay Buddhist Movement in Late Imperial China, by Barend J. ter Haar, Studies in Chinese Religions, 1.2, 198-200.

Dana Hollander, "Understanding Law ('Gesetz' and 'Recht') in Hermann Cohen, with Help from the Early Strauss," in a special issue of Idealistic Studies (vol. 44, no. 2/3) on "New Directions in the Thought of Leo Strauss,".

Fumi Yao, “The Story of Dharmadinnā: Ordination by Messenger in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya,” Indo-Iranian Journal 58(3), 2015, pp. 216–253.

Research News

Eileen Schuller co-chaired an International Research Colloquium with Dr. Marie-Theres Wacker in Münster, Germany, that brought together about a dozen scholars for papers on “Early Jewish Writings in Context: Perspectives on Gender and Reception History.”  The colloquium was supported financially by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Westfällischen Wilhelms-Universität, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, and McMaster University. This will result in a volume to be published by the Society of Biblical Literature and Kohlkammer Verlag in early 2017 as part of the series, The Bible and Women: An Encyclopaedia of Exegesis and Cultural History.

Graduate Student Papers

Michael Johnson (PhD student, Biblical) attended an interdisciplinary Franco-German summer school "manuSciences '15," which is focused on scientific approaches to ancient manuscripts. He designed a poster for the poster session titled: Reassessing the Reconstruction of 1QHodayota: Using Animated Digital Modeling to Test the Results of the Stegeman Method for Reconstructing Scrolls.

Graduate Student Publications

Ruifeng Chen (PhD student, Asian), translation into Chinese of chapter 3 of John Kieschnick, The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture (佛教对中国物质文化的影响). 

Graham Baker (PhD candidate, Western), book review of Beyond the Cutting Edge? Yoder, Technology, and the Practices of the Church (Pickwick, 2014) by Paul C. Heidebrecht, in Journal of Mennonite Studies 33.

Graduate Students Awards

Michael Johnson (PhD student, Biblical) has been selected as one of three graduate fellows at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship for 2015-2016:

Recent PhD Defences

Stephanie Balkwill, "Empresses, Bhiksunis, and Women of Pure Faith: Buddhism and the Politics of Patronage in the Northern Wei."

Greg Wiebe, “The Gods of the Nations”: Demons in the Theology of Augustine."

Congratulations, Drs. Balkwill and Wiebe!

Alumni News 

Hisako Omori (PhD, Western) takes up her new position as Assistant Professor of the Faculty of International Liberal Arts, Akita International University, Japan.

Dan Opperwall, (PhD, Western) is an Adjunct Professor at the Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College, University of Toronto. He recently published A Layman in the Desert: Monastic Wisdom for a Life in the World, (St Vladimir's Seminary).

Jessica L. Radin (MA, Western, now a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of Toronto) published "Between the Messianic Era and the Text: Historicism and Exegetical Materialism in Maimonides" in the same issue of Idealistic Studies as Dr. Hollander's article (above).

Ron Srigley (PhD, Western), "Will the Real Harun Please Stand Up?" LA Review of Books.

Adrian Chih-mien Tseng (PhD, Asian) was appointed Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Chinese Buddhism at Fo Guang University in Taiwan. 


And Finally...

Thanks for reading August's News from the Chair. Good luck to all for the coming academic year.

Be seeing you!

James A. Benn