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How Religion Works

Towards a New Cognitive Science of Religion

Ilkka Pyysiäinen

Recent findings in cognitive science and evolutionary psychology provide important insights to the processes which make religious beliefs and behaviors such efficient attractors in and across various cultural settings. The specific salience of religious ideas is based on the fact that they are 'counter-intuitive': they contradict our intuitive expectations of how entities normally behave.
Counter-intuitive ideas are only produced by a mind capable of crossing the boundaries that separate such ontological domains as persons, living things, and solid objects. The evolution of such a mind has only taken place in the human species.
How certain kinds of counter-intuitive ideas are selected for a religious use is discussed from varying angles. Cognitive considerations are thus related to the traditions of comparative religion.

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Interpretation and Allegory

Antiquity to the Modern Period

Whitman

Western literary, philosophical, and religious traditions from Plato and Paul to Augustine and Avicenna have utilized, exploited, or been subjected to allegorical interpretation. Naturally developing a composite picture of interpretive allegory from such a large landscape faces numerous difficulties. As the editor puts it, “to imagine a ‘definitive’ account of the theory and practice of allegorical interpretation in the West would require something of an allegorical vision in its own right.” With that caveat in mind, however, the international team of contributors—from a variety of disciplines—offers a “historical and conceptual framework” for understanding interpretive allegory in the West, from antiquity through the early and late medieval and renaissance periods, and from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.

This publication has also been published in hardback, please click here for details.

Martien Brinkman

Edited by Dirk van Keulen

Edited by Ralph L. Piedmont and David O. Moberg

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion (RSSSR) publishes reports of innovative studies that pertain empirically or theoretically to the scientific study of religion, including spirituality, regardless of their academic discipline or professional orientation. It is academically eclectic, not restricted to any one particular theoretical orientation or research method. Most of our articles report the findings of quantitative or qualitative investigations, but some deal with methodology, theory, or applications of social science studies in the field of religion.

The Spirit of Liberation

Jürgen Moltmann's Trinitarian Pneumatology

Osamu Yoshida

With this study on Moltmann's pneumoatology the author recently obtained the doctor's degree from the Faculty of Theology of the Free University in Amsterdam.

First of all, the book provides us with a thorough evaluation of the role the Holy Spirit plays in the theology of Jürgen Moltmann in its subsequent phases. The author's conclusion is that despite all differences there is one contstant factor: the Spirit is always connected with freedom. The Holy Spirit, according to Moltmann, is a liberating power.

Because the author is eager to place Moltmann's pneumatology repeatedly in the context of his theology as a whole and of its developments, this book offers - and that is a second quality - an outstanding insight in the whole of Moltmann's theology and its development throughout the years.

Edited by Eliezer Ben-Rafael and Yitzhak Sternberg

This book is about contemporary sociological analysis: its discussions, contradictions and controversies. Authors from various backgrounds discuss developments on all continents.
The 34 contributions are centered on six themes. The first is multiple modernities, showing us that there is no single road to the modernization of societies. The second theme is globalization, with new concepts like spatialization, world languages and new social movements. In part three, multiculturalism and diaspora movements are viewed as the pivotal factors for change in many societies. The fourth theme is the decline of the accountability of the state, concentrating on the shortcomings of traditional states and the emergence of new resources. In part five, the concept of postmodernity is discussed from the angles of identity, social reality, detachment and legacy.
Finally, the sixth part, ‘Toward a New Agenda’ looks into the future and lets sociology (or rather social knowledge) play a major part in today’s society.
This volume is a rich collection of practical examples and solid arguments by some of the best sociologists in the world.

Aryeh Kofsky

Essential reading for reconstructing early Christianity, the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260—340 C.E.) have held a central place for historians of early Christianity. Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History frequently stands on the scholar’s shelf alongside the writings of Josephus or Philo of Alexandria. While apologists like Irenaeus and Origen have stood squarely in the spotlight, Eusebius has remained in the shadows. Kofsky contends that the value of Eusebius’s own apologetic and theological writings has been neglected. He corrects this deficit and invites us to see Eusebius as a “contender for the faith” in his own right. To accomplish his goal, Kofsky takes us on a detailed tour of two of Eusebius’s key documents: Eusebius’s Praeparatio Evangelica and Demonstratio Evangelica.

This publication has also been published in hardback, please click here for details.

Christianity and the African Imagination

Essays in Honour of Adrian Hastings

Edited by David Maxwell and Ingrid Lawrie

During the twentieth-century, Christendom shifted its centre of gravity to the Southern Hemisphere, Africa becoming the most significant area of church growth. This volume explores Christianity’s advance across the continent, and its capturing of the African imagination.
From the medieval Catholic Kingdom of Kongo to a transnational Pentecostal movement in post-colonial Zimbabwe, the chapters explore how African agents – priests and prophets, martyrs and missionaries, evangelists and catechists – have seized Christianity and made it theirs. Emphasizing popular religion, the book shows how the Christian ideas and texts, practices and symbols, which have been adapted by Africans, help them accept existential passions and empower them through faith to deal with material concerns for health and wealth, and to overcome evil.

Edited by van der Borght, Dirk van Keulen and Martien Brinkman

In writing 'In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek', the apostle Paul touched on a topic that still is hotly debated among christians today: the relationship between faith and ethnicity. The Reformed Churches, usually organised along regional or national lines, are no exception and wrestle world-wide with the issue.

This volume offers Asian and African perspectives, especially exploring the Indonesian and South African context.

This and the next volume of Studies in Reformed Theology contain contributions to the fourth international conference of the International Reformed Theological Institute (IRTI), held in Princeton, N.J., U.S.A. (2001), on the theme of Faith and Ethnicity.

Edited by van der Borght, Dirk van Keulen and Martien Brinkman

In writing 'In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek', the apostle Paul touched on a topic that still is hotly debated among Christians today: the relationship between faith and ethnicity. The Reformed Chuches, usually organised along regional or national lines, are no exception and wrestle world-wide with the issue.

This volume offers more traditional Western, mostly European perspectives, exploring Western and Eastern European and North American contexts. Hermeneutics, church order and ecumenical aspects complement the theme.

This and the previous volume of Studies in Reformed Theology contain contributions to the fourth international conference of the International Reformed Theological Institute (IRTI), held in Princeton, N.J., U.S.A. (2001), on the theme of Faith and Ethnicity.