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Lire l’évangile de Marc à travers un prisme cognitif . Reading the Gospel of Mark through the Lens of Cognitive Theory
13 March 2020

Reading the Gospel of Mark through the Lens of Cognitive Theory

Call for Papers for the study and exchange day organized on Friday, January 21, 2022

We invite literary scholars, theologians, cognitive scientists, as well as all researchers interested in the interaction between the human mind and brain, on the one hand, and the Biblical literature on the other, to submit their paper proposals. Abstracts of no more than 300 words, in English, German or French, as well as a bio-bibliographic notice (100-150 words), should be sent to diana.mistreanu by October 15, 2021.

The authors will receive a notification of acceptance before November 15, 2021.

This event is the third in a series of study days on cognitive literary studies that will take place at the LSRS. The goal of this event is to prepare the international conference on cognitive literary studies organised by the LSRS in 2022.

Call for Papers

Could the burgeoning field of cognitive literary studies help us interpret and better understand religious texts? How is human cognition depicted in the Gospel of Mark? What are the emotions, perceptions, gestures, body movements, and thoughts of the characters depicted in this book? What is the impact of this text on its reader’s mental activity across the ages, from its original addressee to the contemporary one? The goal of this study day is to start providing answers to these questions by drawing on recent research in cognitive science that explores the relationship between human beings, religious phenomena, and literary texts. Additionally, we are also interested in exploring the possibility of articulating this way of reading religious texts with different exegetical methods. This approach is essential to a way of theologizing that refuses all false spirituality, highlighting instead the essentially human dimension of religious texts, of their narratives, and of the impact they have on their readership [1].

The Gospel of Mark is the oldest and the shortest of the four canonical gospels – it is only sixteen chapters long. It is also the gospel that was the least read throughout the history of Christianity [2], as well as the least studied by the 19th- and 20th-century exegetes. Since the beginning of the 21st century, however, this book has been at the heart of the Bible scholars’ interest. Nowadays, there are more and more studies – articles, commentaries, monographies – on this text, once forgotten and ignored, but today rediscovered and considered to be the work of a great theologian [3].

The goal of this study day is to read this text through the prism of cognitive literary studies. The field of cognitive literary studies appeared in the 1980s and can be defined as “the work of literary critics and theorists vitally interested in cognitive science […] and therefore with a good deal to say to one another, whatever their differences” [4]. Cognitive approaches to literature provide researchers with a large number of concepts, theories, and methodologies to explore literary texts [5]. Likewise, the cognitive science of religion, which has also emerged in the 1980s, explores the way in which human beings conceptualize religion [6]. We are interested in innovating within this complex framework that articulates literary interpretation and cognitive science, on the one hand, and cognitive science and religious beliefs on the other. The perspective we adopt is non-apologetical, valuing the possibility of expressing both religious beliefs and scientific discoveries, and considering the Biblical books at the same time as literary, essentially human, as well as religious texts.

30-minute presentations, followed by a discussion

Reading the Gospel of Mark through the Lens of Cognitive Theory – Call for Papers


Prof. Dr. Dr. Jean Ehret
Dr. Diana Mistreanu

Scientific committee

Prof. Dr. Dr. Jean Ehret, LSRS
Prof. Dr. Daniel Laliberté, LSRS
Prof. Dr. Georg Rubel, LSRS
Dr. Diana Mistreanu, Senior Research Fellow & Senior Lecturer, LSRS


Study and exchange day organized on Friday, January 21, 2022
Luxembourg School of Religion & Society
Centre Jean XXIII

52, rue Jules Wilhelm
L-2728 Luxembourg

[1Jean Ehret, “Lecture de la Bible en petites communautés et théologie”, in Daniel Laliberté, Georg Rubel (eds.), Animatio biblica totius actionis pastoralis. Bible – pastorale – didactique: “La Parole de Dieu est à l’œuvre en vous, les croyants” (1 Thess 2,13). Bible – pastoral – didactics: “God’s Word is at Work in You Who Believe” (1 Thess 2:13), Brussels, Peter Lang, 2019, p. 171-190.

[2John T. Carroll, “Editorial: Introducing this Issue and the Interpretation of Mark’s Gospel”, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, vol. 70, no 2, 2016, p. 141.

[3Robert Fowler, Let the Reader understand. Reader-Response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark, Harrisburg, Trinity Press International, 1996; Gudrun Guttenberger, Das Evangelium nach Markus (ZBK.NT 2), Zürich, Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2017; Sandra Hübenthal, Das Markusevangelium als kollektives Gedächtnis (FRLANT 253), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018; Lau Markus, Der gekreuzigte Triumphator. Eine motivkritische Studie zum Markusevangelium (NTOA 114), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019; Christine Oefele, Evangelientexte als Partiturlesen. Eine Interpretation von Mk 1,1-8,22a zwischen Komposition und Performanz (WUNT II/490), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2019; Geert van Oyen (ed.), Reading the Gospel of Mark in the twenty-first century. Method and meaning (BETL 301), Leuven, Peeters, 2019; Andreas Seifert, Der Markusschluss. Narratologie und Traditionsgeschichte (BWANT 220), Stuttgart, Kohlhammer Verlag, 2019.

[4Alan Richardson quoted by Lisa Zunshine in “Introduction to Cognitive Literary Studies”, in Lisa Zunshine (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 1.

[5Lisa Zunshine (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015; Françoise Lavocat (ed.), Interprétation littéraire et sciences cognitives, Paris, Hermann, 2016; Emily T. Troscianko and Michael Burke (eds.), Cognitive Literary Science. Dialogues Between Literature and Cognition, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017.

[6Ilkka Pyysiainen, Veikko Anttonen (eds.), Current Approaches in the Cognitive Science of Religion, New York, Bloomsbury, 2002; Neil Messer, Theological Neuroethics. Christian Ethics Meets the Science of the Human Brain, New York, Bloombsury, 2019; Roger Trigg, Justin L. Barrett (eds.), The Roots of Religion. Exploring the Cognitive Science of Religion, Farnham, Ashgate Publishing, 2014; James A. Van Slyke, “Challenging the By-Product Theory of Religion in the Cognitive Science of Religion”, Theology and Science, vol. 8, 2010, p. 163-180, and Pascal Boyer, Et l’homme créa les dieux. Comment expliquer la religion, Paris, Robert Laffont, 2001.

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