Senior Research Professor of Theology

Arts and Sciences Building 306
219.464.5269
richard.demaris@valpo.edu

Biography

Professor DeMaris trained as a New Testament scholar specializing in Pauline literature at Columbia University-Union Theological Seminary, studying with Raymond Brown, J. Louis Martyn, Robin Scroggs (all at Union), and William Harrris (History, Columbia). Once at Valparaiso, he studied archaeology with the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia (near Corinth, Greece) in the 1990s, working closely with Timothy Gregory (director) and Jeanne Marty (Roman ceramicist). Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities enabled him to affiliate with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the American Academy in Rome and to spend several summers in their rich libraries. His publications at this time sought to integrate the ancient literary and material records in order to describe the early Christian social world, with special attention to ancient Corinth and its environs.

Affiliation with the Context Group (A Project on the Bible in Its Socio-Cultural Context) in the late 1990s introduced him to cultural anthropology and interpretive models from the social sciences, which he began applying to ancient Christian ritual. Ritual and ritual theory have been the focal points of his research ever since. This focus led to his writing a pioneering book on ritual and the New Testament, The New Testament in Its Ritual World (Routledge 2008), and to a visiting professorship at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 2008, sponsored by the Catholic Biblical Association. Moreover, he helped found the consultation on Ritual in the Biblical World in the Society of Biblical Literature, which is now a well-established section. (He also co-chaired the Social-Scientific Criticism of the New Testament section of the Society of Biblical Literature from 2005 to 2012).

Concurrently he served in various capacities for the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion and its flagship publication, Religious Studies Review. He edited book reviews or review essays for the journal from 1999 to 2007.

Professor DeMaris continues to study ritual as a research associate of the Nordic Project on Ritual and the Emergence of Early Christian Religion. Currently he is co-editing a publication of the project, the Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual, with Risto Uro, Juliette Day, and Rikard Roitto. He is also contributing a chapter to the handbook titled “Water Ritual in Nascent Christianity.” A second book on ritual, this one aimed at a more popular readership, is underway with Routledge. It is titled Early Christian Ritual Life and co-edited with Jason T. Lamoreaux and Steven C. Muir. In addition to editing, he is preparing a chapter on ritual transgression for that volume.

Education

Ph.D., Columbia University-Union Seminary, Religion, New Testament, 1990

M.Phil., Columbia University-Union Seminary, Religion, New Testament, 1986

M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary, Biblical Studies, 1980

B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana, Philosophy and Religious Studies, 1976

Contributions

Books:

Alte Texte in neuen Kontexten: Wo steht die sozialwissenschaftliche Bibelexegese? Edited with Wolfgang Stegemann. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2015. Reviews: JSNT 38, no. 5 (2016) 5; BK 71 (2016) 114-16.

Understanding the Social World of the New Testament. Edited with Dietmar Neufeld. London: Routledge, 2010. Reviews: RBL 04/2011; EuroJTh 20 (2011) 179-80; SHE 37/2 (Sept. 2011) 22-28; BTB 42 (2012) 99-100. Spanish translationPara entender el mundo social del Nuevo Testamento. Edited with Dietmar Neufeld. Estella: Editorial Verbo Divino, 2014.

The New Testament in Its Ritual World. London: Routledge, 2008. Reviews: BMCR 2008.10.17; JSNT 31/5 (2009) 21-22; TLZ 134 (2009) cols. 1338-39; CBQ 71 (2009) 399-401; BTB 39 (2009) 167-68; JBV 30 (2009) 324; Theol 113 (2010) 58-59; SR 39 (2010) 306-7; AUSS 48 (2010) 126-28; NedTT 64 (2010) 257-58; BibInt 19 (2011) 511-16; RBL 06/2012.

The Colossian Controversy: Wisdom in Dispute at Colossae. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 96. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994. (Now Library of New Testament Studies. London: Continuum/Bloomsbury.) Reviews: CBQ 57 (1995) 800-801; JBL 114 (1995) 752-54; TLZ 120 (1995) cols. 240-42; RelSRev 21 (1995) 240; SwJT 37/3 (1995) 50; NedTT 50 (1996) 336-37; RSR 85 (1997) 105-6; TRu 68 (2003) 397-99.

Book Chapters:

“Reconfiguring Rites in the Fourth Gospel: A Case of Ritual Inversion.” Pp. 333-349 in Scribal Practices and Social Structures among Jesus’ Adherents: Essays in Honour of John S. Kloppenborg. Edited by William E. Arnal, Richard S. Ascough, Robert A. Derrenbacker, Jr., and Philip A. Harland. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 285. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2016.

“Evangelium als Ritual: Eine Neubetrachtung von Zweck und ‘Sitz im Leben’ des Markusevangeliums.” Pp. 333-46 in Alte Texte in neuen Kontexten: Wo steht die sozialwissenschaftliche Bibelexegese? Edited by Wolfgang Stegemann and Richard E. DeMaris. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2015.

“The Gospel of Mark as a Therapeutic Ritual Script.” Pp. 111-24 in To Set at Liberty: Essays on Early Christianity and Its Social World in Honor of John H. Elliott. Edited by Stephen K. Black. The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, Second Series 6. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014.

“Contrition and Correction or Elimination and Purification in 1 Corinthians 5?” Pp. 39-50 in The Social Sciences and Biblical Translation. Edited by Dietmar Neufeld. Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series 41. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.

“Can We Reread Paul Together Any Longer? Joseph A. Fitzmyer’s View of Pauline Justification in Context.” Pp. 93-105 in Rereading Paul Together: Protestant and Catholic Perspectives on Justification. Edited by David E. Aune. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

“Judges—(Dis)honor and Ritual Enactment: The Jephthah Story: Judges 10:16-12:1.” With Carolyn S. Leeb. Pp. 177-90 in Ancient Israel: The Old Testament in Its Social Context. Edited by Philip F. Esler. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006. Italian translation: “Giudici. (Dis)onore e sanzione ritual.” With Carolyn S. Leeb. Pp. 196-208 in Israele antico e scienze sociali. Edited by Philip F. Esler. Introduzione allo studio della Bibbia, Supplementi 41. Brescia: Paideia Editrice, 2009.

“The Baptism of Jesus: A Ritual-Critical Approach.” Pp. 137-57 in The Social Setting of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by Wolfgang Stegemann, Bruce J. Malina, and Gerd Theissen. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002. German translation: “Die Taufe Jesu im Kontext der Ritualtheorie.” Pp. 43-52 in Jesus in neuen Kontexten. Edited by Wolfgang Stegemann, Bruce J. Malina, and Gerd Theißen. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2002. Italian translation: “Battesimo di Gesù e teoria del rito.” Pp. 57-74 in Il nuovo Gesù storico. Edited by Wolfgang Stegemann, Bruce J. Malina, and Gerd Theissen. Introduzione allo studio della Bibbia, Supplementi 28. Brescia: Paideia Editrice, 2006.

“Cults and the Imperial Cult in Early Roman Corinth: Literary Versus Material Record.” Pp. 73-91 in Zwischen den Reichen: Neues Testament und Römische Herrschaft. Edited by Michael Labahn and Jürgen Zangenberg. Texte und Arbeiten zum neutestamentlichen Zeitalter 36. Tübingen: Francke-Verlag, 2002.

Articles:

“New Testament Studies in Religion Past and Present.” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 44, no. 3 (2015) 8-10.

“Ritualforschung: Eine Bereicherung für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft.” Zeitschrift für Neues Testament 18, no. 35 (2015) 31-42.

“Backing away from Baptism: Early Christian Ambivalence about Its Ritual.” Journal of Ritual Studies 27, no. 1 (2013) 11-19. Special Issue: The Denial of Ritual and Its Return.

“Sacrifice, an Ancient Mediterranean Ritual.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 43 (2013) 60-73. A BTB Readers’ Guide.

“Archaeology and New Testament Interpretation.” Pp. 9-13 in Methods of Biblical Interpretation. Nashville: Abingdon, 2004.

“Possession, Good and Bad—Ritual, Effects and Side-Effects: The Baptism of Jesus and Mark 1:9-11 from a Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 80 (2000) 3-30.

“Baptisms and Funerals, Ordinary and Otherwise: Ritual Criticism and Corinthian Rites.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 29 (1999) 23-34.

“Corinthian Religion and Baptism for the Dead (1 Corinthians 15:29): Insights from Archaeology and Anthropology.” Journal of Biblical Literature 114 (1995) 661-82.

“Demeter in Roman Corinth: Local Development in a Mediterranean Religion.” Numen: International Review for the History of Religions 42 (1995) 105-17.

“Element, Elemental Spirit.” Vol. 2, pp. 444-45 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by David N. Freedman. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

“Philosophy.” Vol. 5, p. 346 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by David N. Freedman. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Interests

  • Early Christian Ritual
  • Archaeology of the New Testament World
  • Social Sciences and Biblical Interpretation

Courses Taught

  • The New Testament in Its Ritual World
  • The World of the New Testament
  • New Testament Introduction
  • Jesus and the Gospels
  • Understanding the Bible
  • Religious Sacrifice
  • End of the World: Apocalyptic Past and Present

Memberships

  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • The Context Group (A Project on the Bible in Its Socio-Cultural Context)
  • Catholic Biblical Association
  • Association of Ancient Historians
  • Chicago Society of Biblical Research
  • Archaeological Institute of America

Recognitions

  • Valparaiso University Research Professorship, 2012-2013
  • Catholic Biblical Association Visiting Professor to the Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2008
  • Lilly Endowment Curriculum Development Grant, 2003
  • Catholic Biblical Association Young Scholars’ Fellowship, 1995-1996
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar (Rome), 1995
  • Catholic Biblical Association Archaeological Research Stipend, 1994
  • Visiting Senior Associate, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1992, 1994, and 1996
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar (Athens and Corinth), 1991
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Richard E. DeMaris