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The second century is a crucial period for the formation of both Judaism and Christianity, but remains in important ways terra incognita. This volume brings together specialists in Jewish studies and Christian studies, two closely related disciplines that nonetheless continue to operate in relative isolation. Taking into consideration the full panoply of Jewish and Christian identities, the volume proposes fresh ways to map the interrelated histories of Jews and Christians. Contributions by leading scholars offer new insights into this period informed by a rich variety of perspectives, including theoretical, literary, thematic and material approaches.
What does it mean when Christians confess that Jesus was ‘born of the Virgin Mary’? This volume of essays, written by an international group of scholars, approaches this question from various perspectives. From examining the Old Testament backgrounds to exploring the Virgin Birth in various traditions and cultures, each chapter offers fresh perspectives. The contributors explore topics ranging from the Pre-Nicene tradition to modern cinematic interpretations, and from the perspectives of renowned theologians to interfaith dialogue with Islam and Hinduism. Engaging and thought-provoking, this volume promises to illuminate the significance of the Virgin Birth across diverse religious and cultural contexts.
Festschrift for Gerrit Bos on the Occasion of His 75th Birthday
Volume Editors: , , and
Gerrit Bos (Ph.D. 1989) is Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne. He has published extensively in the fields of Jewish studies, Islamic studies, and medieval science and medicine in Arabic and Hebrew texts. In July 2023, he celebrated his 75th birthday. On this occasion, his colleagues and students presented him with a Festschrift containing over twenty original papers. They deal with various topics belonging to his wider fields of interest ranging from the Ancient Orient, Jewish and Islamic theology and philosophy, medicine and natural sciences in medieval Islamicate and European countries, to Romance philology and linguistics.
The Image of Jews and Judaism in Biblical Interpretation, from Anti-Jewish Exegesis to Eliminationist Antisemitism
Author:
“Unheil,” curse, disaster: according to German scholar Gerhard Kittel, this is the Jewish destiny attested to in scripture. Such interpretations of biblical texts provided Adolf Hitler with the theological legitimatization necessary to realizing his “final solution.”

But theological antisemitism did not begin with the Third Reich. Ferdinand Baur’s nineteenth-century Judaism-Hellenism dichotomy empowered National Socialist scholars to construct an Aryan Jesus cleansed of his Jewish identity, building on Baur’s Enlightenment prejudices. Anders Gerdmar takes a fresh look at the dangers of the politicization of biblical scholarship and the ways our unrecognized interpretive filters may generate someone else’s apocalypse.
Prayer in the Ancient World (PAW) is an innovative resource on prayer in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. The over 350 entries in PAW showcase a robust selection of the range of different types of prayers attested from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, early Judaism and Christianity, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Iran, enhanced by critical commentary.
The project illustrates the variety of ways human beings have sought to communicate with or influence beings with extraordinary superhuman power for millennia. By including diverse examples such as vows and oaths, blessings, curses, incantations, graffiti, iconography, and more, PAW casts a wide net. In so doing, PAW privileges no particular tradition or conception of how to interact with the divine; for example, the project refuses to perpetuate a value distinction between “prayer,” “magic,” and “cursing.”

Detailed overviews introduce each area and address key issues such as language and terminology, geographical distribution, materiality, orality, phenomenology of prayer, prayer and magic, blessings and curses, and ritual settings and ritual actors. In order to be as comprehensive as practically possible, the volume includes a representative prayer of every attested type from each tradition.

Individual entries include a wealth of information. Each begins with a list of essential details, including the source, region, date, occasion, type and function, performers, and materiality of the prayer. Next, after a concise summary and a brief synopsis of the main textual witnesses, a formal description calls attention to the exemplar’s literary and stylistic features, rhetorical structure, important motifs, and terminology. The occasions when the prayer was used and its function are analyzed, followed by a discussion of how this exemplar fits within the range of variation of this type of prayer practice, both synchronically and diachronically. Important features of the prayer relevant for cross-cultural comparison are foregrounded in the subsequent section. Following an up-to-date translation, a concise yet detailed commentary provides explanations necessary for understanding the prayer and its function. Finally, each entry concludes with a bibliography of essential primary and secondary resources for further study.
Author:

Abstract

Burials are sites of encounter between family members, the broader community, and the dead, while the human body itself encodes genetic kinship relations. This paper uses bioarchaeological approaches to document kinship encounters at the medieval site of Tashbulak, in the highlands of modern-day Uzbekistan. At Tashbulak, encounters between this mountain community and the broader region are captured in Muslim burial practices and genetic variation that overlaps with populations across Central Asia. Kinship encounters within the community can also be observed in the care taken with burials, especially in two exceptional graves of a disabled individual and a youth buried with personal effects.

In: Medieval Encounters
Author:

Abstract

This article looks at the figure of the extreme anti-Shiʿi, the nāṣib, as treated by early Imami Shiʿi discourse during the seventh–ninth centuries CE. Several stories are studied in which the nāṣib is encountered as a problematic internal other within Shiʿi family structures. It is argued that such narratives gesture at the ways in which complex social realities were responded to by social and religious authorities such as the Shiʿi imams. While concerns about issues such as mixed marriages and overbearing parents were not restricted to Shiʿi families, the figure of the nāṣib shows us how certain ways of encountering others within kinship structures were related to the distinctive ways in which Imami Shiʿi social institutions harmonized or were dissonant with the wider society within which they were embedded.

Open Access
In: Medieval Encounters

Abstract

This article explores unions between elite Muslim men and elite non-Muslim women from the conquered populations during the seventh to ninth centuries CE. It considers cases from a range of geographic settings, including the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, the Fertile Crescent, and Iran. It examines these unions in their immediate historical contexts as well as literary artifacts of much later periods. With respect to the former, it argues Muslim conquerors often used elite non-Muslim women to cement their alliances with indigenous elites and as instruments to humiliate and abase these elites. With respect to the latter, it argues that stories of aristocratic non-Muslim women constitute a neglected but important feature of conquest narratives and they show how elite non-Muslim lineage remained prized among Muslims long after the conquests were over. Finally, as the article argues, the phenomenon demonstrates that many in early Muslim society considered maternal lineage to be very important, even if social standing was technically based mainly on the father.

Open Access
In: Medieval Encounters