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Reading the Bible in Black

By Ethan Shea

"Bible in Black Session 2 Photo"

On Feb. 8 and 15, Theology and Religious Studies Professor the Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart gave the Villanova community two exciting opportunities to partake in a guided reading of the Bible with Black ways of knowing and being in mind. The first session focused on passages from the Old Testament while the second analyzed excerpts of the New Testament. This talk was especially timely, as Villanova continues to celebrate Black History Month.

An important aspect of the discussion was the decentering of Biblical narratives. The Rev. Washington-Leapheart encouraged the audience to consider how characters placed on the outskirts of stories would have been impacted. To practice such a reading, it is necessary to acknowledge the baggage readers and the Bible itself carries. Even today, the Bible is used to push specific narratives that are tied to various political ideologies. Everyone reads texts from unique perspectives, and similarly, the Bible cannot be separated from its past, which the Rev. Washington-Leapheart points out can be problematic.

In addition to decentering, placing the Bible in conversation with current issues impacting Black communities across the globe, such as police brutality, is a critical feature of reading the Bible in Black.

"Bible in Black Session 2 Image"A specific moment of close reading that stood out to me involved Genesis 15:18-21. In these verses, the Lord gives Abram land that belongs to the Kenites, Kenizzites, and Kadmonites among many other groups. Rather than rejoicing about Abram’s acquisition, Rev. Washington-Leapheart led the crowd to consider the plight of the Kenites, Kenizzites, and Kadmonites. Would they have seen this gift from the Lord as a blessing? By reframing the way we read the Bible, the narrative that has been established through years of social and cultural immersion can be flipped.

Falvey is glad to have had the opportunity to host such an insightful conversation. Both installments of these talks will soon be available to view on both Falvey Library and Villanova University’s YouTube channels.

Part I:

Part II:

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


Photo Friday: Check Out a “Book” at the Interfaith Human Library

Image of Fr. Art Purcaro (Roman Catholic/Augustinian) talking with Villanova students.

Fr. Art Purcaro (Roman Catholic/Augustinian) talks with Villanova students.

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, more than 60 Villanova University students, staff, and faculty gathered in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner to check out “books” from the Interfaith Human Library. Engaging in dialogue about various religious traditions, attendees met with “books”—Villanova faculty, staff, graduate students of diverse backgrounds—for three 20-minute sessions.

Below is the list of “books” that hosted conversations on their faith background:

  • Dr. Gity Etemad (Baha’i)
  • Jaskirat Singh (Sikh)
  • Dr. Ruth Anolik (Jewish)
  • Rev. Carolyn Cavaness (African Methodist Episcopal)
  • Dr. Moeness Amin (Muslim)
  • Asheq Fazlullah (Muslim)
  • Rebecca Mays (Society of Friends—Quaker)
  • Fr. Art Purcaro (Roman Catholic/Augustinian)
  • Fr. Kevin DePrinzio (Roman Catholic/Augustinian)

Thank you to all of the “books” for sharing their traditions, and thank you to all of the Villanova community members who attended this discussion. This event was co-sponsored by Campus Ministry, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and Falvey Memorial Library. Stay tuned for updates on the next Interfaith Human Library event.

Image of Dr. Moeness Amin (Muslim) sharing some religious traditions with attendees.

Dr. Moeness Amin (Muslim) shares some religious traditions with attendees.


Image of Rebecca Mays (Society of Friends-Quaker) engaging with the Villanova community.

Rebecca Mays (Society of Friends-Quaker) engages with the Villanova community.


Image of Mr. Jaskirat Singh (Sikh) answering questions from Villanova students.

Jaskirat Singh (Sikh) answers questions from Villanova students.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.




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Global Smackdown: Pope in Iraq

“This trip is not just accomplishing the dream of [Pope Francis’s] predecessor, but also, it fits perfectly with one of his biggest emphases – dialogue with Islam and different kinds of Islam.”

This week Dr. Tim Horner is joined by special guest Massimo Faggioli, professor of theological history at Villanova, to discuss Pope Francis’s current trip to Iraq, the first trip to the country by any pope. They discuss the underlying significance of this trip, the historical basis, and how it plays into Pope Francis’s larger agenda.

The full Global Smackdown for Monday, March 8 is available here.

Where is the world are we?


Staff Pick: Biblical Studies Bibliographies

By Darren G. Poley

Several guides are linked to the Theology & Religious Studies Subject Guide. One titled Bible Basics is designed to aid navigation of the sacred scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition and locating biblical commentaries in Falvey. Also listed is the Biblical Studies guide. On it there is a section called Advanced Research Tools. Among those tools are some which the Library has acquired and others which are open access.

Recently Falvey obtained many of the Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford University Press) which present peer-reviewed, annotated bibliographies and expert commentary on current scholarship in selected disciplines, including Biblical Studies. Two open access online resources which were recently added to the Biblical Studies guide are Biblical Bibliography of Lausanne – BiBIL (University of Lausanne) and BIBLindex (French Institute of Christian Sources).

Biblical Bibliography of Lausanne – BiBIL presents bibliographical data about books, monographs, serials, and journal articles on biblical and related studies. It has French, English, and German search interfaces. Materials cataloged are in a variety of languages. Often it has an abstract and occasionally a link to the full text.

BIBLindex provides a growing online inventory of biblical quotations and allusions, primarily from Early Greek and Latin Christian literature. Includes biblical texts written in both ancient and modern languages. The project goal is to create a searchable database of biblical quotations from all Christian literature of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (from the beginning of the Common Era until 1400). You must create a free user account in order to access the search function in BIBLindex.

Darren G. Poley is Associate Director of Research Services and Scholarly Engagement, and Theology, Humanities, and Classical Studies Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library. You can access these bibliographies from the Databases A-Z page on the Library Website.



Falvey Provides Access to Religious Documents from the 16th and 17th Centuries

By Darren G. Poley

Are you looking for primary source materials of a religious or theological nature from the era of the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Revival? Printed texts on many subjects burst onto the scene in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Western Europe. A wide variety of controversial, exegetical, pastoral, social and political works from that time have been gathered into two online collections: The Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts and The Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation.

They present full-text historical documents, and both include an array of document types, such as pamphlets, sermons, compendia, catechisms, biblical commentaries, and doctrinal treatises.  Between them there is a broad representation of various denominational traditions and religious orders.

Period editions are presented in their original languages of Latin, English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German. You can search by topic, author, biblical citation, or the original title of a work.


Darren G. Poley is Associate Director of Research Services and Scholarly Engagement, and Theology, Humanities, and Classical Studies Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library. You can access these collections from the Databases A-Z page on the Library Website.




Last Modified: January 29, 2020

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