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Ryan O'Dowd, Theologian, Cornell


November 13, 2010 at 9:00 PM EST


411 Willard Straight Hall

Graduate Christian Fellowship Roundtable

The Protestant Reformation is a signal moment in history, not least for sparking the western churches to abandon centuries of religious ritual and ceremony. Yet, as Charles Taylor’s recent A Secular Age argues, the history and motivations for this turn are not as simple as we might imagine, being inspired in many ways by the rationalist and secular humanist culture of the day. Today we are experiencing something of an unexpected turn back to monastic and liturgical ways of life. What are the reasons for this renaissance? And what might we have lost in the intervening centuries? Taking the notoriously boring book of Numbers as our cue, I will argue that ancient Jewish and Christian rituals have an urgent message for modern believers in the Gospel.


Ryan O’Dowd is Senior Visiting Lecturer of Aerospace Studies at Cornell University. He holds a PhD in Old Testament from the University of Liverpool. He has also taught in the areas of Biblical Studies and social justice at Briercrest College and Redeemer University College as well as serving as Adjunct Faculty at the Paideia Centre for Public Theology. His books include The Wisdom of Torah: Epistemology in Deuteronomy and the Wisdom Literature (Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2009) and, with Craig Bartholomew, Old Testament Wisdom Literature: A Theological Introduction (InterVarsity, Forthcoming). He and his family live in Ithaca, NY.

Chesterton House Painting