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Edited by Hector Avalos

Latinos/Latinas are the largest “minority” in the United States, but the field of U.S. Latino/Latina studies is still in its infancy. This work represents the first single volume ever published on the U.S. Latino/Latina religious experience, an area that is even less explored. A carefully selected group of experts examines the major sub-groups of Latinos/Latinas including Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans, along with some of the lesser studied groups such as Dominicans and Central Americans. In addition, the volume includes important thematic chapters on the role of art, film, health care, literature, music, politics, and women’s influence in the U.S. Latino/Latina religious experience.


Giuseppe Giordan

The theme of conversion constitutes a privileged point to study the framework linking an individual to the sociocultural contexts in which he or she is included. Changes in personal biographies and sociocultural change are interwoven when we speak of conversion: values, speech, norms, behaviors, beliefs, lifestyles, interests--everything is open to potential debate when an individual "converts." Conversion is especially developed here through a connection with the dynamics of pluralism, which appears to be the most peculiar cultural characteristic of our era: what does it mean to speak of "conversion" in a time in which it seems that the presumption of only one "true" truth no longer exists, while instead many different truths live together, each with its own judgment criteria.


Edited by Johann P. Arnason, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt and Björn Wittrock

The overarching theme of the book is the historical meaning of the Axial Age, commonly defined as a period of several centuries around the middle of the last millennium BCE, and its cultural innovations. The civilizational patterns that grew out of this exceptionally creative phase are a particularly rewarding theme for comparative analysis.
The book contains essays on cultural transformations in Ancient Greece, Ancient Israel, Iran, India and China, as well as background developments in the core civilizations of the Ancient Near East. An introductory section deals with the history of the debate on the AxialAge, the theoretical questions that have emerged from it, and the present state of the discussion.
The book will be useful for comparative historians of cultures and religions, as well as for historical sociologists interested in the comparative analysis of civilizations. It should also help linking the fields of classical, biblical and Asian studies to broader interdisciplinary debates within the humanities sciences.

Rational Theology in Interfaith Communication

Abu-I-Husayn al-Basri's Mu'tazili Theology among the Karaites in the Fatimid Age


Wilferd Madelung and Sabine Schmidtke

Rational speculative theology (kalam) in early Islam was represented most distinctly by the theological school of the Mu‘tazila. Founded in Basra in the early 8th century, the school soon became predominant in theological scholarship and discourse and remained so until the early 11th century. The Mu‘tazila held that the basic truths of theology, such as the existence of God and the nature of His attributes and justice, are entirely subject to rational proof without the benefit of scriptural revelation. Only after these basic truths have been established can the veracity of scripture be proved by reason, and the primacy of reason must also maintained in the interpretation of scripture. Mu‘tazili theology naturally appealed to rationally inclined theologians of other scriptural religions and provided a suitable basis for inter-faith communication in the Islamic world. In Judaism Mu‘tazili thought was adopted to varying degrees from the 9th century on and reached a peak during the tenth century.
The Mu‘tazili world view and rational theology was facing increasing competition and criticism from philosophy of Greek origin, which claimed to provide the only scientific world view based on cogent logical demonstration independent of religious beliefs. Study of the philosophical sciences was mostly shunned in religious scholarship, but was an integral part of the education of the medical profession. Among Qadi ‘Abd al-Jabbar’s disciples in Rayy was for some time a young physician trained in the philosophical sciences, Abu l-Husayn al-Basri (d. 1044), who challenged some of his teaching in his lectures and went on to compose a massive critical review of the arguments and proofs used in kalam. His theological works were generally ignored among the Mu‘tazila and handed down among students of medicine. Only a century later his teaching was revived and espoused by the Mu‘tazili scholar Mahmud b. al-Malahimi in Khorezm in Central Asia and gained recognition as a school of Mu‘tazili theology.
The present study presents evidence that Abu l-Husayn’s theology was immediately registered and controversially debated in the Karaite community under the Fatimid caliphate. The study is based on source material preserved in Genizahs and now dispersed in libraries around the world.

Robert Singerman

Edited by David L. Gold

This work identifies and describes over 3,000 books, essays in books, and articles on Jewish given names and family names throughout history, spanning the Biblical period to modern times. The bibliography is a highly analytic one, recording published materials in a wide variety of research languages treating Jewish anthroponymy in the broadest sense from historical, sociological, and linguistic perspectives. The bibliography will be an invaluable resource for any researcher engaged in etymological studies, Jewish intralinguistics, or Jewish family history.


Edited by Jim R. Lewis and Olav Hammer

There has been a significant but little-noticed aspect of the interface between science and religion, namely the widespread tendency of religions to appeal to science in support of their truth claims. Though the appeal to science is most evident in more recent religions like Christian Science and Scientology, no major faith tradition is exempt from this pattern. Members of almost every religion desire to see their ‘truths’ supported by the authority of science – especially in the midst of the present historical period, when all of the comforting old certainties seem problematic and threatened. The present collection examines this pattern in a wide variety of different religions and spiritual movements, and demonstrates the many different ways in which religions appeal to the authority of science. The result is a wide-ranging and uniquely compelling study of how religions adapt their message to one of the major challenges presented by the contemporary world.


Edited by Ralph L. Piedmont and Andrew Village

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion publishes empirical and theoretical studies of religion from a wide range of disciplines and from all parts of the globe. This volume includes a special section on spirituality and hope that brings together theoreticists and practitioners who present original research on this important and neglected topic. Alongside this section are papers presenting studies on subjects such as civic participation, suffering with God, and spirituality. Together these papers represent important contributions that advance theory and evidence in a number of different fields of contemporary relevance to the study of religion.


Heinz Streib

Changes in the religious landscape present challenges to conceptualization, methodology and empirical research of religion. The volume, Religion inside and outside Traditional Institutions, which includes contributions to the 2nd conference of the International Society for Empirical Research in Theology (ISERT) in Bielefeld, Germany, responds to these contemporary challenges. While the concept of religious praxis is their common theme, they include a focus on deinstitutionalized religion. The contributions in the first part present and discuss a variety of innovative conceptual, paradigmatic and methodological approaches. Distinguished reports from quantitative and qualitative empirical research make up the second part of this volume. Taken together, they may inspire conceptual and methodological discussion and encourage further research in empirical theology. Contributors include: Johannes A. van der Ven, Leslie J. Francis, Hans-Günter Heimbrock, Tobias Kläden, Chris Hermans, Hans Schilderman, Kees de Groot, Don S. Browning, Stefan Huber, Ulrich Feeser-Lichterfeld, Anke Terörde, Angela Kaupp, Astrid Dinter, Carsten Gennerich.


Edited by James Lewis and Daren Kemp

The Handbook of New Age is a comprehensive survey of alternative spiritualities: their history, their global impact, their cultural influence and how they are understood by scholars. Chapters by many of the leading scholars of the movement give the latest analysis of contemporary spiritual trends, and present up-to-date observations of the interaction between the New Age movement and many different fields of knowledge and research.

Polemical Encounters

Esoteric Discourse and Its Others


Olav Hammer and Kocku von Stuckrad

In its historical development from late antiquity to the present, western esotericism has repeatedly been the issue of polemical discourse. This volume engages the polemical structures that underlie both the identities within and the controversy about esoteric currents in European history. From Jewish and Christian kabbalah through heretical discourse and interconfessional polemics in early modernity to the legitimization of esoteric identity in modern culture, the 12 chapters, accompanied by an editors’ introduction, provide a cornucopia of relevant cases that are interpreted in a framework of polemical discourse and ‘Othering’. This volume sheds new light on the ultimately polemical structure of western esotericism and thus opens new vistas for further research into esoteric discourse.