Santa Clara University

Religious Studies department


American Academy of Religion/Western Religion Annual Conference
Location: Santa Clara University
Dates of Conference: March 24-26, 2012
Submission Deadline: October 15, 2011
Theme: Sacred Texts, Sacred Communities

Description: We invite members to explore sacred texts, both oral and written, as repositories for the "voice" of the sacred in religious communities around the world. Particular attention should be given to how community institutions, in their many forms and roles, exercise authority over those texts, negotiate access to those texts, and ultimately shape the interpretation of oral or written sacred texts among adherents and outsiders alike.

In religious traditions and institutions, priest, imams, rabbis, monks, shamans, theologians and judges, among others, are all charged as interpreters of sacred texts, be they God's eternal Word, the oral wisdom of the ancestors, or the transcribed sermons of an enlightened Master. How such institutions and figures take shape and claim special authority, distinct from other members of their religious communities, is a source of ongoing tensions; especially in the age of the internet.

The growing availability of sacred texts, via the internet or affordable printing technologies in multiple translations, has also meant that communities must deal with the interpretations of outsiders, which may be hostile to the community's claims. How communities and their institutions maintain their authoritative positions in response to those challenges is an important area of study. In many cases, such interactions have proved to be catalysts for reform, sectarianism, or even violence.

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last updated: 10/6/11


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