A Commentary on De ciuitate Dei 10
This theological and philological commentary provides a detailed description of Augustine’s argument and reveals the areas where Augustine misrepresents or oversimplifies Porphyry’s thought in the Deregressu animae and other works.
This work establishes a new foundation for any future work on Porphyry’s Deregressu animae. Via comparison with Porphyry’s extant Greek works and fragments, the commentary sheds light on seven key topics in Augustine’s presentation:
1) the ‘spiritual soul,’
2) the nature of theurgy,
3) the report that Porphyry attributes passsiones to the gods,
4) the coherence of the De regressu animae with Porphyry’s other works, in particular his De philosophia ex oraculis and Epistula ad Anebontem,
5) the report on the purifying principia,
6) Porphyry’s views on reincarnation, and
7) the universal way of salvation.
Empowerment, Gender and Development in an African Movement
In Matarenda/Talents in Zimbabwean Pentecostalism, the fourteen contributors to this multidisciplinary collection reflect on how Pentecostalism contributes to the empowerment of marginalised societies, how it empowers women in particular through the matarenda (talents) principles, and how it contributes to the development of wider society. All but three of the authors are Zimbabwean Pentecostals.

The book deals with such subjects as gender equality, economics and finance, poverty alleviation and sustainable development, education, and entrepreneurship. A remarkable independent Zimbabwean church has harnessed biblical principles from the Parable of the Talents to empower women and those marginalised by economic disasters. It is particularly relevant for understanding the potential of African Pentecostalism in dealing with social and economic challenges.
Brill’s Islam in Africa is designed to present the results of scholarly research into the many aspects of the history and present-day features of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The series will take up issues of religious and intellectual traditions, social significance and organization, and other aspects of the Islamic presence in Africa. It includes monographs, collaborative volumes and reference works by researchers from all relevant disciplines.

Obituary

John Hunwick (1936-2015)

Professor John Owen Hunwick, a leading scholarly authority on the history of Islam in West Africa, passed away on 1 April 2015, after a lengthy illness.

Born in 1936 in Somerset, England, John Hunwick came into contact with Africa as a conscript soldier in British Somaliland from 1955. Back in Britain, he studied Arabic and Islamic history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, graduating in Arabic in 1959. He then went to Ibadan in Nigeria to teach Arabic and the University College there. After several years in Nigeria, he became Associate Professor of History at the University of Ghana, before finally coming to Northwestern University in Evanston, USA (from 1991), where he taught African history and Islamic studies until his retirement in 2004.

Professor Hunwick was an authority of a wide variety of topics and periods of the history of Islam in Africa, in particular in the medieval and early modern periods. He will perhaps be most remembered for his relentless efforts to show that Africa’s past was replete with written sources, and not just the “oral history” that earlier generations of historians assumed. He worked both to collect manuscripts but not least to catalogue and disseminate knowledge about them. In Timbuktu, which came to be at the centre of his attention from the mid-1990s onwards, he will in particular be remembered as the instigator for the UNESCO-initiated Centre de Documentation et de Recherches Ahmed Baba. The centre, now Institute for Studies and Research (IHERI), is a repository of locally produced Arabic manuscripts of a wide variety of topics. Hunwick committed himself to disseminating knowledge of the rich literary heritage in Arabic from Africa, not least through the multi-volume bio-biographical dictionary Arabic Literature of Africa (Leiden: Brill from 1990, edited together with R.S. O’Fahey). He also initiated several journals for this purpose, from Research Bulletin of the Centre of Arabic Documentation in his Ibadan period, through the Fontes Historiae Africanae bulletin, to Sudanic Africa: A Journal of Historical Sources, where he published a large number of documents and biographical studies on important Muslim scholars.

Professor Hunwick published several monographs, the most important being a study of the sixteenth-century Moroccan scholar al-Maghili’s influence on Songhay and Hausaland, Shari’a in Songhay (his Ph.D. Oxford University Press 1985), and a commented translation of al-Saʿdī’s Taʾrīkh al-sūdān: Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire (Brill 1999). However, already from the early 1960s he produced a series of important articles that set the pattern for the study of Islam in West Africa from the medieval to the modern, including an important discussion on the early history of Gao in the Almoravid period, on Islamic law in Songhay, and on issues pertaining to Sufism and slavery. He emphasized the importance of Africa’s contacts across the Sahara, and coined the phrase that “Arabic is the Latin of Africa.” In 2005, the African Studies Association recognized his extraordinary achievements by endowing him with the Distinguished Africanist Award.

Professor Hunwick’s lasting contribution to the study of Islam and Africa includes the establishment of the first academic centre exclusively devoted to the Islamic intellectual tradition in Africa: the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), founded in 1999 under the umbrella of Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies (PAS). He was able to attract significant grants for ISITA and built an impressive scholarly network around its activities. Always fond of puns, Hunwick used to say, “IS IT A good program? Yes, it is!” Indeed, the role of ISITA in promoting the study of Islam in Africa cannot be overestimated. For Brill Academic Publishers, Hunwick will—in addition to his publications mentioned above—be noted as the founder of the book series Islam in Africa (ISAF).

Professor Hunwick was an generous, welcoming and compassionate scholar, who made all effort to support scholars working in West African Islamic history, and in particular his many students, from Africa and elsewhere. He was for many of us the ultimate authority on any question relating to the use of Arabic in Africa, to issues of Shari’a in the African Maliki tradition, and to scholarliness in general. A veritable pioneer and trailblazer has left us, and those who used to stand on the shoulders of this giant will miss him dearly.

Professor Knut S. Vikør, University of Bergen, Norway
Professor Rüdiger Seesemann, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Emmett contributes to missional pentecostal historiography through bringing a pre-eminent figure in early British Pentecostalism into the limelight. He shows how Pentecostalism in Belgian Congo was pioneered by W.F.P. Burton alongside local agency. Central to Burton’s contradictory and complex personality was a passionate desire to see the emancipation of humankind from the spiritual powers of darkness believing only Spirit-empowered local agency would enduringly prove effective.

Burton’s faith believed for Spirit intervention in church communities converting lives, bringing physical healing and transforming regions. In the maelstrom following Congolese Independence, Burton’s belief in his own brand of indigenisation made him an outlier even among Pentecostals. Burton’s pentecostal faith engendered an idealism which frustratingly conflicted with those not sharing it in the way he pursued it. This book thus serves Pentecostals and historians by clarifying Burton’s ideals and revealing the reasons for his frustrations.
The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria
Author: Dauda Abubakar
In ‘They Love Us Because We Give Them’ Zakāt, Dauda Abubakar describes the practice of Zakāt in northern Nigeria. Those who practice this pillar of Islam annually deduct Zakāt from their wealth and distribute it to the poor and needy people within their vicinity, mostly their friends, relatives and neighbours.
The practice of giving and receiving Zakāt in northern Nigeria often leads to the establishment of social relations between the rich and needy. Dauda Abubakar provides details of the social relationship in the people’s interpersonal dealings with one another that often lead to power relations, high table relations etc. The needy reciprocate the Zakāt they collect in many ways, respecting and given high positions to the rich in society.
Author: Matthieu Pignot
In The Catechumenate in Late Antique Africa (4th-6th centuries) Matthieu Pignot explores how individuals became Christian in ancient North Africa. Before baptism, converts first became catechumens and spent a significant time of gradual integration into the community through rituals and teaching. This book provides the first historical study of this process in African sources, from Augustine of Hippo, to canon of councils, anonymous sermons and 6th-century letters. Pignot shows that practices varied more than is generally assumed and that catechumens, because of their liminal position, were a disputed and essential group in the development of Christian communities until the 6th century at least. This book demonstrates that the catechumenate is key to understanding the processes of Christianisation and conversion in the West.
Author: Harry T. Norris
In this work translations of four texts are provided from Ghadāmis and from Mali. The first is a biography of the Ghadāmisī scholar ʿAbdallāh b. Abī Bakr al-Ghadāmisī (1626–1719 AD), written by the eighteenth-century author Ibn Muhalhil al-Ghadāmisī. A second text is “The History of al-Sūq”, concerning al-Sūq, the historic town of Tādmakka and the original home of the Kel-Essouk Tuareg. The third text is “The Precious Jewel in the Saharan histories of the ‘People of the Veil’” by Muḥammad Tawjaw al-Sūqī al-Thānī, a contemporary Tuareg author. It pertains to the Kel-Essouk and their historical ties with the Maghreb and West Africa. The final text is a description of the Tuareg from the book “Ghadāmis, its features, its images and its sights” by Bashīr Qāsim Yūshaʿ, published in Arabic in 2001 AD.
Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives
Volume Editors: Karen Lauterbach and Mika Vähäkangas
Faith in African Lived Christianity – Bridging Anthropological and Theological Perspectives offers a comprehensive, empirically rich and interdisciplinary approach to the study of faith in African Christianity. The book brings together anthropology and theology in the study of how faith and religious experiences shape the understanding of social life in Africa. The volume is a collection of chapters by prominent Africanist theologians, anthropologists and social scientists, who take people’s faith as their starting point and analyze it in a contextually sensitive way. It covers discussions of positionality in the study of African Christianity, interdisciplinary methods and approaches and a number of case studies on political, social and ecological aspects of African Christian spirituality.
This volume contains 17 essays on the subjects of text, canon, and scribal practice. The volume is introduced by an overview of the Qumran evidence for text and canon of the Bible. Most of the text critical studies deal with texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, including sectarian as well as canonical texts. Two essays shed light on the formation of authoritative literature. Scribal practice is illustrated in various ways, again mostly from the Dead Sea Scrolls. One essay deals with diachronic change in Qumran Hebrew. Rounding out the volume are two thematic studies, a wide-ranging study of the “ambiguous oracle” of Josephus, which he identifies as Balaam’s oracle, and a review of the use of female metaphors for Wisdom.
In Locating Politics in Ethiopia's Irreecha Ritual Serawit Bekele Debele gives an account of politics and political processes in contemporary Ethiopia as manifested in the annual ritual performance. Mobilizing various sources such as archives, oral accounts, conversations, videos, newspapers, and personal observations, Debele critically analyses political processes and how they are experienced, made sense of and articulated across generational, educational, religious, gender and ethnic differences as well as political persuasions. Moreover, she engages Irreecha in relation to the hugely contested meaning making processes attached to the Thanksgiving ritual which has now become an integral part of Oromo national identity.