Dr. Frederick L. Downing, Department Chair
Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Teaching Area: Religious Studies
Research Areas: Hebrew Bible, the archaeology of Israel, religion and culture, and religious biography
Address: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies; 1500 N. Patterson Street; Valdosta State University; Valdosta, GA 31698-0050
Office: 102 Georgia Avenue
Office Hours: by appointment
B.A. – Samford University (History and Religion)
M.A. – Princeton Seminary (World Religions; Psychology of Religion; Biblical Studies)
Ph.D. – Emory University (Religion and Culture; Contemporary Theories of Religion)
Fred Downing teaches courses in Judaism, Hebrew Bible, the Archaeology of Ancient Israel, and the Human Quest for Faith. He has participated in 14 archaeological expeditions in Israel including 8 seasons on a supervisory staff. His first experience in archaeology was at Khirbet Raddana in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. Khirbet Raddana was excavated as a "salvage" operation, but went on to become a "type" site for the settlement of early Israel on the frontier of ancient Canaan in the12th and 11th centuries BCE. His most recent archaeological experience was on the supervisory staff of the Expedition to Tel Beth Shemesh, Israel where some of his students found the oldest iron smith workshop yet discovered in Israel and a rare Qodesh bowl.
Dr. Downing is also winner of the “Georgia Author of the Year” award in 2009 (given by the Georgia Writers Association and is the oldest literary award in the southeastern U.S) for his book entitled, Elie Wiesel: A Religious Biography, which offers an original contribution to understanding the life and work of a major moral leader in the contemporary era. He is also the author of To See the Promised Land: The Faith Pilgrimage of Martin Luther King, Jr., was described by reviewers as “groundbreaking,” “scholarly and creative,” and “important and seminal.”
Dr. Downing has an active research agenda. He presents scholarly papers at the American Academy of Religion on a regular basis and has published articles and book reviews in a series of journals including: The Critical Review of Books and Religion; Perspectives in Religious Studies; The PersonalistForum The Journal of Southern History; The SBL Forum; Theology Today; The Theological Educator; The Biblical Illustrator; and The Military Chaplains Review.
- Hebrew Bible and Judaism
- Archaeology of Ancient Israel
- Religion and Culture, Religious Biography
- To See the Promised Land: The Faith Pilgrimage of Martin Luther King, Jr. Macon, G.A.: Mercer University Press, 1986.
- Elie Wiesel: A Religious Biography. Macon, G.A.: Mercer University Press, 2008.
“Martin Luther King, Jr., as Public Theologian,” Theology Today 44: 1 (April 1987).
*selected by Pulitzer Prize winner David Garrow for inclusion in his edited work titled Martin Luther King, Jr., and The Civil Rights Movement (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1989).
- The Poetics of Memory and Justice: Elie Wiesel and Post-Holocaust Theological Reflection,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 35: 3 (Fall 2008)
*selected by Harold Bloom for inclusion in his edited work titled Elie Wiesel’s Night in Modern Critical Interpretations (New York: Chelsea House Publications, 2010).
- “Re-Writing the Cultural Myths: Clarence Jordan and the Cotton Patch Gospels,”SBL Forum “Issues in Bible Translation,” (Summer 2009).
- “A Contemporary Dialogue on Race: Ernest Gaines and the Writer as Poet-Prophet,”Perspectives in Religious Studies 36/1 (Spring 2009).
- “The Biblical Archaeology Movement: Building and Re-Building the Albright House,” A Review Essay, Perspectives in Religious Studies 33 # 4 (Winter 2006) 495-506.
- “Writing and Re-Writing the History of Israel: A Review Essay,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 31 # 3 (Fall 2004) 325-342.
- “Voices From The Whirlwind: Contemporary Criticism and the Biblical Book of Job,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 26 #4 (Winter l999) 389-404.
Selected Recent Conference Presentations:
- “Joseph A. Callaway and the Ruin of Biblical Archaeology,” A Paper presented to the Regional Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, (Louisville, KY, March 6, 2011)
- “Jesus the Rebel: Clarence Jordan and the Re-Writing of Scripture,” A Paper presented to the Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, (Louisville, KY, March 5, 2011)
- “When the Center Cannot Hold: A Paradigm for Reading Near Eastern Archaeology,” A Paper Presented to the Regional Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Atlanta, GA, March 7, 2010)
- “On the Bible and Modern Culture: Elie Wiesel and the Rise of a Post-Modernist Hermeneutic,” A Paper Presented to the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Atlanta, GA, March 6, 2010)
- “No King in the Land: Anti-royalist and Egalitarian Israel in Iron Age I,” A Paper to be Presented to the Regional Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Chapel Hill, NC, March 13, 2009).
- “Re-Writing the Cultural Myths: Clarence Jordan and the Cotton Patch Gospels,” A Paper Presented to the Society of Biblical Literature, Annual Meeting (Boston, MA, November 2008).
- “Archaeology, Judean Kings, and the House of the Rising Sun: Israel Finkelstein in Dialogue with the Excavations of at Tel Beth Shemesh,” A Paper Presented to the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Atlanta, GA, March 2008).
- “Particularism and Universalism: Elie Wiesel and Faith Identified with Being,” A Paper Presented to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Annual Meeting (Tampa, FL, November 2-4, 2007)
Current Research Projects
Dr. Downing is currently at work on a volume titled In Scorn of the Consequences: The Radical Pilgrimage of Clarence Leonard Jordan.
- World Religions
- Hebrew Bible
- New Testament
- Archaeology of Ancient Israel
- Human Quest for Faith.
Dr. Downing’s Recent Courses
- 50239 REL 2020 IB 3.00 World Religions
- 80558 REL 2020 C 3.00 World Religions
- 80561 REL 3270 A 3.00 Human Quest for Faith
June 17, 2011