05 December 2010

CFP: Religion in the Public Square and Private Worship

International and interdisciplinary seminar "Religion in the Public Square and Private Worship: in light of Hobbes' reading of 2 Kings 5:18-19" of the Italian academic journal "Politica e Religione" and the Department of Philosophy, History, and Cultural Heritage at the University of Trento, Italy, 9-10 June 2011

Call for papers

Since 2007, the journal "Politica e Religione" has been promoting seminars on the history of theological-political concepts and metaphors at the University of Trento, covering topics such as the Angels of the Nations; the Katéchon and the Antichrist; and the Spirit and the Power: Questions of Political Pneumatology. The proceedings of previous seminars have been published in the journal. Scholars from a variety of religious and disciplinary backgrounds (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, History, Philosophy, Theology, Law, Political Science, etc.) are invited to submit proposals for a contribution during the next seminar.

Description: "In the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes reads the episode of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:18-19) as an example and a symbol of the right of a political power to control the public manifestations of any religious act. According to the biblical story, Naaman, the captain of the army of an Aramean king, converted to the faith of Israel after having been healed from leprosy, but he asked and obtained permission by a Jewish prophet to publicly worship the god Rimmon because of his obedience to the king. By distinguishing between interior conviction and external worship, the English philosopher[,] on the one hand, opens the way to the modern conception of the freedom of conscience, understood as a political tool for the resolution of religious conflicts and prevention of civil war; on the other hand, puts in doubt the ecclesiastic claims of interfering in any political and public issue precisely by making the interior convictions of the citizens irrelevant (insofar as they obey the laws of the king).

"Hobbes underlines that, by asking only for the interior faith and not for public actions, Jesus has exonerated the Church from judging the civil and political powers. And in the case when royal laws are in contradiction with the norms of the Church, or simply with the interior convictions of the citizens, they should obey those laws because such an act does not impede obtaining eternal salvation. In Hobbes' eyes, this argument frees the same concern for the eternal salvation from any political concern and puts it only within the individual, spiritual sphere. External obedience to the royal laws does not compromise the personal adhesion to norms of the Holy Scriptures. Hobbes' reflections on the biblical episode mentioned above may serve as the opportunity to think again about the relationship between public or political acts of religion, private worship, and interior convictions, in the framework of the complex process of forging the modern concept of 'religious freedom' as the foundation of all modern, secular political institutions.

"The recent claim by almost all traditional religions of a major public role in the global village is a challenge and a stimulus to renew the reflection on how states and politics should regulate the public manifestations of any religious credos in a context of pluralistic societies. Possible themes for a proposed paper: Innovative exegesis and interpretations of the biblical story of 2 Kings 5:18-19; Possible comparison with John 3:1-19 and Gal 2:11-21; How the story of Naaman was received by the Fathers of the Church; Developments of the theme in Jewish, Islamic, and Christian-Orthodox traditions; Development of the theme in the Scholastic schools of thought; The exegetical sources of Hobbes' text on the subject; New interpretations of the subject in the Modern era; Reception of Hobbes's reflections in C. Schmitt, R. Schnur, and R. Koselleck; Relationship between interior faith, domestic worship, and public acts of religion; Developments of the theme in contemporary theology."

Presentations may be given in Italian, English, French, German, or Spanish. Each proposal should include a title, the list of the disciplinary areas involved, an abstract (max. 300 words), and a limited bibliography. Proposals will be accepted on the basis of cogency and consistency with the topic and the method of the seminar. Please send proposals to Michele Nicoletti and Francesco Ghia (both University of Trento): michele.nicoletti@unitn.it, francesco.ghia@unitn.it

Deadline: 28 February 2011

The selected participants are required to submit full papers (max. 2,500-3,000 words) by 9 May 2011.

The best presented papers will be published in the journal (after the usual peer review).

Further information on the journal is to be found here:


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