The Prophetic Interpreter: Preaching and Teaching from Scriptural Traditions in Pluralistic Worlds

The Prophetic Interpreter: 
Preaching and Teaching from Scriptural Traditions in Pluralistic Worlds

Friday, February 19, 2010
10:00 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m.
Swift Hall, 1025 E. 58th Street
The University of Chicago

Most religions--including but not limited to the Abrahamic religions--have a prophetic tradition, in which someone calls the people out of idolatry and disobedient social practice and back into fidelity to God. This tradition is not limited to the prophets of old but is found extant in present day prophetic voices which draw on their tradition's scriptures to speak to the contemporary world's concerns.

The contemporary world, however, is a complex place, with multiple audiences--a variety of religious communities, quasi-religious political cultures, and a constantly mutating media environment. Anyone working in a prophetic mode faces a hermeneutic challenge. How can preachers, teachers, ethicists, and other public commentators interpret ancient words for this modern world? This conference will look at the challenges and opportunities for prophetic preaching and teaching, from the perspectives of theologians, biblical scholars, and current practitioners of the prophetic tradition. It is designed for both scholars and clergy.

10:00  Keynote address: Ellen Davis, Professor of bible and practical theology at Duke Divinity School
11:00  Panel of clergy and teachers, reflecting on their own vocation as prophetic

Dr. Philip Blackwell (senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, Chicago)
Dr. Rachel Mikva (Assistant Professor & Rabbi Hermann E. Schaalman Professor of Jewish Studies, Chicago Theological Seminary)
Dr. Otis Moss III (pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago)
Dr. Renita Weems (preacher and blogger, formerly of Vanderbilt Divinity School) 

12:30  Lunch
1:30  "Flannery O'Connor's Prophetic Mode" -- Richard Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School and Associate Professor of Religion and Literature 
2:30   The same panel of clergy and teachers, together interpreting a text
3:45   Reception 

The conference is free and open to the public. Lunch is provided for those who register by February 15. You can register at

The conference is sponsored by the Border Crossing Project, an initiative at the Divinity School focusing on the relationship of the professions of teaching and ministry. The project is supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.