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Abstract

This article is a diplomatic edition and translation of a 1741 French manuscript essay by the Huguenot scholar César de Missy. The essay addresses a topic of considerable importance in the eighteenth century, namely, the moral validity of using ridicule or satire when disputing on religious questions; De Missy, himself of a rather satirical disposition, argues that such use is morally justified not because it serves truth but because it serves charity. I also provide a short introduction laying out the intellectual context for this argument.

Open Access
In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters
Author: Gianni Paganini

During the last half century, the image of the Enlightenment has undergone many changes, becoming less monolithic than portrayed in the works of Hazard, Gay, and Cassirer. Nowadays, it is usual to talk about national Enlightenments, moderate and radical Enlightenment, religious Enlightenments, the Counter-Enlightenment, and so on. In this process of broadening the category of Enlightenment, depicted by Matytsin as a veritable ‘explosion’, room is also made for a skeptical Enlightenment, which used to be limited to a few figures seemingly eccentric in respect to the mainstream: Bayle, Hume, and Rousseau.

Anton Matytsin’s important book spans the ‘long’ Enlightenment, almost

In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters
Author: Dmitri Levitin

Abstract

This article offers a new account of the origins of the Synoptic Problem in the late eighteenth century. It shows that the Problem first arose in the context of the long debate about whether Matthew had written in Aramaic (as the earliest Christian sources had maintained) or in Greek (the modern scholarly consensus). In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the debate became confessionalised, with Catholics adopting the former position and Protestants the latter. Surprisingly, the Catholic position triumphed in eighteenth-century Germany, above all due to its propagation by Johann David Michaelis. As part of his argument, Michaelis resuscitated and revised the ancient claim that a version of the Aramaic Matthew had been found in India. His conclusions were widely accepted, and directly inspired the numerous speculations on the composition of the Synoptic Gospels by German theologians and scholars in the 1780s and 1790s. What is now the best-known solution, that of Johann Jakob Griesbach, was in fact highly idiosyncratic in rejecting the existence of an Aramaic ur-gospel. Moreover, all the solutions were informed by historico-theological assumptions and composed with an apologetic purpose in mind: often, they were designed to counter the anti-Christian arguments of Hermann Samuel Reimarus. Biblical philology had not emancipated itself from theology. The article also reveals the earliest known stemmatic diagram in the history of Western scholarship.

In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters
Author: Sam Kennerley

It would be difficult to underestimate the influence that Guglielmo Sirleto exercised on the intellectual life of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. Born in Calabria to a family of modest means, Sirleto moved to Naples in 1531, before relocating to Rome eight years later. Like many other scholars, Sirleto at first lived a precarious life in Rome, working as a private tutor and consultant corrector to the press. However, his learning, as well as his religious intransigence, soon earned him the attention of powerful patrons, and a steady ascent through the curial hierarchy. Contact with Marcello Cervini led

In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters

Joseph-François Lafitau is somehow both frequently written about and equally frequently misunderstood. The scale and ambition of his work – most noticeably his 1724 Moeurs des sauvages ameriquains – is enormous, as is his source material, which combines firsthand observation of indigenous cultures with deep study of Europe’s history. La Plume et le calumet: Joseph-François Lafitau et les ‘sauvages ameriquains’, an edited collection that is the product of a 2016 conference, is a particularly welcome addition to this scholarship. The volume consists of deeply researched essays that situate Lafitau’s work in early eighteenth-century European theological and

In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters

Abstract

This article explores the modern-day festival as a timely site for analyzing the politics of indigenous cultural and religious presence in postcolonial and neoliberal Africa. Focusing on the ancient Osun Osogbo Festival and the newer Calabar Carnival and Festival in Nigeria, it raises broader questions of how indigenous religion gets reframed as culture, heritage, and tourist commodity for local, national, and international audiences. Attention is paid to the multiple debates over festival content and representation in the context of local political, economic, and religious interests. The article ultimately makes the case for more comparative research on what may be termed the “festivalization of religion” and how this development relates to questions of “public religion” and “civil religion” in the contemporary African context.

In: Numen

Knut A. Jacobsen and Ferdinando Sardella (eds.), Handbook of Hinduism in Europe: Pan-European Developments. Leiden: Brill, 2020. 2 vols., 1641 pp. ISBN 9789004433434 / 9789004433441 (hbk.), 9789004432284 (ebk.)

The book overall is geographically comprehensive and topically contextual. The editors’ purpose is made evident right at the beginning in the introduction. The keyword seems to be “plurality,” signaling the idea that Hinduism in Europe needs to be understood in its plural manifestations rather than in a uniform expression. The structure is well planned with broader background of Hinduism in Europe in the first part and then a

In: Numen

Abstract

The syntactic analysis of ritual initiated by Frits Staal (1979) provides an effective means for the study of differences between rituals within a particular ritual culture, of changes to a ritual over time, and of changes as rituals are transmitted from one ritual culture to another. The utility of a syntactic approach continues to be obscured by Hans Penner’s critique (1985), which when examined in the first section of this article, “Clearing the Ground,” proves to be faulty. Despite Penner’s critique, some scholars have employed syntactic analyses, and the work of five of them is discussed in the second section, “Existing Constructive Projects.” The following section, “Foundations,” examines the methodological bases of ritual syntax – formalism and abstraction, the difference between production and analysis – and distinguishes three levels of syntactic analysis that parallel linguistic analyses of sentences and sentence structures. The final section, “Extending the Construction,” further develops the technical aspects of a syntactic analysis of ritual into new areas, including alternative diagramming of syntactic structures.

In: Numen

Sarah Stewart in collaboration with Mandana Moavenat, Voices from Zoroastrian Iran. Vol. 1: Urban Centres. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2018. xv + 440 pp. ISBN 9783447111294 (pbk.)

Sarah Stewart in collaboration with Mandana Moavenat, Voices from Zoroastrian Iran. Vol. 2: Urban and Rural Centres – Yazd and Outlying Villages. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2020. xv + 395 pp. ISBN 9783447114783 (pbk.)

Zoroastrianism is an officially recognized religious minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. While there is a relatively lively research scene on the Zoroastrians of India – the Parsis – given language barriers

In: Numen

Abstract

In their article on ‘Investigating historical abuses’ Yannick Balk, Georg Frerks and Beatrice de Graaf (2022) present an applied history of intercountry adoption to the Netherlands over the past 70 years and conclude that a moratorium on intercountry adoption is necessary because of the many adoption abuses. In this paper we comment on their aims, methods, results, and conclusions. Applied historical analysis without considering the numerous empirical studies on the effects of (de-)institutionalization is problematic if the application is to impact policy. Furthermore, using inaccessible archival material and opaque triangulation hinders replication. An estimate of the overall frequency of adoption abuses is absent. Any adoption abuse is a serious violation of children’s rights and needs to be addressed. However, we argue that their findings do not necessitate the recommendation to (temporarily) stop intercountry adoption at the expense of children in institutions for whom intercountry adoption would be the last resort.

Open Access
In: Journal of Applied History