Conference Theme

“Do Not Be Silent at My Tears”: Theological Perspectives on Suffering

Following the success of the 2013 Duke Graduate Conference in Theology, the second annual Duke Graduate Conference in Theology aims to explore the issue of suffering from a variety of theological perspectives. Suffering represents one of the enduring objects of study for Christian theology. The various theological fields, including biblical studies, ethics, historical studies, practical theology, systematics, and constructive theology, have taken on suffering as both a problem and a resource, and new avenues of research continue to emerge.

Alive in the imaginations of theological scholars are perennial questions such as: How does our theorizing about divine im/passibility affect the way we understand human suffering, God’s relationship to it, and the Church’s mission in a suffering world? What is the relationship between evil and sin in a theological account of the cause of suffering? What is the significance of the suffering of Jesus on the cross for Christian accounts of salvation?

As the theological disciplines have increasingly become shaped by the voices of women and people of color, vital new questions have been raised, including: What, if any, epistemological privilege is conferred by experiences of suffering and how does this shape reflection on scripture, doctrine, and ongoing events? How might Christian educators encourage and facilitate unmasking and responding to suffering and its sources, and what kinds of engagement with the Christian Scripture and tradition best support those endeavors?

In light of such questions, given the likelihood of their ongoing significance for theology, and in the awareness that further crucial questions have yet to be raised, it seems that critical assessments of and creative contributions to contemporary theological responses to suffering are in order. The 2014 Duke Graduate Conference in Theology provides a forum for graduate students to engage in this discussion through conversation, paper presentations, and a keynote lecture. A call for papers from graduate students in the various theological disciplines will be issued. Duke graduate students will evaluate proposals for quality and relevance and will invite the writers of successful proposals to present their work. Students will also invite members of the Duke faculty to offer constructive responses to presentations at the conference.

The organizers of the 2014 Duke Graduate Conference in Theology hope that this event will be of lasting significance both to participants and to the study of theology at Duke University.