Frankfurter to deliver Weltin lecture March 22

David Frankfurter, PhD, professor of religious studies and history at the University of New Hampshire, will give the 2009-2010 Weltin Lecture in Religious Studies at 4 p.m. Monday, March 22, in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

The lecture, titled “A Site of Blessings, Dreams, and Wonders: The Egyptian Saint’s Shrine as Crucible of Christianization, ca. 400-700 CE,” is free and open to the public.

Frankfurter is a comparative scholar of ancient religions. He is an expert on the Christianization of the ancient Mediterranean world as well as religion and social theory.

Focusing on late antique Egypt, while drawing on comparative materials, the lecture will look at ways local cultures came to appropriate saints’ shrines to express Christianity in traditional terms.

Frankfurter argues that since publication in 1981 of Peter Brown’s book, “Cult of Saints,” the saint’s shrine has become a major topic in the study of early Christianity. The shrine was a goal for pilgrims, a ceremonial center and meeting place for communities and their heavenly patrons.

“In most places across the late antique world, the saint’s shrine defined Christianity,” Frankfurter said. “But in the process, these shrines also became sites for the assertion of older religious traditions ⎯ for ‘syncretism.’ ”

Frankfurter is the author of numerous articles on apocalypticism, magic, Christianization, demonology and violence in antiquity, especially in Roman and late antique Egypt.

He is the recipient of Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, Radcliffe Institute and Institute for Advanced Study fellowships.

His books include “Elijah in Upper Egypt,” “Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance,” and “Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History,” the last two of which each won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion.

His current research concerns the particular social worlds in which Christian ideas and symbols were brought together with native Egyptian traditions in late antiquity.

A reception will follow the lecture. For more information, call (314) 935-8677 or e-mail

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