Third Biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion Kicks off February 1

Mark and I are excited for the start of our third biennial Colloquium in Lawclr-logo1 and Religion in Spring 2016. This seminar invites leading law and religion scholars to make presentations to a small audience of students and faculty. The following speakers will be presenting:

February 1: Brett G. Scharffs (Brigham Young University School of Law)

February 16: Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois School of Law)

February 29: Robert P. George (Princeton University)

March 14: Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School)

April 4: Justice Samuel A. Alito (United States Supreme Court)

April 18: Elizabeth H. Prodromou (Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy)

We will announce topics as sessions occur. To read more about past colloquia, please see these links:

For more information about the Spring 2016 colloquium, please contact me at degirolm@stjohns.edu or Mark at movsesim@stjohns.edu.

Lenski, “Constantine and the Cities”

In February, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Constantine and the Cities: Imperial Authority and Civic Politics” by Noel Lenski.  The publisher’s description follows:

Over the course of the fourth century, Christianity rose from a religion actively persecuted by the authority of the Roman empire to become 15509the religion of state—a feat largely credited to Constantine the Great. Constantine succeeded in propelling this minority religion to imperial status using the traditional tools of governance, yet his proclamation of his new religious orientation was by no means unambiguous. His coins and inscriptions, public monuments, and pronouncements sent unmistakable signals to his non-Christian subjects that he was willing not only to accept their beliefs about the nature of the divine but also to incorporate traditional forms of religious expression into his own self-presentation. In Constantine and the Cities, Noel Lenski attempts to reconcile these apparent contradictions by examining the dialogic nature of Constantine’s power and how his rule was built in the space between his ambitions for the empire and his subjects’ efforts to further their own understandings of religious truth.

Focusing on cities and the texts and images produced by their citizens for and about the emperor, Constantine and the Cities uncovers the interplay of signals between ruler and subject, mapping out the terrain within which Constantine nudged his subjects in the direction of conversion. Reading inscriptions, coins, legal texts, letters, orations, and histories, Lenski demonstrates how Constantine and his subjects used the instruments of government in a struggle for authority over the religion of the empire.

Lichtenstein, “Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia”

In March, the Indiana University Press will release “Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia: Minority Nationalism and the Politics of Belonging,” by Tatjana Lichtenstein (University of Texas at Austin).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book presents an unconventional history of minority nationalism in interwar Eastern Europe. Focusing on an influential group of 9780253018670_medgrassroots activists, Tatjana Lichtenstein uncovers Zionist projects intended to sustain the flourishing Jewish national life in Czechoslovakia. The book shows that Zionism was not an exit strategy for Jews, but as a ticket of admission to the societies they already called home. It explores how and why Zionists envisioned minority nationalism as a way to construct Jews’ belonging and civic equality in Czechoslovakia. By giving voice to the diversity of aspirations within interwar Zionism, the book offers a fresh view of minority nationalism and state building in Eastern Europe.

Jonker, “The Ahmadiyya Quest for Religious Progress”

In December, Brill Publishing released “The Ahmadiyya Quest for Religious Progress: Missionizing Europe 1900-1965” by Gerdien Jonker (Erlangen University).  The publisher’s description follows:

What happens when the idea of religious progress propels the shaping of modernity? In The Ahmadiyya Quest for Religious Progress. Missionizing85285 Europe 1900 – 1965 Gerdien Jonker offers an account of the mission the Ahmadiyya reform movement undertook in interwar Europe. Nowadays persecuted in the Muslim world, Ahmadis appear here as the vanguard of a modern, rational Islam that met with a considerable interest.

Ahmadiyya mission on the European continent attracted European ‘moderns’, among them Jews and Christians, theosophists and agnostics, artists and academics, liberals and Nazis. Each in their own manner, all these people strove towards modernity, and were convinced that Islam helped realizing it. Based on a wide array of sources, this book unravels the multiple layers of entanglement that arose once the missionaries and their quarry met.