Robert A. Kraft

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Berg Professor of Religious Studies, Emeritus
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B.A., Philosophy, Wheaton College (IL), 1955
M.A., Biblical Literature: New Testament, Wheaton Graduate School (IL), 1957
Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Religion, Christian Origins, Harvard University, 1961

Summary of Interests: 

Ernestine Williams

Graduate Group Coordinator

Ernestine Williams is responsible for admissions and student records in the Religious Studies graduate groups (along with those of several other graduate groups located in Cohen Hall).

Jamal J. Elias

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Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities
Professor of Religious Studies and South Asia Studies
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Jamal J. Elias teaches courses on Islamic thought, culture and history, with a focus on Sufism, Islamic and modernity, as well as visual and material culture in the Middle East and South Asia. A recipient of many grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Council (among others), he has lectured and published broadly on history, religion, literature and material and visual culture in the medieval and modern Islamic world.


B.A., Stanford University (1983)
M.A., University of Pennsylvania (1985)
M.A., Yale University (1987)
Ph.D., Yale University (1991)

Summary of Interests: 
Islamic Studies
Western, Central & South Asia
Visual and Material Culture
Recent Courses: 
  • Islam and Modernity
  • Love, Sex and Death
  • Sufism
  • Qur'anic Studies
  • Islam and the Religious Image
  • Religion and Visual Culture
  • Islamic Metaphysics
  • The Perisan Intellectual Tradition
  • Sufism in the Ottoman Empire
Curriculum vitae: 

Anthea Butler

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Associate Professor and Graduate Chair of Religious Studies
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
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Anthea Butler is  Graduate Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. 


Ph.D., Religion, Vanderbilt University, 2001

Summary of Interests: 
American Religion & Politics
Religion and Media
African American Religion
Selected Publications: 

Women in the Church of God in Christ, Making A Sanctified World, University of North Carolina Press

* see for a more extensive list. 

Recent Courses: 

God And Money

Religion from Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter

Religions of the African Diaspora

Muslims, Christian and Jews 700-1500 History and Memory in Spain. 

Other Professional Activity: 

American Academy of Religion

American Historical Association

American Society of Church History

Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD)


Brief Biography: 

Anthea Butler is  Graduate Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of American and African American religion, Professor Butler’s research and writing spans religion and politics, religion and gender, African American religion, sexuality, media, religion, and popular culture.

Jay C. Treat

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Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Director of Instructional Computing, SAS Computing
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Office Address: 
433 Williams Hall
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Office Hours: 
Monday–Friday, 9:00–5:00

Jay C. Treat is an IT manager in SAS Computing and an adjunct associate professor in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

His IT work focuses on supporting the use of technology in the educational mission of the University.

Jay earned a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, with a primary focus on the history and literature of early Judaism and Christianity. His academic research focuses on the Old Greek (“Septuagint”) translation of the Song of Songs.


Ph.D., Christian Origins, University of Pennsylvania
M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary
B.A., Koinê Greek, Abilene Christian University

Summary of Interests: 
Christian Origins
history of interpretation
humanities computing
Selected Publications: 

"Song of Songs." In A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under That Title. Edited by Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

"A Fiery Dove: The Song of Songs in Codex Venetus 1." In A Multiform Heritage: Studies on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Robert A. Kraft. Edited by Benjamin G. Wright. 275-301. SBL Homage Series 24; Atlanta: Scholars, 1999.

"Aquila, Field, and the Song of Songs." In Origen's Hexapla and Fragments: Papers Presented at the Rich Seminar on the Hexapla, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, 25th July-3rd August 1994. Edited by Alison Salveson. Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum, 58. 136-176. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998.

"Barnabas, Epistle of." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. David Noel Freedman, editor-in-chief. Volume 1, 611-614. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

"The Epistle of Barnabas." In Early Christian Reader. Steve Mason, editor. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2004.

Work in Progress: 

Commentary on Old Greek Song of Songs for Society of Biblical Literature Commentary on the Septuagint (SBLCS).

Recent Courses: 
  • RELS 438, "The Sermon on the Mount Through the Centuries"
  • RELS 438, "The Song of Songs: Theme and Variations" (Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Interpretations)
  • RELS 002, "Western World Religions"
  • Independent Study, "Reading Septuagint Greek"

Justin McDaniel

[image of Justin McDaniel]
Professor of Religious Studies
Undergraduate Studies Chair
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Office Address: 
Cohen Hall
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McDaniel's research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit literature, art and architecture, and manuscript studies. His first book, Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words, won the Harry Benda Prize. His second book, The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magic Monk, won the Kahin Prize. He has received grants from the NEH, Mellon, Rockefeller, Fulbright, PACRIM, Luce, the SSRC, among others. He is the co-editor of the journals: Buddhism Compass, Journal of Lao Studies, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies.

  • Harvard University, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, PHD -- 2003
  • Harvard University, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, MA -- 2001
  • Harvard Divinity School, MTS -- 1998
  • Boston College, BA -- 1993


Summary of Interests: 
Buddhist Studies
Southeast Asia


The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of courses, undergraduate Majors and Minors, and a renowned PhD program.

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