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Vlad Naumescu (Central European University, Hungary) will give a lecture in the programme Current Issues in Religious Studies and Western Esotericism.

Detail Summary
Date 8 February 2021
Time 16:00 -17:30

Dr Naumescu will speak about ‘On Knowing and Unknowing God: Pedagogies of Prayer in Eastern Christianity'. Vlad Naumescu is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Central European University (Budapest/Vienna). He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Eastern Europe and South India looking at practices, institutions and politics that shape Orthodox Christian traditions.

This lecture explores the implications of a mystery-centered pedagogy in Orthodox Christianity, whose teaching is grounded on the claim that God is beyond human understanding yet made accessible in the mysteries of faith. Drawing on ethnographic work with Syrian Christians in South India, it looks at the way Orthodox mysteries are articulated in distinct religious pedagogies that shape the modes of knowing and ethical cultivation in their community. Though ideologically competing since colonial times, ritual learning and Sunday school education cultivate an epistemic attitude based on the promise of knowability which maintains the mystery at the core of their practice. This raises broader questions about historical processes of rationalization, the extent to which they affect the nature of (dis)belief and our understanding of religion.

The preparatory viewing and reading are:

  • ‘Bread of Life: The Word’
  • Vlad Naumescu, ‘Pedagogies of Prayer: Teaching Orthodoxy in South India’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 61/2 (2019) 389–418.


Due to COVID-19 restrictions the lecture will be online. If you wish to receive the Zoom link, please send a email to