Colleen Shantz

Dr. Colleen Shantz has held a teaching position in the Faculty of Theology since 2003 and is cross-listed to the Department for the Study of Religion in the University of Toronto. Her research explores the general category of experience as an important element in the texts of the New Testament, and in early Christianity and Mediterranean antiquity more generally. Her current research projects include, first, an analysis of the dynamics of emotion and affect in the earliest Christ groups and, second, application of evolutionary and systems theory to the enduring puzzle of the rapid development of Christianity.

For several years Dr Shantz taught a required course for PhD students on pedagogy and course design. She remains interested in designing assignments that better prepare students for their future engagement with the Bible and the skills that facilitate effective scholarship. She is active in the Society of Biblical Literature and the Canadian Society of Biblical studies where she is President for 2020-21.

  • Select Publications and Academic Presentations

    Books:

    Co-edited with Rikard Roitto and Petri Luomanen. Social and Cognitive Perspectives on the Sermon on the Mount. Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2021.

    Co-edited with Rodney A. Werline. Experientia: Volume 2: From Text to Experience. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012.

    Paul in Ecstasy: The Neurobiology of the Apostle’s Life and Thought. New York, Cambridge University Press: 2009.

    Co-edited with Frances Flannery and Rodney A. Werline. Experientia: Volume 1. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.

    Recent chapters and articles:

    “Religious Experience.” In Ryan Schellenberg and Heidi Wendt, eds. T&T Clark Handbook to the Historical Paul. London: T&T Clark, forthcoming.

    “Who Saw any of this Coming?” Response to papers in Christopher Zeichman and John Egger, eds. Festchrift for Leif E. Vaage. McGill-Queens University Press, forthcoming.

    Co-authored with Rikard Riotto and Petri Luomanen. “The Contribution of Social and Cognitive Perspectives to the Interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.” Introduction, Cognitive and Social Readings of the Sermon on the Mount. Sheffield, UK: Equinox, [projected for October, 2021].

    “It’s All in How You Look at It: The Eyes and Morality in Matt 6:22–23.” Chapter in Cognitive and Social Readings of the Sermon on the Mount. Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2021.

    “Altered States of Consciousness.” In The Ancient Mediterranean Social World: A Sourcebook, edited by Zeba Crook, 207-221. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020.

    “Ritual and Religious Experience.” In The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual, pp. 477-490, edited by Risto Uro, Juliette Day, Richard DeMaris, Rikard Roitto, 477-489. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2019.

    “In the Divine (Mental) Image: Theological Anthropology and the Structures of Cognition.” In Theology as Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Learning with and from the Natural and Human Sciences, edited by Robin W. Lovin and Joshua Mauldin, 50-67. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.

    Recent Academic Presentations:

    2021     “Bio-cultural Explanations for Ritual Practices,” Religion in Ancient Judaism and Christianity Seminar, Canadian Society of Biblical Studies.

    2020     “What the Body Knows,” keynote address for symposium, What the Body Knows: Embodied Senses & Meaning-Creation in the Biblical Imagination, sponsored by University of Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (Sheffield/virtual).

    2020 “Constructing Heaven: The Cultural Adaptation of Afterlife Belief,” Cognitive Science of Religion section, American Academy of Religion and Mind, Society, and Religion section, Society of Biblical Literature section, Boston.

    2019    Panelist, review of Handbooks on Ritual (Oxford and ) co-sponsored by Meals in the Greco-Roman World, Ritual in the Biblical World sections, Society of Biblical Literature (November, San Diego).

    2019     “Take a Chance on Me: Trustworthy Initiation Rituals in Galatia,” Rituals, Emotions, and Identity, International Conference at the University of Rostock (June, Germany).

    2019    Panelist, review of Handbooks on Ritual (Oxford and ) co-sponsored by Meals in the Greco-Roman World, Ritual in the Biblical World sections, Society of Biblical Literature (November, San Diego).

    2019     “Take a Chance on Me: Trustworthy Initiation Rituals in Galatia,” Rituals, Emotions, and Identity, International Conference at the University of Rostock (June, Germany).

    2019     “Did Early Christians Believe the Bible?,” 10th Annual Meagher Lecture, University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto.

    2018     “Imagine There’s a Heaven: The Role of Imagination in Niche Construction,” keynote presentation in Future Directions on the Evolution of Rituals, Beliefs, and Religious Minds, Erice, Sicily. Sponsored by the Majorana Foundation (Sicily) and the Centre for the Study of Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture (University of British Columbia).

    2018     Panelist, “Computational Modeling at the Interface of Traditional Religious Studies and Cognitive Science of Religion,” Cognitive Science of Religion Unit, American Academy of Religion (November, Denver).

    2018     “It’s All in How You Look at It: The Eyes and Morality in Matt 6:22-23,” Mind, Society, and Religion Section, Society of Biblical Literature (November, Denver).

    2018     Respondent to panelists, “Comparative Forms of Religious Expertise,” Historical Paul Section, Society of Biblical Literature (November, Denver).

    2018     Response to J.T. Lamoreaux, R.E. DeMaris, and S.C. Muir (eds.), Early Christian Ritual Life (Routledge, 2018), Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (Regina, May).

    2018     “Phineas Gage Reads the Satirists: Emotion as Communication,” Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Regina.

    2017     “Diagnosing the Pathogen, Treating the Source: Spirit Possession as a Biocultural Phenomenon,” Historical Jesus Section, Society of Biblical Literature, Boston.

    2017     “When Actions Speak more loudly than Words: Re-evaluating the Galatians Debate,” Amsterdam New Testament Colloquium, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

    2016     Panellist, Review of Gil Anidjar, Blood: A Critique of Christianity (Columbia UP, 2014), Theory in Biblical Studies Seminar, Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Calgary.

    2016     “On Rehabilitating Religious Experience.” Seminar in Early Christianity, Early Judaism, and the Study of Religion, Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Edmonton.

    2016     “’Curiouser and Curiouser’: Developments in Understandings of Embodiment and Contexts in Religious Experience.” Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity sections, SBL, San Antonio.

    2016     “Divine Accommodation and the Hermeneutics of Enculturation.” Women, the Diaconate, and the Future of Ministry, study day, University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto.

  • Areas of Teaching and Supervision
    • Paul’s life and letters
    • Social scientific and cognitive science approaches to the New Testament and early Christianity
    • Religious experience
    • Affect and emotion in Christian origins
    • Social justice and the Gospels
    • Explaining Christian origins

    Examples of Theses Supervised:

    The Impact of Bodily Experience on Paul’s Resurrection Theology

    Alain Badiou and the Study of Christian Origins

    Poverty and Piety: Jewish Legal Practices among the Poor in Roman Palestine

    Signs of the Spirit: Trust, Credibility, and the Discernment of Truth in Early Christian Prophets and Graeco-Roman Ritual Experts

    Musical Assemblies: How Early Christian music functioned as a Rhetorical Topos, a Mechanism of Recruitment, and a Fundamental Marker of an Emerging Christian Identity