by ICJS Newsroom

BALTIMORE—The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) has named Francis X. Clooney, S.J., a theologian at the Harvard Divinity School and a leader in the field of comparative theology and interreligious studies, as the inaugural Silber-Obrecht Lecturer.

The Silber-Obrecht Lecture, the first endowed lectureship in the emerging field of Interreligious and Interfaith Studies, is a biannual academic residency in Baltimore. The inaugural lectureship will be April 25-27, 2023 at Loyola University Maryland. 

Shubha Pathak, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University in Washington D.C., will offer a response to Dr. Clooney’s lecture.

The lectureship aims to advance the field of study by presenting new and creative work by a senior scholar and interreligious practitioner. The endowed lecture, managed and sponsored by ICJS, will be held in partnership with five Baltimore institutions: Goucher College, The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, Morgan State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and the City, and St. Mary’s Seminary & University. 

Clooney was selected by the Silber-Obrecht Lecture Committee, composed of scholars from these partner institutions, ICJS, and three members at-large. 

“We are proud that ICJS is helping to advance this crucial, but still emerging field of Interreligious and Interfaith Studies,” said Heather Miller Rubens, ICJS executive director and Roman Catholic scholar. “And I can’t think of a more appropriate colleague for our inaugural lecture than Frank Clooney, whose groundbreaking scholarship and advocacy for the field have been invaluable.”

Clooney is the Parkman Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School, which he joined in 2005. From 2010 to 2017, he was the director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard. 

Clooney’s academic focus is on the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India. He is also a global leader in the developing field of comparative theology. Clooney is the author of numerous articles and books, most recently Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics: Why and How It Matters (University of Virginia Press, 2019) and Western Jesuit Scholars in India: Tracing Their Paths, Reassessing Their Goals (Brill, 2020). He is currently working on a memoir, tentatively titled, Priest and Scholar, Catholic and Hindu: A Love Story.

Pathak is a historian of religions who interprets epic myths from India, Greece, and Rome. She is the author of  Divine Yet Human Epics: Reflections of Poetic Rulers from Ancient Greece and India and an edited volume, Figuring Religions: Comparing Ideas, Images, and Activities.

The Silber-Obrecht Lecture is named in honor of Jean and Sidney Silber and Charles F. and Margaret M.H. (Peggy) Obrecht in recognition of their longtime commitment to improving interreligious relationships and understanding.

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The Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS) works to dismantle religious bias and bigotry to foster an interreligious society in which dialogue replaces division, friendship overcomes fear, and education eradicates ignorance. Through courses, fellowships, online events, and scholarship initiatives, ICJS builds learning communities where religious difference becomes a powerful force for good. ICJS is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization. More information is at