David Maldonado Rivera offers courses that explore the development of the Christian tradition in ancient and modern times. His primary research interest focuses on the discourses surrounding the notions of orthodoxy and heresy in the later Roman Empire. David also teaches introductory courses on the New Testament, the reception of Pauline literature, Christian mysticism and the expansion of Christianity in the global south. His other research and teaching interests include Christian religion and popular culture, religion and ecology and the emergence of liberation theologies.
David has also worked for TRIO programs (U.S. Department of Education) at Indiana University and the University of Puerto Rico and served as editorial assistant of the Journal of Early Christian Studies (published by Johns Hopkins University Press).
Before arriving at Kenyon, David taught introductory courses on the academic study of religion, religion and popular culture, and religious tolerance and religious violence at Indiana University and DePauw University.
Areas of Expertise
History of Christianity, Religions in Late Antiquity
2017 — Doctor of Philosophy from Indiana University
2009 — Master of Arts from Indiana University
2006 — Bachelor of Arts from University of Puerto Rico: Rio
Courses Recently Taught
This course includes brief introductions to four or five major religious traditions, while exploring concepts and categories used in the study of religion, such as sacredness, myth, ritual, religious experience and social dimensions of religion. Traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism and Native American traditions may be presented through important texts and practices. This counts toward the 100-level introduction to religious studies course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.
This course offers an introduction to the academic study of religion, focusing on race and ethnicity as categories of analysis. Students examine the emergence and performance of racial and ethnic categories and their relationship to religious phenomena in various historical contexts and through the lenses of diverse disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities. The course explores the genealogies and trajectories of race thinking in our contemporary society along with test cases from various religious traditions. Current debates among various critical approaches and methods of the academic study of religion are also part of this course. This counts toward the 100-level introduction to religious studies requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
This course explores the rich history and diverse traditions that are part of the Christian heritage. Close to two billion people today call themselves Christians. Who is a Christian? What are some of the differences among their traditions? How do Christians define and have defined the identity of Jesus? Why do Christians have different canons for their sacred scriptures? What is salvation and how is it achieved? Where is Christianity growing and decreasing in the world today? What attitudes have Christians shown towards gender, wealth, poverty, science, art and other issues? Over a span of two thousand years, Christians in different parts of the globe have answered these questions in an amazing variety of ways. As you will see, it is not an exaggeration to speak about Christianities or the faiths of Christians, considering the ever-changing networks of movements, beliefs, practices and forms of identification that we can appreciate as part of the long trajectories of the world Christian movement. This is an introductory Christianity tradition course. No prerequisite. Offered every two years.
This course is an introduction to the literature of the New Testament. We will engage the social, political and religious contexts of various texts from the first and second centuries of the Common Era. We will reflect about issues ranging from the material culture of the ancient world; the cultural and political background of early Christian literature; the role of women in the Jesus movement; competing forms of Christianity in the ancient world; the relation between Christian movements and the Roman Empire; the interactions between different trends in Judaism and the development of different Christian trajectories; and the process of biblical canon formation. We will also engage different methodologies currently practiced in biblical exegesis, ranging from form criticism and redaction criticism to historical criticism and literary criticism. Special attention is devoted to the reception history of the New Testament in pre-modern and modern contexts through a variety of media (literary sources, material culture, art, cinema and others) and geographical settings. This is an introductory Christianity tradition course. No prerequisite. Offered every two years.
This course explores the variety of movements that we identify as “Christianity” from its official recognition under Emperor Constantine to its regional expansion across the Mediterranean basin and beyond in the subsequent centuries. This course engages key issues like the debates between orthodoxy and heresy, the emergence of various Christian institutions, engagement with other religious traditions, debates about human nature, the environment, economics and politics. We will engage a wide variety of sources ranging from biblical commentary, theological treatises, New Testament Apocrypha, legal documents, material culture, graphic novels and cinema. The course gives special attention to methodological practices in a historical framework (How do we learn about the past? How can we probe our sources? What approaches may help us engage the Christian past? How is the past still not past?). This is an advanced Christianity tradition course. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course explores the political, social, cultural and demographic shifts that make the Global South (Africa, Latin America and Asia) a key center of the world Christian movement. The course will engage historical and regional surveys by examining test cases with an interdisciplinary outlook, emphasizing the richness and diversity of what we can call "World Christianities." The students will gain a sense of Christianity as a cluster of polycentric and culturally diverse traditions and of the challenges that Christians in the Global South face in the contemporary world. The course devotes special attention to the emergence of new Christian movements, the development of liberation theologies, colonial and postcolonial struggles and the complex processes of identity formation of Christians in the Global South. This is an advanced Christianity tradition course. No prerequisite.
This course presents an inquiry into the main elements of the historical development, beliefs and practices of Christians and an examination of historical and modern Christian diversity on topics such as God, Christ and the Spirit, the church, the role of faith and the end-time. Students will read selections from the New Testament as well as selections from historical and contemporary Christian writers that address both traditional issues — such as the division of ordained clergy and laity and the role of women — and contemporary concerns, such as liberation theology and stem-cell research. This counts toward the introductory Christianity tradition course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course is an introduction to the literature of the New Testament. Primary texts in English translation will be read to understand the social, political and religious concerns of Christian writers of the first and second centuries. Students will learn about canon formation, problems of historical criticism and competing forms of Christianity within the ancient world (including differing views of Jesus within canonical and noncanonical writings). The course also will examine the relationships between Christianity and the Roman Empire, Christianity and Judaism, Christianity and Gnosticism and women within the New Testament. Methodologies currently practiced in biblical exegesis, including form criticism, redaction criticism, literary criticism and sociohistorical criticism are also introduced. Students must read assigned writings critically, analyzing structure, themes and the narrative voices of the texts to discover the distinctive literary and religious difference among New Testament writings. No previous familiarity with the New Testament is required. This counts toward the introductory Christianity tradition course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every two years.
At the threshold of the 21st century a series of political, social, cultural and demographic shifts locate over sixty percent of adherents of Christianity in the Global South (Africa, Latin America and Asia). This course explores these shifts by offering a historical and regional survey and analysis of Christianity in the Global South (along with its contacts with the Global North). The course will engage with detailed test cases from each region with an interdisciplinary outlook, emphasizing the richness and diversity of what we can call "World Christianities." The students will gain a sense of Christianity as a conglomerate of polycentric and culturally diverse traditions and of the challenges that Christians in the Global South face in the contemporary world. The course devotes special attention to the emergence of new Christian movements, the development of liberation theologies, colonial and postcolonial struggles and the complex processes of identity formation of Christians in the Global South. This counts as an elective for the major. No prerequisite.
This course examines the formation of Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient Mediterranean, focusing on their shared developments, tensions and relationships. What aspects of their religious worlds did Jews and Christians share? What were the continuities and disruptions on their stances on issues ranging from communal authority, scriptural interpretation, ritual action and tolerance? How did they confront social issues like gender, ethnicity, legal power and poverty? We will explore these and other questions by focusing on a variety of approaches ranging from “lived religion,” material culture, contemporary readings of critical theory and others. This is an introductory Judaism or Christianity tradition course. No prerequisite. Offered every two to three years.
This seminar explores the symbols, interpretations and practices centering on death in diverse religious traditions, experiences, historical periods and cultures. We will engage religious texts from various traditions, art, literature, and memoires. We will also explore various approximations to the study of death and dying including ethnographic, psychological, philosophical and anthropological studies. As part of our inquiry, we will pay special attention to various social issues ranging from the memorialization of the transatlantic slave trade, death and self-formation, illness and writing, and contemporary ecological threats. This is a theory course. No prerequisite. Offered every two years.
In all cultures, the idea of death and dying has shaped the imagination in myth, image and ritual. This course will explore the symbols, interpretations and practices centering on death in diverse religious traditions, historical periods and cultures. We will use religious texts (the Bible, Buddhist texts and Hindu scriptures), art, literature (Gilgamesh, Plato, Dante), psychological interpretations (Kübler-Ross) and social issues (AIDS, atomic weapons, ecological threats) to examine the questions death poses for the meaning of existence. This counts as an elective for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course examines various religious perspectives on the meaning and value of the natural world and the relationship of human beings to nature. The focus will be on environmental ethics in comparative perspective. We will look at Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Native American religions to see what conceptual resources they can offer to a contemporary understanding of a healthy relationship with the natural world. Prerequisite: any 100- or 200-level course in religious studies or permission of instructor. Offered every three years.
The department reserves individual studies to highly motivated students who are judged responsible and capable enough to work independently. Such courses might entail original research, but usually they are reading-oriented, allowing students to explore in depth topics that interest them or that supplement aspects of the major. Students may pursue individual study only if they have taken all the courses offered by the department in that particular area of the curriculum. An individual study course cannot duplicate a course or topic being concurrently offered. Exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the instructor and department chair. Students must secure the agreement of an instructor to provide guidance and supervision of the course. The instructor and student agree on the nature of the work expected (e.g., several short papers, one long paper, an in-depth project, a public presentation, a lengthy general outline and annotated bibliography). The level should be advanced, with work on a par with a 300 level course. The student and instructor should meet on a regular basis, with the schedule to be determined by the instructor in consultation with the student. Individual studies may be taken for 0.25 or 0.5 units, at the discretion of the instructor. A maximum of 0.50 units of IS may count towards major or minor requirements in RLST department. A student is permitted to take only one 0.5-unit class of IS in the department (one 0.5-unit course or two 0.25-unit courses). A student must present a petition with compelling reasons in order to obtain special permission to take an additional IS course. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline. Prerequisite: GPA of at least 3.0. Exceptions (e.g., languages not taught at Kenyon are granted at the discretion of the instructor, with the approval of the department chair.)\n