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Frankfurter, David 1961- (David Thomas Munro Frankfurter)

Frankfurter, David 1961- (David Thomas Munro Frankfurter)

PERSONAL:

Born February 24, 1961, in New York, NY; son of Alfred Moritz Frankfurter and Eleanor Kahn; married Anath Chana Golomb, August 28, 1988; children: Raphael, Sariel. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A., 1983; Harvard University, M.T.S., 1986; Princeton University, M.A., 1988, Ph.D., 1990.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, 436 Horton Social Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03924; fax: 603-862-3015. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

College of Charleston, assistant professor of religious studies, 1990-95; University of New Hampshire, Durham, assistant professor, 1995-98; associate professor, 1998-2002; professor of history and religious studies, 2002—. Member of board of directors, Planned Parenthood of Mid-Michigan, 1989-90.

MEMBER:

International Association for Coptic Studies, American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, Egyptian Exploration Society, North American Patristics Society.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Award for Excellence in the Historical Study of Religion, American Academy of Religion, 1999, for Religion in Roman Egypt; Award for Excellence in the Analytic-Descriptive Study of Religion, American Academy of Religion, 2007, for Evil Incarnate. National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1992; Fairchild fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, 1993-95; Radcliffe Fellowship, 2007-08; Guggenheim Foundation award, 2007-08.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Elijah in Upper Egypt: The Apocalypse of Elijah and Early Egyptian Christianity, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.

(Editor) Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, Brill (Boston, MA), 1998.

Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1998.

Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Ancient Magic and Ritual Power, edited by Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, Brill, 1995, and The Jewish Apocal Hert in Early Christ, edited by James C. VanderKam and William Adler, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.

SIDELIGHTS:

David Frankfurter is a professor of history and religious studies at the University of New Hampshire. His written works have covered topics ranging from the practice of religion in Egypt during the Roman occupation to the phenomenon of public hysteria over alleged demonic conspiracies. His first published book was a historical study titled Elijah in Upper Egypt: The Apocalypse of Elijah and Early Egyptian Christianity. It concerns the Apocalypse of Elijah, a religious text that was originally written in Greek but survives only in Coptic translation. Scholars widely agree that the text dates at least back to the third century A.D. One of the most intriguing things about it, from the perspective of many scholars, is attempting to identify the Jewish traditions reflected in it, or an earlier Jewish source for the book. This point has been of particular interest considering that source criticism was once the primary method of studying the Pseudepigrapha, or Jewish and Christian works that were attributed to Old Testament pseudonyms. According to Richard Bauckham, a contributor to Journal of Ecclesiastical History, there is a tradition of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature that dates back to the second century, and while it is valuable to study the Apocalypse within that tradition, it is also important to study it within the context of more recent versions. "The classification of such works as Pseudepigrapha unfortunately has a tendency to isolate them from this context," said Bauckham. "David Frankfurter's book is a very welcome attempt to reverse this tendency and to study the Apocalypse as evidence of late third-century Egyptian Christianity." The reviewer found that Frankfurter's "exploration of the relation of the Apocalypse to that Egyptian context constitutes a massive advance in the study of the work, as well as a significant contribution to the history of Egyptian Christianity. It is a model of the kind of work which needs to be done on many of the Christian apocalypses." The reviewer concluded by saying that Elijah in Upper Egypt is a "most impressive study, which succeeds in integrating a remarkably wide range of evidence into an illuminating historical reconstruction of the origin of a text."

Frankfurter was the editor of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, published in 1998. He contributed a "substantial and authoritative introduction" to the volume, according to Philip Rousseau in Journal of Ecclesiastical History. The book presents papers from thirteen scholars, and Frankfurter's introduction serves as "a masterly prelude to an exciting collection," said Rousseau. In Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance, the author explores the changes that came to traditional Egyptian religions after Christianity came to Egypt. Temples, oracles, rituals, and worship of various deities are some of the aspects covered in Frankfurter's book. The "extensive bibliography provides the specialist with good resources. It is recommended for specialists and major research institutions," said Robert Lembright in a review for History: Review of New Books.

In his book Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, Frankfurter explored the subject of cults and abuse rumored to be linked to demon-worship. In part, his book focuses on the phenomenon of media coverage of "Satanic Ritual Abuse," or SRA. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, there were many reports of what came to be called SRA being carried out by conspiratorial cults, operating in places as unlikely as daycare centers. Those reports later turned out to be unfounded. Frankfurter's study places those reports in the larger history of pure evil, as defined by society. In Frankfurter's opinion, rumors of such horrors and evil conspiracies are fabricated from time to time in order to legitimize the abuse of groups of people who are already marginalized. He discusses examples of this phenomenon throughout history, including the Salem witch trials. During that time, he points out, many "experts" suddenly appeared who claimed to know exactly how to tell who was a witch and who was not. The author "convincingly demonstrates" that the alleged Satanic activity is no more than a ruse to legitimize harsh behavior against a group that is out of favor, according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. "The book is an engaging study, thoroughly researched and informative. It is a fine example of outstanding comparative scholarship in religious studies," stated Dale B. Martin in Church History. Martin continued: "This is a fascinating, even gripping, study with much to commend it." The volume, Martin concluded, "merits widespread attention and careful study. It is an excellent book." Regarding the author's premise that demonic conspiracies are rarely, or never, real, the Publishers Weekly writer predicted that "Frankfurter's conclusions will likely be hotly contested," but stated that the author's "judicious insights about the nature of evil in our world provide thoughtful glimpses at the ways societies demonize the Other."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, April 1, 2001, Jonathan P. Berkey, review of Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance, p. 624.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, October 1, 1994, Terry Wilfong, review of Elijah in Upper Egypt: The Apocalypse of Elijah and Early Egyptian Christianity, p. 793.

Church History, June 1, 2000, review of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, p. 407; September 1, 2000, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 641; June 1, 2007, Dale B. Martin, review of Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, p. 475.

Classical Journal, December 1, 1999, James Rives, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 194.

Classical Philology, January 1, 2000, Jas Elsner, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 104.

History of Religions, November 1, 2002, Jorgen Podemann Sorensen, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 188.

History: Review of New Books, June 22, 1999, Robert Lembright, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 179.

Journal of Biblical Literature, June 22, 2001, Sarah Iles Johnston, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 368.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, July 1, 1995, Richard Bauckham, review of Elijah in Upper Egypt, p. 488; October 1, 2000, Philip Rousseau, review of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, p. 775.

Journal of Religion, July 1, 2000, Gideon Bohak, review of Religion in Roman Egypt p. 546; Volume 88, number 1, 2007, P. Cole, review of Evil Incarnate, pp. 131-132.

Journal of Theological Studies, October 1, 1994, R. McL. Wilson, review of Elijah in Upper Egypt, p. 695; April 1, 2000, Tim Vivian, review of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, p. 342.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, September 1, 2001, Georgia Frank, review of Religion in Roman Egypt, p. 699.

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, Volume 2, number 1, 2007, M. Bailey, review of Evil Incarnate, pp. 84-87.

New York Times, July 24, 2006, E. Rothstein, review of Evil Incarnate, p. B3.

Numen, Volume 54, 2007, A. Dyrendal, review of Evil Incarnate, pp. 214-215.

Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2006, review of Evil Incarnate, p. 56.

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