Religious Studies Research Spotlight: Anjali Das Gupta '19

The senior Religious Studies major studied diverse approaches to the story of Lot.

Name: Anjali Das Gupta

Major: Religious Studies

Minor(s): Professional Sales and Asian Studies

Title of research project: The Story of Lot: An Abrahamic Comparison

Research abstract: With the increasing ability to communicate with people around the world, the need for interfaith relations is extremely important. The three Abrahamic Traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam point to the same figurehead, Abraham; and as such, share scriptural narratives that have been passed down since the inception of monotheism. Specifically, the Story of Lot has been shared by all three traditions for centuries.

The Story of Lot features a prophet and his family moving into a city riddled with incest, rape and assault, and the destruction that followed. Focusing on interviews with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim chaplains at Elon University, this project compares different interpretations of the Story of Lot and addresses how this story is shared in different communities.

I analyzed how this story may be used as a foundational story to teach both right from wrong and the consequences of disobeying God to elementary-grade children; how the Story of Lot may be a prime example text for feminism where Lot’s wife is seen as more than just her husband’s possession and is seen as a woman taking control of her agency; and how the story has been used as an anti-LGBT narrative or, in the past decades, as a narrative that supports LGBT rights and equality.

Understanding how the Story of Lot differs within diverse tradition gives us a small insight into how these traditions vary as a whole and bring us a step closer to positive interfaith relations.

What made this topic interesting to you? How did you get started on your research?

In my college career here at Elon, I have never had the privilege of comparing more than one tradition in a paper and I thought this comparison in particular was a great way to begin looking at the ways traditions interact with one another. I began this research in a class last semester and was able to expand on it further for my Senior Seminar class.

What was the most exciting part of the research process for you?

For me, the most exciting part about research is sharing that research with a community that is interested in it. Being able to talk to my other Religious Studies professors about the project and paper I am working on in Senior Seminar has given me a chance to hear different perspectives and different directions I could take the paper. All that brain power in one room is exciting!

Where can we learn more about your research?

You can watch the video that I produced here.