But Marc Brettler, professor in Judaic studies at Duke University agreed there’s simply not enough solid data to prove that Bible knowledge is dying. The speculative dimension, he said, reminds him of Mark Twain’s famous phrase: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” “David Playing the Harp” by Jan de Bray in 1670. King David is synonymous with the Book of Psalms. Image courtesy of Creative Commons “There seems to be some human pleasure in saying something is dying and depicting the… read more about Is the Old Testament dying? »

By Jill Warren Lucas - Correspondent As a renowned expert on the Old Testament, Duke professor Marc Brettler has been recruited many times to fact-check scholarly texts that cite the Bible. But there was something unexpected about a recent inquiry. Joan Nathan, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, needed his help while she researched her 11th collection, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.” “I don’t get a lot of calls from cookbook authors who deal with the… read more about Professor Marc Brettler assisting with fact-checking for new cookbook » Mark Goodacre is something of a Biblical sleuth. A leading New Testament scholar, he is often tapped to sort out hoax from authentic evidence when someone announces a new “discovery” from the early Christian era. So when CNN launched a six-part series on the historical Jesus, the network turned to Goodacre to help sort fact from fiction. He served as series adviser for the first season of “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery” in 2015. Now he returns as… read more about The Historical Jesus: Separating Fact from Fiction »

A Duke professor affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban has returned to his family in North Carolina. Mohsen Kadivar, a research professor of Islamic studies originally from Iran, had been living in Berlin as part of a fellowship program. Although he originally planned to stay until July, he decided to return to Duke last week after several federal courts put Trump’s executive order on hold.   Although he was thankful for a safe return, he said it was a disappointing to cut short his fellowship at the… read more about Professor caught up in travel ban returns »

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress, The story about Abraham bargaining with God to save the people of Sodom is well known; but the underpinning of this story is rarely recognized. After admonishing God, “Shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25), Abraham does not suggest that God save only the righteous members of the city and destroy only its wicked inhabitants. Instead, Abraham tries to convince God to save the entire city due to… read more about Marc Brettler's Letter 14 - American Values Religious Voices »

DURHAM -- Duke University says “several dozen” of its students, faculty and post-docs are affected by the travel ban U.S. President Donald Trump slapped on nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries to start the weekend. The university’s chief spokesman, Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations Michael Schoenfeld, said Duke officials “are in contact” with them. So far, its advice to them has been to “avoid all international travel for the immediate future,” Duke’s president and provost, Richard… read more about David Morgan Quoted in Herald Sun Article »

On February 5, Robert Orsi, the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies with appointments in the departments of Religious Studies and History at Northwestern University, spoke in the department on “The Problem of Presence in Modern Religion and Its Study,” which is the subject of his forthcoming book, History and Presence, which will appear later this month from Harvard University Press. read more about Robert Orsi's Lecture on Forthcoming Book »

David Morgan is the latest to take part in our “Four Questions with” series.  His influential and acclaimed work on religion and visual culture will be familiar to many of our readers.  Morgan is Professor of Religion with a secondary appointment in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University.  He is the chair of the Duke Department of Religion as well. He has written a range of books and essays on the history of religious visual culture, art history and critical theory, and… read more about Four Questions with David Morgan »

If you attended this year’s Majors Fair on October 21st, you witnessed a festive gathering in the Bryan Center, humming with lively discussions about course offerings, research interests, and plans for the future. Faculty and students from more than 80 departments were represented, and display tables featured zany décor ranging from animal skulls at Evolutionary Anthropology to a plastic brain sprouting lollipops at the Cognitive Neuroscience table. Representing the Religious Studies Department were faculty members Drs.… read more about Relgious Studies at the 2014 Majors Fair »

ISLAMiCommentary by Professor Lucas Van Rompay In an unusual demonstration of resolve and courage, the newly elected patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, has decided to maintain the headquarters of his church in Syria, rather than transferring them to Lebanon as many expected. In the final years of his tenure, the aging and frail patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas (who died on March 21) had been living in Beirut. But as far as the new patriarch is concerned, this was not the prelude to a more… read more about With Wisdom and Courage, New Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Reaffirms the Church's Commitment to Syria »

May 9, 2014: Dean Margaret M. Mitchell has announced that, upon recommendation from the Divinity School's Alumni Council, the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Laurie L. Patton (AM 1986, PhD 1991 in the History of Religions area) as the Divinity School's Alumna of the Year for 2015.  Dean of the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University, the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion, and Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Patton is an accomplished… read more about Laurie Patton Named University of Chicago Divinity School's Alumna of the Year »

A new study reignites the thorny debate over biblical accuracy Once upon a time, Abraham owned a camel. According to the Book of Genesis, he probably owned lots of camels. The Bible says that Abraham, along with other patriarchs of Judaism and Christianity, used domesticated camels — as well as donkeys, sheep, oxen and slaves — in his various travels and trade agreements. Or did he? Last week, archaeologists Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University released a new study that dates the arrival of the… read more about The Mystery of the Bible's Phantom Camels »