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Questioning the Historicity of Jesus

Why a Philosophical Analysis Elucidates the Historical Discourse

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Raphael Lataster

This volume moves beyond the mainstream scholarly scepticism over the Christ of Faith and considers if there is sufficient evidence to establish the existence of the more mundane Historical Jesus. Using the logical tools of the analytic philosopher, Lataster finds that the relevant sources are unreliable as historical documents, and that the key method of those purporting that the Historical Jesus existed is to appeal to sources that do not exist. Considering an ancient hypothesis suggesting that Jesus began as a celestial messiah that certain Second Temple Jews already believed in, and was later allegorised in the Gospels, Lataster discovers that it is more reasonable to at least be agnostic over Jesus’ historicity.

Ecritures digitales

Digital Writing, Digital Scriptures

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Claire Clivaz

Ecritures digitales aims to demonstrate how digital writing contributes to the emergence of “a new relationship between the human body and the machine” as Jacques Derrida proposed when he considered the effects of new technologies. This reconfigured relationship, not surprisingly, is also influencing the digital future of the Jewish-Christian textual corpus referred to as “the Scriptures”. The French title brings together this duality in one expression: Ecritures digitales. The English subtitle makes explicit the double meaning of the unique French word Ecritures: Digital writing, digital Scriptures. With a full French version and an abbreviated English version, this monograph analyzes the main challenges and opportunities for both writing and the Scriptures in the transition to digital culture. Ecritures digitales souhaite démontrer de quelle manière l’écriture digitale contribue à l’émergence d’une « nouvelle relation du corps humain aux machines », selon le diagnostique posé par Jacques Derrida à propos des effets des nouvelles technologies. Cette relation innovante influence également l’avenir numérique du corpus textuel judéo-chrétien désigné comme «les Ecritures». Le titre français rassemble en une seule expression ces deux thématiques: Ecritures digitales. Le sous-titre anglais rend sa double signification explicite: Digital writing, digital Scriptures. Avec une version française complète et une version anglaise brève, cette monographie analyse les principaux défis des métamorphoses digitales de l’écriture et des Ecritures.

Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology

The Malleable Self and the Presence of God

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Tyson L. Putthoff

In Ontological Aspects of Early Jewish Anthropology, Tyson L. Putthoff explores early Jewish beliefs about how the human self reacts ontologically in God’s presence. Combining contemporary theory with sound exegesis, Putthoff demonstrates that early Jews widely considered the self to be intrinsically malleable, such that it mimics the ontological state of the space it inhabits. In divine space, they believed, the self therefore shares in the ontological state of God himself. The book is critical for students and scholars alike. In putting forth a new framework for conceptualising early Jewish anthropology, it challenges scholars to rethink not only what early Jews believed about the self but how we approach the subject in the first place.

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Adam Afterman

In “And They Shall Be One Flesh”: On the Language of Mystical Union in Judaism, Adam Afterman offers an extensive study of mystical union and embodiment in Judaism. Afterman argues that Philo was the first to articulate the notion of unio mystica in Judaism and is the source of the henōsis mysticism in the later Neoplatonic tradition. The study provides a detailed analysis of the Jewish medieval trends that developed different forms of mystical union and mystical embodiment through the divine name and spirit. The book argues that the development of unitive mysticism in Judaism is the fruit of the creative synthesis of rabbinic Judaism and Hellenistic and Arab philosophy, and a natural outcome of the theological articulation of the idea of monotheism itself.

Creation Stories in Dialogue: The Bible, Science, and Folk Traditions

Radboud Prestige Lectures by R. Alan Culpepper

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Edited by Jan G. van der Watt and R. Alan Culpepper

This book is about creation stories in dialogue, not only between different religious views, but also between current day scientific perspectives. International specialists, like Alan Culpepper, David Christian, John Haught, Randall Zachman, Ellen van Wolde from various disciplines are reflecting on the interface between science and religion relating questions of creation and origin. This multi-disciplinary discussion by some of the leading exponents in this field makes the book unique, not only in its depth of discussion, but also in it wide ranging interdisciplinary discussion. The point of departure of all the contributions is the prestige lecture by Alan Culpepper where he argues for bringing Biblical material into discussion with modern scientific insights relating to creation and origin.

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Edited by Elena Namli, Jayne Svenungsson and Alana M. Vincent

In response to the grim realities of the present world Jewish thought has not tended to retreat into eschatological fantasy, but rather to project utopian visions precisely on to the present moment, envisioning redemptions that are concrete, immanent, and necessarily political in nature. In difficult times and through shifting historical contexts, the messianic hope in the Jewish tradition has functioned as a political vision: the dream of a peaceful kingdom, of a country to return to, or of a leader who will administer justice among the nations. Against this background, it is unsurprising that Jewish messianism in modern times has been transposed, and lives on in secular political movements and ideologies.
The purpose of this book is to contribute to the deeper understanding of the relationship between Jewish thought, utopia, and revolution, by taking a fresh look at its historical and religious roots. We approach the issue from several perspectives, with differences of opinion presented both in regard to what Jewish tradition is, and how to regard utopia and revolution. These notions are multifaceted, comprising aspects such as political messianism, religious renewal, Zionism, and different forms of Marxist and Anarchistic movements.

In the Vale of Tears

On Marxism and Theology, V

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Roland Boer

In the Vale of Tears brings to a culmination the project for a renewed and enlivened debate over the interaction between Marxism and religion. It does so by offering the author's own response to that tradition. It simultaneously draws upon the rich insights of a significant number of Western Marxists and strikes out on its own. Thus, it argues for the crucial role of political myth on the Left; explores the political ambivalence at the heart of Christianity; challenges the bent among many on the Left to favour the unexpected rupture of kairós as a key to revolution; is highly suspicious of the ideological and class alignments of ethics; offers a thorough reassessment of the role of fetishism in the Marxist tradition; and broaches the question of death, unavoidable for any Marxist engagement with religion. While the book is the conclusion to the five-volume series, The Criticism of Heaven and Earth, it also stands alone as a distinct intervention in some burning issues of our time.

Winner of the 2014 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize.

Beyond Biblical Theology

Sacralized Culturalism in Heikki Räisänen’s Hermeneutics

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Timo Eskola

Reading Heikki Räisänen’s hermeneutics in context, Timo Eskola explores the development of Western New Testament interpretation. Reclaiming a Wredean approach to the Scriptures, Räisänen focuses on tradition and interpretation. He builds on Weberian sociology, adopted through Peter Berger’s theories, and substitutes sacralized culturalism for biblical theology.

After examining fourteenth century Quran-criticism and its impact on Reimarus, Eskola discusses the genesis of the revised history-of-religion theory that Räisänen developed when investigating the Quran’s relationship to the Bible. Sociology then becomes a link between standard historicism and poststructuralism as Räisänen reinterprets Berger’s sociology of knowledge. Räisänen’s sacralized culturalism finally becomes the theory from which his magnum opus The Rise of Christian Beliefs has been written.

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David C. Bellusci

Amor Dei, “love of God” raises three questions: How do we know God is love? How do we experience love of God? How free are we to love God? This book presents three kinds of love, worldly, spiritual, and divine to understand God’s love. The work begins with Augustine’s Confessions highlighting his Manichean and Neoplatonic periods before his conversion to Christianity. Augustine’s confrontation with Pelagius anticipates the unresolved disputes concerning God’s love and free will. In the sixteenth-century the Italian humanist, Gasparo Contarini introduces the notion of “divine amplitude” to demonstrate how God’s goodness is manifested in the human agent. Pierre de Bérulle, Guillaume Gibieuf, and Nicolas Malebranche show connections with Contarini in the seventeenth-century controversies relating free will and divine love. In response to the free will dispute, the Scottish philosopher, William Chalmers, offers his solution. Cornelius Jansen relentlessly asserts his anti-Pelagian interpretation of Augustine stirring up more controversy. John Norris, Malebranche’s English disciple, exchanges his views with Mary Astell and Damaris Masham. In the tradition of Cambridge Platonism, Ralph Cudworth conveys a God who “sweetly governs.” The organization of sections represents the love of God in ascending-descending movements demonstrating that, “human love is inseparable from divine love.”

Love, Freedom, and Evil

Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?

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Thaddeus J. Williams

The defining premise of the Relational Free Will Defense is the claim that authentic love requires free will. Many scholars, including Gregory Boyd and Vincent Brümmer, champion this claim. Best-selling books, such as Rob Bell’s Love Wins, echo that love “cannot be forced, manipulated, or coerced. It always leaves room for the other to decide.” The claim that love requires free will has even found expression in mainstream Hollywood films, including Frailty, Bruce Almighty, and The Adjustment Bureau.
The analysis shows convincingly that the claim that authentic love requires free will, does not meet the criteria of consistency, compatibility with Scriptural sources, and the demands of concrete encounter with problems of moral evil.