October 2017


The Political Power of Sacred Texts: Between Fundamentalism and Philosophy

  • Wednesday, 18 October 2017 - 6:00pm
  • Thursday, 19 October 2017 - 9:00am to 6:00pm
AAR Lecture Room

Sacred texts, catalyzed through extremely different hermeneutical approaches, have had great political influence in both Eastern and Western cultures.  This conference explores the interaction between canonical texts and the array of hermeneutical modes – from fundamentalism to contemporary philosophy – through which they are culturally activated.  Do sacred texts and their specific normative content actually have political influence? Or are they just objects of use or abuse by players whose ideologies are informed by motivations independent of the sacred texts they advocate? What cultural contexts favor fundamentalist approaches, and where do open-perspective philosophical attitudes towards sacred texts develop?  Is there any possibility for mutual illumination among advocates of these seemingly incommensurate positions? These issues will be discussed in a keynote address followed by a one-day conference. Scholars from different religious backgrounds will analyze test cases, showing how specific sacred texts have been used in diverse historical and cultural contexts as well as their contemporary political relevance. Scholars from philosophy and cultural studies will explore, from their perspectives, how these issues can be approached.

Papers will include:

Katell Berthelot (French National Center for Scientific Research, Aix en Provence)
The Political Power of the Biblical Texts pertaining to the Conquest of the Promised Land, from the Hasmonean Period to the Present

Harold Attridge (Yale Divinity School)
What are the Political Implications of a Kingdom “not of this world”?

Angelika Neuwirth (Freie University, Berlin)
The Jerusalem Temple Disputed?  A Momentous Qur'anic Verse, Q 17:1, and its Explosive Potential

Ron Hendel (Center for Jewish Studies, University of California, Berkeley)
The Bible in the Modern Political Imagination: Dialectics of Legitimacy

Eckart Otto (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich)
The Political Influence of the Bible in Max Weber, Hermann Cohen, and Ernst Troeltsch during World War I – the Urkatastrophe of the Twentieth Century

This event is part of the series New Work in the Arts & Humanities: East and West.

L’evento è parte della serie Nuove ricerche sulle arti e sulle discipline umanistiche: oriente e occidente.

The event will be held in English.

L’evento si terrà in lingua inglese.

You can watch this event livestreamed at

Sarà possibile seguirlo in diretta streaming

Please note: valid photo ID is required for entry into the American Academy in Rome. Backpacks and luggage with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15 (inches 16 x 14 x 6) are not permitted on the property. There are no locker facilities available.

I visitatori dell'American Academy in Rome sono pregati di mostrare un documento d'identità all'ingresso.  Non è possibile accedere con bagagli o zaini di dimensioni superiori a cm 40 x 35 x 15. Non sono disponibili armadietti né guardaroba.