One of the scholars on the Dead Sea Scrolls and award-winning author through the “Thomas L. King” lecture series, Eva Mroczek, will visit Washburn University at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 in the Washburn A/B room at the Memorial Union. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies is hosting Associate Professor of Religious Studies Eva Mroczek to present her lecture, “Out of the Cave: Manuscript Discoveries and New Biblical Pasts.”
“The ‘Thomas L. King’ series has been going on for almost 40 years,” said assistant professor Chris Jones, program director for religious studies. “It all started with my predecessor Dr. Barry Crawford as a means of bringing in big-name national speakers to address a topic of religious studies for the community.”
The series is funded by an estate gift from Thomas L. King, who was a member of the Congregationalist Church and wanted to have a lecture on religious studies here in town.
Mroczek is a friend of Jones. Having been born in Poland and immigrated to Canada as a young girl, she has since taken the position of associate professor of religious studies at the University of California-Davis. She is a scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Judaism. Mroczek will be presenting her ideas about how the Dead Sea Scrolls impact our knowledge of the Bible.
“This is not theology. It’s the humanistic social scientific study of religion, specifically ancient Jewish religion,” Jones said. “Her perspective is to look at the primary data and to try to think about its form and how people used it in the ancient world.”
Traditionally, the lecture has been attended by older community members. One of Jones’ goals for the lecture series is to bring in a younger audience, specifically Washburn students, in addition to the existing one.
“I’m looking forward to seeing her again. I’m also excited for my students to meet a nationally known scholar in a one-on-one group session I’m holding for them. As for the community presentation, I’m excited for her to speak about what’s going on in the religious studies field,” Jones said. “Washburn faculty teach a heavy load so we don’t do as much research as faculty as other universities do. My life is teaching, and I wouldn’t change that for anything so it’s a cool opportunity to bring in someone who spends more time researching.”
Mroczek is the author of the award-winning book, “The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity,” published by the Oxford University Press USA in 2016.
“This book really hits on my level, but it is also pretty readable for an educated person who is not necessarily a scholar of religion,” said Jones. “She’s very good at finding that balance between being rigorous in academia but accessible for readers. That’s why I invited her, she’s not going to give a dry talk. Rather, it will be very engaging and approachable for anyone who’s curious.”
Jones is passionate about bringing new ideas to campus, especially those circulating the topic of religion.
“An educated person needs to have a working understanding of religion because it is a part of human life,” said Jones. “Washburn being a public university, we don’t teach people how to be religious; however, knowing something about different people’s religions and respecting them is an important skill for any career. Discussions like this one challenge the way that people think about religion. Part of our role is to be critical, and this lecture with Dr. Mroczek is a good chance to do that.”
The “Thomas L. King” lecture is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies by email at [email protected] or by phone at 785-670-1542.