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In World History as the History of Foundations, 3000 BCE to 1500 CE, Michael Borgolte investigates the origins and development of foundations from Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages. In his survey foundations emerge not as mere legal institutions, but rather as “total social phenomena” which touch upon manifold aspects, including politics, the economy, art and religion of the cultures in which they emerged. Cross-cultural in its approach and the result of decades of research, this work represents by far the most comprehensive account of the history of foundations that has hitherto been published.

Abstract

The tradition that God raised Jesus from the dead has been challenged by the revival of two hypotheses – a) that the post-resurrection appearances may be explained on the basis of bereavement hallucinations on the part of the disciples, and b) that, on the basis of a comparison with parapsychological literature, a paranormal explanation may be possible. After a brief critique of the traditional evangelical approach to the relevant New Testament texts, the present article focuses on an assessment of these alternative hypotheses, concluding that, although parapsychological literature offers some interesting comparisons with the post-resurrection appearances, the bereavement hallucination hypothesis shows more promise as a viable alternative to the traditional view.

In: Religion and Theology
In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In this paper, land will be interpreted as space, which, together with time, carries out the world in which to live, namely, to exist (Dasein). One is never alone in these time-spaces (Mitsein), as one shares these time-spaces with others, and therefore these time-spaces are conflictual or antagonistic. The main reason for this antagonism is the role that power plays in the carrying out of a particular time-space. The play between time and space can also be interpreted as metaphysics: Zeit-Spiel-Raum. As there are different and competing metaphysical constructions, these time-spaces will be riddled with antagonism. Capitalism, with its focus on private property, is one possible metaphysical system that carries out a certain time-space, yet there are other metaphysical systems which carry out a more communal time-space. These competing metaphysical systems often cannot be reconciled, which then forces the question: on what basis, or with which criteria would one discern between these different time-spaces – which brings one into the field of ethics and consequently justice and its inverse injustice. The paper will seek to propose a trans-fictional praxis as an agonistic approach to these competing and antagonistic metaphysical worlds, who are seeking to determine and control the time-spaces.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

In “The Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle,” Kierkegaard deploys the figure of Paul as the archetype of an apostle, who “does not develop in such a way as he gradually becomes what he is [according to potentiality].” This claim would seem at odds with much contemporary Pauline scholarship, which understands Paul’s writings as an ad hoc, developing, quasi-guerrilla sort of theology. While this may be the case, Kierkegaard’s essay is nonetheless deserving of attention, for it highlights an issue that arguably remains a tacit foundation of Pauline studies – namely, the identification and resulting allure of Paul as an inherently authoritative figure in early Christianity.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

Taylor’s typology of the porous and the buffered self are central to his thesis on secularisation in the Western world. The porous self is a characteristic of the enchanted world and the buffered self of the disenchanted world. He differentiates between these characterisations in terms of particular themes such as meaning, agency, boundaries, vulnerability, individual vs. society, and belief. Applying these characterisations to the African context using particular case studies reveals that the porous self continues to feature in the contemporary African context. This raises the question of the kinds of theologies that are commensurate with them and how they are manifest in the African context.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

This paper examines the question of Islam and its relationship to violence in Muslim reformer Asghar Ali Engineer’s pre- and post-11 September 2001 works in response to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. We argue that that while his pre-9/11 approach to violence offers a much more historical and systemic account of violence by viewing it as a societal problem involving a number of different agents, the post-9/11 evocation of Gandhi does the opposite. By evoking the figure of Gandhi in a post-9/11 context, Engineer not only addresses the issue of violence as a peculiarly Muslim one but forecloses any possibility to understanding violence as a historically evolving and systemically operating phemonenon. In ignoring this, Engineer finds himself well accommodated within the larger politics of Empire and its dehistoricised, naturalised, and individualised interpretation of Muslim related violence.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

This essay argues that evidence suggests that shamanistic-type healing experts were found in ancient Israel, and that the kind of healing rituals show similarities to other such shamanistic practices in other contexts. Hebrew Scriptures provides evidence for a range of designations for such persons dedicated to the mediating office between humans and the divine, some of which have certainly been involved with the art of curing. Narrative and prophetic literatures offer some illuminating evidence for healing specialists. Particular attention is paid to supplicatory psalms in the Old Testament which suggest the mediating role of healing experts. Further comparisons with Sumero-Babylonian professional rites and Navajo healing chants establish the likelihood of the presence and activities of such shamanistic-type healing experts in ancient Israel.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

The almost complete absence of any reference to the terms shaman and shamanism in Biblical Studies has its roots in the historical prejudice in Western scholarship against them, and originated from colonial ethnocentrism and Christian notions of superiority. However, the shaman, defined as a practitioner who based on the alteration of ordinary consciousness serves a community with particular functions, represents a recognisable pattern in numerous cultural settings while the growth in the multidisciplinary study of shamanism in recent decades shows a growth in one of the oldest patterns of religious activities in human history. The study of shamanism does not only provide a body of comparative research but analytical models for explaining the most extraordinary and anomalous aspects found also in biblical texts, namely, prophesy, divination, healing and exorcism as well as heavenly journeys and spirit possession.

In: Religion and Theology