Rice University Department of Religion

Elias Bongmba image

Office: 209 Humanities Building
Phone: 713.348.2759
Full CV


The Harry and Hazel Chavanne Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religion

President of the African Association for the Study of Religion, 2010-2015

Ph.D., Joint Program at Iliff School of Theology and University of Denver, 1995

Faculty Associate Wiess College  
Managing Editor, Religious Studies Reviews

Areas of Teaching 
Primary: African and African Diaspora Religions; African Christianity/Theology Hermeneutics and Theology; Contemporary Theology and Ethics

Secondary: 19th Century Theology and Philosophy of Religion, African Studies; Philosophy/Ethics

Elias Bongmba combines his teaching of African religions and his research in theology and philosophy of religion working with African philosophical ideas and Continental philosophy. His first book explored intersubjective relations by probing the ethics of witchcraft using the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. He has published other articles on ethical dimension of witchcraft in the context of the Christian church in Africa. 

His second book, The Dialectics of Transformation in Africa, discusses the political aspects of intersubjective relations through an analysis grounded in the human sciences. Bongmba has also addressed current debates on the African Renaissance. The Dialectics of Transformation in Africa won The 2007 Franz Fanon Prize for outstanding work in Caribbean Thought. The Prize is awarded by the Caribbean Philosophical Association was given at its 2007 meeting at the University of West Indies at Mona, Jamaica, June 28, 2007.

Facing a Pandemic: The African Church and the Crisis of AIDS, is an interdisciplinary work in which he addresses the HIV/AIDS crisis and argues that the motif, the image of God (imago dei), challenges religious communities in Africa to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS at the local and national level through an ethic of love and compassion. He calls on religious communities to work with the global community to accelerate universal access to health care and promote the search for a vaccine.

Professor Bongmba is editor of The Wiley Blackwell Companion to African Religions, 2012

He is also Co-Editor of Living on the Edge: Essays in Honour of Steve de Gruchy Activist & Theologian, eds. James R. Cochrane, Elias Bongmba, Isabel Phiri, Des van der Water. (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: Cluster  Publications, 2012).

He is currently writing a book on African Religions.