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Aren Roukema

Esotericism and Narrative: The Occult Fiction of Charles Williams situates the life and fiction of the Inkling Charles Williams in the network of modern occultism, with special focus on his initiatory experiences in A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. Aren Roukema evaluates fictional projections of magic, kabbalah, alchemy and ritual experience in Williams’s seven novels of supernatural fantasy. From this specific analysis, he develops more broadly applicable approaches to the serious expression of religious experience in fiction. Roukema shows that esoteric knowledge has frequently been blurred into fiction because of its inherent narrativity and adaptability, particularly by authors already attracted to the syncretism, multivalence and lived fantasy of the modern occult experience.


Edited by Wilferd Madelung and Abdulrahman al-Salimi

In Ibāḍī Texts from the 2nd/8th Century Abdulrahman Al-Salimi and Wilferd Madelung present an edition of fourteen Ibāḍī religious texts and explain their contents and extraordinary source value for the early history of Islam. The Ibāḍīs constitutes the moderate wing of the Kharijite opposition movement to the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid caliphates. The texts edited are mostly polemical letters to opponents or exhortatory to followers by ‘Abd Allah b. Ibad , Abu l-‘Ubayda Muslim b. Abi Karima and other Ibadi leaders in Basra, Oman and Hadramawt. An epistle detailing the offences of the caliph ‘Uthman is by the early Kufan historiographer al-Haytham b. ‘Adi. By their early date and independence of the mainstream historical tradition these txts offer the modern historian of Islam an invaluable complement to the well-known literary sources.

The Roman Inquisition

Centre versus Peripheries


Edited by Katherine Aron-Beller and Christopher Black

In The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries, two inquisitorial scholars, Black who has published on the institutional history of the Italian Inquisitions and Aron-Beller whose area of expertise are trials against Jews before the peripheral Modenese inquisition, jointly edit an essay collection that studies the relationship between the Sacred Congregation in Rome and its peripheral inquisitorial tribunals. The book analyses inquisitorial collaborations in Rome, correspondence between the Centre and its peripheries, as well as the actions of these sub-central tribunals. It discusses the extent to which the controlling tendencies of the Centre filtered down and affected the peripheries, and how the tribunals were in fact prevented by local political considerations from achieving the homogenizing effect desired by Rome.

1 Conflict and Collaboration

The Inquisition in Rome and the Papal Territories (1550–1750)


Irene Fosi


This chapter focuses the attention on the city of Rome and some regions and towns of the Papal States from the late sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century. The aim is to underline the conflicts and interrelations between the Inquisition and other central tribunals (such as those of the Governor, and of the Cardinal Vicar), local bishops and governors and the role played by officers in the Roman tribunal and in the inner peripheral ones. In this diversified context, drawing largely on unpublished archival material, my paper is intended to elucidate the collaboration/opposition with local episcopal courts and the provincial inquisitorial world and his staff, to verify the gap between theory and practice, between Roman, central policy and the actual practice. How deep and incisive the inquisitorial control was in a peculiar context like the Eternal City and the Papal States?

10 Interrogating Conversion

Discourses and Practices in the Venetian Inquisition (Sixteenth–Seventeenth Centuries)


Giorgos Plakotos


Conversion had been an underlying process in the operation of the Roman Inquisition and latently informed and shaped its procedure. This chapter focuses on early modern Venice, which became a hub of religious conversion institutionalized through the Inquisition and the House of Catechumens and, from a comparative perspective, examines cases of Judaizing conversos, Muslims who claimed that they had a Christian background and sought reconciliation with the Church, as well as Protestants or Calvinists from Northern Europe who were converted to Catholicism. The chapter draws on the analytical orientation of “centre and peripheries” to explore this relationship in terms of both geographical/political context and conversion’s place in the overall inquisitorial activity. Conversion has attracted considerable scholarly attention. The chapter seeks to go beyond questions on why and how individuals converted, which have been prominent in current scholarship, to provide a thorough discussion of conversion as a “locus” where various discourses on identity, subjecthood, Self and Other, and religion were articulated and woven together. This chapter argues that the inquisition’s involvement with conversion created durable discourses on identification and classification and established practices that firmly turned individuals into self-identifying Catholics. Conversion cases testified to the increasing collaboration between the local Venetian tribunal and Rome and the shaping of common definitions and norms about the imagery of conversion.

11 Converting the Jews

Inquisition and Houses of Catechumens, from Rome to Outlying Areas


Matteo Al Kalak


This chapter investigates the relationship that existed between the Houses of the Catechumens and the central and local offices of the inquisition, through the analysis of a specific case: the Este Duchy, in northern Italy. The Houses of the Catechumens were places of isolation, where Jews waiting to be baptized and become Catholics were accommodated. The abundant documentation conserved in the archives reveals a lack of interaction with the inquisition, at both central and peripheral level. In addition, the politic of conversion that inspired the Church in the modern age did not seem to be effectively pursued either by the Houses or local inquisition: converted Jews represent a small percentage, and Jewish communities were not scratched numerically by the activities of the institutions dedicated to their conversion (Inquisition, Houses of Catechumens and ghettos). The focus of Catholic authorities turned rather to limit the sociability between Jews and Christians and often used the fines imposed on Jews as a form of self-financing for the Houses and the local inquisitions, always looking for economic resources.