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Editor / Translator: Daniel Canaris
The True Record of the Lord of Heaven ( Tianzhu shilu, 1584) by the Jesuit missionary Michele Ruggieri was the first Chinese-language work ever published by a European. Despite being published only a few years after Ruggieri started learning Chinese, it evinced sophisticated strategies to accommodate Christianity to the Chinese context and was a pioneering work in Sino-Western exchange. This book features a critical edition of the Chinese and Latin texts, which are both translated into English for the first time. An introduction, biography, and rich annotations are provided to situate this text in its cultural and intellectual context.
In: Endowment Studies
Author: Sarah Epping

Abstract

Between 1910 and 1917, the Students’ Christian Association of the University of Michigan sent out six alumni to go to Basra, Iraq, to do what they perceived to be humanitarian work. This study looks at the various fundraising mediums used by the organizers of this so-called “Michigan in Arabia” venture to convince potential donors to give the necessary funds. By analyzing these sources this study shows how a campus organization that ostensibly aimed to help the inhabitants of Basra instead functioned to cultivate Americans’ interests in the potential of this Persian Gulf city as a base for furthering U.S. power in the Middle East. It is important to study this short-lived U.S. engagement in Iraq because by cultivating incipient U.S. imperialism in the region, the Michigan venture provides a historical foundation for the emergence of U.S. economic, political, and strategic interests in Iraq in the long run.

In: Endowment Studies

Abstract

This article explores aspects of Middle Eastern and North African (mena) Jewry in the first half of the twentieth century through their engagement with philanthropy. Specifically, this article demonstrates how many urban Jewish communities in mena adopted and adapted Western European philanthropic structures to fit the needs of their local communities by engaging with multiple public spheres (Jewish, Arab, imperial) that were, at times, in conflict with each other. By highlighting the transnational nature of mena Jewry in the twentieth century, this article demonstrates the importance of philanthropic networks as an articulation of power and social status. Finally, this piece suggests that local Jewish philanthropic initiatives can act as a prism by which we understand power structures within transnational religious networks.

Open Access
In: Endowment Studies
Author: Astrid Meier

Abstract

The aim of this article is to highlight the political uses of the legal concept of waqf in a confrontation between an Orthodox and a Catholic institution during the initial phase of the schism within the Church of Antioch. The Monastery of St Catherine at Mount Sinai confronted the hospice of the Franciscans in the court of the Chief Judge of the province of Damascus in 1145/1733. The legal aspects of the lawsuit are an interesting example of the use of the Ottoman judiciary by non-Muslims, but in order to understand the political implications of the case, it needs to be analysed in the broader context of the religious and political tensions of the time. Therefore, a sketch of the history of both monasteries and their endowments is supplemented with a chapter on the role of Sylvestros, Patriarch of Antioch, in Damascus and an examination of the French and Spanish interests within this Ottoman context.

In: Endowment Studies
Author: Mina Ibrahim

Abstract

This contribution endeavors to show that building and administrating Coptic charitable associations according to the laws of the Egyptian Ministry of Social Affairs (mosa) does not mean allying with or challenging one of the two institutions that claim control over the Coptic Christian ethics of giving in Egypt: the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and the Egyptian government. Especially since my interlocutors are simultaneously integral subjects of the waqf properties (endowments, i.e. the parishes) administered by the institutional Church, they are less interested in negotiating a true definition of such a practice. Beyond the power dynamics that have played out over the orthodoxy of religious practices and that are intensively analyzed in existing literature, I argue that maintaining relations with the two official entities that govern Christian charity in Egypt invites thinking about interactions developed within the context of a heavenly community. Instead of focusing on the competition of who holds and authorizes the better form of the Coptic Christian tradition of khidma (service), I suggest that the interactions with this divine community are sometimes intertwined with overlooked invisible and inaudible meanings of dissent and activism among members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

In: Endowment Studies

Abstract

This contribution aims to look through a common lens at two important components of early modern Ottoman society, namely the endowment system and the institution of slavery. The relationship and intersections of these two fields will be examined on the basis of Istanbul’s court records from the second half of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, in order to pursue the question of where and how (manumitted) slaves could benefit from endowments. The examination of individual cases found in the court records provides information about possible ways in which (former) slaves took on different roles and benefited from the charitable intentions of the founders of endowments.

In: Endowment Studies
The Rites Controversies in the Early Modern World is a collection of fourteen articles focusing on debates concerning the nature of “rites” raging in intellectual circles of Europe, Asia and America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The controversy started in Jesuit Asian missions where the method of accommodation, based on translation of Christianity into Asian cultural idioms, created a distinction between civic and religious customs. Civic customs were defined as those that could be included into Christianity and permitted to the new converts. However, there was no universal consensus among the various actors in these controversies as to how to establish criteria for distinguishing civility from religion. The controversy had not been resolved, but opened the way to radical religious scepticism.

Contributors are: Claudia Brosseder, Michela Catto, Gita Dharampal-Frick, Pierre Antoine Fabre, Ana Carolina Hosne, Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, Giuseppe Marcocci, Ovidiu Olar, Sabina Pavone, István Perczel, Nicholas Standaert, Margherita Trento, Guillermo Wilde and Ines G. Županov.
The Expansion of Catholicism in the Early Modern World
Volume Editors: Antje Flüchter and Rouven Wirbser
Translating Catechisms, Translating Cultures explores the dimensions of early modern transcultural Christianities; the leeway of religious negotiation in and outside of Europe by comparing catechisms and their translation in the context of several Jesuit missionary strategies. The volume challenges the often assumed paramount Europeanness of Western Christianity. In the early modern period the idea of Tridentine Catholicism was translated into many different regions where it was appropriated and adopted to local conditions. Missionary work always entails translation, linguistic as well as cultural, which results in a modification of the content. Catechisms were central instruments to communicate Christian belief and, therefore, they are central media for all kinds of translation processes. The comparative approach (including China, India, Japan, Ethiopia, Northern America and England) enables the evaluation of different factors like power relations, social differentiation, cultural patterns, gender roles etc.

Contributors are: Takao Abé, Anand Amaladass, Leonhard Cohen, Renate Dürr, Antje Flüchter, Ana Hosne, Giulia Nardini, John Ødemark, John Steckley, Alexandra Walsham, Rouven Wirbser.