Faculty Accomplishments

REL faculty Fall 2016 group photo

Leslie Baynes published “The Parables of Enoch and Luke’s Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” in Enoch and the Synoptic Gospels: Reminiscences, Allusions, Intertextuality (eds. Loren Stuckenbruck and Gabriele Boccaccini; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2016).
Baynes is a member of the international team of scholars revising the New Testament of the New American Bible. When it is approved, the revised edition of the NAB will be used for scriptural readings in English-speaking Masses of the Roman Catholic church and in Catholic parishes and schools.

Stephen Berkwitz received a Visiting Research Fellowship in 2017 from the Käte Hamburger Kolleg at Ruhr-Universität Bochum to work on research related to Buddhist kingship in medieval Sri Lanka. He published three journal articles in 2016: “Reimagining Buddhist Kingship in a Sinhala Praśasti” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, “Textbook Buddhism: Introductory Books on the Buddhist Religion” in Religion, and “Sinhala Buddhist Appropriations of Indic Cultural Forms: Literary Imitations and Conquests” in Religions of South Asia. He is also directing a Wabash Center Undergraduate Department Grant with John Schmalzbauer on an 18-month project to develop a curricular focus on Religion and Health in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University.

Mark Boyer published his 35th book recently, Nature Spirituality: Praying with Wind, Water, Earth, Fire (Wipf and Stock publishers, 2013).

Mark Given was awarded a grant from the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost to advertise the Religious Studies MA program through Google AdWords, ensuring that many potential students become aware of the excellent MA program in Religious Studies at Missouri State University.

Lora Hobbs was chosen by Missouri State Master Online Course Recognition Award (MOCRA) Selection Committee for MOCRA Best in Category: Course Technology and Media Value, for her REL 100, Introduction to Religion, online course. Ms. Hobbs also received a $4,000 Public Affairs Grant to support the Meals-a-Million event in November, 2013, to provide meals (over a million!) to local food pantries in Springfield and Joplin, as well as globally through organizations in Haiti, Mexico, and El Salvador.

Pippa Koch joined the department in fall 2016!

Victor Matthews recent publications:

  • The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012) – 1st ed. title: Social World of the Hebrew Prophets (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001).
  • Old Testament: Text and Context, 3rd edition (James Moyer, co-author; Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2012; 1st edition with Hendrickson Publishers, 1997 and 2nd ed. 2005).
  • “Looking for Levites in the Book of Judges,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 35 (2013), 136-150.
  • “Remembered Space in Biblical Narrative,” in Mark George, ed. Constructions of Space IV: Further Developments in Examining Social Space in Ancient Israel (New York: T & T Clark International, 2013), 61-75.
  • Taking Calculated Risks: The Story of the Cannibal Mothers (2 Kgs 6:24—7.20),” Biblical Theology Bulletin 43/1 (2013), 4-13.

Vadim Putzu

  • I have developed and will run a new education abroad program, titled "Italy: A Booted History of Judaism;" I'm taking a group of undergrads to Rome, Venice, and Apulia (Italy's "heel") in May for a crash course on Jewish history from Roman times to the 21st century;
  • Have been invited to give lectures at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" (May 2016) on wine symbolism in early modern Kabbalah, and at NYC's Temple Emanu-EL (March 2017) on Jewish mysticism in the Italian Renaissance;
  • Have chaired, since early 2016, the Study of Judaism section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) - Midwest region; am also involved in the project “Mideast meets Midwest: Enhancing Middle Eastern Studies in Missouri Universities,” which aims to build the Middle Eastern Studies programs at UCM, SEMO, and Missouri State. It is supported by the Department of Education through a three-year (2017-20) Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages (UISFL) grant;
  • Have co-organized and hosted the 2016 Conference of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association;
  • Have recorded two “Bears Show How To” videos filmed by the Office of Communications, which have been used to promote University events and programs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0oNbU6scRA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcZAv5bJAHw). Have also recorded a video interview about the fundamentals of Jewish mysticism for the “The Wright Show,” a web TV program hosted on Meaningoflife.tv (August 2016, see http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/35949).

Austra Reinis attended the 12th International Congress for Luther Research in Helsinki, Finland in August, 2012, participating in workshops and presenting a paper, "Martin Luther's Jonah and Michael Helding's Re-Catholization Effort in Merseburg, Saxony."

John Schmalzbauer published an article, "Campus Religious Life in America: Revitalization and Renewal" in Society, 50(2), 115-131 (2013). In June, 2013, he was on a panel, "Fifty Years of Non-Sectarian Religion: Goals, Limitations, Expectations," at the Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN.

John Strong, in collaboration with Ms. Kelly Schlinder (Modern and Classical Languages), received a $3,500 Public Affairs Grant to bring Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor to MSU for a public speaking event in February, 2013. The event was a huge success, with thousands of students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance.