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Tzahi Weiss

Abstract

The Babylonian Talmud contains a tale about the creation of an artificial calf by two sages who dealt with hilkhot yetzirah, or laws of formation (b. Sanhedrin 65b). Already in the eleventh century CE the phrase “Laws of Formation” was being used to refer to the short, enigmatic, and influential treatise Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), which depicts the creation of the world by means of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The connection between hilkhot yetzirah and Sefer Yetzirah is of great consequence in determining the period in which the latter was edited, as well as its reception history.

Rachel Adelman

Abstract

This paper compares the Babylonian and Palestinian talmudic traditions on the fate of the ark of the covenant—either lost before or during the Babylonian conquest, or buried in the Temple precincts (b. Yom’a 53b–54a; y. Sheqalim 6:1–2, 49c). In the Babylonian Talmud, the ark and the cherubim are described in highly erotic, feminized terms, blurring traditional gender categories of Israel and God. The feminization of the ark serves as a “survival strategy” to counter the defiling gaze of the gentile conqueror, but also preserves the sacred center as a locus of longing for Jews in diaspora.

Jonatan Meir

Abstract

One of the distinctive literary genres of Bratslav Hasidism is the shir yedidot (Song of Endearment), a mystical poem concerning the stature of the soul of R. Naḥman of Bratslav. These poems, still sung by Hasidim today, contain esoteric traditions that reveal the multiple voices within Bratslav Hasidism. This article traces the development of this form from the beginning of the nineteenth century until the present, and argues that changes in emphasis within these songs reflect shifts in Bratslav theology over the years. The study thus presents a more complex historical picture of Bratslav Hasidism, which has usually been seen as one monolithic unit.

Ariel Evan Mayse

Abstract

This essay interrogates the legal discourse of Shulḥan ha-Tahor, a curious—and curiously understudied—work of Hasidic halakhah written by Rabbi Yitzḥak Ayzik Yehudah Yehiel Safrin of Komarno. The book is, at heart, a systematic reformulation of Jewish law in light of Kabbalah, Hasidism, and the quest for personal mystical experience. Shulḥan ha-Tahor offers a rare case study for the interface of mystical experience, Hasidic devotional values, and kabbalistic doctrine as they explicitly shape the codified forms—and norms—of halakhah. The essay reveals a different side of Jewish modernity through a close reading of an exceptional nineteenth-century legal code.

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Edited by Gorazd Andrejč and Daniel H. Weiss

This volume argues that Wittgenstein’s philosophy of religion and his thought in general continue to be highly relevant for present and future research on interreligious relations. Spanning several (sub)disciplines – from philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, comparative philosophy, comparative theology, to religious studies – the contributions engage with recent developments in interpretation of Wittgenstein and those in the philosophy and theology of interreligious encounter. The book shows that there is an important and under-explored potential for constructive and fruitful engagement between these academic fields. It explores, and attempts to realize, some of this potential by involving both philosophers and theologians, and critically assesses previous applications of Wittgenstein’s work in interreligious studies.

Contributors are Gorazd Andrejč, Guy Bennett-Hunter, Mikel Burley, Thomas D. Carroll, Paul Cortois, Rhiannon Grant, Randy Ramal, Klaus von Stosch, Varja Štrajn, Nuno Venturinha, Sebastjan Vörös and Daniel H. Weiss.

Der Einheitsbegriff als Kohärenzprinzip bei Maximus Confessor

Eine Studie zu Ps-Dionysius-Rezeption, triplex via und analogem Weltbild bei Maximus Confessor

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Jonathan Bieler

In The Concept of Unity as the Principle of Coherence in Maximus Confessor Jonathan Bieler lays out the importance of the concepts of transcendent divine unity, goodness and truth for understanding the coherence of the whole of Maximus’ thought, which brings together theology, anthropology and Christology into a unified vision that is based on an analogy between creator and creation. Interpreting the concepts of Maximus’ thought remains a contentious subject in Maximian scholarship. By evaluating the interior coherence and historical situation of Maximus’ thought in general and by studying the influence of Ps-Dionysius the Areopagite’s methodology on Maximus’ Christology in particular the author shows the context in which Maximus’ well-known conceptual distinctions can be understood in a helpful way. Jonathan Bieler erläutert in Der Einheitsbegriff als Kohärenzprinzip bei Maximus Confessor die zentrale Rolle der Begriffe der göttlichen Einheit, Güte und Wahrheit für ein Verständnis der Kohärenz von Maximus’ Denken, das Gotteslehre, Anthropologie und Christologie zu einer einheitlichen Sicht versammelt, beruhend auf einer Analogie zwischen Schöpfer und Geschöpf. Die Interpretation von Maximus’ Konzepten ist ein umstrittenes Gebiet in der Forschung. Durch eine Auswertung der inneren Kohärenz und der historischen Situation des Maximus und durch eine Untersuchung des Einflusses, den Ps-Dionysius Areopagitas Methodik auf die Christologie des Maximus ausgeübt hat, zeigt der Autor den Kontext auf, in dem Maximus’ begriffliche Unterscheidungen auf eine hilfreiche Weise verstanden werden können.

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Jan-Olav Henriksen

Inspired by pragmatism, this book addresses religious plurality with the aim of bringing forth how it may be approached constructively by Christian theology. Accordingly, not doctrine, but practices are focussed in its analyses of interreligious topics. Henriksen argues that engagement with the diversity of religious traditions should be grounded in openness towards the other, and resistance against making others similar to oneself. Accordingly, the book presents a theological approach where interaction between religious practitioners is considered a benefit and a necessity for the positive future of religious traditions. It will be of interest to anyone who is interested in the understanding of religious pluralism from the point of view of Christian theology.

The Veiled God

Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Theology of Finitude

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Ruth Jackson Ravenscroft

In The Veiled God, Ruth Jackson Ravenscroft offers a detailed portrait of Friedrich Schleiermacher’s early life, ethics, and theology in its historical and social context. She also critically reflects on the enduring relevance of his work for the study of religion.
The book analyses major texts from Schleiermacher’s early work. It argues that his experiments with literary form convey his understanding that human knowledge is inherently social, and that religion is thoroughly linguistic and historical. The book contends that by making finitude (and not freedom) a universal aspect to human life, Schleiermacher offers rich conceptual resources for considering what it means to be human in this world, both in relations of difference to others, and in relation to the infinite.

Reading Proclus and the Book of Causes Volume 1

Western Scholarly Networks and Debates

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Edited by Dragos Calma

Reading Proclus and the Book of Causes, published in three volumes, is a fresh, comprehensive understanding of Proclus’ legacy in the Hellenic, Byzantine, Islamic, Latin and Hebrew traditions. The history of the Book of Causes, an Islamic adaptation of mainly Proclus’ Elements of Theology and Plotinus' Enneads, is reconsidered on the basis of newly discovered manuscripts. This first volume enriches our understanding of the diverse reception of Proclus’ Elements of Theology and of the Book of Causes in the Western tradition where universities and religious schools offered unparalleled conditions of diffusion. The volume sheds light on overlooked authors, texts, literary genres and libraries from all major European universities from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

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Markus Locker

This book argues that all truths systems include paradoxes. Paradoxes, such as found in the sciences, philosophy and religion offer themselves as mutually shared partners in a dialogue of arguably incommensurable truths on the basis of their underlying truth. Paradoxes leap beyond the epistemic border of individual truth claims. A dialogue of truths, grounded in paradox, reaches before, and at the same time past singular truths. A paradox-based dialogue of truths elevates the communication of disciplines, such as the sciences and religion, to a meta-discourse level from which differences are not perceived as obstacles for dialogue but as complementary aspects of a deeper and fuller truth in which all truths are grounded.