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Josef van Ess

Theology and Society is the most comprehensive study of Islamic intellectual and religious history, focusing on Muslim theology. With its emphasis on the eighth and ninth centuries CE, it remains the most detailed prosopographical study of the early phase of the formation of Islam. Originally published in German between 1991 and 1995, Theology and Society is a monument of scholarship and a unique scholarly enterprise which has stood the test of time as an unparalleled reference work.
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Patrons of the Old Faith

The Catholic Nobility in Utrecht and Guelders, c. 1580–1702

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Jaap Geraerts

Patrons of the Old Faith is the first full-length study on the Catholic nobility in the Dutch Republic. Based on a detailed prosopographical analysis and through the examination of their marriage strategies, interaction with Protestants, religiosity and contributions to the Holland Mission, Jaap Geraerts shows how the behaviour of the Catholic nobility was highly distinctive and differed from their co-religionists and Protestant peers as it was influenced by a specific set of noble and Catholic values. Due to the synthesis of their noble and confessional identities, the Dutch Catholic nobility in Utrecht and Guelders acted as patrons of their faith and were instrumental for the survival of Catholicism in the Dutch Republic.
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“Your Son Will Be the Scourge of Islam”

Changing Perceptions of Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya in Yezidi Oral Tradition

Eszter Spät

Abstract

Using analyses of myths and fieldwork material, the article studies the way Yezidis, a small ethno-religious group of the Middle East, appropriated the Muslim figure of Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya, the second Umayyad caliph. In his Yezidi myth, he appears as a divine being who was incarnated on earth in order to subvert sharia and replace it with a more spiritual form of Islam, equated with the Yezidi religion at the time the myth was composed. The myth is constructed around the historical reputation of Yazīd as an antinomian figure, but interprets it in a way that mocks orthodox Islam and echoes the ethos of Yezidi religion. In their turn, the Prophet Muhammad and Caliph Muʿāwiya appear as inferior figures, representing a religious tradition that is superseded by Yazīd’s arrival. The myth throws light on the historical development of Yezidi religion, as it reflects an earlier stage, when Yezidis considered orthodox Islam a related, albeit rival and inferior, form of religion. However, today, as Yezidis emphasize their distance from anything related with Islam and Arabic culture, the myth may come to be rejected despite its profoundly Yezidi nature.

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Standing Rock Religion(s)

Ceremonies, Social Media, and Music Videos

Greg Johnson and Siv Ellen Kraft

Abstract

This article addresses emergent religious formations at protest scenes in the broader context of indigenous organization and identity-building. Our central example is the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, 2016–2017, a local encampment-based event that quickly expanded into an international indigenous peoples’ movement. We argue that religion was a key register in the camps, during direct actions, and in solidarity actions around the world, primarily expressed through a limited selection of key terms: water is sacred, water is life, Mother Earth, and ceremony. We argue, moreover, that these terms, and “ceremony” in particular, were a crucial medium of inter-group and up-scaled cultural translations, allowing local identities to come forth as a unified front. Invoking Standing Rock religion(s) as an instance of the broader category indigenous religion(s), we suggest that these identity formations belong to a globalizing indigenous religious formation, anchored in, yet distinct from, discrete indigenous religions, and today performed and mediated in diverse arenas, crisscrossing and connecting indigenous worlds. We are concerned with the translations and comparisons at play, and with the sentiments and moodiness of religion in this particular case, fueled by the cause (a planned pipeline on ancestral lands), the brutality of police encounters, and the sharing of ceremonies, food, and fires at the camps.

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Spirits in a Material World

Mediation and Revitalization of Woodcarvings in a Naga Village

Arkotong Longkumer

Abstract

This article is about woodcarving and the role it plays in religion. It is an attempt to grapple with the idea of heritage as partnership — involving “persons in action,” that is between human and non-human persons — focusing on the work of an artist, Lepten, and the seven themed wooden pillars he and others carved in Mopungchuket village in Nagaland, India. It demonstrates, in this case, how heritage as a process opens up conversations between representing the past and the present in the religious grammar of Baptist Christianity and its relationship with materiality through the medium of wood. It also sheds light on the multiple meanings of heritage that are about openings and pathways for people to discuss how they experience memory and change, renewal and loss. It suggests that what is represented as the “past” in heritage is never dormant but is perpetually being animated through the relations that revise, form, and re-embed in new ways. In this sense, the problem of heritage and the different forms of mediation must take into account how carvings are viewed in Ao Naga society, drawing on both Christian and indigenous Naga concepts that continue to push where the boundaries of heritage as an idea and practice begin and where they end.

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Obituary

A Life and Career: Jonathan Z. Smith (1938–2017)

Russell T. McCutcheon

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Christoph Auffarth