Barton Professor’s Book Release Poised to Enter the National Political Conversation

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WILSON, N.C. — Sept. 20, 2016 — “The Bible in Political Debate: What Does It Really Say?” co-edited by Dr. Rodney A. Werline, Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Barton College and Director of the Barton College Center for Religious Studies, and Dr. Frances Flannery, Director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism and Peace (CISTP) at James Madison University, is scheduled for release on Thursday, Sept. 22, by Bloomsbury T&T Clark. A book signing for the co-editors will be held at the Willis N. Hackney Library on the campus of Barton College on Monday, Sept. 26, from 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. Books will be available for sale at the event. This event is open to the public and the community is invited to attend.

The Bible in Political DebateEven before hitting the bookshelves, “The Bible in Political Debate” is drawing national attention during this heated election season. “Modern American politicians often refer to Scripture in speeches and in support of policy, and they are rarely fact-checked by the experts,” said Nina Burleigh, National Politics Correspondent for Newsweek Magazine. “In this accessible, vibrant collection of essays, nonpartisan Biblical scholars of many creeds, including nonbelievers, examine what the Bible really says about family values, women’s rights, homosexuality, abortion and even how to deal with man-caused climate change, and present some surprising answers to the vital question of how and whether the Bible can be the basis of the secular nation’s public policy.”

Bloomsbury T&T Clark highlights the book, noting that politicians and pundits, from Donald Trump’s ‘bungled’ ‘Two Corinthians’ reference to Hillary Clinton’s rare allusions, regularly invoke the Bible in social and political debates on a host of controversial social and political issues, including:  abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, the death penalty, separation of church and state, family values, climate change, income distribution, teaching evolution in schools, taxation, school prayer, aid for the poor, and immigration. But is the Bible being used out of context in these major debates?

The co-editing team of Werline and Flannery has compiled 14 essays by biblical scholars who examine the use of the Bible in political debates, uncovering the original historical contexts and meanings of the biblical verses that are commonly cited. The contributors take a non-partisan approach to show how specific texts have been distorted to support particular views. At the same time, they show how the Bible can sometimes make for unsettling reading in the modern day. The key questions remain: What does the Bible really say? and should the Bible be used to form public policy?

About the co-editors —

Dr. Werline is the Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies, and the Director of the Barton College Center for Religious Studies. Since 2011, he has served as the series editor for Early Judaism and Its Literature (Society of Biblical Literature Press). He received his Ph.D. from The University of Iowa (1995), and in spring 2013 he was Researcher in Residence at VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The author of two books, co-editor for six books, and the author of many articles and essays, Dr. Werline’s primary research has focused on prayer in early Judaism and early Christianity, as well as religious experience and ritual theory. He is very active member in the Society of Biblical Literature. Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he directs the School for Congregational Leadership for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina. He has preached in many Disciples of Christ churches in central and eastern North Carolina. He is the author of another T&T Clark book: Pray Like This: Understanding Prayer in the Bible (2007). He and Dr. Flannery also co-founded the Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity program unit of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2005.

Dr. Flannery is director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Terrorism and Peace (CISTP) at James Madison University, which seeks to bridge the gap between academic subject matter experts, the intelligence community, public policy arenas, and grassroots NGOs. After earning an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at The College of William and Mary (1989), Dr. Flannery earned her Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at The University of Iowa (1994, 2000). Her main area of research is apocalypticism from its origins to the present day, including understanding the relationships between apocalyptic thinking and religious/ideological terrorism. In addition, she has also extensively researched early Jewish mysticism, Jewish and Christian dreams and visions, and religious experience, and is also deeply interested in the influence of religious systems on environmental sustainability. At James Madison University, she teaches in the areas of Hebrew Bible, Judaism, religious terrorism, world religions, and religion and culture. She recently published a monograph titled Understanding Apocalyptic Terrorism: Countering the Radical Mindset (Routledge, 2015). Her publications include two books, two co-edited volumes, over twenty peer-reviewed major articles or book chapters, and over ten smaller articles, encyclopedia articles, and reviews. In addition to speaking at a variety of religious studies, political science, and intelligence conferences, Dr. Flannery is a regular lecturer in her local community on peace, countering violent extremism, and interreligious dialogue.

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