Topeka, Kan. – The Washburn University Philosophy and Religious Studies Department will host the annual Thomas L. King Lecture at 7 p.m. March 5 in the Washburn Room in the Memorial Union, on the Washburn University campus. This year, public Bible scholar Dr. Dan McClellan will explore “The Bible Tells Me So: Making Meaning with the Bible.” This event is free, and the public is invited.

“‘The Bible says so!’ is a potent statement in public discourse today,” said McClellan. “By itself, however, the Bible doesn't say anything at all. It can't. It's a text, and texts by themselves have no inherent meaning. Meaning is created when people read texts within the specific circumstances of their own lives, so the meaning of a text can differ from time to time, place to place, person to person and circumstance to circumstance.

“In this presentation, I will discuss the process of making meaning with the Bible, and will argue that the meaning we make today often has little to do with what its original authors and editors intended to communicate to their audiences. How should we make meaning with an ancient, sacred, living text like the Bible?” 

About Dan McClellan

Dr. Dan McClellan is an independent scholar of the Bible and religion, and an honorary fellow at the University of Birmingham's Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion.

He received his PhD in 2020 from the University of Exeter, and a revised version of his dissertation -entitled “YHWH's Divine Images: A Cognitive Approach” - was published in 2022 in SBL Press' open-access Ancient Near East Monograph Series.

McClellan is the 2023 recipient of the Richards Award. In an effort to increase public access to the academic study of the Bible and religion, and combat the spread of misinformation about the same, McClellan teaches regular online classes, cohosts the popular Data Over Dogma Podcast with his friend Dan Beecher and goes by @maklelan on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, where he confronts misinformation, shares the state of the field and responds to questions about the Bible and religion.

About the Thomas L. King Lecture

The Thomas L. King Lecture in Religious Studies was established in 1982 by a gift from the First Congregational Church in Topeka from funds donated in memory of Thomas L. King, an alumnus and benefactor of Washburn.  Today, the lecture also receives support from funds donated in memory of Rev. Dick Dickinson and Dr. Barry Crawford. The series enriches the religious studies program at Washburn by providing a forum for students, faculty and community members to become familiar with the work of leading scholars in the field. The lecture is held each spring semester.

The series has been fortunate to have several distinguished scholars as speakers.  Previous lecturers have included Walter Brueggemann, Jacob Neusner, Martin Marty, John Dominic Crossan, Huston Smith, Wendy Doniger, Bart Ehrman, Peter Gomes and Eva Morczek. In addition to the formal public lecture, speakers' schedules are typically arranged so they can meet informally with a class of undergraduates.

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