Transcendence and Transformation Event Calendar

Transcendence and Transformation


The Center for the Study of World Religions at HDS is pleased to announce a new research initiative devoted to Transcendence and Transformation.
This initiative will study religious and spiritual traditions and practices—ancient and modern, global in reach—that aim for the transcendence of our normal states of being, consciousness, and embodiment, and the consequent transformation of individual, community, and society.


October 25
The Archaeology of Ecstasy: Psychedelics in the Ancient Mediterranean World
Karen Polinger Foster is Lecturer Emerita in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the History of Art at Yale University.
Andrew Koh recently joined the faculty of the Harvard Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from the MIT Center for Materials Research in Archaeology & Ethnology to inaugurate a new interdisciplinary program in ancient pharmacology and medicine.
Charles M. Stang is Professor of Early Christian Thought and Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School.
Can archaeology help us recover the ecstatic experiences of ancient peoples from the Aegean or Near East? And, if so, what evidence is there that such ecstatic experiences were induced by what we now call “psychedelics”? To what degree was the ancient pursuit of ecstasy understood as an individual or a collective imperative, or both? And in pursuing such questions, what do we learn not only about the ancient Mediterranean world, but about our own modern world, and the contemporary psychedelic renaissance and its priorities? CSWR Director Charles M. Stang will host archaeologists Karen Polinger Foster (Yale) and Andrew Koh (Harvard) to present their research and to discuss these and other questions about “the archaeology of ecstasy.”
November 18
Transcending Transcendence: Repentance and Hypernomian Transformation of Law
Elliot R. Wolfson, a Fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Distinguished Professor of Religion at University of California, Santa Barbara.
Cosponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies
Annual List Lecture in Jewish Studies

This lecture will examine the viability of a kabbalistic ideal of transformation from the vantage point of identifying repentance as the hypernomian foundation of the nomos, the grounding of the law in the ground that exceeds the law of the ground. I argue that the hallmark of religious nihilism is not antinomianism but the promulgation of the belief that impiety is the gesture of supreme piety. I will explore the subject of hypernomianism by a close analysis of the concept of infinitivity and its engendering in Derridean terms the law beyond the law, which he identified further as the nonjuridical ideal of justice, the gift of forgiveness, the aspect of pure mercy in relation to which it is no longer viable to distinguish guilt and innocence.