Taking my cue from The Patrologist, I’ve decided to do an update every month on my current projects. This is a good way to keep myself honest.
Francis and the Sultan
I’m writing a thesis for my Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor on Francis’ encounter with the Sultan Malek al-Kamil in the Fifth Crusade. Essentially I’m arguing against many who would see the historical Francis as a lover of Islam and practitioner of interreligious dialogue. Instead I find the Francis of interreligious dialogue in his analysis of power, in his Canticle of the Creatures. This is a fun project because it lets me bring together many fields: history and theology, the hermeneutics of retrieving models from a spiritual tradition, the intricacies of textual analysis related to the Franciscan Question, scholarship on the Crusades, and interreligious dialogue and activism today.
I’ve got a solid outline now, and I’ll be refining it presenting at both the American Academy of Religion, Western Region later this month and the Medieval Association of the Pacific in April. I figure if I want to be a scholar, the best way to do that is to act like one now. Eventually I hope to submit this work to two journals, one more historically focused, the other more aimed at interreligious dialogue.
Gandharan Art Research
Last month I finally submitted my classics thesis, “When Herakles Went to India: The Transformation of a Greco-Roman Hero-God in Buddhist Art.” In it I discuss the iconography of Herakles and Vajrapani, the bodyguard of the Buddha, in Gandharan art from modern-day Pakistan from the 1st-5th centuries CE. I’ve become so inspired by this I hope to do more work on it in graduate school. This project has been on hold, but I am presenting it at the American Academy of Religion, Pacific Northwest Region later this month and at an art history symposium, “Between Two Worlds: Syncretism and Alterity in Art” at San Jose State University next month.
Although I stopped doing Latin in December, this has been a productive languages quarter for me in school. I’ve been reading Plato’s Crito and Euthyphro in Greek, and wrote a paper on translating the Crito. (I hope to review the textbooks for that class on here.) In Hebrew this quarter I read Hosea 13-14, Joel, Obadiah, parts of Deuteronomy, and Lamentations 1. I also continued in my work with Catherine Murphy as a research assistant on her textual criticism of a Book of the Twelve scroll from Qumran.
I hope to get back to my Jesus in India work this summer and eventually publish a journal article on it. The same goes for the small book I’m trying to put together of my friend Fr. George Kennard’s unpublished writings.
The rest of March and much of April will be taken up with conference presentations — four of them, two local. So at least I know where I will be.