Thursday, February 19
Joel Lohr, “Using and Abusing the Bible: Is There a Method in the Madness?”
McBride Gathering Space, Numen Lumen Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.
H. Shelton Smith Lecture
As debates continue to rage in America over same-sex marriage, abortion, gun control, evolution, immigration and stem-cell research, people of faith often look to their scriptures, particularly the Bible, for guidance. At times the Bible is wielded as a weapon to silence debate, to promote a cause, upheld as a moral standard for all, or is used as a source book for things like the golden rule or dictums like “love your neighbor as yourself.” But critics and people of faith alike are often found wondering how and why the Bible should be used, and whether there might be a definitive method in using the Bible in such debate. In short, who sets the rules? And why should any religious text—whether Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh—be privileged in public debate? In this lecture, biblical scholar and religious dialogue expert
Joel N. Lohr will map some of the territory before offering tentative guidelines for using sacred texts responsibly.
Lohr is originally from Ontario, Canada. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Trinity Western University in Vancouver, which focused on Second Temple Judaism and Biblical Literature. He then completed a master’s degree and doctorate in Religion and Theology from the University of Durham in England. Prior to his appointment at the University of the Pacific he was a postdoctoral fellow and visiting scholar at the University of Toronto, an appointment funded by Canada’s Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council.
Lohr’s primary areas of interest and expertise are Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Bible, and he is the author or editor of seven books, one of which won the R. B. Y. Scott Award for “outstanding book in the areas of Hebrew Bible and/or the Ancient Near East” (2011), and another of which has been translated into Portuguese (in Brazil). In addition to his co-authored beginner’s guide to the Torah, he just published an introduction to the entire Bible, with the help of his Torah co-author Joel Kaminsky (a Jewish scholar) and Mark Reasoner (a Catholic scholar). Further, his co-authored guide to Religious Studies, published with Oxford University Press, has been widely used and will go into a second edition in 2015.
His current project, also to be published in 2015, is a collection of 18 autobiographical essays by senior Bible scholars—women and men who share their life stories and how their faith has been challenged and enriched though academic study of the Bible.
As the dean of Religious Life at University of the Pacific, Lohr is particularly passionate about religious diversity and dialogue. He is also deeply committed to whole person development, especially as part of higher education. Lohr is a Licensed Lay Reader in the Anglican Church of Canada (in communion with the Episcopal Church USA) and is married with a young daughter.