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In Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth: Contributions in Honor of Robert A. Segal, nineteen renowned scholars offer a collection of essays addressing the persisting question of how to approach religion and myth as academic categories. Taking their cue from the work of Robert A. Segal, they discuss how to theorize about religion and myth from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. With cases from ancient Greece and Mesopotamia to East Asia and the modern world by and large, and engaging with diverse disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, history, film, theology, and religious studies among others, the volume establishes a synthesis that demonstrates the pervasiveness as well as the pitfalls of the categories “religion” and “myth” in the world.
Authors: Josef van Ess and Renee Otto
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 the time as an unparalleled reference work.

The volume consists of a Bibliography, followed by an Index of Names, an Index of Works and a General Index.
In Conjectures and Controversy in the Study of Fundamentalism, W. Paul Williamson takes a critical look at the sociohistorical emergence of fundamentalism and examines how historians constructed popular, though questionable, conceptions of the movement that have dominated decades of empirical research in psychology. He further analyzes the notions of militancy and anti-modernity as valid characterizations of fundamentalism and examines whether fundamentalism, as a Christian Protestant phenomenon, is useful in labelling global forms of religious extremism and violence. In observing the lack of theory-driven research, the publication offers theories that situate fundamentalism as a social psychological phenomenon as opposed to some personal predisposition. Students and scholars of fundamentalism will discover Conjectures and Controversy in the Study of Fundamentalism to be a provocative study on the topic.
Author: Tim Revett

Abstract

Terms like “frightening” and “spiritually dark” fall short in describing many visitors’ impressions of Paraguay’s Tacumbú Penitentiary. Inmates simply refer to it as “hell.” The human rights abuses there are not merely statistics on a United Nations report – they are daily life for thousands of men: overcrowding, malnourishment, unsanitary conditions, over-extended sentences, and the constant threat of assault. According to a former warden, the main efforts in preventing a violent reaction to such circumstances as well as thwarting the consequences of the façade of correction occur inside the penitentiary’s Christian rehabilitation cell blocks, which are managed by chaplains and volunteers. This paper proposes that the primary motivations driving these ministry workers to endure the inhospitable prison environment fall under three categories used by Tewksbury and Dabney: helping inmates, visiting known inmates, and sharing religious beliefs. The paper also evaluates the effectiveness of these motivations for ministry in one of South America’s most dangerous prisons.

In: Social Sciences and Missions
Author: Andrew Johnson

Abstract

This article uses ethnographic data from two of Rio de Janeiro’s inmate-led prison churches to examine how they function. It also highlights the structural and functional parallels of these churches with prison gangs. I argue that the gang-like characteristics of these churches are an important reason for the success of Pentecostalism inside Rio de Janeiro’s penal system. The results of this research can inform future scholarly investigation and prison ministry initiatives.

In: Social Sciences and Missions
In: Social Sciences and Missions