October 2017


The Political Power of Sacred Texts

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

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

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.

Please see the attachment below for the complete program of speakers.

This conference is co-sponsored by American Academy in Rome and the Pontifical Biblical Insititute.

The event will be held in English. You can watch this event livestreamed at

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.