Faculty Leader: April DeConick, Chair of the Department of Religion; Isla Carroll and Percy Turner Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity
Student participants: Jessica Bray (Anthropology), Naamleela Free Jones (Religion), Elena Valdez (English), Timothy Grieve-Carlson (Religion), Learned Foote (Religion)
How and why do new religions emerge and form? What are the consequences of new religious formation? While student participants may select any religion or religious movement as their own object of study, we will use early Christianity as our shared exemplar, theorizing how and why religious diversity in earliest Christianity resulted in the rise of religious intolerance and the emergence of Christianity as a new religion. In other words, in order to explain how and why catholic Christianity become the gold standard by the time of the Council of Nicaea and other forms of Christianity became intolerable heresies, we need a model of religious formation that offers a better explanation than the classic variations of historical triumphalism that dominates academia. It is such a model that we will work together to develop. Students will work within an interdisciplinary environment, considering the neurophysiological, cognitive linguistic, evolutionary psychological, and sociobiological dimensions of religious formation, in addition to the historical, social, anthropological and cultural methods that have already tried to explain the formation of new religious movements.