PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Scriptural Reasoning Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

Scriptural Reasoning (SR) is a practice of inter-religious text study in which participants from the three ‘Abrahamic’ religions (and increasingly, from other traditions as well) study short selections of their scriptures together in an open-ended but structured way. When scholars read scripture across inter-religious difference, the effect is to put traditional wisdom and academic formation into play simultaneously. Over the years, this practice has proved effective at making familiar texts strange and offering a window into the ‘deep logics’ of these different traditions.

The Scriptural Reasoning Unit facilitates within the AAR a unique mode of academic engagement rooted in this practice. It cultivates an approach to the academic study of scriptural traditions centered on the ways in which scriptures generate communities of religious practice: practices of study, of interpretation, of reflection, of ritual, and of social life. Its scholars seek to develop methods for analyzing aspects of this process and to offer philosophical or theological interventions in the ongoing life of the traditions.

Call for Papers: 

We invite paper or panel submissions related to the following themes:

• Scriptural Reasoning and Comparative Theology
Since the 1990’s two creative and innovative interreligious practices have emerged: Scriptural Reasoning and comparative theology, both of which place the reading of texts at the center of interreligious learning, though they do so in a different vein. Comparative theology is a solitary studious enterprise, while Scriptural Reasoning is a communal conversational practice. Scriptural Reasoning places sacred scriptures at the heart of its practice, while comparative theology focuses on theological and philosophical treatises. We welcome papers or panel proposals that examine the relation between comparative theology and Scriptural Reasoning. What are their different methods, hermeneutics, or theological approaches? What sort of knowledge does each produce? How do they challenge or complement one another? And how do they relate to other disciplines like the theologies of religions or the academic study of religion? Co-sponsored with the Comparative Theology Unit and the Scriptural Reasoning Unit.

• Wisdom
The ideal interpreter of scripture is often assumed to embody 'wisdom', but this category is notoriously vague. What is wisdom, how is it gained, and how does it shape the interpretation of scripture? We invite papers that address conceptions of wisdom in religious traditions, the role of scriptural study in the formation of wisdom and/or the figure of the sage.

• Scripture and Violence
It is often assumed that when religious actors engage in violent acts, they are inspired to do so by commitments derived from their scriptural traditions. We invite papers that address the relationship between scripture and acts of violence (or commitments to non-violence). How do scriptural reading practices motivate, encourage, condone or condemn acts of violence in the public sphere? What connections, if any, can be drawn between specific scriptural passages and real-world acts of violence?

We invite those who are not familiar with the history or practice of SR to review the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning for examples of the type of scholarship that characterize this unit.

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