King's Evangelical Divinity School

19 February 2010

Pentecostal Studies and My New Editorial Position

As you know I research and write in several areas, one of which is Pentecostal Studies, particularly Pentecostalism in Latin America, and increasingly Pentecostalism and politics. Pentecostal Studies is a burgeoning discipline, reflecting the movement's massive growth in 1970s and 1980s Latin America, which captured the attention not only of theologians but also historians, sociologists, political scientists and experts in Latin American studies (also known as Latin Americanists). There is also considerable interest in expressions of the phenomenon in and its impact upon regions such as Africa and Asia. One of the reasons the field is so important is that despite a plethora of secularisation theories gaining widespread popularity some decades ago, explosive growth of Pentecostalism in different parts of the world since has challenged such theories, while scholars in various disciplines are keen to explore the movement's wider social and political impact in those regions where it is at its strongest.

Though Pentecostal Studies is sometimes seen as a subdiscipline of theology, it is also an interdisciplinary area in its own right, involving scholars both within and outside the movement, external observers and internal participants, those who approach it predominatly theologically and others who regard it as a phenomenon to be observed historically, sociologically and politically. Pentecostal Studies, then, represents an incredibly broad and diverse academic field tackled from various angles. Meanwhile, the term "Pentecostal" has gradually become associated with the broader movement as a whole, that is, encompassing various expressions and strands of the Charismatic movement also. As such, some scholars use the uncapitalised word "pentecostalism" to refer to the wider movement drawing on a common historical and theological base, while others refer to the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement (sometimes abbreviated P/C).

There are several Pentecostal Studies networks here in Europe, such as Glopent and EPTA, while centres and universities in Europe concerned with this field include the University of Birmingham and the Walter Hollenweger Centre. Leading European scholars involved in the field include Allan Anderson (Head of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham), William K. Kay (Professor of Theology, Glyndwr University, and formerly Reader in Pentecostal Studies at Bangor University) and Andre Droogers (Professor of Cultural Antropology, VU University of Amsterdam and Director of the Walter Hollenweger Center).

But perhaps the largest academic network concerned with Pentecostal Studies is the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS), which holds a yearly international conference bringing together many of the biggest names in the field. The next SPS conference will be held at the North Central University, Minneapolis, in just a couple of weeks (4 - 6 March). I will be attending this conference (I fly to the US this coming Wednesday), so if you're a Pentecostal Studies specialist and happen to be attending next month's conference please be sure to look me up.

SPS produces a highly respected, peer-reviewed scholarly journal, Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, which is published by the highly regarded Dutch academic publisher Brill (Leiden and Boston), founded in 1683. Brill also publishes such well-known academic journal titles as Mission Studies, Journal of Rabbinic Judaism, Journal of Reformed Theology, and many more, including various titles in the humanities and social sciences (Brill publishes over a hundred scholarly journals). Pneuma is a quite massive Pentecostal Studies journal, with thousands of institutional and individual subscribers. Recently, Amos Yong and Dale Coulter took over editorship of Pneuma from Frank Macchia. All three are leading and prolific Pentecostal Studies scholars.

My reason for explaining all this? Well, several months ago I was invited by the editors onto the editorial committee of Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The April edition details the new appointments and I am free at last to let people know. This is a great opportunity about which I'm quite quite excited, enhacing my work in and contribution to the field. Importantly, though, it is also a singular honour to receive such confidence and be asked to work with various fine scholars in the field. If you're interested in Pentecostal Studies from whatever angle, whether external observer, participant, specialist in a related field, or student of a region where Pentecostalism is making important inroads and having a significant social and political impact, Pneuma is an important journal with lots of relevant scholarship.


Joseph said...

Nice one Calvin, kol ha'kavod!

Calvin L. Smith said...

Toda raba, Yosef. Haya na'eem me'od.

BTW, Harahefet sh'eli mele'ah betzlofahim.

(a phrase which could, in quite exceptional, indeed extraordinary circumstances, come in useful. If it ever does, remember where you got it from!)

Stuart said...

@Calvin + @Joe. I have absolutely no idea what you guys are talking about!

Congrats Calvin, well deserved.

I hope that you will be furnishing us with "live blogging" from the SPS conference.

Andrew Sibley said...

Congratulations Calvin !

Calvin L. Smith said...

Thank you all for your kind words, much appreciated.