Skip to Content

Department News

October 29, 2018

The Apocalypse of Empire: Imperial Eschatology in Late Antiquity and Early Islam

In The Apocalypse of Empire, Stephen J. Shoemaker argues that earliest Islam was a movement driven by urgent eschatological belief that focused on the conquest, or liberation, of the biblical Holy Land and situates this belief within a broader cultural environment of apocalyptic anticipation. Shoemaker looks to the Qur’an’s fervent representation of the imminent end of the world and the importance Muhammad and his earliest followers placed on imperial expansion. Offering important contemporary context for the imperial eschatology that seems to have fueled the rise of Islam, he surveys the political eschatologies of early Byzantine Christianity, Judaism, and Sasanian Zoroastrianism at the advent of Islam and argues that they often relate imperial ambition to beliefs about the end of the world. Moreover, he contends, formative Islam’s embrace of this broader religious trend of Mediterranean late antiquity provides invaluable evidence for understanding the beginnings of the religion at a time when sources are generally scarce and often highly problematic.

Scholarship on apocalyptic literature in early Judaism and Christianity frequently maintains that the genre is decidedly anti-imperial in its very nature. While it may be that early Jewish apocalyptic literature frequently displays this tendency, Shoemaker demonstrates that this quality is not characteristic of apocalypticism at all times and in all places. In the late antique Mediterranean as in the European Middle Ages, apocalypticism was regularly associated with ideas of imperial expansion and triumph, which expected the culmination of history to arrive through the universal dominion of a divinely chosen world empire. This imperial apocalypticism not only affords an invaluable backdrop for understanding the rise of Islam but also reveals an important transition within the history of Western doctrine during late antiquity.

May 10, 2018

Hanan Elsherif received the Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy

Congratulations to Hanan Elsherif for receiving the Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy!  Hanan is a Senior Instructor in the Religious Studies department teaching Arabic Language.

March 6, 2018

Forming the Early Chinese Court: Rituals, Spaces, Roles

It is our great pleasure to announce that Luke Haberstad’s book, Forming the Early Chinese Court: Rituals, Spaces, Roles is now in print and available for order from the University of Washington Press and good independent bookstores near you.

Forming the Early Chinese Court builds on new directions in comparative studies of royal courts in the ancient world to present a pioneering study of early Chinese court culture. Rejecting divides between literary, political, and administrative texts, Luke Habberstad examines sources from the Qin, Western Han, and Xin periods (221 BCE-23 CE) for insights into court society and ritual, rank, the development of the bureaucracy, and the role of the emperor. These diverse sources show that a large, but not necessarily cohesive, body of courtiers drove the consolidation, distribution, and representation of power in court institutions. Forming the Early Chinese Court encourages us to see China’s imperial unification as a surprisingly idiosyncratic process that allowed different actors to stake claims in a world of increasing population, wealth, and power.

August 23, 2017

Welcome Jeff Schroeder!

New Tenure Track Faculty in Religious Studies.


  • Ph.D., Religious Studies, Duke University, 2015
  • M.A., Asian Studies, Duke University, 2009
  • B.A., Religion, Reed College, 2005


  • Make Believe Buddhism: Jōdo Shin Thought and Politics, 1890-1956 (monograph in progress)
  • “Empirical and Esoteric: The Birth of Shin Buddhist Studies as a Modern Academic Discipline,” Japanese Religions vol. 39, nos. 1-2 (2014): 95-118.
  • “Bukkyō shisō no seijigaku: Kaneko Daiei no ianjin mondai o megutte” (The Politics of Buddhist Thought: Concerning the Heresy Case of Kaneko Daiei) in Kindai Nihon shisōshi o yominaosu: Kiyozawa Manshi no shiten kara, edited by Ōmi Toshihiro and Yamamoto Nobuhiro (Kyoto: Hōzōkan, forthcoming in 2016).
  • “The Insect in the Lion’s Body: Kaneko Daiei and the Question of Authority in Modern Buddhism” in Modern Buddhism in Japan, edited by Paul Swanson, Ōtani Eiichi and Hayashi Makoto (Nagoya: Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 2014), 194-222.


Fellowships, Grants, and Honors

  • Evan Frankel Fellowship, 2014-2015
  • Japan Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, 2012-2013
  • James B. Duke Fellowship, 2009
  • University Scholarship, 2009
  • Luce Scholarship, 2004


  • REL 303 Japanese Religions, University of Oregon, Fall 2015
  • REL 357 War, Terrorism, and Religion, University of Oregon, Winter 2015
  • HC 232 Religious War from the Crusades to ISIS, University of Oregon, Winter 2016
  • HIST 399 Religion and Revolution in Modern East Asia, University of Oregon, Spring 2016
May 10, 2016

Welcome, Anne Kreps

Anne Kreps

Please join us in welcoming Anne Kreps to the Religious Studies faculty beginning in Fall 2016.

Anne has been teaching for the past three years at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2013), with a specialization in Valentinianism and Gnosticism, and areas of expertise in both Judaism and Christianity of antiquity. She is in the process of turning her dissertation into a monograph entitled The Crucified Book: Sanctifying the Written Word from Valentinus to the Age of Constantine. Anne also is interested in new religious movements. Something that especially drew her to the job at the U of O was the fact that a contemporary Essene group makes its spiritual home just a few miles west of campus in Elmira, Oregon.

In the Fall she will be teaching REL 223:Intro to the Bible II and REL 414/514: Gospel of John.


May 9, 2016

Celebration of Life for Jack Sanders

Jack Sanders

The Jack T. Sanders Celebration of Life at the University of Oregon will take place on Thursday, May 12, beginning at 10 am in the Knight Library Browsing Room. Both Jack’s wife of over thirty-six years, Susan Elizabeth Plass, and Jack’s son, Collin Thomas Sanders, will be in attendance. Around 11:15 am, the group will proceed from the library to a location nearby for the planting of a flowering dogwood tree dedicated to Jack’s memory. Afterward, a buffet lunch will be served in the Browsing Room of Knight Library. At 4 pm that day in Chiles 128 (corner of Kincaid and 13th), former colleague Daniel Falk will deliver a lecture entitled “The Myth of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Everyone is welcome to attend any and all of these free public events on May 12th.

Thursday, May 12th

Knight Library Browsing Room

10:00 am Celebration of Life

11:15 am Tree Planting

11:45 am Lunch Buffet

October 22, 2015

Faculty Highlight: Faten Arfaoui, Arabic Language Instructor


Last year the department of Religious Studies welcomed Career NTTF Faten Arfaoui to our Arabic language instructional team.

Faten spent her early childhood in the city of Kairouan in the center of Tunisia.  It has a large historical mosque built by the Aghlabids.  At age 11, her family moved to the capital city, Tunis.  She attended Ibn Charaf University there, with a degree in both English and International Relations.  In 2008, she received a Fulbright to come to the U.S. to study at Texas Tech, where she ultimately completed a Master’s degree and began work on a Ph.D.  Coming to America was the fulfillment of a dream.  She has made many friends, teaching them about her culture and learning about theirs.  This “cultural exchange” continues with her students at the U of O.

Faten is a big fan of the novels of Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, especially his Khan al-Khalili.  She also loves a novel she recently read called Awza Atajawwaz.  As for favorite films, she says that she loves any romance movies, especially those with actress Sandra Bullock.  She particularly likes “The Proposal,” “The Net,” and “While You Were Sleeping.”

Visit the Arabic website for more information about Arabic Language at the U of O.