Comparative Theology

A Critical and Methodological Perspective

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Paul Hedges

In this first volume of Brill Research Perspectives in Theology, the field of comparative theology is mapped with particular attention to the tradition associated with Francis Clooney but noting the global and wider context of theology in a comparative mode. There are four parts. In the first section the current field is mapped and its methodological and theological aspects are explored. The second part considers what the deconstruction of religion means for comparative theology. It also takes into consideration turns to lived and material religion. In the third part, issues of power, representation, and the subaltern are considered, including the place of feminist and queer theory in comparative theology. Finally, the contribution of philosophical hermeneutics is considered. The text notes key trends, develops original models of practice and method, and picks out and discusses critical issues within the field.

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Edited by Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee

Argument and Design features fifteen essays by leading scholars of the Sanskrit epics, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa, discussing the Mahābhārata’s upākhyānas, subtales that branch off from the central storyline and provide vantage points for reflecting on it.
Contributors include: Vishwa Adluri, Joydeep Bagchee, Greg Bailey, Adam Bowles, Simon Brodbeck, Nicolas Dejenne, Sally J. Sutherland Goldman, Robert P. Goldman, Alf Hiltebeitel, Thennilapuram Mahadevan, Adheesh Sathaye, Bruce M. Sullivan, and Fernando Wulff Alonso.

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.

The Myōtei Dialogues

A Japanese Christian Critique of Native Traditions

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James Baskind and Richard Bowring

The Myōtei Dialogues is the first complete English translation one of the most important works of early Japanese Christianity. Fukansai Habian’s Myōtei mondō (1605) presents a sharp critique of the three main Japanese traditions, Buddhism, Shintō, and Confucianism, followed by an explanation of the main tenets of Christianity specifically aimed at a Japanese audience. Written by a convert, it is of importance not merely because it shows us how the Christian message was presented by a Japanese to other Japanese, but also for what it reveals about the state of the three native traditions at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Die metaphysische Synthese des Johannes von Damaskus

Historische Zusammenhänge und Strukturtransformationen

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Smilen Markov

Smilen Markov’s monograph on the metaphysical synthesis of John Damascene depicts a paradox ontological structure: the single man, whose ontological position is conditioned by non-being, participates in the life of the Origin of being. The term ‘historical interconnections’ denotes the basic elements of Damascene’s reception strategy through which he approaches the Holy Scripture and the tradition of the fathers. The structural transformation to which different epochs and cultural circles put Damascene’s concepts reveals regularity in understanding the intellectual scope of the Palestinian monk. The reception of his thought could serve as an indicator for the stable mental structures, ‘framing’ the epoch turning-points in European culture for at least six centuries.

Migration as a Sign of the Times

Towards a Theology of Migration

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Edited by Judith Gruber and Sigrid Rettenbacher

Migrations are contested sites of identity negotiations: they are not simply a process of border crossings but more so of border shiftings. Rather than allowing migrants to swiftly move across stable borders from one clearly defined identity to another, migrations question and renegotiate these very identities. Migrations undermine and re-establish borders along which the identity of migrants (and also that of the supposedly settled population) are constituted, and, as a discourse, migrations serve as a contested site of negotiating identities. Migrations reveal the negotiable character of identities - and representations of migration are themselves a hotspot in contemporary identity constructions.

What can theology contribute to the negotiations on migration? The contributions of this volume work towards a reading of migration as a sign of the times. Together, they offer "steps towards a theology of migration." They show that migration calls for a new way of doing. A theology that is exposed to migration as a sign of the times is drwan into the shifting, unsettling, and undermining of borders. This has impact not only on the discourse of migration, but also on the discourse of theology: it calls theology to move away from its search for well-established definitions (literally: borders) of its God-talk and to venture into new, uncharted territory. It loses its fixed, clearly defined grounds and finds itself on the way toward a renegotiation of what it means to believe in, celebrate, and reflect on YHWH - on God who is with us on the way.

Diversity in the Structure of Christian Reasoning

Interpretation, Disagreement, and World Christianity

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Joshua Broggi

Diversity in the Structure of Christian Reasoning examines the effect of Christian commitments on rationality. When Christians read scripture, traditions supply concepts that shape what counts as normal, good, and true. This book offers an account of how different communities produce divergent readings of the Bible. It considers two examples from World Christianity, first a Bakongo community in central Africa, and then a Tamil bishop in southern India. Each case displays a relation between tradition and reason that reconfigures the hermeneutical picture developed by Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer. To see what transpires when readers decide about a correct interpretation, this book offers theologians and scholars of religion a fresh strategy that keeps in view the global character of modern Christianity.

Islam and Rationality

The Impact of al-Ghazālī. Papers Collected on His 900th Anniversary. Vol. I

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Edited by Georges Tamer

This volume offers an account of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111) as a rational theologian who created a symbiosis of philosophy and theology and infused rationality into Sufism. The majority of the papers herein deal with important topics of al-Ghazālī’s work, which demonstrate his rational treatment of the Qurʾān and major subjects of Islamic theology and everyday life of Muslims. Some other contributions address al-Ghazālī’s sources and how his intellectual endeavors were later received by scholars who had the same concern of reconciling religion and rationality within Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

With contributions by Binyamin Abrahamov, Hans Daiber, Ken Garden, Avner Giladi, Scott Girdner, Frank Griffel, Steven Harvey, Alfred Ivry, Jules Janssens, Taneli Kukkonen, Luis Xavier López-Farjeat, Wilferd Madelung, Yahya M. Michot, Yasien Mohamed, Eric Ormsby, M. Sait Özervarlı, and Hidemi Takahashi.

Religion, Emergence, and the Origins of Meaning

Beyond Durkheim and Rappaport

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Paul Cassell

Why is religion so important to individuals and societies? What gives religion its profound meaningfulness and longevity? Enhancing perspectives taken from sociology and ritual theory, Religion, Emergence, and the Origins of Meaning describes how ‘emergence theory’ – developed to make sense of life and mind – explains why religious communities are special when compared to ordinary human social groups. Paul Cassell argues that in religious ritual, beliefs concerning unseen divine agencies are made uniquely potent, inviting and guiding powerful, alternative experiences, and giving religious groups a form of organization distinct from ordinary human social groups. Going beyond the foundational descriptions of Émile Durkheim and Roy Rappaport, Cassell utilizes the best of 21st century emergence theory to characterize religion’s emergent dynamics.

Calvin's Salvation in Writing:

A Confessional Academic Theology

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William A. Wright

Academic writing is not a neutral medium for conveying truth; its powers and faults must be exposed before theology entrusts its mysteries to the academic text. To that end, William Wright, en route to putting Calvin’s Salvation in Writing, institutes a new theological genre, “theography”: theology that “confesses” its academic parameters--with both gratitude and repentance. He delineates those parameters by contrasting the philosophical rationales for writing found in Hegel and Derrida. Drawing on their insights into dialectic and difference, Wright sets out Calvin’s doctrine of justification and sanctification across a shifting written terrain. Observing Calvin’s doctrinal structure thus becomes a path to save academic writing from claiming for itself either too much or too little.

Calvin's Salvation in Writing: A Confessional Academic Theology is the philosophically boldest employment of Calvin to date. Through innovatively mining Calvin’s theology, William Wright designs a new method of theology that will enliven the field.