Dawson, John David 1957- (David Dawson)

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Dawson, John David 1957- (David Dawson)

PERSONAL:

Born 1957. Education: Towson State University, B.A., 1978; Duke University, M.Div.; Yale University, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Haverford College, Department of Religion, 370 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, PA 19041. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Haverford College, Haverford, PA, professor of religion, 1987—, current provost. Former director of the Humanities Center at Haverford; chaired and served as a member of numerous academic committees, including the Educational Policy Committee, the Committee on Student Standings and Programs, Academic Council, and the Middle States Advisory Committee.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Named Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1994.

WRITINGS:

(As David Dawson) Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1992.

(As David Dawson) Literary Theory, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.

Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

John David Dawson is a professor of religion. His research and coursework have primarily dealt with ancient Christianity, literary theory, and modern religious thought. In his first book, Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, Dawson asserts that "the allegorical reading of the Bible and other texts in late antiquity was not so much the folly of an obsolete society as a therapeutic questioning of its wisdom," explained M.J. Edwards in Journal of Theological Studies. "Though it would gain by a more comprehensive treatment," stated Edwards, "this is easily the best study in the field. The author has not been content to paraphrase, but has looked for governing principles; his object is to produce not only a catalogue of subjects but the anatomy of a form; and he seems to have been the first to address this literary phenomenon of antiquity, not merely with a ‘What?’ but with a ‘Why.’"

In his 2002 book, Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, according to Robert Louis Wilken in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, Dawson explores the question: "Can Christianity continue to make its traditional claim to be the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and at the same time recognize the ongoing significance of covenantal Judaism?" Wilken added that "Dawson does not approach the issue frontally, but by an examination of modern critiques of allegory—the classical exegetical technique employed by Christians to interpret the Jewish Scriptures, the Christian Old Testament. This angular vision, Dawson's sophistication about literary theory, and his knowledge of the ancient sources, particularly Origen of Alexandria, the first great Christian biblical scholar, make the book fresh and original." The book presents three modern critics of allegory: Daniel Boyarin, a Talmudic scholar who wrote a book on St. Paul; Erich Auerbach, a Jewish literary critic and author; and Hans Frei, a Christian theologian.

Dawson "is both precise and persuasive in his argument that the early Christian theologian Origen should be understood as a figural interpreter of Christian Scripture and that Origen's manner of figural interpretation provides present-day Christian readers with a model for a less supersessionist, and therefore more ethical, appropriation of the biblical narrative," claimed Charles A. Bobertz in his review of the book for Church History. He added that the book "is a timely contribution to this ongoing dialectic between Jewish and Christian hermeneutics; it deserves careful attention by anyone wishing to understand more fully what is at stake in the way Christians read the Scriptures."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Journal of Philology, March 22, 1994, T.E. Knight, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 132.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October 1, 1992, M. Dobson, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 306.

Christianity and Literature, September 22, 2002, Lloyd G. Davies, review of Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, p. 85.

Church History, June 1, 1994, Joseph W. Trigg, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 254; March 1, 2007, Charles A. Bobertz, review of Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, p. 161.

Comparative Literature, September 22, 2002, Seth Lerer, review of Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, p. 357.

First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, Robert Louis Wilken, April 1, 2003, "Reading the Old from the New," p. 64.

Journal of Religion, October 1, 1999, Richard A. Rosengarten, review of Literary Theory, p. 709; July 1, 2004, William D. Wood, review of Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, p. 477.

Journal of Theological Studies, April 1, 1993, M.J. Edwards, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 344.

Modern Theology, July 1, 1993, William S. Babcock, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 299; October 1, 2005, John C. Cavadini, review of Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity.

Times Literary Supplement, August 21, 1992, Henry Chadwick, review of Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, p. 22.

ONLINE

Haverford College Web site,http://www.haverford.edu/ (July 10, 2008), "John David Dawson Appointed Provost at Haverford," and faculty profile.

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