Peter E. Pormann
The classical tradition not only provided the backdrop against which the Abrahamic religions emerged, but also provided a constant source of inspiration for their development over the centuries. The present chapter offers a number of vignettes on this topic, looking at: the Christian apologetic literature through the perceptive of the patristic historian Franz Overbeck; the Talmudic concept of the ‘Wisdom of Greek (Ḥoḵmaṯ Yewānīṯ)’; the Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement, and notably how the ‘philosopher of the Arabs’, al-Kindī, established philosophy in the Arabo-Islamic tradition; Maimonides’ work on medicine and speculative theology, showing the continuities between Alexandria in antiquity and the medieval world on the different shores of the Mediterranean; the interest in Greek and Latin at the Ottoman court; and the importance of classical studies for the development of Islam’s modernity.
A very fundamental fact about African religions is that they are not institutional religions. They do not have an organization that one becomes a member of upon converting or being converted to the religion. Such an organization has a hierarchy of officials in charge of the propagation of a certain metaphysic and the promotion of virtue. One has to accept certain doctrines before qualifying to be a member of such a religion. If the religion is a God-oriented one, then a most important duty of the officialdom will be to arrange regular sessions of God worship. This article describes the traditional religion of Africa and then reflects on specific issues of religious diversity with respect to this traditional religion. It also focuses on God as creator and the problem of evil, African religion and Christianity, religious pluralism, and religious exclusivism.
Although there existed no real millennial text prior to late Jewish and early Christian texts, there exists an overabundance of resources that heavily draw on millennial texts. This article deals with the “Apocrypha” or the Hebrew Bible, which is wrought with apocalyptic literature. Similar literature is also to be found in Mesopotamian scriptures, a string of texts known as the “Akkadian Prophecies”. Ancient Zoroastrian texts, predating both Jewish and Christian counterparts, too seem to have substantial pre-millennial texts, similar in subjective elements such as an unhappy end of time with subsequent salvation, resurrection, personified angels etc. The common factors between these texts are: they commonly draw on general crisis contexts and most immediate and obvious hurdles in projecting the evils of the world; secondly, the geographical origins of these texts were unified by the common factor of their unequivocal resistance to Hellenic expansionism, something that figures prominently in the subjective interpretation of these texts.
This article looks at the impact of ancient Near Eastern studies on biblical scholarship. Before 1800, no accurate first-hand knowledge of Egypt's ancient remains was available to compare with biblical mentions of that land and its ancient civilization. During the nineteenth century, detailed pioneering exploration of Egypt and Nubia led to extensive recording and major publications of the visible monuments and inscriptions, while decipherment of ancient Egypt's hieroglyphic and other scripts, along with their language, finally opened the way towards recovering three millennia of history, literature, and social organization, including religious belief and practice.
W. G. Lambert
This article discusses the impact of ancient Near Eastern studies on biblical scholarship, focusing on written remains of all kinds. Ancient Mesopotamia has yielded tens of thousands of clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions, apart from monumental stone inscriptions and inscriptions on other media. Palestine and Syria, by contrast, have yielded comparatively little inscriptional material, partly because much was written on papyrus and leather, which has not survived, partly because they were less rich than their Mesopotamian neighbours and so produced less written material.
This chapter traces the Anglican commitment to, and involvement in, the ecumenical movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, particularly as reflected in resolutions of successive Lambeth Conferences from 1867 to 2008. It highlights the classic statement of the Anglican ecumenical vision given by the 1920 Lambeth Conference, centred on the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the Appeal to All Christian People that the Conference issued. It considers various ecumenical developments with Anglican participation in the 1940s and 1950s and records major doctrinal agreements reached in bilateral and multilateral dialogues particularly from the 1970s onwards, as well as new stages of closer communion entered into with a number of ecumenical partners at regional levels. Increasingly, a commitment to an ecumenism of action is becoming a dominant feature of today’s ecumenical movement, although doctrinal conversations continue to search for the agreement in faith that is required and sufficient for visible unity.
This chapter offers a working definition of the apocalyptic, followed by some of the apocalyptic's most important constituent components. Then, it concentrates on associations between these components and violence, illuminating how structures of the apocalyptic can be deployed to serve violent ends. Apocalyptic texts and movements alike demonstrate a tendency to split the world and its contents into absolute good and absolute evil. Dualistic thinking has been noted by many scholars as a quintessential element of religious violence. Furthermore, the chapter examines three interrelated processes connected to duality that aid in the transformation of apocalyptic thinking into violence against others. Apocalyptic duality is deepened through a sense of temporality that envisions all of time having led up to the unique moment in history in which only the elect exclusively possess the truth. Duality and utopia coalesce as motive forces for foreign intervention to “free” those who are “oppressed.”
This essay aims to explain what Aquinas does and does not mean when using the word ‘God’. It also tries to explain why Aquinas thinks it reasonable to conclude that God exists and how Aquinas can be compared and contrasted with certain thinkers both agreeing and disagreeing with this conclusion. The essay places emphasis on Aquinas’s notion of esse and on the fact that he consistently asserts that we do not know what God is.
Michael A. Sells
This chapter, which looks at the actual or alleged cases of apocalypticism within contemporary Iranian Shi'ite, Saudi Sunni, and American Christian circles, evaluates the issue of contemporary militant apocalypticism, emphasizing the competition between its American Christian and Islamic versions. The hadith collections present contradictory reports regarding the end-time struggle between the Messiah Jesus and Dajjal. Militant near-term apocalypticism summons the power of religion, imagination, and personal conviction against any serious peace endeavor; demonizes those who work toward such endeavors; and sanctifies those who, once the tribulation or endtimes conflict is underway, kill the peacemakers. The apocalyptic messianism of American dispensationalists, and of the Salafi Sunni figures Safar al-Hawali and Ali al-Timimi, feature scenarios of Middle Eastern and global carnage ending with messianic triumph and theologically grounded rejection of Middle East peacemaking.
Scott W. Sunquist
Asian ecumenism began as a pragmatic concern of Western mission agencies, but was catalysed under the pressure of Japanese imperialism early in the twentieth century. National ecumenical organizations were promoted in the wake of the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, but with the dismantling of imperialism in Asia after the Pacific War, national and regional cooperation became the sole work of younger Asian leaders. Organic church unions occurred between the 1930s and 1960s, but this has not been a major theme of ecumenism in Asia. China is unique in the ecumenical movement in Asia because of the formation of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement as a way to negotiate a new place for the church in Chinese society. Ecumenism has once again become more pragmatic, and major ecumenical bodies (e.g. the Christian Conference of Asia) have become more focused on issues such as public health, disaster relief, and the environment.