News Archive

John and Williemae Cheek Award

The John and Williemae Cheek Award is a cash award presented each year to the outstanding senior in the Religious Studies Department.

2014 Tim Delong, Christina Hallam & Dustin Moretz

2013 Jonathan Tostige

2012 Nicholas Lessnau

2011 Julia Humenik

2010 Steve Maisel

2009 Dianne F. Marshall

2008 Joel Pier-Fitzgerald

2007 Andrea Mettler

2006 Mathew Milligan

2004 Marcia Nelson

2002 Madolene Page-Wood

2001 Heather Schmidt

2000 Meredith Thompson & Michelle Lesperance

1999 Brenda Green

1998 Jennifer Ralston

1997 Jennifer Koehn

1996 Wendi Mrozinski

1995 Aaron Schwoebel

1994 Christopher Behling

1992 Jennifer Smith

1991 Andrew Keck

1990 Weatherly Burkhead

1989 Peter Plagge

1987 Gerald Hunter

1986 Jonathon Smiedendorf

1983 Donald Treglown

1982 Barry Petrucci

1981 Patrick Twomey

1980 Holly Wagner

1979 Carol Mader

1978 Richard Copp

1977 Barbara Mader

Student Research

Many of our majors and minors undertake research projects under the supervision of Religious Studies faculty members. We encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities for summer study offered by the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (FURSCA). Many of our students have written honors theses based on original research and presented at the College's Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium. Some have gone on to present their work at the Midwest American Academy of Religion Conference, held annually in Chicago.

Here are some examples of recent research undertaken by Religious Studies students:

FURSCA Projects

  • “Responding to the Hermeneutics of Suspicion in Christian Theology” Erica Dudas
  • “The Effects of Forceful Takeovers on Religion in India and Greece” Christina Wade
  • “Religious Studies and the Pro-Ana Movement” Sarah Hewitt
  • “Christian Apologetics and Kantian Moral Influences” and“Evangelicals and Environmentalism” Jon Reynolds
  • “From Martyr to Dragon-Slayer: The Myth of St. George” Steven Maisel

Honors Theses

  • The Hermeneutics of Suspicion: A Critical View Using Feminist and Black Theology Erica Dudas
  • "Casting Down Imaginations": An Exegetical, Romans-Based Response to "Religious Pluralism" Luke Myc
  • Early North Indian Buddhism: Epigraphy and Architecture in the Extant Record Matt Milligan
  • God Loving Liberals: Why the Religious Left Gets Left Out Meredith Whitehouse
  • The Constitution and the Connection: The Relationship Between Early American Methodist Polity and American Democracy Joel Pier-Fitzgerald
  • Toward an Ethical Faith: Affirming the Importance of Critical Questioning Concerning Religion Dianne Marshall

Midwest AAR Presentations

  • "The Annunciation of Hope for Justice on Earth: The Feminist Response of Rosemary Radford Ruether to Karl Marx's Critique of Religion and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion." Erica Dudas
  • “The Pineapple Story: Exploring the Use of Narrative in New Tribes Mission” Marci Nelson
  • “Buddhism and the Matrix Trilogy” and “Early North Indian Buddhism: Epigraphy and Architecture in the Extant Record” Matt Milligan

Jocelyn McWhirter

Jocelyn McWhirter, associate professor of religious studies at Albion CollegeStanley S. Kresge Professor and Chair

E-mail:
Phone: 517/629-0268
Office: 214 Vulgamore Hall

Dr. Jocelyn McWhirter is a Biblical Studies scholar who specializes in New Testament studies. Her current research focuses on how the first Christians interpreted Israel's Scriptures in light of their conviction that Jesus was the Messiah. Other areas of interest include cultural hermeneutics and the literature of Second Temple Judaism. She is affiliated with the Society of Biblical Literature, where she is a member of the Mark Group. Her dissertation was published by Cambridge University Press in the fall of 2007.

Courses

  • RS101 Introduction to Western Religions
  • RS121 History, Literature, and Religion of the Old Testament
  • RS122 History, Literature, and Religion of the New Testament
  • RS215 Jewish Life and Thought
  • RS220 Legend, Wisdom, Apocalypse
  • RS222 Jesus and the Gospels
  • RS320 Gender and Biblical Interpretation
  • LA 101 Ancient Faith, Modern World
  • LA 101 The Holocaust
  • IDY 198 Holocaust Studies Service Learning Project

Education

  • Ph.D. New Testament Studies, Princeton Theological Seminary, 2002
  • M.A. Religion, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, 1991
  • B.A. (with Honors) Religion, Trinity College, 1982

Career

  • Stanley S. Kresge Professor, Department of Religious Studies, 2015-present
  • Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Albion College, 2011-2015
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Albion College, 2006-2011
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Theology, St. Joseph's University, 2001-2005
  • Lecturer, Department of Theology, St. Joseph's University, 1999-2001

Books

  • Rejected Prophets: Jesus and His Witnesses in Luke-Acts, Fortress Press, 2014
  • The Bridegroom-Messiah and the People of God, SNTSMS, Cambridge University
    Press, 2007

Essays

  • "Luke 16:19-31," Interpretation 69 (2015): 463-65
  • "Messianic Exegesis in Mark 1-2," in "What does the Scripture Say?" Studies in the Function of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity, The Library of New Testament Studies, vol. 469, Continuum, 2012, 158-78
  • "Messianic Exegesis in Mark's Passion Narrative." in The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays
    on the Passion Narrative in Mark, CBET 45, Peeters, 2007, 69-98

Dictionary Articles

  • "Nathan the Prophet," in Lexham Bible Dictionary (Lexham Press, 2015)
  • "Tobit, Book of," in Lexham Bible Dictionary (Lexham Press, 2015)
  • "Sarah, Wife of Tobias," in Lexham Bible Dictionary (Lexham Press, 2015)
  • “Bride, Bridegroom,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (2nd ed.; Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 2013): 95-97
  • “Marriage in the Bible,” in Lexham Bible Dictionary (Lexham Press, 2013)

Book Reviews

  • Review of Sharan B. Merriam and Laura L. Bierema, Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice, Wabash Center Resources, 2015
  • Review of Angela Breidenstein et al., Leading for Powerful Learning: A Guide for Instructional Leaders, Teaching Theology and Religion 17 (2014): 183-4
  • Review of Susan E. Docherty, The Use of the Old Testament in Hebrews: A Case Study in
    Early Bible Interpretation, CBQ 73 (2011): 158-9
  • Review of Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Darrell L. Bock, and Peter Enns, Three Views on the New
    Testament Use of the Old Testament, CBQ 71 (2009): 689-90· Review of Magnus
    Zetterholm, ed., The Messiah in Early Judaism and Christianity, CBQ 70
    (2008): 887-8
  • Review of Mark H. Hamilton et al., eds., Renewing Tradition: Studies in Texts and Contexts,
    CBQ 69 (2007): 858-9
  • Review of Mira Stare, Durch ihn leben: Die lebensthematik in Joh 6, CBQ 67 (2005): 724-6.
  • Review of Holly E. Hearon, The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witness and Counter-Witness in
    Early Christian Communities, CBQ 66 (2004): 650-1.

Conference Presentations

  • "Searching the Scriptures: Jewish Messianic Exegesis in the Fourth Gospel," to be presented at the Sixth Nangeroni Meeting of the Enoch Seminar, Camaldoli, Italy, June 2016
  • "To Juel and Beyond: Messianic Exegesis in Mark 4:12," presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2015
  • "Review of James W. Voelz, Mark 1:1 - 8:26," presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Diego, California, 2014
  • "Prophets Who Set Precedents in Luke-Acts," presented at the Annual Meeting of the
    Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Georgia, 2010
  • "Messianic Exegesis in Mark 1:2-3," presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of
    Biblical Literature, Boston, Massachusetts, 2008
  • "Luke's Use of Mark and the Septuagint to Portray Jesus and Peter as Prophets,"
    presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Diego, California,
    2007
  • "Messianic Exegesis in Romans 9:30-11:32," presented at the Annual Meeting of the
    Society of Biblical Literature, Washington, D.C., 2006
  • "Messianic Exegesis in Mark's Passion Narrative," presented at the Annual Meeting of the
    Society of Biblical Literature, San Antonio, Texas, 2004
  • "The Bridegroom-Messiah in the Fourth Gospel: Messianic Exegesis of the Song of Songs
    and Gen 29:1-20 in Light of Ps 45," presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of
    Biblical Literature, Denver, Colorado, 2001, and at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic
    Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, Lima, Pennsylvania, 2000

Dr. Selva J. Raj (1952-2008)

Dr. Selva J. RajLate Chair and Stanley S. Kresge Professor of Religious Studies

Dr. Selva J. Raj was a historian of religions specializing in Hinduism, popular Christianity in India, and other Asian Religions. His research interest was in the ritual exchange among Hindus and Catholics in southern India; it was the principal focus of his field work, presentations, and publications. Other areas of research interests included popular religion, contemporary women saints, and women's movements in contemporary India. Raj served as chairman of the Conference on the Study of Religions of India (CSRI), an international professional association for scholars committed to the academic study of Indian religions.

Education

  • Ph.D. History of Religions, University of Chicago, 1994
  • M.Ph. Philosophy, Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, India, 1981
  • B.A. Philosophy & History, University of Calcutta, 1975

Career

  • Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Albion College, 2005-2008
  • Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Albion College, 2001-2005
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Albion College,1995-2001
  • Lecturer in Philosophy, Morning Star College, Calcutta,1982-1985

Books

  • Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia co-edited with William P. Harman, SUNY Press, April 2006 [http://www.sunypress.edu/details.asp?id=61243]
  • [Reviewed in Journal of Asian Studies vol. 66:1 February, 2007: 275-277]
  • Popular Christianity in India: Riting between the Lines co-edited with Corinne G. Dempsey, SUNY Press, October 2002 [http://www.sunypress.edu/details.asp?id=60646]
  • Reviewed in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute vol. 10, no. 3 September 2004: 734-735; Asian Folklore Studies vol. 63, no. 2, 2004: 353-355; Vidyajyoti: Journal of Theological Reflection vol. 67, no. 6 June 2003: 474-476.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Public Display, Communal Devotion: Procession at a South Indian Catholic Festival." In South Asian Religions on Display: Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora, Knut A. Jacobsen, ed. 77-91. NY: Routledge, 2008.
  • "The Santal Sacred Grove and Catholic Inculturation" Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 42:2 Spring 2007: 243-252.
  • "Cross-Cultural Environmental Lessons: An Indigenous Case-Study" co-authored with Bindu Madhok Journal of Third World Studies, 24:1 Spring 2007: 211-225.
  • "A Cross-Cultural Practical Moral Discourse on Human Rights" co-authored with Bindu Madhok The Journal of Human Rights vol. 5, no. 2, 2006: 205-214.
  • "Introduction: The Deal with Deities-Ways Vows Work in South Asia" co-authored with William Harman. In Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, Selva J. Raj and William P. Harman, eds. 1-13. SUNY Press: 2006.
  • "Shared Vows, Shared Space, and Shared Deities: Vow Rituals among Tamil Catholics in South India." In Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, Selva J. Raj and William P. Harman, eds. 43-64. SUNY Press: 2006.
  • "Toward a Typology of South Asian Lay Vows" co-authored with William Harman. In Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, Selva J. Raj and William P. Harman, eds. 249-255 SUNY Press: 2006.
  • "Passage to America: Ammachi on American Soil." In Gurus in America, C. Humes & T. Forsthoefel, eds. 123-146. SUNY Press: 2005.
  • "The Quest for a Balanced Representation of South Asian Religions in World Religions Textbook" Religious Studies Review vol. 31, no. 1&2 (2005): 15-17.
  • "Two Models of Indigenization in South Asian Catholicism: A Critique" Vidyajyoti: Journal of Theological Reflection vol. 69, no. 6 (2005): 415-430.
  • "Selective Indigenization: Three Faces of South Indian Christianity" Vidyajyoti: Journal of Theological Reflection vol. 69, no. 6 (2005):401-403.
  • "Transplanting Tradition: Syro-Malabar Catholics on American Soil," Chakra: Tidskrift for Indiska Religioner vol. 3 (2005): 136-152.
  • "Santal Religion and Nature." In Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, Bron Taylor, ed. vol. 2 (2005): 1476-1478. Thoemmes Continuum.
  • "Lower Income Hindu Women's Attitude towards Abortion: A Case Study in Urban India" co-authored with Bindu Madhok, International Journal of Applied Philosophy vol. 18, no. 1 (2004): 123-137.
  • "Dialogue 'On the Ground:' The Complicated Identities and the Complex Negotiations of Catholics and Hindus in South India" Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies vol.17 (2004): 33-44.
  • "Ammachi: The Mother of Compassion." In The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States, K. Pechilis, ed. 203-218. Oxford University Press: 2004.
  • "Introduction: Between, Behind, and Beyond the Lines" co-authored with Corinne Dempsey. In Popular Christianity in India: Riting between the Lines, Selva J. Raj and Corinne Dempsey, eds, 1-7. SUNY Press: 2002.
  • "Transgressing Boundaries, Transcending Turner: The Pilgrimage Tradition at the Shrine of St. John de Britto," Journal of Ritual Studies, vol. 16.no.1 (2002): 4-18; reprinted with modifications in Popular Christianity in India: Riting between the Lines, 85-111. SUNY Press: 2002.
  • "Adapting Hindu Imagery: Ritual Experiments in an Indian Catholic Ashram," Journal of Ecumenical Studies, vol. 37, nos. 3/4 (2000): 333-353.
  • "The Ganges, the Jordan, and the Mountain: The Three Strands of Santal Popular Catholicism" Doxology: A Journal of Worship, vol.16 (1999): 17-39; reprinted in Popular Christianity in India: Riting between the Lines, 39-60. SUNY Press: 2002.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • "Mata Amritanandamayi" in Peter Clarke (ed.) Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements, Routledge (2005): 28-29.
  • "Ammachi" in Phyllis Jestice (ed.) Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, ABC-CLIO (2004): 47-48.
  • "St. John de Britto: The Marava Saint" in Phyllis Jestice (ed.) Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, ABC-CLIO (2004): 141-142.
  • "St. Antony of Uvari" in Phyllis Jestice (ed.) Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, ABC-CLIO (2004): 61.

Book Reviews

  • Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break the Boundaries between Religions by Francis X. Clooney, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 71, n. 4. December 2003, 926-930.
  • Christian Pluralism in America: The Indian Christian Immigrant Experience by Raymond Brady Williams, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 68, n.1, March 2000, 202-205.
  • Women in Religion, Teaching Theology and Religion, February 1998 vol.1, no.1, p. 63.
  • Hinduism by Cybelle Shattuck, International Journal of Hindu Studies (forthcoming).
  • Christianity and World Religions by Hans Kung, Religious Studies Review, October 1999, vol.25, no. 4, p. 393.
  • Mission and Tamil Society: Social and Religious Change in South India by H. Bugge, Religious Studies Review, January 1998, vol. 24, no.1, p. 123.
  • Recent Conference Presentations
  • "Syncretism Revisited: The Ritual Life of South Indian Catholics," 19th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, June 27-30, 2006.
  • "Practical Moral Discourse and Human Rights for Women: A Cultural Case-Study" co-presented with Bindu Madhok,19th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, June 27-30, 2006.
  • "'Material Dialogue' in Catholic Lay Religion in South India" Conference on the Study of Religions of India, Loyola University Chicago, June 8-11, 2006.
  • "The Tsunami and Hindu-Christian Conflict" Midwest American Academy of Religion, Dominican University, River Forest, IL, March 31-April 1, 2006.
  • Invited public lecture titled "Made in India: A Different Face of Catholic Christianity" Christianity in India Conference, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, March 23-24, 2006.
  • "Transmitting Tradition to the Younger Generation" Conference on Children, Youth, and their Education in Globalizing India, Varanasi, India, December 22-24, 2005.
  • "The Impact of Tsunami on Religious Practice" Second International Conference on Religions and Culture in Indic Civilization, Delhi, India, December 17-20, 2005.
  • "Religion and Money: An Ethnographic Profile of a South Indian Catholic Festival" National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Philadelphia, November 19-22, 2005.
  • "Online Rituals: How a Traditional Religion Negotiates Contemporary Cyber Challenge" National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Philadelphia, November 19-22, 2005
  • "Modern Constructions of the Miraculous in a South Indian Catholic Shrine" Conference on the Study of Religions of India, Albion College, June 9-12, 2005.
  • "Modern Indian Christianity: A Profile in Religious Autonomy," Annual Meeting of the Midwest American Academy of Religion, De Paul University Chicago, April 8-9, 2005.
  • "Religion and Violence: Recent Incidents of Hindu-Christian Conflict," The 19th World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Tokyo, Japan, March 23-30, 2005.
  • "A Cross-cultural Moral Discourse on Human Rights for Women," co-presented with Bindu Madhok, 14th Annual Meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, San Antonio, February 23-27, 2005.
  • "Revealing and Creating through Miracles: The Ethnographic Encounter with the Wondrous in South Indian Christianity," National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, November 20-23, 2004
  • "Stop in the Name of God: Wayside Shrines in South Indian Christianity" National Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio, November 20-23, 2004.
  • A Practical Cross-Cultural Human Rights Discourse for Women" co-presented with Bindu Madhok at 31st Annual Richard R. Baker Philosophy Colloquium, University of Dayton, Ohio, October 28-30, 2004.
  • "Swadhina: Promoting and Sustaining Women's Freedom in Rural India" 33rd Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 14-17, 2004.
  • "Deity Hunting and Temple Crossing: The Ritual Tradition at the Shrine of St. Antony in South India," 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, July 6-9, 2004
  • "Re-defining Indian Womanhood in the Face of Globalization," co-presented with Bindu Madhok, Asia Network Annual Meeting, Lisle, Illinois, April 3, 2004.
  • "Teaching Indian Christianity in America: Problems and Possibilities," Annual Meeting of the Midwest American Academy of Religion, DePaul University, Chicago, April 1-2, 2004.
  • "Asanam Meal: A Ritual Leveling of Differences in South Indian Christianity" 56th national meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Town & Country Hotel, San Diego, CA, March 4-7, 2004.
  • "Re-defining Indian Womanhood: A Case-Study of Two Women's Organizations," co-presented with Bindu Madhok, International Association of Asian Studies, Houston, February 16-21, 2004

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