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Worth More than Many Sparrows

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When it comes to the study of religion, Willi Braun is a paragon of what a methodologically rigorous and epistemologically modest academic ought to look like. Braun’s career began in the 1990s, when he studied among a cadre of other notable graduate students at the Centre for the Study of Religion at University of Toronto—what is often referred to as the “Toronto School.” There, Braun and his comrades maintained a fidelity to a particular methodological ethos: that religion should be studied as a fundamentally human phenomenon and that scholars should examine how the “data” of religions (texts, artifacts, rituals, etc) reveal the interests, concerns, and values of the humans who imbue that same data with something divine or transcendent. The Toronto School’s commitment to this ethos led to the inauguration of the North American Society for the Study of Religion and fostered development of the now-renowned journal Method & Theory in the Study of Religion. Braun was a catalyst in these discipline-changing initiatives and brought them to bear in his own work on antiquity and early Christianities. Yet beyond that, Braun’s career also involved an unwavering commitment to pedagogy, as he selflessly endeavored to pass on his exceptional professional and personal qualities to his students. In an effort to honor Braun’s work and mentorship, this volume is focused on exploring, probing, and theorizing ancient religious data as reflections of human interests and activities.

Published: Feb 3, 2023


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Sarah Rollens, Patrick Hart
Chapter 1
Partaking in the Great Supper of God: Figuring Birds in the Apocalypse of John Sarah Rollens
Chapter 2
Authority and Canon: I Fight Authority, but does Authority Always Win? Patrick Hart
Chapter 3
Ornitheology Francis Landy
Chapter 4
Shipwrecked on a Desert Island: The Barren Isolation of “Christian Origins” William Arnal
Chapter 5
The Ontological and Zoomorphic Semiotics of Two Hellenistic Saviour Deities Darlene M. Juschka
Chapter 6
From Liturgy to Polemic and Back: Social Identity issues in the Use of Two Psalms Steven Muir
Chapter 7
‘The Spirit Descended like a Dove’: Bird Divination, Carrier Pigeons, and the Baptism of Jesus Jennifer Eyl
Chapter 8
Syriac Dialogue Hymns and New Comedy Robyn Walsh
Chapter 9
Diamonds and Rust: Q, Mythic Marcion, and the (De)Contextualization of Divine Wisdom Glen Fairen
Chapter 10
The Past as Simulacrum: Shifting Our Focus in Studying “Religion” in the Ancient World Vaia Touna
Chapter 11
The Corinthian Funerary Cultural Context and Baptism on behalf of the Dead Ritual Mark Wheller
Chapter 12
Reconstructing Socio-Cultural Institutions in the Gospel of Mark Allan Wright
Chapter 13
"After This, Nothing Happened”: Historical Vulnerability and the End of (Cultural) Time in the Gospel of Mark John Parrish
Chapter 14
Farm to (School)table: The Cultivation of Paideia in the Gospel of Thomas Ian Brown
Chapter 15
Transgressing New Testament Classrooms with Thecla Anna Cwikla
End Matter
Index of Subjects Sarah Rollens, Patrick Hart
Index of Modern Authors Sarah Rollens, Patrick Hart