​Agents of Conversion

​Agents of Conversion


International Conference

May 22-25, 2017


The 5th Annual Conference of The Center for the Study of Conversion & Inter-Religious Encounters, Supported by the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1754/12).
May 22-25, 2017, Barkan Hall, Building 70, Marcus Family Campus,
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva

This theme was chosen due to our assessment that a concerted discussion of the men and women who converted others would yield fascinating results and enable students of conversion to get a stronger grasp of its dynamics.

Two sets of questions interest us in particular:
1. Who were the convertors?
2. What strategies of conversion did they deploy?

In the first set we would like to inquire about the sophisticated intellectuals, zealous missionaries, illiterate holy-men or women, well-off merchants, politicians and army leaders, lovers and family members who set out to convert members of different religions to their own. Some of the issues that we would like to learn about are what kind of educations did they have? Did they prepare themselves for their holy vocation? Was the art of conversion taught? How were they perceived, both by their co-religionists and by members of other faiths?

In the second set of questions we would like to inquire about the agents’ modus operandi. Whom did they approach? How did rulers who often brought with them whole tribes or empires operate? How did these agents build their prestige in a strange and foreign society? What qualities enabled them to cause individuals to leave behind beliefs, friends and relatives and adopt the religion  of a stranger? To what sort of means did they resort – Reason? Piety? Miracles? These, or other questions along these lines that you would like to pursue, would interest us in this conference.

At present we envision the following panels:

**  Imagining agents of conversion
**  Persecution and reception of agents of conversion
**  Mystics as agents of conversion
**  Merchants as agents of conversion
**  Rulers and leaders as agents of conversion
**  Intellectuals as agents of conversion
**  Missionaries
**  Lovers, family members and friends as agents of conversion

Each lecture should be up to 25 minutes long. After the lectures, a respondent will address them for 15 minutes and then the floor will be opened for general discussion.
Due to the importance of this theme in the history of conversion, and our trust that the lectures will be of the highest quality, we are considering seriously to publish a book based on the conference’s proceedings.

Full Program
Abstract book

Photo Album

Videos from the Conference



Contact Information
Conference Board:
Harvey Hames, CSOC Director, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, General History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Claude B. Stuczynski, CSOC, General History, Bar-Ilan University
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner, CSOC, Jewish History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Nimrod Hurvitz, CSOC, Middle Eastern Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ram Ben Shalom, CSOC, Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Ora Limor, CSOC, History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies, The Open University of Israel

For more information, please contact:
Bat-el Gozlan, Conference Administrator