Fall 2016 National Meeting

Resources

The Fall 2016 Meeting has now concluded. Thank you to all who participated in person and online. Free resources from the event will be added as they become available.

God Is Not King
God Seminar informal report

Daniel Boyarin and the Christian Invention of Judaism
Christianity Seminar informal report

The Future of Theology
Jeffrey Robbins

Christian Origins and Freelance Experts
Heidi Wendt

Program Overview

Public Lectures

Jeffrey Robbins, The Future of Theology
Heidi Wendt, Christian Origins and Freelance Experts

Academic Seminars

Christianity Seminar, Daniel Boyarin
Seminar on God and the Human Future, J. Kameron Carter

SBL-Westar Institute Public Lecture

L. Michael White

Podcast Launch

Natalie Renee Perkins

Westar’s Fall 2016 national meeting will take place in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). This is the largest event of the year in the fields of biblical studies and theology, with over 1,200 sessions and workshops and one of the world’s largest exhibits of books and digital resources for religious studies. A full Westar registration grants full access to all three meetings—a practically inexhaustible smorgasbord of topics related to the study of religion.

Public Lectures

The national meeting is open to anyone interested in scholarship about religion and religious literacy. Participants come from all walks of life, professions, and religious backgrounds. To support greater understanding of religion, Westar hosts public lectures conducted by Westar Fellows and other leading figures in the scholarship of religion. This year’s presenters are Jeffrey Robbins and Heidi Wendt.

Jeffrey Robbins

The Future of Theology

Is theological thinking still viable in a secular culture where individuals define themselves as “spiritual but not religious”? Jeffrey Robbins responds by exploring the legacy of radical theology which grew out of the pathbreaking work of the “religionless Christianity” from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the “demythologizing” of scripture from Rudolf Bultmann and the “non-theism” of Paul Tillich, but truly announced itself with what came to be known as the “death of God theology” of the 1960s. Radical theology, he explains, studies what lies at the roots of society, politics, and religion. It inspires us to form, reform, and transform our vision of the human future. For over a half century, it has been willing to ask many of the hard questions about religious meaning and to question the truth claims of religion and politics. Robbins asks whether it might also inspire and produce the kind of social changes we might hope to see.

Jeffrey W. Robbins (Ph.D., Syracuse University) is Chair and Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College, where he also serves as the director of the American Studies program and the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Awarded the Thomas Rhys Vickroy Award for Outstanding Teaching at LVC in 2005, Robbins is the author or editor of eight books, including Radical Theology: A Vision for Change, forthcoming from Indiana University Press in August 2016.

Sunday, November 20, 2016
10 – 11:30 am
Regency Ballroom West

Heidi Wendt

Christian Origins and Freelance Experts

The early Roman Empire was populated by numerous self-authorized or “freelance” experts—magi, astrologers, prophets, diviners, philosophers, and so forth—who shared a number of characteristics with Paul and later authorities on Jesus. All faced common challenges of constructing and defending their legitimacy, often through displays of specialized skills. Most operated within a particular ethnic or geographic framework, sometimes even exaggerating their own foreignness, and many were imprisoned, expelled, or otherwise punished for their activities. Studies of Christian origins, early Christian diversity, and martyrdom tend to rely on “Christian” evidence. Heidi Wendt argues that one can achieve a richer understanding by situating Paul and others like him among a wider variety of freelance experts. While this historical context may not be specific to Judaism or Christianity, it helps to explain many of the dynamics and historical circumstances that one finds in Judean and Christian sources of the first and second centuries.

Heidi Wendt (Ph.D., Brown University) is Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Wright State University. The recipient, in 2011, of the Emeline Hill Richardson Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in Ancient Studies from the American Academy in Rome, she investigates the Greco-Roman context of earliest Christianity. Her book, At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in August 2016.

Sunday, November 20, 2016
2 – 3:30 pm
Regency Ballroom West

Sunday, November 20
10:00 - 11:30 am
11:30 - 2:00 pmMeal break
2:00 - 3:30 pm
4:00 - 5:00 pmAssociates Forum TBA

Academic Seminars

Westar Institute conducts collaborative, cumulative research in the academic study of religion, addressing issues, questions, and controversies that are important both to the academic community and to the general public. Two seminars are currently in progress: the Christianity Seminar and the Seminar on God and the Human Future.

Christianity Seminar

No one has written more incisively or influentially on what has been called “the parting of the ways” of Christianity and Judaism than guest scholar Daniel Boyarin, Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California in Berkeley. In San Antonio in Fall 2016, Boyarin will join the Christianity Seminar as it addresses the question: When did followers of Jesus and people of Israel no longer belong together? A review of the significance of Boyarin’s work by Nina Livesey and Maia Kotrosits will be followed by extensive discussion with Boyarin himself. By focusing intense scrutiny on the complex relationship of early “Jews” and “Christians,” the Seminar hopes to make substantial progress in its task of re-writing the history of early Christianity.

The seminar will also embark on a new initiative, that of drawing up portraits of specific moments in the emergence of early Christianity, in language accessible to the larger public. This move away from the traditional focus on essential elements will be launched with papers from Philip Harland and Hal Taussig.

Also featured will be graduate student essay prize winner Peter McClellan, a Ph.D. student at Drew University, and New Testament and Early Christianity Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at William Paterson University, with his paper entitled, "Decapolis Death Worlds: Necropolitics, Specters, and Gerasene Ethnicity among the Tombs." Congratulations, Peter!

Daniel Boyarin

Daniel Boyarin (Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary of America) is Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California in Berkeley. Boyarin is the author of many books, including Border Lines (2004) and The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (2012), both of which examine the partition of Judaism and Christianity into two separate and distinct religions.

Friday, November 18, 2016
1– 2:45 pm Session 1
3:15 – 5 pm
Session 2
6:30 – 8 pm
Session 3
Regency Ballroom West

Seminar on God and the Human Future

  • Who was the God of Jesus?
  • Does the God of Jesus still resonate with us today?
  • If so, to what extent and how?

Historically, the Christian Church recognizes Jesus but gives the last word to Paul. The Seminar on God and the Human Future began in Spring 2015 with Paul, not with Jesus. In Fall 2016, at San Antonio, it will turn its focus on Jesus, especially on the parables of Jesus. Parable is a place for apparent comedy, double entendre, and solidarity among the dispossessed. In parable Jesus refers only indirectly to the Realm or Empire of God.

Joining the Seminar will be J. Kameron Carter, a pioneering figure in what has been termed the “New Black Theology.” Carter will draw on his background in christology, theological anthropology, and critical race theory to make a critique of theological sovereignty.

J. Kameron Carter (Ph.D., University of Virginia) is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School. Carter, whose several books include Race: A Theological Account (2008).

Saturday, November 19, 2016
9 – 11:30 am Session 1
1 – 3:30 pm
Session 2
Regency Ballroom West

Participation in Academic Seminars

Westar has developed a new model of scholarly discourse that is open, public, accessible, collegial, and rigorous. Its academic seminars engage leading scholars from accredited institutions worldwide, while also embracing the public and the media as observers and participants.

All others, scholars and non-scholars alike, are welcome to audit the seminars.

Seminar Papers

The Seminar Papers, which will become available in November, are the basis for the discussions in the Friday and Saturday sessions. They will not be presented orally at the event. Persons wishing to follow the discussions should read the papers in advance.

Electronic copies of the Seminar Papers are available to the public and will be posted when they come available, usually 2 to 3 weeks prior to the event. Hard copies of the papers will be available at a cost of $25 each.

Read online
Order hard copies of seminar papers

AAR/SBL Program Highlights

A full Westar registration grants access to all AAR and SBL sessions—a practically inexhaustible smorgasbord of topics related to the study of religion.

Preliminary information about the AAR/SBL sessions, including session descriptions, locations and times, is not yet available. Check back soon for links to both programs. Copies of the print program will be available for pickup at the meeting.

SBL-Westar Institute Public Lecture

The Society of Biblical Literature and Westar Institute are pleased to announce joint sponsorship of a new public lecture series featuring major scholars addressing important cultural issues that relate to the study of religion. This year’s lecture, "From Pentecost to Plymouth Rock: Why ‘Real’ History Really Matters" will be given by L. Michael White.

L. Michael White (Ph.D., Yale University) is the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Texas in Austin and is Director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins (ISAC), for which he leads the UT excavations of the Jewish Synagogue at Ostia, the port city for ancient Rome. A specialist in religions of the Roman Empire, his particular focus is on the social context of Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman world. He has been featured in and co-written two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries, including “From Jesus to Christ,” and is the author of several books, most recently Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite.

Monday, November 21, 2016
7 – 8:30 pm
Regency Ballroom Center

Podcast Launch

Young Leaders in Religion

Better Not Mention It Podcast Launch

Better Not Mention It (BNMI) is a new podcast that attempts to close the gap between religious studies academia and the general population. It focuses specifically on work that happens within the Westar Institute, the institute’s ongoing research seminars, and work/books written by Westar Fellows. BNMI highlights information that is sometimes viewed as controversial and tends to get left out when people discuss religion, specifically Christianity. After introducing the podcast, Perkins will facilitate discussion of the inaugural episode with Arthur J. Dewey on the history and aims of the Jesus Seminar, on Jewish-Christian reconciliation, and on resisting violence, especially violence embedded in social systems. » Listen to the inaugural episode.

Natalie Renee

Natalie Renee Perkins (M.Div., Union Theological Seminary) intertwines early Christian material with contemporary society through a social justice lens as a writer, lecturer, preacher, chaplain and composer. A recipient of the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize, Perkins is a co-founder of the Tanho Center and member of the Westar Institute Board of Directors. She has performed professionally with cruise lines, national tours, symphony orchestras, and the USO.

Saturday, November 19, 2016
4 – 5:30 pm
Regency Ballroom East

Young Leaders in Religion

Helping clergy and other leaders ages 20 to 45 to translate and transform religion scholarship into meaningful forms for their communities

Westar Institute is forming a new Young Leaders in Religion Forum. If you are between the ages of 20 and 45, and are a seminary student or trained leader in church, arts, chaplaincy, non-profit, social advocacy, new faith community or social service work, we invite you to join this new solidarity network, which launched in Spring 2015.

Westar is actively seeking interested members for this new forum. If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for this program, please contact academic director David Galston for more information: dgalston@westarinstitute.org

Young Leaders in Religion should not use the regular registration form to sign up for the Fall 2016 Meeting. Please follow instructions from the YLRF committee.

Schedule

Friday, Nov 18
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM
blank line!
Regency West

Christianity Seminar

Presiders
Carly Daniel-Hughes
Stephen J. Patterson
Discussion with Daniel Boyarin
Daniel Boyarin
Maia Kotrosits
Nina E. Livesey
3:15 PM - 5:00 PM
blank line!
Regency West

Christianity Seminar (continued)

Presiders
Robert J. Miller
Bernard Brandon Scott
Introduction of Student Essay Contest
Winner
Peter N. McLellan
First Christianity Seminar Portrait
Philip Harland
Climbing the Ethnic Ladder
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Dinner break

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
blank line!
Regency West

Christianity Seminar (continued)

Presiders
Celene Lillie
Arthur J. Dewey
Second Christianity Seminar Portrait
Hal Taussig
Christianity Seminar Steering Committee
Discussion on Writing Portraits of the First Two Hundred Years for the Public
Saturday, Nov 19
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
blank line!
Regency West

God Seminar

Chairs
David Galston
Joe Bessler
Introduction: Jeffrey Robbins
J. Kameron Carter
Anselm of Canterbury and the Figure of the Fugitive
Keri Day
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
blank line!
Regency West

God Seminar (continued)

Chairs
Jeffrey Robbins
Maynard Moore
J. Kameron Carter and Keri Day
Conversation on the Flesh, Spirit, and the Black Sacred
Q and A
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Lunch break

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
blank line!
Regency West

God Seminar (continued)

Chairs
Sarah Morice Brubaker
Glenna Jackson
J. Kameron Carter
The Color of God
Sarah Morice Brubaker and Clayton Crockett
Reflections on Carter’s The Color of God
J. Kameron Carter
Response
2:45 PM - 3:30 PM
blank line!
Regency West

God Seminar (continued)

Chairs
Maynard Moore
Glenna Jackson
David Galston and Jeffrey Robbins
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
blank line!
Regency East

Young Leaders in Religion

Presider
Natalie Renee Perkins
Better Not Mention It Podcast Launch
Sunday, Nov 20
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
blank line!
Regency West

Public Lecture

Presider
David Galston
Jeffrey Robbins
The Future of Theology
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
blank line!
Regency West

Public Lecture

Presider
Chris Shea
Heidi Wendt
Christian Origins and Freelance Experts
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
blank line!
Regency West

Associates Forum

Monday, Nov 21
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
blank line!
Regency Center

Public Lecture

Presider
Perry V. Kea
L. Michael White
From Pentecost to Plymouth Rock: Why ‘Real’ History Really Matters

Dates & Deadlines At-a-Glance

June 22Early Bird Deadline
Aug 17Pre-registration Deadline
Register by this date to receive SBL name badge & program in the mail; otherwise, these may be picked up onsite.
Oct 24AAR/SBL discounted room rates expire
Some hotels may honor the rate after this date. More information.
Oct 27Registration cancellation deadline
All registration refunds must be requested in writing.
Nov 7Housing change/cancellation deadline
Any changes or cancellation of housing must be requested in writing.
Nov 11Westar registration closes
Registration after this date is available only through AAR/SBL at a higher rate.

Registration and Fees

All Westar events will take place at the Hyatt Riverwalk. SBL Registration and the Exhibit Hall will be at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. More information.

Not a Westar member? You can add a Westar membership ($50) to your registration and register at the member price. Westar members receive a subscription to The Fourth R magazine (6 issues annually), discounts on national meeting registration, and 20% off Polebridge books & media. Learn more.

Already registered for the AAR/SBL meeting? Your AAR/SBL registration lets you attend Westar academic seminars. It does not, however, give you access to Westar public lectures. To sign up for the public lectures, see option 2 below.

Westar Fellows who registered through AAR/SBL may join in Westar academic seminars at no additional charge. But, in order to estimate how many places to set at the seminar table, we need you to fill out the Westar online registration form. Clicking on three boxes—(1) I have registered thru AAR/SBL, (2) I am an academic, and (3) I am a Westar Fellow—will let you tell us in which seminars you plan to participate. This is for planning purposes only.

Option 1
Register for full Westar Meeting

For a full meeting registration plus the option to register a partner for the full meeting or just for one/both public lectures, choose Option 1. A Westar full meeting registration gives registrants—including Fellows—full access to the Westar meeting, including academic seminars and public lectures, and full access to the AAR/SBL program, including the exhibits and the convention hotel room block. This is an all-inclusive registration.

Upon completion of your Westar registration, you will receive instructions for completing your AAR/SBL registration (at no additional cost) and gaining access to hotels. Learn about hotel options.

MemberNonmember
Early Bird Registration (by June 22)$160$200
Pre-registration (by Aug 17)$180$220
Registration (by Nov 11)$210$250

Option 2
Sign up for public lectures only

Those who do not wish to attend Westar academic seminars, the AAR or SBL programs, and who do not want access to the hotel room block, may sign up just for Westar public lecture(s) on Sunday, November 20th. Lecture attendees can pick up a day pass to the exhibit hall at the event. Admission is available at the door for public lectures only.

MemberNonmember
AM Lecture With Robbins$40$40
PM Lecture With Wendt$40$40
Afternoon Associates Forum TBA----


Meeting Location
All Westar events will take place at:

Hyatt Regency Riverwalk
B level – Regency Ballroom
123 Losoya Street
San Antonio, Texas, USA, 78205

SBL Registration and the Exhibit Hall can be found at:

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
900 E Market St
San Antonio, TX 78205

A name badge, which comes with a full registration only, will be required to access the Exhibit Hall and all sessions, except the Westar public lectures. If you are attending public lectures only, please come straight to the lecture location. Lecture attendees can pick up a day pass to the Exhibit Hall onsite. Polebridge Press will be located at Booth #514.

Accessibility
Westar members with disabilities or any attendees who may have difficulty getting around the meeting are encouraged to note this during registration. View the AAR's Accessibility Information Page. You can also get information directly from the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk Accessibility page.

Seminar Papers
For more information about seminar papers, including when they come available and how to order hard copies, click here.

Registration cut-off date & refunds
Full registrations must be received at the Westar office no later than Friday, November 11. Walk-on registration is available for public lectures only. Refunds are available if requested by October 27, minus a $40 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available on request. Attendance at Westar events qualifies for CEUs for clergy and other educators. Full attendance at Westar’s Spring or Fall semiannual meetings earns 2 CEUs (.5 per day). Please notify us of your interest when you register, or fill out the CEU request form. During the event, applicants will be asked to check in with a Westar staff member each day on arrival and departure. A certificate will be sent immediately following the event. Please contact us with any questions.

Full Registration Resources

Exhibit Hall

The Polebridge Press bookstore will be located at Booth #514 in the Exhibit Hall, along with approximately 150 other publishers featuring books on a wide spectrum of subjects from religious studies to hermeneutics to philosophy, often at deep discounts on cover price. A name badge, which you receive with a full registration only, is required to access the exhibits. Lecture attendees can pick up a day pass at the event for access to the Exhibit Hall Sunday only.

Exhibit Hall Hours:
Saturday, November 19, 8:30 am–5:30 pm
Sunday, November 20, 8:30 am–5:30 pm
Monday, November 21, 8:30 am–5:30 pm
Tuesday, November 22, 8:00 am–12:00 pm

Hotel Options

AAR/SBL has negotiated special conference rates at the hotels surrounding the convention center. Please note that you can only get the special conference rate by booking a full Westar registration (which includes an AAR/SBL registration). Hotel conference discounts expire October 24, 2016, though some hotels may honor conference rates after that date at their discretion. Hotel rooms rates are effective beginning Thursday, November 17. Hotel room rates do not include the hotel room tax. The single/double/triple/quadruple room designation denotes the number of room occupants, not the number of beds. A triple room means three people are sharing two double beds unless a rollaway bed is requested at an extra charge.

Hotel reservations are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There will not be any hotel shuttles but all hotels are within a 15-minute walk from the convention center. Full information about hotel prices and amenities will be available as part of the registration process.

Internet Access
Complimentary internet is available in the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk lobby, meeting rooms, and guest rooms.

Restaurants & Sightseeing
For information about restaurants and sightseeing in the immediate vicinity of the meeting, a good place to start is Visit San Antonio. Local attractions include the Alamo Mission, San Antonio River Walk, Six Flags, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and more.

Child Care
AAR/SBL hosts a children’s program called Kiddie Corp. The program is for children ages 6 months through 12 years old. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Meals must be supplied by parents or purchased when checking your child in each day. More information will be posted on the SBL Annual Meeting page as it comes available.

Travel Information

Travel discount information for some flight carriers and transportation services will be posted when it comes available. Check back soon for more details.

By air

The closest airport to the conference site is:

San Antonio International Airport
9800 Airport Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78216

From the airport, taxi fare is approximately $24 one-way per car. Pick up a taxi on the lower level of the airport. A shuttle is available to the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk via Go Airport. Click here for rates and reservations.

By car

The Hyatt Regency Riverwalk is located on Losoya Street between College Street and W. Crockett Street (Broadway changes names to Losoya).

From San Antonio International Airport (9 miles/15 minutes): Take 281 S., which will turn into I-37 S. near the downtown area. Follow I-37 S. and exit Houston Street. Turn right on Houston. Proceed 5 blocks to Broadway. Turn left on Broadway and continue down 3 blocks. Our San Antonio Riverwalk hotel is on the right. (Broadway changes names to Losoya).