Orthodoxy, Liberalism, and Adaptation

Essays on Ways of Worldmaking in Times of Change from Biblical, Historical and Systematic Perspectives


How does religion cope with changing situations? Are orthodoxy and liberalism really competing strategies? The essays in this volume argue three views. (1)Orthodoxy is not to be seen as the real and original form of a given religion, but as an idealized original form that should be construed as a construction in reaction to changes in time. (2) Over the ages, liberalism – despite its laudable strive for adaptation – has been less successful than generally assumed. This lesson from history can be quite important in view of the adaptation processes for Muslims in Western Europe. (3) Of great importance for the survival of religion seems to be a clear definition of the boundaries of religiously informed practices and ethics. Their recognisability and authenticity shall – when combined with a due lack of obtrusion – be of great influence for the ongoing acceptance of religion(s) in the public domain.
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Biographical Note

Bob Becking, Ph.D. (1985) in Theology, Utrecht University, is Senior Research Professor for Bible, religion and Identity at the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University. He published extensively on the history of the religion in Ancient Israel and on questions concerning the interpretation of the Hebrw Bible. He was one of the Editors of the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Brill, 1999)

Table of contents

Introduction: Why This Volume Bob Becking (Utrecht University) Chapter One: Religious Orthodoxy as a Modality of “Adaptation” Staf Hellemans (Tilburg University) Part II BIBLICAL STUDIES Chapter Two: Does an Exclusive Veneration of God Necessarily Have to Be Violent? Israel’s Stony Way to Monotheism and Some Theological Consequences Rainer Albertz (University of Münster) Chapter Three: Coping with Violence in the Bible: A Response to Rainer Albertz Jan Willem van Henten (University of Amsterdam) Chapter Four: “Common Judaism”, “the Parting of the Ways”, and “the Johannine Community” Adele Reinhartz (University of Toronto) Part III HISTORICAL STUDIES Chapter Five: Believing, Belonging, and Adapting. The Case of Religious Modernism Ernestine van der Wall (Leiden University) Chapter Six: “When Creed and Morals Rot …”: Orthodoxies versus Liberalisms in the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands Reformed Church David J. Bos (Utrecht University) Chapter Seven: Truth, Orthodoxy, and the Nouvelle Théologie: Truth as Issue in a “Second Modernist Crisis” (1946-1950) Jürgen Mettepenningen (Leuven University) Part IV SYSTEMATIC STUDIES Chapter Eight: Orthodoxy, History and Theology: Recontextualisation and Its Descriptive and Programmatic Features Lieven Boeve (Catholic University Leuven) Chapter Nine: Orthopraxis and Being Faithful to One’s Tradition Peter Jonkers (Tilburg University) Chapter Ten: Reconstructing the Change from Judaism to Christianity as a Paradigm Shift Dirk-Martin Grube (Utrecht University) Chapter Eleven: Christian Fundamentalism as a Reaction to the Enlightenment Illustrated by the Case of Biblical Inerrancy Marcel Sarot (Utrecht University) Part V CONCLUSIONS Chapter Twelve: The Ambivalence of Adaptation and the Ongoing Strength of Religion Bob Becking (Utrecht University)


All those interested in the interface between religion and society in past and present, historians, sociologists of religion, biblical scholars