Prominent theologian to speak at MC

Sept. 27, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

Dr. John J. Thatamanil, associate professor of theology and world religions at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, will give a presentation on Mon., Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall.

The presentation, titled "The Way, The Truth and the Life: 'I am' Sayings in The Gospel of John and The Bhagavad Gita," is part of the College’s “Bible Grant” speaker series.

The event is free and open to the public.

At 1:15 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 9, Thatamanil will speak during Maryville College’s weekly community worship service at the Samuel Tyndale Wilson Center for Campus Ministry. The theme of this semester’s worship series is “Citizens of the Kingdom.”

“John Thatamanil is a leader in the rapidly maturing field of comparative theology, who seeks to understand the truth about divine matters through respectful argument and conversation among the religious traditions of humankind,” said Dr. Andrew Irvine, associate professor of philosophy at Maryville College. “Dr. Thatamanil is a challenging and compassionate teacher celebrated by students, and a scholar recognized in church and academy, especially for his deep acquaintance with Hindu and Christian thought. He will share an expert understanding of the Gospel of John and the Bhagavad Gita [Hindu Scripture]; he will exemplify a humble search for meaning in light of connections between those two scriptures.”

Thatamanil is the author of the 2006 book The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation and is currently working on his second book, titled The Promise of Religious Diversity: Constructive Theology After “Religion.”

He is a past president of the North American Paul Tillich Society (NAPTS), co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Theological Education Committee, and project director of the American Academy of Religion’s summer seminars on “Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology.” He teaches a wide variety of courses, including “Process Theology,” “Tillich and the Future of Theology,” “Hindu-Christian Dialogue” and “Comparative Theology.”

According to Dr. Brian Pennington, professor of religion and chair of the Division of Humanities at Maryville College, Thatamanil “has a long-standing association with the College, having worked with different members of the College’s religion faculty in the past on projects and studies undertaken by the Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church Related College, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.”

The College’s “Bible Grant” speaker series is designed to address topics related to the relevance of the Bible to contemporary issues and concerns.

“This lecture series was initiated by a grant from the Presbyterian Church (USA), which affirms the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, while also seeking to hear the voice of God, however God may speak beyond the boundaries of its tradition,” Irvine said. “The church also affirms that the best tools of academic study should be brought to the reading of the Bible, confident that faithful reading of its scriptures today requires full intellectual honesty about the challenges of our time, including religious pluralism.”

Previous speakers have included theologians and scholars Renita J. Weems, Franklin Gamwell, Timothy Beal, Abraham Smith and Dale B. Martin.

The event is also part of the College’s Community Conversations Series, an annual lecture series conducted to facilitate conversations and discussions between members of the entire Maryville College community, citizens of Blount County and surrounding areas, College alumni and prospective students.

For more information about Thatamanil’s visit, please contact Irvine at or at 865.981.8237.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.