By Tatayana Richardson November 16, 2020 | 12:00am EST               “Question: Why did God make Jesus white, when the majority of peoples in the world are non-white?  Answer: The color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence. The whiteness or blackness of one’s skin is a biological quality which has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the personality. The significance of Jesus lay, not in His color, but in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His will to God’s will. He… read more about News flash...Jesus wasn't white » By the 6th century CE, Christianity was a religion of empire that produced significant codices of imperial law, many of which regulated Jewish practice. Even so, however, Christian polemics against Jewish “legalism” and the perceived burden of the Mosaic-Pharisaic law were commonplace. According to foundational Christian writings, Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection had brought freedom from that burden to humanity, and ongoing Jewish adherence to Jewish law (what would… read more about Law as Love-Song »

Professor Leela Prasad has a new book. Read more here. The Audacious Raconteur Sovereignty and Storytelling in Colonial India Leela Prasad Can a subject be sovereign in a hegemony?   Can creativity be reined in by forces of empire? The Audacious Raconteur argues that even the most hegemonic circumstances cannot suppress "audacious raconteurs": skilled storytellers who fashion narrative spaces that allow themselves to remain sovereign and beyond subjugation.   Engaging history, anthropology,… read more about Leela Prasad publishes The Audacious Raconteur »

Deborah Jenson, Professor of Romance Studies, explains the role played by Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum in finding treatments for Ebola. Read the article at STAT. read more about Thank This Ebola-fighting African Doctor for Monoclonal Antibody Treatments »

Religion and Humor in the Time of Pandemic   Is it necessarily irreligious to poke fun of religion? What might be the utility of such humor? Professor David Morgan led a group of engaged Duke students in considering these questions and more as he moderated the inaugural installment of a new discussion series, Exploring Self and Community in Dark Times. The sessions are open to first- and second-year students who are interested in examining the global crisis of COVID-19… read more about Religion and Humor in the Time of Pandemic »

Here are recently published and forthcoming books by Duke authors, from September and October:   Marc Zvi Brettler, co-author: “The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently” Annotated Edition (HarperOne, Oct. 27, 2020) Avshalom Caspi and Terrie E. Moffitt, co-authors: “The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life” (Harvard University Press) Samuel Fury Childs Daly: “A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and… read more about New Great Reads from Duke Authors »

Check out a new video with Professor Marc Brettler -… read more about Netanel Barak speaking with Prof Marc Brettler about How to Read the Bible? »

Faculty in the Department of Religious Studies express their support for and solidarity with #ScholarStrike, a call for a general strike of 48 hours on September 8 and 9 to take a collective stand against police brutality and extrajudicial violence in the United States. Faculty and students will be engaging in teach-in events and each of us will take time on September 8-9 to reflect seriously on the issues raised from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Additional information about #ScholarStrike can be found in… read more about Religious Studies Faculty Support #ScholarStrike »

Faculty member Mark Chaves co-wrote this CNN article is based on the National Congregations Study that will soon be released.  read more about Mark Chaves gives Insights Into 2020 Election »

A hearty welcome to Professor Anna Sun! Anna Sun is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton and her B.A from Berkeley. Sun is a scholar of Confucianism in particular and of contemporary Chinese religious life in general. Her research interests include the 19th century production of knowledge about Chinese religions; the development of Global Confucianisms in the 21st century; comparative ritual theory; and theoretical and methodological issues underlying… read more about Duke Welcomes Dr. Anna Sun »

Link to article: Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism July 27, 2020 Author Conversations Series, Summer 2020 Speaker and Author: Richard Jaffe, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University; Director of the Asia Pacific Studies Institute at Duke University Discussants: Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior… read more about Seeking Sakyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism »

Mark Goodacre is a big fan of Doctor Who—maybe even an obsessive fan. The kind of fan who has friends who host their own Doctor Who podcasts. When they started, Goodacre probably couldn’t have told you they would inspire him to offer… read more about A Comforting Voice on the New Testament »

Three students have earned the master of arts in Religious Studies for May 2020 - Carter Kurtz, Bethany Lynch, and Thomas Waldrupe. Though we are unable to meet together for the commencement ceremony and departmental celebration, we wish the very best to our new graduates. Check out the "Marking the Moment 2020" web page for our graduate students. read more about Religious Studies Graduates Three Master's Students »

Congratulations to the following student award winners from Duke University units in 2020.   African & African American Studies   John Hope Franklin Award for Academic Excellence: Elizabeth DuBard Grantland Karla FC Holloway Award for University Service: Beza Gebremariam Mary McLeod Bethune Writing Award: Jenna Clayborn Walter C. Burford Award for Community Service: Kayla Lynn Corredera-Wells   Art, Art History & Visual Studies        Mary Duke… read more about Student Honors and Laurels for 2020 »

Religious Studies Ph.D. student Michael Grigoni is interview on WUNC's The State of Things about his research, which focuses on gun ownership among white American evangelicals. Listen to the interview at… read more about Thoughts, Prayers And More Ammunition: Meet Mike Grigoni  »

All my humor is based on destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, I’d be standing in the breadline—right in back of J. Edgar Hoover.”    -Lenny Bruce “Humor is just another defense against the universe.” -Mel Brooks On the evidence of what Lenny Bruce and Mel Brooks proclaim, humor is mercifully entangled with disaster. Each comedian conveys the sentiment in broadly existential terms, but we may put the matter in equally apt political form: humor is a life line in dark, oppressive… read more about Religion and Humor in the Time of Pandemic »

David Morgan was recently a fellow at University of Utrecht, where he work-shopped his new book manuscript The Thing About Religion. The director of the program there interviewed him, and this is the link to the interview:     read more about David Morgan Interviewed About His Book »

Last week’s killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani has raised a number of legal and strategic questions for which there seem to be no consensus, including among Duke faculty. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., a professor of the practice of law and executive director of the law school’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, said President Donald Trump’s directive to kill Soleimani was “lawful self-defense” as authorized by the United Nations Charter, not an unlawful assassination. “Because Soleimani was engaged in… read more about Killing of Iranian Commander Raises Legal, Strategic Questions »

While a graduate student at Santa Clara University in California, Jonathan Homrighausen became fascinated by a hand-written, hand-illustrated version of the bible in the school’s collection. It was a copy of the Saint John’s Bible, commissioned in the late 1990s by Saint John’s University in Minnesota to bring the bible with contemporary flourishes and interpretation to a modern audience. It was created by a team of scribes and artists who wrote the bible’s text by hand while illuminating it with colorful visuals. Along… read more about The Bible As You've Never Seen It Before »

UN Must Investigate the Killing of Protesters in Iran Friday, 29 November 2019   A group of prominent Iranians have appealed to the United Nations to take immediate action on Iran and appoint a commission to investigate the human rights violations in the country during the recent nationwide protests.  The letter, signed by prominent Iranian academics, lawyers, doctors, journalists, and human rights activists based in the United States, Europe, Canada, India and Iran, also urges the UN to demand the… read more about UN Must Investigate the Killing of Protesters in Iran »

Our faculty member Jennifer Knust was interviewed on "The Bible for Normal People," on To listen, click here. read more about Jennifer Knust Interviewed on The Bible as a Living Document »

Congratulations to the recent graduates of the Ph.D.!  The Graduate Program in Religion graduated nine Ph.D. students in the period from September 2018 - May 2019.  September: Kara Slade (CTS, Advisor- Willie Jennings); Marvin Wickware (CTS, Advisor Willie J. Jennings); David Smith (NT, Advisor - Joel Marcus). December: Diana Abernethy (HB/OT, Advisor - Stephen B. Chapman); Yael Lazar (R&M, Advisor - Leela Prasad). May: Joseph… read more about A New Crop of Ph.D.s » (RNS) — Shopping at Walmart a few years ago, David Morgan saw a statuette of Santa Claus praying on one knee before a cross and knew he had to have it. Morgan, a professor and religious studies chair at Duke University who studies religion, culture and media, was amused by the pious Santa Claus, whose costume derives from Thomas Nast’s 1860s Harper’s Weekly cartoons and Coca-Cola ads starting in the 1930s. He doesn… read more about Is Religious Kitsch Offensive? The Answer is in the Eye of the Beholder »

Duke's own Prof. Marc Z. Brettler was recently granted an audience with Pope Francis on March 27. He and Duke alumna Amy-Jill Levine co-authored “The Jewish Annotated New Testament”, first published in 2011. As Levine is teaching in Rome at the moment and Brettler was to give a lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the circumstances allowed for this momentous occasion to occur. Together, the presented a signed copy of their work to the pontiff. Their book is meant for Jewish readers but can also be a resource… read more about Prof. Marc Z. Brettler Given Papal Audience »

Duke's own Leela Prasad has officially accepted the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship. Leela will conduct ethnographic research in Maharashtra, India, a state that collaborates with NGOs to run a “Gandhi Study Program” in its prisons. Her goal is to study how ex-prisoners exposed to Gandhi’s writings during prison-time incorporate Gandhian principles and practices into their post-prison life. She plans to write a  book that will explore how meaning is installed into being human at the margin, and how the figuration of Gandhi plays… read more about Prof. Leela Prasad Receives Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship »

By Duke Global staff Prasad’s study examines prisoners who are exposed to writings on compassion, non-violence and freedom through a voluntary Gandhi Study Program in Maharashtra(link is external), a state in India. The program is run by a collaboration between the state government and nongovernmental organizations. The participants can also volunteer for a service project after release. Through the work, Prasad plans to connect educational initiatives in American prisons with those in India to exchange ideas and… read more about What Can Prisoners Learn From Gandhi? »

Special shout out and congratulations to our very own Leela Prasad, recipient of the 2019 Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring!!! Congratulations! :) *** January 14, 2019 The Graduate School has announced the recipients of its 2019 Dean's Awards recognizing outstanding efforts in mentoring, teaching, and creating an inclusive environmentfor graduate education at Duke. The recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, March 27. Here's a look at this year's recipients. Profiles on the winners will be posted… read more about 2019 Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring »

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is recognized as one of the great poets of 20th century European modernism. From 1921-1926, he lived in southern Switzerland, in a region called the Valais. Following the completion of the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke began to work in both French and German. A collection of French poems addressed to the landscape of Valais, Quatrains Valaisans, was published in 1926. In May of that same year, Rilke sent his publishers an arrangement of German language… read more about From Notebooks & Personal Papers - Rainer Maria Rilke (Author) David Need (Translator) » read more about How Enchanting: Q&A »   Vatican officials lingered over images of Balenciaga evening coats, Madame Grès capes and the Schiaparelli gown embroidered with the keys of St. Peter, pieces that clearly referenced the familiar silhouettes of their ecclesiastical and monastic garments, but flipped past the more risqué looks. Ultimately, they agreed to lend 41 items from the Sistine Chapel sacristy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met would have been grateful for even six.… read more about High church meets high fashion: How Catholic style took over the Met »