Lee I. Levine
This article addresses three related, though not identical, academic fields of study that crystallized only in the twentieth century. Beforehand, it had generally been assumed, whether for political, social, or religious reasons, that Jews eschewed art and architecture, either because they were visually uncreative, preferring the audile to the visual, or owing to the restrictions imposed on them by the Second Commandment. However, there emerged in the Post-Emancipation era an awareness that, in the course of their history, particularly in the later Middle Ages and modern times, Jews had produced an impressive array of artistic, mostly ceremonial, objects worthy of appreciation and display. This realization that a uniquely Jewish art and architecture existed in the past crystallized in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, finding expression, inter alia, in the establishment of Jewish museums throughout Europe, America, and Israel.
Larry D. Bouchard
The history of drama and performance often overlaps with histories of religious practice, belief, experience, and thought. This chapter surveys such histories and gives consideration to religious stories and themes, ritual structures, dramatic forms (including “metatheater,” “epic theatre,” verse drama, naturalism, and avant-garde theater), and to theories of religion and performance. The discussion is framed by the question, “Is drama inherently a way of being religious?” That is, does theatrical drama—by virtue of being a hybrid of narrative, dialogue, and embodied performance before live audiences—inherently create possibilities for religious, social, and ethical meanings and relations? The question’s value lies in its power to catalyze discoveries, not in any definitive answer. The chapter concludes with recent theological and ethical views of how drama can open questions of self-transcendence and otherness.
Attention to material culture reveals generally shared responses across cultures to size, light, and representations of the human form. Even without specific cultural knowledge, monumental sculpture tends to provoke a sense of awe and small dark spaces a sense of foreboding and mystery. For this reason, whether for small-scale studies of individual practices or events or for comparative religion on a grander scale, attention to material culture has great explanatory potential. Before returning to the value of an appreciation of objects for understanding emotion and religion, this article presents a brief introduction to the term “material culture” and problems specific to the study of the material culture of religion. It then looks at intense emotions in extraordinary contexts, including the ecstasy of a shaman in trance, the anger of a crowd driven to violence, the weeping of saints, and the wonder of devotees in the presence of the miraculous. The article also considers objects that play a role in more pedestrian, though not necessarily less important, feelings.