College mourns the loss of Professor Whitney Shiner

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is saddened to share news of the loss of Whitney Shiner, associate professor of religious studies at George Mason University.

A longtime faculty member of the Department of Religious Studies, Shiner was a scholar of the Gospels and the early Christian context in which they came to be written, performed, and canonized. He was interested in the literary structure of the early Gospels, especially Mark’s, and the clues that this structure gives about the way in which the Gospels were publically and orally performed for early Christian audiences. He published two books on this subject: Follow Me! Disciples in Markan Rhetoric (Society for Biblical Literature Dissertation Series, Scholars Press, 1995) and Proclaiming the Gospel: First Century Performance of Mark (Trinity Press, 2003).

Shiner also personally engaged in dramatic, oral performances of the Gospels, and was part of the Network of Biblical Storytellers for many years. His teaching interests at Mason were broader, however. He designed and taught a popular course on Spirituality and Healing in World Religions, and also developed a new course on African religions—a topic that he deeply cared about, and which he incorporated into all of his introductory world religions courses.

Surpassing his professional accomplishments, Shiner is remembered as a kind and generous colleague, who served the department for many years on committees for curriculum development and performance review.

“Whitney had a kind and generous spirit, and always a ready smile, even as he struggled with illness in his final years” said Maria Dakake, chair of the religious studies program. “Ever modest and humble, he had extensive knowledge of many different religious cultures and traditions, and his scholarship and teaching were enriched experientially by his own diverse intellectual and religious journey. He cared deeply about the department and his colleagues and his presence will be missed by all.”

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Professor Shiner, the Department of Religious Studies at George Mason University will award gifts in his honor to a deserving Religious Studies student. To make a gift by check, please issue it to: “George Mason University Foundation” and write: “Religious Studies Department/Dr. Shiner” in the memo line. Mail checks to: College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University 4400 University Drive, MS 3A3 Fairfax, VA 22030. Secure donations can also be made online here; please choose the Religious Studies Department, and then select “Memorial Gift” from the list of options. For further details, please contact the college’s development office at:

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