The image of the stone with seven eyes in the book of Zechariah 3-4 is very puzzling, and has been interpreted in various ways. In this study I will suggest that the most logical interpretation of this image lies in the Babylonian kalû ritual and the well-known mythological Sibittu iconography that was familiar and accepted by the returning Babylonian exiles. This iconography was chosen for a specific reason, and then was given a new identity by the prophet, probably as part of a certain agenda.
The Material Realm of Priestly Writings
The Priestly source (P) is a common designation in scholarship for significant parts of the Pentateuch, which are assumed to have been written in priestly circles. While the social circles and theological background of P are more agreed upon, its dating is hotly debated, and various textual, intertextual, linguistic and historical evidence were employed in an attempt to date its composition. The present paper aims to examine the material world that is assumed by a number of Priestly texts, and the landscape in which the writings are embedded, in order to shed new light on their dating. The paper concludes that much of the priestly writings (inclusive of some of the texts commonly attributed to the Holiness school) are quite intelligible on the background the late Iron Age, mainly the 8th-7th centuries BCE.
Avraham Siluk and Rebekka Voß
Varied initiatives for religious revival and reform emerged throughout the 18th century in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; each had a significant impact on its religious community and also contributed to lasting cultural, social, and political change. This introductory essay argues for the importance of early modern religious renewal for understanding transformations in 18th-century life, culture, and thought. Due to their critical roles in society, religious renewal and reform should be considered as key factors for change at the threshold of modernity rather than counters to modernization.
Irene Zwiep and Avri Bar-Levav
Hadar Feldman Samet
This article introduces the idea of religious renewal as it was manifested in the ritual practices of the Sabbatian Maʾaminim of Salonica – followers of Shabbtai Tzvi who converted from Judaism to Islam during the 1680s, in the footsteps of their Messiah. The religious renewal of the Maʾaminim is demonstrated by the appropriation of the Sufi-Muslim practice, known as zikr, as part of their ritual singing. The appropriation of zikr practices by the Maʾaminim is understood in the context of the rise of this practice throughout all of Ottoman Muslim society, specifically as part of ilahi singing, demonstrating religious innovation in Ottoman culture at the beginning of the modern era.
This article focuses on an aspect of Pietist education that may be regarded as a reform, namely a new way of upholding the role model to educational ends – or, more simply put, of teaching by example. This new approach to the example, according to my thesis, manifests itself in an implicit, narrative didactics of piety. This will be illustrated by reference to a popular genre of children’ and young people’s literature dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, namely ‘exemplary children’s stories’ (Kinderexempelgeschichten). Such stories consist of biographical model narratives concerning exemplary pious boys and girls. To demonstrate how this implicit, religious didactic was made explicit, I draw on the text ‘Christliche Lebens=Regeln’ (Christian Rules of Life), which was especifically conceived as a systematic elucidation of exemplary stories.
This essay explores a critical reaction to the turbulence born out of the debate on Quietism at the end of the 17th century. Caspar Exner (1627–1704), a minister and subscriber to Lutheran Orthodoxy, wrote a report in 1689 on the recent outburst of what in his view was misleading theological assumptions. His refutation of so-called false doctrines turned out to be an ambiguous road for engaging religious adversaries. Urged to assess a specific and contested topic, Exner developed a method that confronted religious renewal in general. It is the aim of this essay to demonstrate how rectification was a means for appropriating and moderating contested ideas and surpassing confessional boundaries.
The article discusses the manifestations of religious renewal in devout Karaite Hebrew poetry written in Poland-Lithuania in the early modern period. While this type of Hebrew poetry is entrenched in tradition and derivative in nature, certain innovative elements appear both in the wordings and in the performance of Karaite Hebrew poetry during the early modern period. Alluding, for example, to new Sabbath rituals, the poems reflect the influence of popular mysticism on Karaite ideology. Hebrew poetry also indicates slight changes in the societal status of Karaite women as well as an increase in the use of the vernacular.
Rituals have always been a characterizing and significant aspect of Hasidism. Although ritual practices are often considered rigid and conservative, Hasidism showed tremendous flexibility in composing, reviving, and disseminating old rituals in novel religious settings. Highly visible, easily deliverable, not requiring intellectual background, and embedded in Jewish tradition, rituals and ceremonies were the perfect means by which to popularize pietism and esoteric knowledge among large audiences, while maintaining the prestige of their performers.