Scholar-Activist Encounter: Sphynx Eben and Norman Gottwald

Scholar-Activist Encounters

September 17, 2020, 7:30pm Eastern Time

How do activism and scholarship contribute to our understanding of Scripture in the world today?

In this session, Biblical scholar Norman Gottwald and anti-colonial organizer Sphynx Eben will discuss their strivings for a world free of structural racism — in the United States, Ambazonia (West Africa) and worldwide — and how the Bible and their Baptist upbringings have shaped their work and commitment. Advance registration is required.

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About the participants

Sphynx Eben is an anticolonial organizer and open source technologist. Raised primarily by his Baptist mother in the west African nation of Ambazonia (also known as English-speaking Cameroons), Eben has been an active participant in the movement against neocolonial control of his homeland since the 1990s when he was a leader in the student movement. Because of the crackdown against student leaders, he had to go into exile in 1996. Since then he has done human rights work with folks from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Iranian Socialist Party (Jonbesh), Zapatista solidarity networks, and the global indymedia movement. He served as the Spokesperson of the German No-Borders Network official delegation to the European Social Forums in Paris (2003) and London (2004). In 2004, he helped launched the Indymedia Africa Working Group, which organized six independent media convergences around Africa. He is currently co-founder and shaper of the Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network and the Global Initiative to end the Cameroons Colonial Conflict, a member of the Community of Living Traditions, and a Board member of the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (known by its French acronym REDHAC). He is the REDHAC section representative at War Resisters International and a member of the organizing team for the emerging Racial Justice Has No Borders Coalition. Sphynx Eben is is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Scientific Computation in the College of Science & Engineering and a member of the Empowerment Lab.

Norman K. Gottwald is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at New York Theological Seminary and taught previously at the Graduate Theological Union and Andover Newton Theological School. He is author of The Tribes of Yahweh, a celebrated study of the origins of ancient Israel as an indigenous peasant uprising. His other writings include The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction, The Hebrew Bible in Its Social World and in Ours, The Politics of Ancient Israel, and, as co-author, The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics. He is a pioneer in the use of social theory and method in biblical studies, a world-wide lecturer on the critical relevance of the Bible to contemporary social struggles, and a citizen activist in numerous civil rights, anti-war, and pro-labor movements and organizations. As an ordained minister of American Baptist Churches USA, he is a strong advocate of popular biblical study committed to social change.

The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice invites you to join us for an interactive dialogue exploring the interfaces between scholarship and activism. How do these ways of being contribute to our understanding of Scripture in the world today? Let’s come together to learn from each other. Most events take place on the third Thursday of the month at 4:30pm Pacific Time / 7:30pm Eastern Time. We do not meet every month, and occasionally meet on a different night.

See the full schedule of the Scholar-Activist Encounter series. For questions, email

This series is co-sponsored by the Community of Living Traditions.