Religious Identity and the Problem of Historical Foundation

The Foundational Character of Authoritative Sources in the History of Christianity and Judaism


The essays collected in this book deal with the question how, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian communities have tried to construct their identity by anchoring their views in authoritative and normative sources. The main focus is upon the problem of historical foundation through textual traditions but other authoritative sources ( role of religious leaders; ritual traditions) are taken into consideration as well. The book takes as its point of departure the fact that with the rise of modernity the former dependence of western church and society on authoritative sources was called into question. Ever since, appeal to such sources is no longer self-evident; at times it is even regarded as problematic. Based on this radical change brought about by modernity, the book is divided in two main parts. The first part deals with the question how Christian churches and confessions ( Roman-Catholic and Protestant) confronted modernity and which role was played by authoritative sources in the tradition to the modern era. Special attention will be paid to the way in which Judaism reacted to many of the same impulses, both societal and religious ones. The second part deals with the premodern period, from early Christianity to the post-Reformation era, and focuses on the role authoritative traditions, textual or otherwise, have played in providing various Christian communities with a relative stable identity. The aim of the book is to elucidate processes resulting in the formation of authoritative traditions as well as the effects of these traditions on the identity of Christian and Jewish communities. In addition, the book attempts to clarify the various ways in which Christian and Jewish communities have reacted to the growing suspicion authoritative traditions aroused in the western world since the rise of modernity.


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Biographical Note

Judith Frishman occupies the Chair of Jewish Studies at the Catholic Theological University at Utrecht as well as the Special Chair for the History of Jewish-Christian relations of the Theological Faculty at Leiden University. She has published on various subjects including Christian exegesis and modern Jewish history. Her main focus of interest is the emancipation period in a comparative perspective. Willemien Otten holds the Chair in History of Christianity at Utrecht University. Her area of expertise is Early and Medieval Church History. She has published, among others, on Tertullian, Augustine, Eriugena and Peter Abelard. Gerard Rouwhorst is Professor in the History of Liturgy in the Catholic Theological University at Utrecht. The subject of his doctoral dissertation were the Paschal Hymns of Ephrem the Syrian ( Les hymnes pascales d'Ephrem de Nisibe, Brill, 1989). He has published numerous articles, mainly on early Christian liturgy.

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION 1. Willemien Otten and Theo Salemink - Prologue: Religious Identity and the Problem of Historical Foundation 2. Charles Hallisey - The Surprise of Scripture’s Advice PART I: IDENTITY AND MODERNITY A. Catholicism 3. Urs Altermatt - The Ambivalence of Catholic Modernisation 4. Staf Hellemans - How Modern is Religion in Modernity? 5. Anton Houtepen - Modernity and the Crisis of Spiritual Authority in the Nineteenth Century. The Case of Papal Infallibility 6. Theo Clemens - A Textbook for Theological Formation from Mechelen. Its Importance for the Identity of the Roman Catholic Clergy in the Netherlands B. Protestantism 7. Frits Broeyer - Reformed Notions of Identity: The Dutch Reformed Church Between 1829 and 1869 8. David Bos - University Education as a Mark of Ministerial Identity in Nineteenth Century Dutch Protestantism 9. Jan Jongeneel - Mission in a Globalizing World: Christ, Christianity and the Remaking World Order C. Judaism 10. Judith Frishman - True Mosaic Religion. Samuel Hirsch, Samuel Holdhiem and the Reform of Judaism 11. Els Kooij-Bas - The Brunswick Rabbinical Conference and Anti-Reform Response on the Questions of Authority 12. Theo Salemink - Modernity as Neo-Paganism. A Catholic Answer to Liberalism, Socialism and National Socialism PART II: SOURCES OF AUTHORITY FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN TO POSTMODERN TIMES A. The Early Church 13. Jaap van Amersfoort - Pagan Sources in the Pseudo-Clementine Novel 14. Johannes van Oort - The Emergence of Gnostic-Manichaean Christianity as a Case of Religious Identity in the Making B. The Middle Ages 15. Karla Pollmann - Re-Appropriation and Disavowal: Pagan and Christian Authorities in Cassiodorus and Venantius Fortunatus 16. Gerard Pieter Freeman - St.Francis - God’s Authority and the Pope’s Approval 17. Daniela Müller - Heretical Religious Women and the Authority of Traditional Sources 18. Willemien Otten - Authority and Identity in the Transition from Monastic to Scholastic Theology: Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux 19. Marcia Colish - Authority and Interpretation in Scholastic Theology 20. Jan Hallebeek - The Roman Pontiff as Direct Judge of Appeal and the Identity of the Latin Church C. From Reformation to Postmodernity 21. Eugène Honée - Die Autorität von Schrift und Tradition in den Religionsverhandlungen des Augsburger Reichstages vom Jahre 1530. (With an English Summary) 22. Paul van Geest - Transformation in Order and Desire. Thomas a Kempis’ Indebtedness to St. Augustine 23. Willem van Asselt - Scholaticism Protestant and Catholic: Medieval Sources and Methods in Seventeenth Reformed Thought 24. Marcel Poorthuis - The Improperia on Trial. On a Recent Debate in the Netherlands between Jews, Protestants and Roman-Catholics 25. Gerard Rouwhorst - Historical Periods as Normative Sources. The Appeal to the Past in the Research on Liturgical History 26. Peter van Rooden - Power and Piety in Contemporary Church History and Social Science D. Christian Origins: A Continuing Debate 27. Frances Young - Books and Their 'Aura’: the Functions of Written Texts in Judaism, Paganism and Christianity during the First Centuries CE 28. Elizabeth Clark - Creating Foundations, Creating Authorities: Reading Practices and Christian Identities


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