William Arnal

Professor, Department Head
PhD, Toronto

Office: CL 256
E-mail: william.arnal@uregina.ca
Phone: 306-585-5680

Current classes
Fall, 2017 - RLST 300, Theory & Methodology

Research interests
New Testament, Gnosticism, Ancient Religions, Ancient Magic, and Method and Theory

My research focuses on theoretical issues in Religious Studies, on ancient Christianity and on the historiography of ancient Christianity. Published work includes discussions of definitions of religion and their theoretical ramifications, the politics of Religious Studies, and implicit apologetic motifs in New Testament scholarship. In addition, I have done substantive research on ancient Christian writings such as Q, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mark, and the Pauline letters. Typically, these studies have taken the form of close textual analysis combined with a Marxian theoretical sensibility that seeks to find explanations for changes in religious ideology in social conflict, reconstructed from the contemporary archeological and literary record.

Study of Religion as an Analytical Discipline: SORAAAD

Class information: Lambdin Key

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Books

  • Scribal Practices and Social Structures among Jesus Adherents: Essays in Honour of John S. Kloppenborg. Co-edited with Richard Ascough, Robert Derrenbacker, and Philip Harland. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 285. Leuven: Peeters, 2016.
  • The Sacred is the Profane: The Political Nature of “Religion.” Co-authored with Russell McCutcheon. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Failure and Nerve in the Academic Study of Religion: Essays in Honor of Donald Wiebe. Co-edited with Willi Braun and Russell McCutcheon. London: Equinox Publishing, 2012.
  • The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism, and the Construction of Contemporary Identity. London: Equinox Publishing, 2005.
  • Jesus and the Village Scribes: Galilean Conflicts and the Setting of Q. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.
  • Whose Historical Jesus? (Collected Essays From the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Historical Jesus Section). Co-edited with Michel Desjardins. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1997.

Selected Recent Articles

  • “Mark, War, and Creative Imagination.” Pp.401-482 in Barry S. Crawford and Merrill P. Miller (eds.), Redescribing the Gospel of Mark. Early Christianity and its Literature, 22. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2017.
  • “On Smith, on Myth, on Mark.” Pp.145-168 in Barry S. Crawford and Merrill P. Miller (eds.), Redescribing the Gospel of Mark. Early Christianity and its Literature, 22. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2017.
  • “What Kind of Category is ‘Religion’?” In Richard King (ed.), Theory / Religion / Critique: Classical and Contemporary Approaches and Methodologies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.
  • “How the Gospel of Thomas Works.” Pp.261-280 in William Arnal, Richard Ascough, Robert Derrenbacker, and Philip Harland, eds., Scribal Practices and Social Structures among Jesus Adherents: Essays in Honour of John S. Kloppenborg. Leuven: Peeters, 2016.
  • Review Essay Roundtable on Burton L. Mack’s Myth of Innocence. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 83/3 (2015): 837-841.
  • “Blessed are the Solitary: Textual Practices and the Mirage of a Thomas ‘Community.’” Pp.271-281 in Caroline Johnson Hodge, Saul Olyan, Dan Ullicci, and Emma Wasserman, eds., The One Who Sows Bountifully. Brown Judaic Studies. Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 2014.
  • “Accommodating an American Secularism: Jacques Berlinerblau’s Agenda for a Secularish Future.” Critical Research on Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1/2 (August, 2013): 220-225.
  • “The Trouble with Q.” Foundations & Facets Forum 2/1, third series (Spring 2013): 7-77.
  • “The Irony of Religion” (with Willi Braun). Pp.233-241 in Failure and Nerve in the Academic Study of Religion: Essays in Honor of Donald Wiebe. Co-edited with Willi Braun and Russell McCutcheon. London: Equinox Publishing, 2012.
  • “The Collection and Synthesis of ‘Tradition’ and the Second-Century Invention of Christianity.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23/3 (2011): 193-215.
  • “Bringing Paul and the Corinthians Together? A Rejoinder and Some Proposals on Redescription and Theory.” Pp.75-104 in Ron Cameron and Merrill Miller (eds.), Redescribing Paul and the Corinthians. Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 2011.
  • “The Synoptic Problem and the Historical Jesus.” Pp.371-432 in P. Foster, et al. (eds.), New Studies in the Synoptic Problem. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 239; Leuven: Peeters, 2011.
  • “What Branches Grow out of this Stony Rubbish? ‘Biblical’ Contributions to the Study of Religion.” Studies in Religion 39/4 (2010): 549-572.
  • “The Laboratory of Ancient Religions: A Response to Athanasios Koutoupas’ ‘Religion and Politics under the Ptolemies.’” In Bulletin for the Study of Religion 39/2 (April 2010): 30-34.
  • “Jesus as Battleground in a Period of Cultural Complexity.” Pp.99-117 in Halvor Moxnes, Ward Blanton, and James Crossley (eds.), Jesus Beyond Nationalism: Constructing the Historical Jesus in a Period of Cultural Complexity. London: Equinox Press, 2010.
  • “The Narcissism of Minor Differences.” In Council of Societies for the Study of Religion Bulletin 38/1 (February 2009): 7-10.
  • "He is Going Before you to Galilee: The Gospel of Mark as Reflection on Exile and Identity." In Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon (eds.), Introducing Religion. London: Equinox Press, 2007.
  • "A Parting of the Ways? Scholarly Identities and a Peculiar Species of Ancient Mediterreanean Religion." In Zeba Crook and Philip Harland (eds.), Indentity and Interaction in the Ancient Mediterranean: Jews, Christians, and Others. Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007.
  • "Doxa, Heresy, and Self-Construction: The Pauline Ekklēsiai and the Boundaries of Urban Identities." Pp.50-101 in Eduard Iricinschi and Holger Zellentin (eds.), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.
  • "The Symbolic Jesus: Why it Matters that Jesus was Jewish." Part 1: The Fourth R 20/1 (January-February 2007): 3-8, 22. Part 2: The Fourth R 20/2 (March-April 2007): 3-8, 18.
  • "The Q Document." Pp. 119-154 in Matt Jackson-McCabe (ed.), Jewish Christianity/Christian Judaism: Classification and Description in Contemporary Study. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.
  • "The New Testament and Family Values." Pp.1-3 in "Not in Polite Company: Religious and Political Discursive Formations on Same-Sex Marriage," Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, SIPP Briefing Note #10 (April, 2005).
  • "The Cipher ‘Judaism' in Contemporary Historical Jesus Scholarship." Pp.24-54 in John S. Kloppenborg with John W. Marshall (eds.), Apocalypticism, Anti-Semitism and the Historical Jesus: Subtexts in Criticism. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series # 275. London and New York: T & T Clark International, 2005.
  • "The Rhetoric of Social Construction: Language and Society in the Gospel of Thomas." Pp. 27-47 in Willi Braun (ed.), Rhetoric and Reality in Early Christianities. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005.
  • "Why Q Failed: From Ideological Project to Group Formation." Pp. 67-87 in Ron Cameron and Merrill Miller (eds.), Ancient Myths and Modern Theories of Christian Origins. SBL Symposium Series, 2004.
  • "Social Location and Mythmaking: Theses on Key Terms" (with Willi Braun). Pp. 459-467 in Ron Cameron and Merrill Miller (eds.), Ancient Myths and Modern Theories of Christian Origins. SBL Symposium Series, 2004.
  • "Definition (of Religion)" [Greek]. In Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon (eds.), and Dimitris Xygalatas (trans.), Egheiridio Threskeiologias [Guide to the Study of Religion]. Thessaloniki, Greece: Vanias Edition, 2003.