Scholar to Discuss Changing Image of Jesus as Financial Role Model

Long before the rise of the so-called prosperity gospel at home and abroad, mainline Protestantism was filled with images of Jesus as a consumer-friendly champion of industry.

Jonathan_WaltonA Harvard University scholar will discuss the historical and cultural underpinnings that contributed to this theological world view during a lecture at UT at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 23.

Jonathan L. Walton will deliver the sixth annual David L. Dungan Memorial Lecture. The event will be in the James R. Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building. It is free and open to the public. The UT Department of Religious Studies is sponsoring the event.

Walton’s talk, “Jesus Christ, CEO! The Transformation of Jesus from Fisherman to Financial Role Model in the 20th Century,” will examine how the image of Jesus was often used in a way that was consistent with the Industrial Revolution and faith in business enterprise.

“Thanks to the Dungan Lecture and its sponsors, we’re able to bring to UT a speaker and scholar of Professor Walton’s stature, and on a provocative and timely topic that will likely have broad appeal,” said Rosalind Hackett, head of the Department of Religious Studies.

Walton is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Professor of Religion and Society at Harvard University. His research addresses the intersections of religion, politics and media culture. He is the author of Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism. He has been featured in several national and international news outlets including the New York Times, CNN and the BBC.

A native of Atlanta, Walton earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College and both a doctorate in religion and society and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

“Jonathan Walton is one of the leading scholars of American Christianity in his generation, with one of the very best scholarly books on the megachurch phenomenon and possibly the best book on African-American variants of ‘heath and wealth’ Christianity,” said Mark Hulsether, UT professor of religious studies, who will introduce Walton at the lecture.

Other event sponsors include Chris A. Hodges, the Departments of English and Psychology, the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies, Africana Studies, American Studies, the Haslam College of Business, the Humanities Center, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The David L. Dungan Memorial Lecture honors late UT professor David Laird Dungan, who regularly shared his scholarship on biblical interpretation, as well as on religious issues in public life, in the wider community. By bringing in leading scholars, the Department of Religious Studies seeks to communicate the importance of the academic study of religion in the globalizing world.

CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)