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Laura Rediehs

Abstract

Quakerism emerged in the seventeenth century, during a time when philosophical debates about the nature of knowledge led to the emergence of modern science. The Quakers, in some conversation with early modern philosophers, developed a distinctive epistemology rooted in their concept of the Light Within, which functioned as a special internal sense giving access to divine insight. The Light Within provided illumination both to properly understand the Bible and to ‘read’ the Book of Nature. This epistemology can be thought of as an expanded experiential empiricism that integrates our ethical and religious knowledge with our scientific knowledge. This epistemology has carried through in Quaker thought to the present day and can be helpful in the context of today’s epistemological crisis.

Maria Kennedy

Abstract

This work is a sociological study of Quakers, which investigates the impact that sectarianism has had on identity construction within the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland. The research highlights individual Friends’ complex and hybrid cultural, national and theological identities, mirrored by the Society’s corporate identity. This publication focuses specifically on examples of political and theological hybridity. These hybrid identities resulted in tensions that impact on relationships between Friends and the wider organisation. How Friends negotiate and accommodate these diverse identities is explored. It is argued that Irish Quakers prioritise ‘relational unity’ and have developed a distinctive approach to complex identity management. It is asserted that in the two Irish states, ‘Quaker’ represents a meta-identity, which is counter-cultural in its non-sectarianism, although this is more problematic within the organisation. Furthermore, by modelling an alternative, non-sectarian identity, Quakers in Ireland contribute to building capacity for transformation from oppositional, binary identities to more fluid and inclusive ones.

Quaker Studies: An Overview

The Current State of the Field

C. Wess Daniels, Robynne Rogers Healey, Jon R. Kershner, Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion

Abstract

In this introductory volume to Brill’s series on Quaker Studies, Quaker Studies, An Overview: The Current State of the Field, C. Wess Daniels, Robynne Rogers Healey, and Jon Kershner investigate Quaker Studies, divided into the three fields of history, theology and philosophy, and sociology.

With a focus on schisms, transatlantic networks, colonialism, abolition, gender and equality, and pacifism from Quaker origins onward, Healey explores the rich diversity and complexity of research and interpretation that has emerged in Quaker history.

In his chapter, Kershner explores comparisons and divergences in contemporary Quaker theology and philosophy. Special attention is paid to Quaker biblical hermeneutics, mysticism, ethics, epistemology and Global Quakerism.

Daniels looks at the sociology of Quakerism as a new field of study that has only recently begun to be explored and developed. This chapter surveys the field of sociological work done within Quakerism from the 1960s to the present day.

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Dorrit van Dalen

The seventeenth century was a period of major social change in central sudanic Africa. Islam spread from royal courts to rural communities, leading to new identities, new boundaries and new tasks for experts of the religion. Addressing these issues, the Bornu scholar Muḥammad al-Wālī acquired an exceptional reputation. Dorrit van Dalen’s study places him within his intellectual environment, and portrays him as responding to the concerns of ordinary Muslims. It shows that scholars on the geographical margins of the Muslim world participated in the debates in the centres of Muslim learning of the time, but on their own terms. Al-Wālī’s work also sheds light on a century in the Islamic history of West Africa that has until now received little attention.