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Esther Eidinow


This article discusses the challenges facing scholars exploring the nature of belief in ancient Greek religion. While recent scholarship has raised questions about individual religious activities, and work on ritual, the body, and the senses has broadened our methodological palette, the nature and dynamics of generally held “low intensity” beliefs still tend to be described simply as “unquestioned” or “embedded” in society. But examining scholarship on divine personifications suggests that ancient beliefs were — and our perceptions of them are — more complex. This article first explores the example of Tyche (“Chance”), in order to highlight some of the problems that surround the use of the term “belief.” It then turns to the theories of “ideology” of Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller and argues that these can offer provocative insights into the nature and dynamics of ritual and belief in ancient Greek culture.

Arresting Alternatives

Religious Prejudice and Bacchantic Worship in Greek Literature

Marika Rauhala


Ancient Greek descriptions of ecstatic and mystic rituals, here broadly labeled as Bacchantic worship, regularly include elements of moral corruption and dissolution of social unity. Suspicions were mostly directed against unofficial cult groups that exploited Dionysiac experiences in secluded settings. As the introduction of copious new cults attests, Greek religion was receptive to external influences. This basic openness, however, was not synonymous with tolerance, and pious respect for all deities did not automatically include their worshippers. This article reconsiders the current view of ancient religious intolerance by regarding these negative stereotypes as expressions of prejudice and by investigating the social dynamics behind them. Prejudices against private Bacchantic groups are regarded as part of the process of buttressing the religious authority of certain elite quarters in situations where they perceive that their position is being threatened by rival claims. It is suggested that both the accentuation and alleviation of prejudice is best understood in relation to the relative stability of the elite and the religious control it exerted.

Zeynep B. Ugur


Theoretically, the teachings of Islam can promote environmentally conscious behavior. As the only Muslim majority country to take part in the International Social Science Survey (ISSP), we study indicators of environmental consciousness in Turkey using ISSP 2010. Among all ISSP 2010 participating countries, a cross-country comparison does not provide evidence to support the argument that Islamic religiosity promotes environmental consciousness. In an analysis of individual level data, our overall findings failed to discover a statistically significant relationship between religiosity and environmental consciousness. Yet, this gap between the teachings of Islam and practices of Muslims may be identified as an unexploited potential to foster environmental consciousness in Turkey through a well-articulated religious education that brings together the book of scripture and the book of nature.

Ampere A. Tseng


The impact of Buddhist vegetarianism views on the equivalent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE s) is evaluated. The vegetarianism views from three major Buddhist schools in China are first presented, since different views on vegetarianism can dictate the assessment of the equivalent of GHGE reduction. The populations of Chinese Buddhists in these three Buddhist schools are then estimated. A correlation formula is used to evaluate the equivalent GHGE reductions attributed to the vegan and vegetarian populations in the Chinese Buddhists from 2017 to 2027. The reduction results enable us to conclude that Chinese Buddhists with vegan or vegetarian diets account for the equivalent GHGE reduction of 54.560 MtCO2e in 2017 and 60.927 MtCO2e in 2027 with an average annual growth rate of 1.11 %. The reductions of 54.560 and 60.927 MtCO2e equal to 11.66 % and 13.02 % of the total GHGE s from the United Kingdom in 2016, respectively.

Cross-Cultural Comparisons between the Mughal Tomb Garden of Taj Mahal in Agra (India) and the Dry Landscape Garden of the Ryoan-Ji Zen Monastery in Kyoto (Japan)

An Analysis of Cultural and Religious Layers of Meaning in Two Cases of Classical Garden Landscape Architecture

Lourens Minnema


Gardens have always meant a lot to people. Gardens are as much about nature as they are about culture. The extent to which gardens carry and embody both similar and different layers of meaning will be demonstrated by comparing two classical gardens, the Taj Mahal tomb garden of the Mughal rulers in Agra, India, and the Ryoan-ji dry landscape garden of the Zen monks in Kyoto, Japan. Parallels will be drawn by offering a (diachronic) analysis of the historical accumulation of layers of meaning associated with each one of these two gardens, and (synchronic) structural comparisons will be drawn by raising two thematic issues in particular, the inside-outside relationship and the nature-culture relationship. The roles that Islam and Zen Buddhism play in the religious meaning making of these two classical gardens turn out to be strikingly similar, in that they confirm rather than transform other layers of cultural meaning.