Return to Skip Menu

Main Content

Hammond Lectureship in Religious Ethics and Society

The Hammond Lectureship in Religious Ethics and Society was endowed by an anonymous donor in 1995 to honor Guy B. Hammond, who retired in that year, after 38 years of service at Virginia Tech, having served as head of two academic units in the College of Arts and Sciences (the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Department of Religion) and transition leader of a third (the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies). Dr. Hammond's scholarly interests and accomplishments are represented in his three books: two on the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich (Man in Estrangement and The Power of Self-Transcendence: An Introduction to the Systematic Theology of Paul Tillich) and a third more broadly in the field of religious ethics and society (Conscience and its Recovery: From The Frankfurt School to Feminism). The Hammond Lecturer gives a public address and meets with faculty and students in classes and workshops during a two-day campus visit.

Previous Hammond Lecturers

2013 Laura S. Nasrallah, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Harvard Divinity School.

2011 Peter C. Phan, Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University

2009 Bart D. Ehrmann, James A. Grey Distinguished Professor of Religion, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

2007 Jonathan Schofer, Assistant Professor of Comparative Ethics, Harvard Divinity School

2005 Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

2002 Ronald Cole-Turner, H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

2000 Elizabeth Bounds, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

1999 Katie Geneva Cannon, Associate Professor of Religion, Temple University

1996 Jean Bethke Elshtain, Laura Spelman Rockerfeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago

About Professor Nasrallah 

Laura Nasrallah's research and teaching bring together New Testament and early Christian literature with the archaeological remains of the Mediterranean world, and often engage issues of colonialism, gender, status, and power. Her first book, An Ecstasy of Folly: Prophecy and Authority in Early Christianity, focuses on 1 Corinthians and on materials from the second- and third-century controversies over prophecy and the nature of the soul. In Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture: The Second-Century Church Amid the Spaces of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2010) she argues that early Christian literature addressed to Greeks and Romans is best understood when read in tandem with the archaeological remains of the Roman world. Early Christians discussed justice, piety, and God's image in the midst of sculptures and monumental architecture asserting the value and marketability of Greek culture, as well as the justice, piety, and even divinity of the Roman imperial family and other elites. The Acts of the Apostles and the writings of Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, and Clement are the foundational texts for this study. She is also co-editor, with Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, of Prejudice and Christian Beginnings: Investigating Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in Early Christian Studies (Fortress Press, 2009) and, with Charalambos Bakirtzis and Steven J. Friesen, of From Roman to Early Christian Thessalonik?: Studies in Religion and Archaeology (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Among her current projects are a book on archaeology and the letters of Paul and a commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Hermeneia series. A project funded by the Office of the Provost focused on uses of the New Testament in U.S. popular culture and politics. See more about Prof. Nasrallah here.

Title of Professor Nasrallah’s lecture

“Apostle Paul, St. Paul: The Ethics of History”

 

About Professor Phan
Peter C. Phan, Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, is a native of Vietnam who emigrated as a refugee to the U.S.A. in 1975. He obtained three doctorates, the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Universitas Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, and the Doctor Philosophy and the Doctor of Divinity from the University of London. He is the first non-Anglo to be elected President of Catholic Theological Society of America.

His publications deal with the history of mission in Asia (Mission and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes and Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam) and liberation, inculturation, and interreligious dialogue (Christianity with an Asian Face; In Our Own Tongues; Being Religious Interreligiously). In addition, he has edited some 20 volumes (e.g., Christianity and the Wider Ecumenism; Church and Theology; Journeys at the Margins; The Asian Synod; The Gift of the Church; Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy).  His writings have received many awards from learned societies.

Title of Professor Phan's Lecture
Asian Christianities: History, Theology, New Directions”

 

About Professor Ehrmann
Among Dr. Ehrman’s fields of scholarly expertise are the historical Jesus, the early Christian apocrypha, the apostolic fathers, and the manuscript tradition of the New Testament. He has published extensively in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity, having written or edited twenty-one books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews. Among his most recent books are a Greek-English edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press), an assessment of the newly discovered Gospel of Judas (Oxford University Press), and two New York Times Bestsellers: God’s Problem (an assessment of the biblical views of suffering) and Misquoting Jesus (an overview of the changes found in the surviving copies of the New Testament and of the scribes who produced them)

Abstract of Professor Ehrmann's Lecture
"Is the New Testament Forged? The Real-Life Authors of the Christian Scriptures"

Abstract: Scholars have long recognized that a number of the books from early Christianity were not written by their alleged authors. Some books were written anonymously (such as the four Gospels), only later to be (wrongly) ascribed to Jesus' apostles (e.g., Matthew and John). But others were written in the names of famous apostles (e.g., Paul) by later followers, who were, in effect, claiming to be someone they were not. This lecture will look at the literary forgeries of early Christianity, including some that appear to have made it into the New Testament.

You may learn more about Dr. Bart Ehrman and his work from his home page, from Wikipedia, and from a variety of online videos.

 

About Professor Schofer
Jonathan Schofer received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in History of Religions, was Assistant Professor of Classical Rabbinic Literature at the University of Wisconsin from 2000-2005, and joined the faculty of Harvard Divinity School in 2006. His interests center on the ethics of virtue and character: ways that different individual and groups understand the nature of the self, ideals for living a good life, and especially how one is to transform one's self to attain those ideals (spiritual exercises, disciplinary practices, and more). Schofer's primary area of research is classical rabbinic literature and thought, and his first book is The Making of a Sage: A Study in Rabbinic Ethics (2005). He is currently writing a second book on rabbinic thought, addressing ways that rabbis give ethical significance to the vulnerability and mortality of the body, and giving particular attention to th! ! eir theology of divine justice. Schofer regularly teaches courses in both rabbinic Judaism and comparative ethics.

Abstract of Professor Schofer's Lecture
"Stewardship or Vulnerability: Ancient Jewish Rainmaking and the Foundations of Environmental Ethics"

An old saying holds that the job of anthropologists, and poets, is to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Comparative ethics needs to go a step further, not only making the strange familiar, but letting the strange challenge us to reconsider who we are and how we should live. "Stewardship or Vulnerability" will first make the familiar religion of Judaism, which today is often regarded as a religion of rationality and ritual, strange through examining one of its many magical elements: rainmaking. Then it will make these strange symbols and practices familiar, explaining the complex imagery and stories. We will conclude by considering our own ways of thinking about our relation to nature, with the suggestion that these ancient stories teach us something crucial, which may be more true to our needs today than other religiously based environmental ethics. Rain is a crucial element in the religion of Anc! ! ient Israel and later Judaism. The land of Israel is framed as a location where agriculture depends on rainfall, and the deity is, among other things, one who gives rain in response to proper religious observance. Drought, then, was not only a practical problem, but a sign of divine disfavor. The presentation will consider key examples from both biblical and classical rabbinic sources (which are roughly contemporary with the New Testament and early church fathers) concerning drought, rain, and miraculous acts of bringing rain to end drought. We will focus on the ways that these themes are woven into ethical instruction, and conclude with reflection upon the significance of these complex and foreign stories for ethics today.

Abstract of Professor Schofer's Seminar
"Confronting Mortality: Life, Aging, and Death in Rabbinic Ethics"

From a number of angles, scholars today emphasize the need for ethics to address human mortality and vulnerability: Alasdair MacIntyre's focus on the role of dependency in virtue ethics, Ernest Becker's concern with the "denial of death," Martha Nussbaum's research on the fragility of ethics itself, Emmanuel Levinas' phenomenology of the body, and more. In our seminar, I will introduce these debates, and then we will study classical rabbinic sources that speak to the same dimensions of life in a very different idiom. We will see a variety of ways that these ancient sources direct the reader to confront weakness, and then to channel that confrontation into motivation for cultivating virtue and acting well. We will conclude with a consideration of the ways that the rabbinic sources can inspire new developments in the contemporary debates.

 

About Professor Hauerwas
Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Divinity School of Duke University, where he holds a joint appointment in the Law School. Prior to coming to Duke, Professor Hauerwas served on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame for fourteen years (1970-1984). He writes broadly on matters of Christian social ethics, systematic and philosophical theology, and political theory, though is perhaps best known for his unswerving advocacy of Christian pacifism as well as his staunch critique of liberal individualism and popular forms of American Christianity. Author of some fifteen books, some of the most well-known include A Community of Character (1981), The Peaceable Kingdom (1983), and Resident Aliens (1989, with Will Willimon). In 2001, Professor Hauerwas delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (later published as With the Gra! ! in of the Universe). Also in 2001, Professor Hauerwas’s status as a public intellectual and theologian was elevated when Time named him “America’s Best Theologian.” Since 9/11, Professor Hauerwas has been in especially high demand to give interviews, deliver public lectures, or make guest appearances, perhaps because of his outspoken criticism of America’s “war on terrorism.”

Title of Professor Hauerwas's Lecture
“Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War”

This paper argues that the greatest sacrifice war requires is the sacrifice of our normal willingness to kill and that sacrifice is challenged by how Christians understand sacrifice.

Title of Professor Hauerwas's Seminar
“The Case for the Abolition of War in the Twenty-First Century”
(Click here to download the paper as a PDF document.)

 

About Professor Cole-Turner
Ronald Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He earned his B.A. in Literature from Wheaton College and his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He previously taught at Memphis Theological Seminary before moving to his present position. He edited and contributed in the book Beyond Cloning: Religion and the Remaking of Humanity (Trinity Press International, 2001). He also wrote Pastoral Genetics: Theology and Care at the Beginning of Life, co-authored with Brent Waters (Pilgrim Press, 1996). He was the winner (along with Brent Waters) of one of three 1997 Awards for Outstanding Books in Science and Religion from the John Templeton Foundation and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences for this publication. Another current article of his is "Theological Interpretations of Biotechnology: Issues and Questions,"i! ! n Claiming Power over Life: Religion and Biotechnology Policy edited by Mark J. Hanson (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2001). He organized and made a major presentation at "What Does It Mean to be Human?", a national conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Pittsburgh in November 2000. He has consulted with the Park Ridge Center on a major grant program on religious factors in genetic counseling in Chicago.

Title of Professor Cole-Turner's Lecture
"Remaking Humanity: Religious Perspectives on Cloning and Other Things That Scare People"

About Professor Bounds
Elizabeth Bounds earned a B.A. in Classics and History at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., in 1978 and an M.A. in English and Linguistics at the other Cambridge--Cambridge University in England in 1980. Her Master's of Divinity in 1986 and Ph.D. in Christian Ethics in 1994 were completed at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She began her academic career by teaching Religious Studies at VPI&SU (1991-97) but is now Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta. She is the author of Coming Together/Coming Apart: Religion, Community, and Modernity (Routledge, 1997) and co-editor of Welfare Policy: Feminist Critiques (Pilgrim Press, 1999), to which she contributed an essay entitled "Welfare as a Family Value: Conflicting Notions of Family in Protestant Welfare Responses." Currently she is co-investigator on a four-year project funded by the Li! ! lly Endowment to investigate comparative case studies of religious organizational responses to tragic death.

Abstract of Professor Bounds's Lecture
"Opening Up Space: The Role of Religious Institutions in the Work of Reconciliation"

Recently religious leaders from around the globe came together at the United Nations for the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. Underlying this gathering was the assumption that these leaders have a special role in the achievement of social and political peace. However, the final document of this gathering was vague, perhaps partly because the record of religions and reconciliation is very mixed. Religious institutions have been peacemakers and warmakers, drawing on different features of their traditions in different situations. After briefly reviewing a few examples, I will explore more fully some of the underlying features of this ambiguous role, concluding with some positive examples of Christian work in racial reconciliation.

 

About Professor Cannon
Katie Geneva Cannon is the first African American woman to be ordained to the ministry in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1974) and the first African American woman to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York (1983, in Christian Ethics). She is Associate Professor of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia and previously taught at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Cannon is the author of Black Womanist Ethics (1988) and Katie's Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community (1995), as well as a co-editor of three volumes: God's Fierce Whimsy: The Implications of Feminism for Theological Education (1985), Inheriting Our Mothers? Gardens: Feminist Theology in Third World Perspective (1988), and Interpretation for Liberation (1989). Reverend Cannon's life story forms the opening portrait in Sara Lawrence Light! ! foot's celebrated book, I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation. Dr. Cannon is the progenitor of Womanism as a movement within the scholarly association, the American Academy of Religion.

Abstract of Professor Cannon's Lecture
"Unearthing Ethical Treasures: Womanist Ways of Reading the Inscriptions of Human Archaeology"

At 11:34 a.m. on Sunday, August 3, 1952, four shots were fired in Live Oak, Suwanee County, Florida. As a result of these shots, Doctor Clifford LeRoy Adams, Jr., became the most prominent White man ever slain by a Black woman in a southern community. It is not his story that I am concerned with in this essay, however, but the story of the woman who fired the shots, Ruby Jackson McCollum. We have McCollum's story because of the work of Zora Neale Hurston in reporting her trial for the Pittsburgh Courier (October 11, 1952, p. 1 and p. 4).

Hurston's account of the McCollum trial constitutes a paradigmatic narrative of the injustice in one of this century's most famous murder cases. It is paradigmatic because it places in dramatic relief not only the story itself but the new possibilities for human existence in the midst of the existing social order. As such, it offers us a view of womanist ways of reading the biotext of human archaeology. Human archaeology is a form of methodological inquiry coined in 1994 by the sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot. According to Lawrence Lightfoot, human archaeology signifies a deep examination of relationships, developments, and experiences that seeks to reveal the authentic core of reality.

In Hurston's work on the Ruby Jackson McCollum story, we will explore first her efforts to demythologize racialized social legitimacy. This involves seeing the McCollum trial in the context of historical and contemporary racially discriminating attitudes and political practices. It involves, also, understanding the role of journalistic publications at the time and the particular significance of Hurston's use of the media insofar as she had access to them. The second task of this lecture will be to examine Hurston's oppositions to sexual inequalities, especially as these intersect with racial inequalities. This will inevitably entail her analysis of the role of class in relation to both race and sex. Finally, all of these concerns are brought to bear by Hurston on the question of their specific impact on the psychological perspectives of both Blacks and Whites. The third section of this lecture, therefore, explores through Hurston's eyes ! ! the ways in which what might be called "mind control" worked in the trial and in the wider context of the society that produced the trial.

About Professor Elshtain
Jean Bethke Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockerfeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago. A native of Colorado, she graduated from Colorado State University and received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1973. She held faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts and Vanderbilt University before being appointed to her present position in 1995. Elshtain describes herself as "a political philosopher whose task has been to show the connections between our political and our ethical convictions." Her publications have centered in three areas: women and family in social and political thought, just-war theory, and democracy, ethics, and the public/private split. Her best-known books are Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 1981; second edition, 1992), the edited volume, The Family in Political Thought (U. Mass, 1982), and Democracy on Trial (Basic Books, 1995), a call for a renewal of civil society that has been widely reviewed as an example of communitarian thought. Her most recent work, Augustine and the Limits of Politics (Notre Dame, 1996), and her ongoing interest in the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, display her concern for the connections between religion and politics.

Title of Professor Elshtain's Lecture
"Democracy at Century's End"


Contact Us

Department of Religion and Culture
Lane Hall 112, Virginia Tech (0227)
280 Alumni Mall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: 540-231-6551
Fax: 540-231-7013
Email Us

Chair, Department of Religion and Culture

Prof. Brian Britt
111 Lane Hall (0227)
Phone: 540-231-6551
Email