Research in the faculty
Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts and the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA).
The department's distinctive research profile is dedicated to excellence in the study of Buddhism and Judaeo-Christian studies. Within these traditions, our work encompasses four areas:
- First is textual studies: here, our Department focuses on the historical significance and analysis, as well as the editing and translation of, key religious texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Esther, Abhidhammatthavibhavini, Genesis, gospel homilies, medieval and Reformation theological texts, contemporary Buddhist sermons (Sinhala) and Tibetan love poetry.
- Second is philosophical and theological investigation of concepts such as sin, Incarnation, Trinity, meditation, consciousness, and afterlife.
- Third is the investigation of religious practice as reflected in festivals, funerary rites, monastic life and preaching.
- Fourth is inter-religious dialogue.
Current and former staff (Jon Balserak, Jo Carruthers, Oliver Crisp, Gavin D’Costa, Rupert Gethin, John Kieschnick, John Lyons, Rita Langer, Carolyn Muessig and Paul Williams) are and have been involved in a number of research projects which can be found on their individual web pages.
Our most recent grant activities include the following:
- Rupert Gethin has been awarded a Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust (academic year 2011-12) for work on his project 'Abhidharma: the Buddhist model of the mind'. The focus of the project is one of the most sustained attempts in ancient thought to analyse the workings of the mind, and the ways in which it intersects with modern ideas about the nature of consciousness and mental health.
- Jon Balserak was awarded a 12-month University Research Fellowship for the academic year 2011-12 to work on his project "The idea, and Role, of Prophecy in the Late-medieval and Early Modern Eras".
- Carolyn Muessig was awarded a 12-month Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust for the academic year 2010-11 to work on her project "Stigmatics in Medieval Christianity".
- Oliver Crisp has been elected to the Scheide Fellowship in Theology, which enables the incumbent to concentrate on a research project for a whole academic year whilst staying in the community at CTI. He will be working on a second book on the Incarnation, which was the project he applied to the Center to complete. This manuscript, entitled: God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology is due to be published by T&T Clark/Continuum in 2009.
- Gavin D’Costa has had a five month matching research leave award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to complete his book: Disputed Questions in the Theology of Religions, contracted to Blackwell, Oxford. The book was completed and is now due out at the end of this year.
- Rita Langer has been awarded a Research Leave Scheme grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in 2010 to work on her project "Preacher and Ritualist: the role of Theravada Buddhist monks".
- John Kieschnick has been awarded a grant from the Leverhulme Trust to work on the project The Place of the Past in Chinese Buddhism. For this project Dr Kieschnick is writing a book that will examine major themes in the historiography of Chinese Buddhism from the entrance of Buddhism to China in the first century, up to the end of the twentieth, including: the use of Buddhist doctrines to interpret the past, attempts by Chinese monks to reconstruct Indian history, and the standards of truth that monks applied when adjudicating between conflicting accounts of a given event. He is currently conducting research for the book as a visiting research fellow at the Institute of History & Philology, Academia Sinica in Taipei. This year of research is supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.
- Paul Williams The Centre for Buddhist Studies of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies is carrying out a three-year collaborative research project (2007-2009) on Buddhist Death Rituals of Southeast Asia and China funded by the AHRC.