Joseph A. Adler

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies & Asian Studies
Kenyon College
Gambier, OH 43022

Education Teaching Publications Papers and Lectures Other Professional

Languages Courses Taught Honors and Awards Administrative/
Committee Work




Japanese Religions

Chinese Religions


History and Phenomenology of Religion



Ph.D. Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara
     Dissertation: "Divination and Philosophy: Chu Hsi's Understanding of the I-ching"
     Committee: Tu Weiming, Robert Gimello, Ninian Smart, Richard Comstock

1979-80  Inter-Campus Exchange Student, University of California, Berkeley
1977 M.A. Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara
     Major field: China and Japan
     Minor field: Ancient Mediterranean
1970 B.A. Biology, University of Rochester


Kenyon College
     Professor Emeritus of Asian Studies & Religious Studies (2014- )
     Professor of Asian Studies (2008-14)
     Professor of Religious Studies (2002-14)
     Associate Professor of Religion (1994-2002 )
     Assistant Professor of Religion (1991-94)
     Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion (1987-91)

1996-97 International Division, Waseda University (Tokyo)
     Visiting Professor
1986-87 University of Southern California
     Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures
1983-86 Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine
     Instructor in Chinese Philosophy (part-time)
1981-83 University of California at Santa Barbara
     Instructor in Religious Studies (three courses)


2022 The Yijing: A Guide (New York: Oxford University Press)
          Contemplating the I Ching (Barbara Davis)
          Choice (C. D. Smith)
          Religious Studies Review (Joseph Chadwin) (new)


The Original Meaning of the Yijing: Commentary on the Scripture of Change, by Zhu Xi (New York: Columbia University Press).
(Michael Lackner)
(C. D. Smith)
          Monumenta Serica
(Tze-ki Hon), with reply
          Religious Studies Review (Lukas Pokorny)
Journal of Cultural Interaction in East Asia (Lijing Wu)
          China Review International (Tze-ki Hon again)
          Journal of Song-Yuan Studies (Jaeyoon Song) (new)


Reconstructing the Confucian Dao: Zhu Xi's Appropriation of Zhou Dunyi (Albany: SUNY Press)
          Journal of Chinese Religions (Maud M'Bondjo)
          Journal of Chinese Studies
(Michael Lackner)
(Tze-ki Hon)
          Religious Studies Review (Lukas Pokorny)
          Frontiers of Philosophy in China (Kirill Thompson)
          Journal of Chinese Philosophy (Li Lizhu)
          Review of Religion in Chinese Society (Stephan Kory)
          Monumenta Serica (Galia Patt-Shamir)
          Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (John Thompson)

2002 Introduction to the Study of the Classic of Change, by Chu Hsi (translation, with Introduction and notes) (Provo: Global Scholarly Publications).
2002 Chinese Religious Traditions (Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall).
1990 Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching, co-authored with Kidder Smith, Jr., Peter K. Bol, and Don J. Wyatt (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Reprint 2014.

Forthcoming "The Great Treatise of the Yijing," in Mohammed Rustom, ed., A Sourcebook in Global Philosophy (Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2025).
Forthcoming "Confucianism as a Religious Tradition: Linguistic and Methodological Problems," in Young-chan Ro, Jonathan Keir, and Peter C. Phan, eds., Confucianism and New Confucianism: Essays in Honor of Tu Weiming (Lexington Books)
Forthcoming "Zhu Xi's Reading of the Yijing," in Tze-ki Hon, ed., Dao Companion to the Book of Changes (Dordrecht: Springer, 2024).
Forthcoming "Synthesis: 'The One and the Many' in the Lotus Sūtra and Zhu Xi," in Huang Chun-chieh, David Jones, and Kirill O. Thompson, eds., Intercultural Zhu Xi (Albany: SUNY Press, 2024).
2023 "Re-forming Confucianism: Zhu Xi's Synthesis," in Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Confucianism (New York: Oxford University Press).
2021 "Taijitu shuo 太極圖說" and "Tongshu 通書," in Database of Religious History (University of British Columbia).
2021 "Zhu Xis Conception of Divination as Spiritual Practice," in Benjamin Wai-ming Ng, ed., The Making of the Global Yijing in the Modern World: Cross-Cultural Interpretations and Interactions (Singapore: Springer Nature), 9-24.
2020 "Chan/Zen, the Oxherding Pictures, and the World-Affirming Turn in Chinese Buddhism," in Lewis Hyde and Max Gimblett, The Disappearing Ox (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press), 60-67.
2016 "Response to Seth D. Clippard, 'Zhu Xi and the Instrumental Value of Nature,'" in Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, 10:1, 39-43.
2016 "Chance and Necessity in Zhu Xi's Conceptions of Heaven and Tradition," European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 8:1, 143-162.


"Chan Buddhism," "Five Classics," "Four Books," and "Thirteen Classics," in Michael Dillon, ed., Encyclopedia of Chinese History (London: Routledge).
2015 "On Translating Taiji," in David Jones and He Jinli, eds., Returning to Zhu Xi: Emerging Patterns Within the Supreme Polarity (Albany: SUNY Press).
2014 "The Great Virtue of Heaven and Earth: Deep Ecology in the Yijing," in James Miller, ed., Religion and Ecological Sustainability in China (London: Routledge).
2012 "The Classical and Contemporary Confucian Way," in M. Darrol Bryant, Yan Li, and Judith Maclean Miller, eds., Along the Silk Road: History, Literature & Culture in China (Kitchener, Ontario: Pandora Press).
2010 "Confucius" and "Confucianism" in J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, eds., Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd ed. (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO).
2008 "Zhu Xi's Spiritual Practice as the Basis of his Central Philosophical Concepts," Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, 7:1, 57-79.
2008 "Divination and Sacrifice in Song Neo-Confucianism," in Jeffrey L. Richey, ed., Teaching Confucianism (NY: Oxford University Press): 55-82.
2007 "Chinese Religions," in Jonathan Fenby, ed., The Seventy Wonders of China (London: Thames & Hudson)
2006 "Daughter/Wife/Mother or Sage/Immortal/Bodhisattva? Women in the Teaching of Chinese Religions," in AsiaNetwork Exchange, vol. XIV, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 11-16.
2005 "Chinese Religion: An Overview," in Lindsay Jones, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed. (NY: Macmillan):1580-1613 (rev. and exp. version of 1987 article).
2004 "Varieties of Spiritual Experience: Shen in Neo-Confucian Discourse," in Tu Wei-ming and Mary Evelyn Tucker, eds., Confucian Spirituality, vol. 2 (NY: Crossroad): 120-148.
2004 "The Qianlong Emperor and the Confucian Temple of Culture (Wen miao) at Chengde," in James A. Millward, Ruth W. Dunnell, Mark C. Elliott, and Philippe Fort, eds., New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (London: RoutledgeCurzon): 109-122.
2003 "Zhu Xi yu Bushi" (Zhu Xi and Divination), in Tian Hao (Hoyt Tillman), ed., Songdai Sixiang Shilun ?????? (Essays on Song Intellectual History) (Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences): 304-348
1999 "Zhou Dunyi: The Metaphysics and Practice of Sagehood," in Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (NY: Columbia University Press): 669-678. Reprinted (with abridged introductions) in Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of East Asian Tradition (NY: Columbia University Press, 2008), vol. 1: 338-343.
1998 "Response and Responsibility: Chou Tun-i and Neo-Confucian Resources for Environmental Ethics," in Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Berthrong (Cambridge: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions): 123-149.
1998 "The Academic Study of Religion: What and Why," Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, 20:3.
1981 "Descriptive and Normative Principle (li) in Confucian Moral Metaphysics: Is/Ought from the Chinese Perspective," Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, vol. 16, no. 3: 285-293.

Book Reviews:
2020 Geoffrey Redmond and Tze-ki Hon, Teaching the I Ching (Book of Changes). In Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, vol. 20, no. 1.

L. Michael Harrington, trans., The Yi River Commentary on the Book of Changes. With response and reply. In Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, vol. 18, no. 4: 631-639.

2015 Chenyang Li and Franklin Perkins, eds., Chinese Metaphysics and its Problems. In Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2015.07.17.
2015 John Minford, trans., I Ching (Yijing): The Book of Change. In Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 1: 147-152.
2013 Robin R. Wang, Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture. In Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, vol. 12, no. 4: 561-565.
2013 Yong Huang, Confucius: A Guide for the Perplexed. In Journal of Chinese Religions, vol. 41, no. 2: 158-161.
2013 Ian Johnston and Wang Ping, trans., Daxue and Zhongyong: Bilingual Edition. In Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, vol. 43: 349-353.
2012 Paul R. Goldin, Confucianism. In China Review International, vol. 19, no. 1: 67-71.
2010 Lee Dian Rainey, Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials, in Journal of Chinese Religions, vol. 38: 127-129.
2005 Xinzhong Yao, ed., RoutledgeCurzon Encyclopedia of Confucianism, 2 vols., in Religious Studies Review, vol. 30, no. 4: 267-268.
2003 "The Confucian Body." Feature review of Thomas A. Wilson, ed., On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius. In China Review International, vol. 10, no. 2: 351-362.
2003 Edward Hacker, Steve Moore, and Lorraine Patsco, I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography. In Journal of Chinese Religions, no. 31: 238-239.
1999 Irene Bloom and Joshua A. Fogel, eds., Meeting of Minds: Intellectual and Religious Interaction in East Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Honor of Wing-tsit Chan and William Theodore de Bary. In Journal of Chinese Religions, no. 27: 132-135.
1995 Hoyt Cleveland Tillman, Confucian Discourse and Chu Hsi's Ascendancy. In Asian Thought and Society, vol. 20, no. 58-59: 148-150.
1993 Wm. Theodore de Bary, The Trouble with Confucianism. In Journal of Chinese Religions, no. 21: 137-142.
1990 Donald J. Munro, Images of Human Nature: A Sung Portrait. In Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 50, no. 2: 707-717.
1989 Wing-tsit Chan, Chu Hsi: Life and Thought. In Bulletin of Sung-Yan Studies, no. 21: 98-101.
1987 Daniel K. Gardner, Chu Hsi and the Ta-hseh: Neo-Confucian Reflection on the Confucian Canon. In Bulletin of Sung-Yan Studies, no. 19: 35-41.

2014 "Reconstructing the Confucian Dao" and "Confucianism as a Religious Tradition," Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, National Taiwan University (Taipei); and Philosophy Department, Tunghai University (Taichung)
2012 "Theistic and Non-theistic Belief in China," public lecture, John Carroll University (Cleveland)
2012 "'The Great Virtue of Heaven and Earth:' Deep Ecology in the Yijing," Workshop on Multiculturalism and Ecological Sustainability in China, Minzu University of China, Beijing; co-sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology.
2011 "Chan/Zen, the Oxherding Pictures, and the World-Affirming Turn in Chinese Buddhism," Gund Gallery, Kenyon College.
2011 "The Heritage of Non-theistic Belief in China," International conference, "Toward a Reasonable World: The Heritage of Western Humanism, Skepticism, and Freethought," San Diego State University
2011 "Buddhism and War," public lecture, Center for Engaged Ethics, Hiram College
2011 "Confucianism in China Today," Pearson online Living Religions Forum, New York
2011 "Synthesis: 'The One and the Many' in the Lotus Sutra and Zhu Xi," International Lotus Sutra Seminar (Zushi, Japan).
2008 "Divination as Spiritual Practice in Song Confucianism," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (Chicago).
2006 "Confucianism as Religion / Religious Tradition / Neither: Still Hazy after All These Years," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (Washington, D.C.)
2006 "Zhu Xi's Spiritual Practice as the Basis of his Central Philosophical Concepts," Neo-Confucianism and Global Philosophy Conference, Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University.
2005 "Daughter/Wife/Mother or Sage/Immortal/Bodhisattva? Women in the Teaching of Chinese Religions," ASIANetwork Annual Meeting (Whittier, California)
2002 "The Tao Te Ching: Introduction to an Exhibition by Peggy Kwong-Gordon," Olin Gallery, Kenyon College.
1999 "The Interpenetration of Stillness and Activity in Chu Hsi's Appropriation of Chou Tun-i," Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting (Boston).
1999 Response to paper by Rodney Taylor, "Of Animals and Man: The Confucian Perspective;" Conference on Religion and Animals, Harvard-Yenching Institute, Cambridge
1997 "Varieties of Spiritual Experience: Shen in Neo-Confucian Discourse," Confucian Spirituality Conference, Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions (Cambridge); and American Academy of Religion (San Francisco).
1996 "Thinking About Religion in Japan," Lecture Series, Waseda University (Tokyo)
1996 "Chou Tun-i and 'Moral Responsiveness': Confucian Resources for Environmental Ethics," Confucianism and Ecology Consultation, Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions (Cambridge).
1992 "The Mind of the Sage: Chu Hsi's Appropriation of Chou Tun-i," Association for Asian Studies (Washington D.C.); and New England Symposium on Chinese Thought (York, Maine)
1990 "Universalism and Particularism in Chinese Ethics: Reflections of an Ancient Debate in Chinese Society Today," International Studies Faculty Forum, Kenyon College.
1989 "Chu Hsi's Uses of the I-ching," Columbia University Regional Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies (New York).
1985 "Chu Hsi and the 'Original Intention' of the I-ching," Association for Asian Studies (Philadelphia), and Southern California China Colloquium, Symposium on Religion and Ideology in the Chinese Tradition (UCLA).
1982 "I-hseh and Hsin-hseh: Chu Hsi's Study of the I-ching and his Philosophy of Mind," Workshop on Chu Hsi's Philosophy of Mind and Nature, International Conference on Chu Hsi (University of Hawaii, Manoa).
1982 "I-ching Divination as a Form of Self-Cultivation in Chu Hsi's Neo-Confucianism," American Academy of Religion, Western Branch (Stanford University), and American Oriental Society, Western Branch (Arizona State University).

2017 Chair, external review committee, Department of Religion, Denison University
2010 CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar: "Religion, Ecology, and Identity in Tibet," Beijing and Tibet.
2009 Consultant (on two chapters) for Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions, 8th ed. (London: Laurence King, 2011).
2007 Respondent on panel, "Korean Contributions to Neo-Confucianism," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
2006 NEH panelist, Division of Preservation and Access, Washington, D.C.
2006 Organized panel, "The Religious Status of Confucianism," American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.
2004 "Chinese Religions:" video interview with Dr. James Catanzaro for online course, "Religions of the World"
2004 Attended conference sponsored by the Japan Study Program and the Asian Studies Development Program: "Environment, Culture, and Development in East Asia," Ohio Wesleyan University.
2004 Attended 3rd International Seminar on Dunhuang Art and Society: Luoyang, Lanzhou, and Dunhuang, China.
2003 Attended conference on "Daoism and the Contemporary World" (Boston).
2002 Attended International Symposium on the History of the Jewish Diaspora in China: Nanjing and Kaifeng, China (chaired one panel)
2001 Member, external review committee, Department of Religion, Bucknell University
2001 Evaluated grant proposal for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
05, 07
Attended AsiaNetwork Annual Meetings (Tacoma, Lisle, Cleveland, Whittier)
1996 Symposium: "Digital Images in Support of Teaching," sponsored by The Five Colleges of Ohio, Ohio Wesleyan University.
1994 NEH Summer Institute: "Reading the Manchu Summer Palace at Chengde: Art, Ritual, and Rulership in 18th Century China and Inner Asia," University of Michigan.
1993 Summer Institute in Academic Information Resources, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Kenyon College
1992 GLCA Course Design and Teaching Workshop, Kenyon College
1992 Organizer of panel, "Confucian Uses of History: Sung, Ming, and Ch'ing," Association for Asian Studies, Annual Meeting (Washington, D.C.).
1992-99 Panel chair at AAR Annual Meetings: "The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism" (San Francisco, 1992), "Confucianism as a Living Tradition" (Washington, D.C., 1993), "Confucianism in Dialogue" (Chicago, 1994), "Confucian Spirituality and Mysticism" (Orlando, 1998), "Interpretations of the Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean" (Boston, 1999).
1991-2000 Organizer and chair of steering committee (co-chair since 1994), Confucian Traditions Group (program unit of the American Academy of Religion)
1991- Pre-publication reviewer for Princeton University Press; Oxford University Press; Routledge; Westview Press; Seven Bridges Press; State University of New York Press; McGraw-Hill; University of Virginia Press; W.W. Norton; Blackwell; University of Hawaii Press; Bedford/St. Martin's; Yale University Press; Palgrave-Macmillan; Bloomsbury; Philosophy East & West; Journal of Asian Studies; Dao; International Journal for Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy; Manusya Journal of Humanities; Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics; Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture; Estudios de Asia y frica; Religion Compass.


  • Classical Chinese
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Japanese
  • French  


Chinese Religions
Confucian Thought and Practice
Japanese Religion
Zen Buddhism
Buddhist Thought and Practice
Buddhist Asia in Comparative Perspective
The Silk Road
Religious and Social Change in East Asia
Religion and Nature
Religion and Science
Comparative Mysticism
Introduction to the Study of Religion (semester)
Experience and Expression of Religion (year)
Approaches to the Study of Religion

Interreligious Dialogue
New Religious Movements
Independent Study courses:
    Chinese Popular Religion
    Divination in Chinese Society
    Ancestor worship in Taiwan
    Traditional Chinese Medical Theory
    Reading in Classical Chinese
    Buddhism and Japanese Education
    Religion and Law
    Indian Philosophy
    Buddhist Philosophy
    Buddhist Sutras
    Mongolian Religions

2008-09 Scholar Grant, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation: For Zhu Xi / Zhou Dunyi book project
2000 ASIANetwork Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellowship: Funding for collaborative project with a Kenyon student to study and videotape ancestor worship in Chinese homes in Taiwan.
1997, 2002 Teaching Initiative Grants for travel to China, Kenyon College
1997 Research Grant for travel to Taiwan, Waseda University (Tokyo)
1995 Research Grant, Pacific Cultural Foundation (Taipei)
1992 GLCA/ACM Travel Grant for Research in Japan (Summer, 1992)
1990 Language and Research Fellowship, Inter-University Program in Chinese Language Studies in Taipei and the Academia Sinica Committee on Scientific and Scholarly Cooperation with the U.S.A.: Six months of language study and research in Taipei
1988, 91, 92, 96, 98, 2004, 05 Faculty Development Grants, Kenyon College
1982-83 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
1982-83 Research Grant, Pacific Cultural Foundation (Taipei)
1982 Conference Fellowship, International Conference on Chu Hsi (Honolulu), Center for Asian and Pacific Studies of the University of Hawaii and the American Council of Learned Societies
1975-76, 1978-79, 1981-82 University of California Regents Fellowships

ADMINISTRATIVE/COMMITTEE WORK (at Kenyon unless otherwise noted)
2012-13 Chair of search committee, Religious Studies Department
2012-13 Fulbright Fellowship Committee
2007-11 International Studies Steering Committee
Director, Asian Studies Program
1996-98, 2004-07 Advisory and Selection Committees, Japan Study Program (Earlham College)
2003-05 Grievance Committee
2002 Represented Kenyon College at a planning meeting at ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) offices in Chicago to discuss a new study-abroad program in China
2001-04, 2005-06 Faculty Liason, Luce Scholars Program
2000-2002 History of Religions Committee, American Academy of Religion
1989-2014 Asian Studies Committee


International Education Advisory Committee
2000-2001 Newman/Woodward Award Committee
1998-2000 Committee on Academic Standards
1997-2000 Chair, Department of Religion, Kenyon College
1997-98 Chair, Faculty Lectureships Committee
1996-97 Resident Director, GLCA/ACM Japan Study Program, Associate Dean of the International Division, and Visiting Professor, Waseda University, Tokyo.
1993-94 Chair, Resource Allocation Subcommittee of Faculty Executive Committee
1992-94 Faculty Executive Committee
1991-92 Faculty Affair Committee
1990-92, 1995-96 Faculty Lectureships Committee
1987-91 Academic Computing Advisory Committee

Revised: 7/9/24