Rev. Dr. Reed Carlson wins 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise

United Lutheran Seminary is pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. Reed Carlson, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, is one of the winners of the 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, formerly the John Templeton Award.  Dr. Carlson’s award-winning work is Possession and Other Spirit Phenomena in Biblical Literature. Doctoral Dissertation (Harvard Divinity School, 2019). The Lautenschlaeger award is offered each year to ten scholars from around the world for a doctoral dissertation or first book on the topic “God and Spirituality (Broadly Understood).” It is offered by the Forschungszentrum Internationale und Interdisziplinaere Theologie at the University of Heidelberg.


From Dr. Carlson:

“In this project I map the functions of spirit language, rituals, and myths in the Hebrew Bible and in Second Temple Jewish literature. Many existing studies of these phenomena aim to decode them using other categories (e.g., mental health or demonization of the ‘other’). I employ a different approach, utilizing ethnographic studies on spirit possession and other related practices from communities around the world. This comparison reveals facets of biblical spirit texts not usually recognized, including social commentary and therapeutic self-othering. I suggest that early Jewish literature presents spirit phenomena most often as corporate, cultivated, and collaborative. These modes are consistent with the ways that spirit possession is practiced widely today, especially in the global south and its diasporas.” Dr. Carlson is currently revising his dissertation for publication with De Gruyter.


Dr. Carlson’s next research project investigates the social effects of shared belief in the immanent “end of the world” through comparing anthropological work on modern apocalyptic movements with the reception of the Noah story in early Judaism and Christianity.


Read more about Dr. Carlson. Read more about the 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise.

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