Please save the date for a lecture by Dan McClellan: March 5, 2024 at 7 p.m. in Washburn Room A, Memorial Union.

"The Bible Tells Me So": Making Meaning with the Bible

"The Bible says so!" is a potent statement in public discourse today. By itself, however, the Bible doesn't actually say anything at all. It can't. It's a text, and texts by themselves have no inherent meaning. Meaning is created when people read texts within the specific circumstances of their own lives, so the meaning of a text can differ from time to time, place to place, person to person, and circumstance to circumstance. In this presentation, Dr. Dan McClellan will discuss the process of making meaning with the Bible, and he will argue that the meaning we make today often has little to do with what its original authors and editors intended to communicate to their audiences. How should we make meaning with an ancient, sacred, living text like the Bible?

Dan McClellan

About Dan McClellan

Dan McClellan is an independent scholar of the Bible and religion and an honorary fellow at the University of Birmingham's Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion.

He received his PhD in 2020 from the University of Exeter, and a revised version of his dissertation-entitled YHWH's Divine Images: A Cognitive Approach-was published in 2022 in SBL Press' open-access Ancient Near East Monograph Series.

In an effort to increase public access to the academic study of the Bible and religion and combat the spread of misinformation about the same, Dan teaches regular online classes, cohosts the popular Data Over Dogma Podcast with his friend Dan Beecher, and goes by @maklelan on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, where he confronts misinformation, shares the state of the field, and responds to questions about the Bible and religion.

About the King lecture series

The Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies, established in 1982 through a generous gift from the First Congregational Church in Topeka in memory of alumnus and Washburn benefactor Thomas L. King, now also receives support from contributions in memory of Rev. Dick Dickinson and Dr. Barry Crawford. This lecture series significantly enhances Washburn's religious studies program by offering a platform each spring semester for students, faculty, and community members to engage with the works of eminent scholars in the field. Over the years, the series has been privileged to host distinguished speakers such as Walter Brueggemann, Jacob Neusner, Martin Marty, John Dominic Crossan, Huston Smith, Wendy Doniger, Bart Ehrman, Peter Gomes, and Eva Morczek. Beyond the formal public lecture, speakers often arrange informal meetings with undergraduate classes, further enriching the educational experience.

The Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies always is free and open to the public. It is held each spring semester. 

First Congregational Lecture Series

March 27, 1983 - Walter Brueggemann
"Obedience and Imagination in the Life of Faith"

Thomas L. King Memorial Lecture Series

February 19, 1984 - Charles H. Talbert
"Mission, Formation & Community: Discipleship in Luke & Acts"

March 3, 1985 - Walter Harrelson
"The Prophet Ezra: Champion of the Law, Friend of Sinners"

April 13, 1986 - George W.E. Nickelsburg, Jr.
"The First Century: A Time to Rejoice and a Time to Weep"

April 26, 1987 - Elizabeth Achtemeier
"The Themes of Isaiah: Words for our Time"

March 27, 1988 - Leander E. Keck
"Paul: Problem and Promise"

Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies
April 30, 1989 - David Ray Griffin
"Religion and Science in the Post-Modern World"

March 11, 1990 - Dennis E. Groh
"New Discoveries in New Testament Galilee: Excavations at Sepphoris"

April 14, 1991 - Rosemary Radford Ruether
"Eco-Feminism: Social and Symbolic Connections Between the Domination of Women and the Domination of Nature"

November 21, 1991 - Jacob Neusner
"From Doctrine to Imagination: A Different Kind of Judaeo-Christian Dialogue"

September 17, 1992 - Martin E. Marty
"The Extremes of Fundamentalism: Global and Local Issues"

October 14, 1993 - John Dominic Crossan
"Jesus the Peasant"

September 29, 1994 - E.P. Sanders
"Jesus as Prophet of the Restoration of Israel"

October 24, 1995 - Lawrence H. Schiffman
"Scholars, Scrolls, and Scandals: Christianity, Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls"

November 12, 1996 - Huston Smith
"The Coming World Civilization"

October 13, 1997 - Paula Fredriksen
"Jews, Romans, and the Death of Jesus"

March 10, 1999 - Ron Cameron
"The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Origins"

March 7, 2000 - Langdon Gilkey
"The Creationism Controversy"

March 8, 2001 - Merrill Miller
"Redescribing Christian Origins"

October 25, 2001 - Karen L. King
"Early Christian Diversity and Contemporary Christian Identity"

April 16, 2002 - Jonathan Z. Smith
"God Save This Honourable Court": Religion in Public Discourse"

April 8, 2003 - Amy-Jill Levine
"Jews and Christians in Conversation: The Future of Interfaith Dialogue"

April 20, 2004 - John Dominic Crossan
"The Life of Jesus and American Christianity"

April 12, 2005 - Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad
"Islam in the West: History, Theologies, and Values"

April 4, 2006 - Wendy Doniger
"The Mythology of Magic Rings of Forgetfulness"

April 17, 2007 - Derek Davis
“Religion and Politics in the United States: Conflicts and Anomalies”

April 11, 2008 - Bart D. Ehrman
“God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Explain Human Suffering”

April 25, 2009 - Peter J. Gomes
“Beyond the Bible: Recovering the Gospel”

April 14, 2010 - Mark D. Nanos
“Images of Jews and Judaism in Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Challenging Translation Decisions That Subvert Paul’s Message”

March 10, 2011 - Robert Jewett
“Jesus, Captain America, and Barack Obama: The Superhero Myth in Contemporary America”

October 26, 2011 - Ferdinand Schlingensiepen
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance”

April 24, 2013 - William E. Arnal
“Just How Christian Were the First Christians?”

October 28, 2013 - Robert Wuthnow
“Red State Religion”

October 15, 2015 - Amy-Jill Levine
“Pearls and Prodigals: Hearing Jesus’ Parables Through Jewish Ears”

September 13, 2016 - Rami Arav
“Bethsaida from King David to Jesus”

March 14, 2018 - Barry Crawford
“The King Lecture at 35: Retrospect and Prospect”

February 25, 2019 - Eva Mroczek
“Out of the Cave: Manuscript Discoveries and New Biblical Pasts”

February 25, 2020 - Cyrus Zargar “Muslim Encounters with the Christian Other in Persian Sufi Poetry”

February 15, 2022 - Ann Taves
"Sacralizing and Desecrating Public Spaces: Civil Religion, Worldviews, and the Role of Ultimate Values in the January 6 Attack and its Aftermath"

March 2, 2023 - Robyn Faith Walsh
"Argumentum ad lunam: Discourse and Competition on the Moon"

GET IN TOUCH WITH Philosophy and Religious Studies Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies Department
Morgan Hall, Room 206
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

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