UNC Asheville to Present Lectures by Visiting Scholars of Ancient Religious Cultures on March 29 and April 12


UNC Asheville will present two upcoming lectures by visiting scholars, with a March 29 talk about the ancient Samaritans, and an April 12 talk on the insights of a 12th century Muslim philosopher and novelist. Both lectures are free and open to everyone and will start at noon in Karpen Hall, Laurel Forum.

Stefan SchorchStefan Schorch, professor of Bible studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, will give the March 29 lecture, titled The Samaritans: True Keepers of the Ancient Israeli Law or Heretical Jewish Sect? The Samaritans, today a small ethnic and religious minority of approximately 800 people living in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel, and in the city of Nablus, in the Palestinian West Bank, represent one of the surviving branches of the ancient Israelite tradition. The lecture will provide an overview of Samaritan history, their current life as a minority in Israel and Palestine, and their religion, including a presentation devoted to the Samaritan Passover offering. 

Sebastian GüntherSebastian Günther, chair and professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Göttingen in Germany, will give the April 12 lecture, titled A Glimpse of the Mystery of Mysteries: Learning and Spirituality, as Seen by the Muslim Scholar Ibn Ṭufayl. This talk will explore Hayy Ibn Tufayl’s novel Hayy ibn Yaqzan (Alive, Son of Awake, the name of the novel’s protagonist), which is considered a classic of medieval Islamic philosophy. This book is the account of a boy who grows up on a remote island, alone and without contact to human civilization, and finds God solely through intellectual endeavor and spiritual exercise, unaided, but also unimpeded by society.

Schorch and Günther are both in the U.S. as members of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Their visit to UNC Asheville is supported by the university’s Humanities Program, the NEH Distinguished Professorship, and Center for Jewish Studies.

For more information, contact Jessica Park in the Humanities Program office at 828.251.6808.