It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year: preregistration! For Honors students, a part of that is considering which colloquia courses to take. In the spring semester, the two colloquia being offered are Banned from the Bible and Medieval Death, Disease, and Sex. In order to help us all get better acquainted, I asked Dr. Shannon Grimes, a Religious and Ethical Studies professor who is teaching Banned from the Bible, to tell us more about herself and her course. What is one of your favorites courses to teach and why? My favorite course to teach is the introductory course on World Religions. For many students, it is their first exposure to studying religions other than the ones they grew up with, and they are often amazed by the similarities as well as the differences they see. I think it’s important to learn about all religions because the world is becoming more of a global community and we are exposed to different cultures and belief systems on a daily basis. We’re better off if we make an effort to understand and respect one another, because ignorance can lead to fear, mistrust, and even violence.
What is your favorite quote? “Know thyself” – an ancient Greek maxim with many possible interpretations.
Where is the next place you’d like to travel to and what would you like to see or do there? I will be teaching abroad in Italy this summer, and for the semester of Fall 2015. My academic training and research focuses on religion in the Greco-Roman empires, so I’m thrilled to be able to go to Italy because I’ll have the opportunity to see first-hand many of the sites I’ve studied. I’m particularly excited about going to Rome and visiting the Vatican museums and the catacombs, as well as to Ravenna, where several ancient Christian mosaics are beautifully preserved. I love to travel, and while I have certain “must-see” places on my list, I also like adventuring into unfamiliar territory and discovering new treasures.
What inspired this course? What are some of the things that will set this course apart as a Honors experience? I adore early Christian literature. There are so many great pieces that never made it into the New Testament! A couple years ago I was a summer fellow at the National Humanities Center, where I participated in a seminar on early Christian apocrypha with Bart Ehrman, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and one of the top scholars in my field. This Honors course is based on that seminar. The topic is one of the things that sets this course apart: we’ll be studying early Christian texts, but some of them won’t resemble any sort of Christianity that you’d be familiar with today. They can be shocking in that way! We will also have a couple sessions with graduate students who work on these texts who will talk about various methods of researching and analyzing them, which will give our class a good preview of graduate studies. And finally, the class will get to experience the processes by which these books were excluded from the Bible by having the opportunity to work in councils to debate and vote upon a new canon of apocryphal scripture.
Thank you, Dr. Grimes! I appreciate you sharing with all of us!