Highly-regarded Rice University scholar April DeConick will present “The Ancient New Age: How Gnostic Spirituality Revolutionized Religion in Antiquity” on Monday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the Cone University Center, McKnight Hall, for the 29th Annual Loy H. Witherspoon Lecture in Religious Studies.
DeConick is the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University and historian of early Jewish and Christian thought. DeConick finds fascination in mapping the many ways that the Jesus tradition emerges across the literature, traditions that have left behind echoes of bitter controversies and competing memories. The lecture is free and open to the public. Information on parking is available on the UNC Charlotte website.
She possesses a deep interest in exploring the various expressions of ante-Nicene mysticism (“Christianity before Constantine”), including the spirituality of classic Gnostic thinkers. Her work has been called “revisionist,” challenging people to seek answers beyond the conventional. She writes a highly regarded blog, “The Forbidden Gospels.”
The Loy H. Witherspoon Lecture in Religious Studies is the oldest and most prestigious endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte. The series, established in 1984, honors the distinguished career and service of Loy H. Witherspoon.
Witherspoon was the first chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, established at UNC Charlotte in 1964. When the Department of Religious Studies was independently formed in 1972 he served as the first chair. Witherspoon has received the university’s highest awards for both teaching and service: The Bank of America Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University Distinguished Service Award. He has served as president of the faculty and is the only faculty member to have been elected twice to that office. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion in the Department of Religious Studies, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Hundreds of his friends, colleagues, and former students contributed to the fund that made this the first named, endowed lecture series at UNC Charlotte. Contributions to the Loy Witherspoon Lectureship Fund can be made on-line or by check made out to “UNC Charlotte Foundation: Witherspoon Lecture” and mailed to Dr. James D. Tabor, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223. All contributions are gratefully acknowledged and are tax deductible.
The past 23 years of distinguished lectures make up a virtual Who’s Who in the field of religious studies. All the lectures have been published through the generous contributions of Dr. William Pfischner.
- 1984-85 “Religion and Religions: The Problem of Living in a Multireligious World” by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University.
- 1985-86 “The Question of the Book: Religion as Texture” by David L. Miller, Syracuse University
- 1986-87 “Evolving Jewish Views of Jesus” by Michael J. Cook, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
- 1987-88 “In the Combat Zone Over American Values: The Vision of One America versus the Vision of Many Americas” by Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago
- 1988-89 “The Banality of Evil: The Darkness at the Center” by William H. Poteat, Duke University
- 1989-90 “Sexual Masquerades in the Hebrew Bible: Rachel and Tamar” by Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago
- 1990-91 “Religiopolis: Beyond the Secular city” by Harvey G. Cox, Harvard University
- 1991-92 “Ecofeminism and Christian Theology: Symbolic and Social Connections between the Domination of Women and of Nature” by Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical theological Seminary
- 1992-93 “Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare” by James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary, New York City
- 1993-94 “Satan in the New Testament Gospels” by Elaine Pagels, Princeton University
- 1994-95 “Schindler’s List” by Thomas Keneally, University of California at Irvine
- 1995-96 “Re-Viewing Religious Knowledge” by Vine Deloria, Jr, University of Colorado at Boulder
- 1996-97 “Translating Womanism into Pedagogical Praxis” by Katie G. Cannon, Temple University
- 1997-98 Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: What do we Know After Fifty Years?” by James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary
- 1998-99 “Jerusalem: The Contested Inheritance” by Francis E. Peters, New York University
- 1999-00 “Searching for Shangri-La” by Donald S. Lopez, University of Michigan
- 2000-01 “Caring for Creation: Religious Faith and the Challenge of Building a Sustainable World,” by Max Oelschlaeger, Northern Arizona University
- 2001-02 “Can the State be Virtuous? Muslim Political Philosophy, Old and New”, by John Williams, College of William and Mary
- 2002-03 “What Does It Mean to Say I Saw?: On the Varieties of Visionary Experiences” by Barbara Newman, Northwestern University
- 2003-04 “Christians and the So-called State (We Are In) A Meditation on Loyalty after September 11, 2001” by Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University Divinity School
- 2004-05 “Wooing Rebekah: How Issac Got a Wife” by Jack Sasson, Vanderbilt University
- 2005-06 “Misquoting Jesus: Do We Have the Original New Testament?” by Bart Ehrman, UNC Chapel Hill
- 2006-07 “No Free Pass: An Apocalyptic Call for Prophetic Witness in the Book of Revelation” by Brian Blount, Union Theological Seminary
- 2007-08 “Jesus in Jerusalem: New Archaeological Discoveries” by Shimon Gibson, W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research
- 2008-2009 “Things Said, Things Done: The Relations of Myth and Ritual,” Jonathan Z. Smith, The University of Chicago
- 2009-2010 “What’s the Matter with Marriage? Some Early Christian Answers” by Elizabeth Clark, Duke University
- 2010-2011 “Secret Books and Secret Traditions of Ancient Judaism,” Michael E. Stone, Professor Emeritus of Judaic Studies, Hebrew University
- 2011-2012 “Morality Without Religion: Empathy, Fairness and Prosocial Primates,” Frans B. M. de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University.