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Esther Eidinow

Abstract

This article discusses the challenges facing scholars exploring the nature of belief in ancient Greek religion. While recent scholarship has raised questions about individual religious activities, and work on ritual, the body, and the senses has broadened our methodological palette, the nature and dynamics of generally held “low intensity” beliefs still tend to be described simply as “unquestioned” or “embedded” in society. But examining scholarship on divine personifications suggests that ancient beliefs were — and our perceptions of them are — more complex. This article first explores the example of Tyche (“Chance”), in order to highlight some of the problems that surround the use of the term “belief.” It then turns to the theories of “ideology” of Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller and argues that these can offer provocative insights into the nature and dynamics of ritual and belief in ancient Greek culture.

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Arresting Alternatives

Religious Prejudice and Bacchantic Worship in Greek Literature

Marika Rauhala

Abstract

Ancient Greek descriptions of ecstatic and mystic rituals, here broadly labeled as Bacchantic worship, regularly include elements of moral corruption and dissolution of social unity. Suspicions were mostly directed against unofficial cult groups that exploited Dionysiac experiences in secluded settings. As the introduction of copious new cults attests, Greek religion was receptive to external influences. This basic openness, however, was not synonymous with tolerance, and pious respect for all deities did not automatically include their worshippers. This article reconsiders the current view of ancient religious intolerance by regarding these negative stereotypes as expressions of prejudice and by investigating the social dynamics behind them. Prejudices against private Bacchantic groups are regarded as part of the process of buttressing the religious authority of certain elite quarters in situations where they perceive that their position is being threatened by rival claims. It is suggested that both the accentuation and alleviation of prejudice is best understood in relation to the relative stability of the elite and the religious control it exerted.

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Edited by Matthias Henze and Frank Feder

The Textual History of the Bible (THB) brings together for the first time all available information regarding the manuscripts, textual history and character of each book of the Hebrew Bible and its translations as well as the deuterocanonical scriptures. In addition, THB covers the history of research, the editorial history of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its subsidiary fields, such as papyrology, codicology, and the related discipline of linguistics. The THB will consist of 4 volumes.

Volume 2: Deuterocanonical Scriptures. Editors Matthias Henze and Frank Feder
Vol. 2A: overview articles
Vol. 2B: to Ezra
Vol. 2C: Jubilees to 16 Appendix
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Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture

Visualisation, Data Mining, Communication

Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant

Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture presents an overview of the digital turn in Ancient Jewish and Christian manuscripts visualisation, data mining and communication. Edited by David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz and Sarah Bowen Savant, it gathers together the contributions of seventeen scholars involved in Biblical, Early Jewish and Christian studies. The volume attests to the spreading of digital humanities in these fields and presents fundamental analysis of the rise of visual culture as well as specific test-cases concerning ancient manuscripts. Sophisticated visualisation tools, stylometric analysis, teaching and visual data, epigraphy and visualisation belong notably to the varied overview presented in the volume.
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Tawfiq Daʿadli

In Esoteric Images: Decoding the Late Herat School of Painting Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the pictorial languagewhich flourished in the city of Herat, modern Afghanistan, under the rule of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r.1469-1506). This study focuses on one illustrated manuscript of a poem entitled Khamsa by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, kept in the British Library under code Or.6810. Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the paintings, reveals the syntax behind them and thus deciphers the message of the whole manuscript. The book combines scholarly efforts to interpret theological-political lessons embedded in one of the foremost Persian schools of art against the background of the court dynamic of an influential medieval power in its final years.