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Academic Research

As a Loyola student, you have the opportunity to work alongside our talented professors to partner in collaborative research. Learn more about some recent research and projects currently underway.

Displaced Christianities - Mapping Postcolonial Theology

Those in power have the power to shape knowledge in a way which reinforces their power: This is the core insight of post-colonial studies, a school of thought which emerged in the 1960s with the end of colonialism in Africa and Asia, and employed by Dr. Judith Gruber in her research, “Displaced Christianities - Mapping Postcolonial Theology.” Post-colonialism offers a re-reading of colonial history from the perspective of the colonized; it unburies alternative stories to show that the dominant version of history has always represented and served the interests of the establishment.

A critique of this intimate connection between truth and power also poses a serious challenge to traditional understandings of Christianity: A post-colonial re-reading of Church history excavates a host of forgotten and silenced Christianities and shows that Christian tradition has been forged through the exclusion of less powerful voices. How does theology cope with this emerging plurality of Christianities, and how does an exposure of power struggles in the tradition of the Church unsettle traditional understandings of Christianity? The research project draws on post-colonial thought in search of an answer to these questions, and probes for new and unsettling ways of thinking and talking about God.

The Fortress Historical Trajectories Series, General Editor: Denis Janz

Religious Studies’ Professor Denis Janz’, The Fortress Series, Historical Trajectories, is a short series of single-author books, each one sketching the historical profile of a currently discussed Christian belief, practice, or issue. It is grounded on the assumption that Christianity’s past is not only relevant and usable, but in fact imperative for all 21st century Christians who want to think responsibly, critically, and creatively about their faith. The books will answer the demand for exacting detail coupled with accessibility: These will be quick yet accurate overviews responsibly authored by senior theologians and historians of Christianity. The series draws on primary sources from the New Testament to the 21st century, and attempts to paint for us the big picture: What do the main contours of the tradition look like? Who were the key contributors, and what was the nature of their contribution? Where were the decisive turning points, the creative advances, the dead ends? In short, can a trajectory be discerned? Where have 20 centuries of reflection brought us? And finally, can anything be said about the question “where to from here?” Yes – in a sense this series aims for the impossible: Making the most sophisticated scholarship reader-friendly!

List of authors and volume titles:

Lois Malcolm, Christian Understandings of God: The Historical Trajectory 

Denis Edwards, Christian Understandings of Creation: The Historical Trajectory

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Christian Understandings of the Trinity: The Historical Trajectory

David Jensen, Christian Understandings of Christ: The Historical Trajectory

Tatha Wiley, Christian Understandings of Sin: The Historical Trajectory 

Randall Zachman, Christian Understandings of Grace: The Historical Trajectory

Paul Avis, Christian Understandings of the Church: The Historical Trajectory

Grant Kaplan, Christian Understandings of Faith and Rationality: The Historical Trajectory

Charlene Burns, Christian Understandings of the Problem of Evil: The Historical Trajectory

Amy Johnson Frykholm, Christian Understandings of the Future: The Historical Trajectory

All of the volumes will be published in late December 2015.

Moral and Religious Emotions

Father Edward Vacek, S.J., Ph.D. recently published two new articles that address his on-going research on the topic of moral and religious emotions...

Article one: Rather than the usual attempt to base discernment in either God’s will or God’s reason, this article argues that we are given the responsibility to decide, but only within a mutual friendship with God: “Discernment within a Mutual Love relationship with God: A New Theological Foundation,” in Theological Studies volume 74, no. 3 (September 2013): pages 683-710.

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Article two: Religions usually focus on having right beliefs and doing right deeds. This article argues that both beliefs and deeds are founded on having the proper array of emotions: “Orthodoxy Requires Orthopathy: Emotions in Theology,” in Horizons no. 40 (2013): pages 218-41. 

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Humor in the Bible, a textbook for undergraduates

Having recently obtained a publisher’s contract for her manuscript “Humor in the Gospels: A Compendium of Scholarly Research on Humor Rhetoric (1863-2014)” Dr. Bednarz is planning to develop a textbook to be titled, “Humor in the Bible” with the assistance and input of her Honors students in a class of the same name. Under her guidance, students will be producing chapter materials, discussion questions, bibliographies, art, and digital quizzes. Dr. Bednarz already has a publisher interested in the results of the collaborative research project. The students will be acknowledged as authors and contributors in this work.