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Ze'ev Safrai

Seeking out the Land describes the study of the Holy Land in the Roman period and examines the complex connections between theology, social agenda and the intellectual pursuit. Holiness as a theological concept determines the intellectual agenda of the elite society of writers seeking to describe the land, as well as their preoccupation with its physical aspects and their actual knowledge about it.
Ze'ev Safrai succeeds in examining all the ancient monotheistic literature, both Jewish and Christian, up to the fourth century CE, and in demonstrating how all the above-mentioned factors coalesce into a single entity. We learn that in both religions, with all their various subgroups, the same social and religious factors were at work, but with differing intensity.

Lux in Tenebris

The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism

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Edited by Peter J. Forshaw

Lux in Tenebris is a collection of eighteen original interdisciplinary essays that address aspects of the verbal and visual symbolism in the works of significant figures in the history of Western Esotericism, covering such themes as alchemy, magic, kabbalah, angels, occult philosophy, Platonism, Rosicrucianism, and Theosophy. Part I: Middle Ages & Early Modernity ranges from Gikatilla, Ficino, Camillo, Agrippa, Weigel, Böhme, Yvon, and Swedenborg, to celestial divination in Russia. Part II: Modernity & Postmodernity moves from occultist thinkers Schwaller de Lubicz and Evola to esotericism in literature, art, and cinema, in the works of Colquhoun, Degouve de Nuncques, Bruskin, Doitschinoff, and Pérez-Reverte, with an essay on esoteric theories of colour.

Contributors are: Michael J.B. Allen, Susanna Åkerman, Lina Bolzoni, Aaron Cheak, Robert Collis, Francesca M. Crasta, Per Faxneld, Laura Follesa, Victoria Ferentinou, Joshua Gentzke, Joscelyn Godwin, Hans Thomas Hakl, Theodor Harmsen, Elke Morlok, Noel Putnik, Jonathan Schorsch, György Szönyi, Carsten Wilke, and Thomas Willard.

Crossing Boundaries in Early Judaism and Christianity

Ambiguities, Complexities, and Half-Forgotten Adversaries. Essays in Honor of Alan F. Segal

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Edited by Kimberley Stratton and Andrea Lieber

This volume celebrates the scholarship of Alan Segal. During his prolific career, Alan published ground-breaking studies that shifted scholarly conversations about Christianity, rabbinic Judaism, Hellenism and Gnosticism. Like the subjects of his research, Alan crossed many boundaries. He understood that religions do not operate in academically defined silos, but in complex societies populated by complicated human beings. Alan’s work engaged with a variety of social-scientific theories that illuminated ancient sources and enabled him to reveal new angles on familiar material. This interdisciplinary approach enabled Alan to propose often controversial theories about Jewish and Christian origins. A new generation of scholars has been nurtured on this approach and the fields of early Judaism and Christianity emerge radically redefined as a result.

After Conversion

Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity

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Edited by Mercedes García-Arenal

This book examines the religious and ideological consequences of mass conversion in Iberia, where Jews and Muslims were forcibly converted or expelled at the end of the XVth century and beginning of the XVIth, and in this way it explores the fraught relationship between origins and faith. It treats also of the consequences of coercion on intellectual debates and the production of knowledge, taking into account how integrating new converts from Judaism and Islam stimulated Christian scholars to confront the converts’ sacred texts and created a distinctive peninsular hermeneutics. The book thus assesses the importance of the “Converso problem” in issues such as religious dissidence, dissimulation, and doubt and skepticism while establishing the process by which religious dissidence came to be categorized as heresy and was identified with converts from Judaism and Islam even when Lutheranism was often in the background.

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Zeev Levin

Zeev Levin seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of government efforts to socialize the Jewish masses in Uzbekistan, a process in which the central Soviet government took part, together with the local, republican and regional administrations and Soviet Jewish activists. This research presents a chapter in the history of the Jews in Uzbekistan, as well as contributing to the study of the socialization process of the Jewish population in the USSR in general. It also contributes to the study of relations among political and government bodies and decision makers. The study is based on archival documents and provides a unique glance at the implementation of Soviet nationalities policy towards Bukharan Jews while comparing it to other national minority groups in Uzbekistan.

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Edited by Matthias Bley, Nikolas Jaspert and Stefan Köck

While comparative studies on purity and impurity presented in the last decades have mostly concentrated on the ancient world or on modern developments, this volume focusses the hitherto comparatively neglected period between ca. 300 and 1600 c. E. The collection is innovative because it not only combines papers on both European and Asian cultures but also considers a wide variety of religions and confessions. The articles are written by leading experts in the field and are presented in six systematic sections. This analytical categorization facilitates understanding the functional spectrum that the binomial purity and impurity could cover in past societies. The volume thus presents an in-depth comparative analysis of a category of paramount importance for interfaith relations and processes of transfer.

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Michelle M. Hamilton

In Beyond Faith: Belief, Morality and Memory in a Fifteenth-Century Judeo-Iberian Manuscript, Michelle M. Hamilton sheds light on the concerns of Jewish and converso readers of the generation before the Expulsion. Using a mid-fifteenth-century collection of Iberian vernacular literary, philosophical and religious texts (MS Parm. 2666) recorded in Hebrew characters as a lens, Hamilton explores how its compiler or compilers were forging a particular form of personal, individual religious belief, based not only on the Judeo-Andalusi philosophical tradition of medieval Iberia, but also on the Latinate humanism of late 14th and early 15th-century Europe. The form/s such expressions take reveal the contingent and specific engagement of learned Iberian Jews and conversos with the larger Iberian, European and Arab Mediterranean cultures of the 15th-century.

Abraham Bar Hiyya on Time, History, Exile and Redemption

An Analysis of Megillat ha-Megalleh

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Hannu Töyrylä

An analysis of Megillat ha-Megalleh by Abraham Bar Hiyya (12th c.) as a complete text in its historical and cultural context, showing that the work - written at a time when Jews increasingly came under Christian influence and dominance – presents a coherent argument for the continuing validity of the Jewish hope for redemption. In his argument, Bar Hiyya presents a view of history, the course of which was planted by God in creation, which runs inevitably towards the future redemption of the Jews. Bar Hiyya uses philosophical, scientific, biblical and astrological material to support his argument, and several times makes use of originally Christian ideas, which he inverts to suit his argument.

YHWH is King

The Development of Divine Kingship in Ancient Israel

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Shawn W. Flynn

Amidst various methodologies for the comparative study of the Hebrew Bible, at times the opportunity arises to improve on a method recently introduced into the field. In YHWH is King, Flynn uses the anthropological method of cultural translation to study diachronic change in YHWH’s kingship. Here, such change is compared to a similar Babylonian development to Marduk’s kingship. Based on that comparison and informed by cultural translation, Flynn discovers that Judahite scribes suppressed the earlier YHWH warrior king and promoted a creator/universal king in order to combat the increasing threat of Neo-Assyrian imperialism. Flynn thus opens the possibility, that Judahite scribes engaged in a cultural translation of Marduk to YHWH, in order to respond to the mounting Neo-Assyrian presence.