The leaders of the Oxford Movement were supported by a cast of friends and disciples who made important contributions to the ideas and initiatives associated with the Movement. Most of them, until recently, have been given little attention by historians. However, recent studies of these personalities and their active involvement in Tractarian ventures have offered a more complete and complex perspective of the range of the Movement’s programmes and activities. Among those activities, of particular relevance was the work of the London Tractarians in the field of education, where they played a vital role in the extraordinary development of the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the late 1830s and 1840s.
Using the Autobiography of Malcolm X, this chapter examines the concept of Muslim American indigeneity and the emerging Muslim American literature canon as responses to a history of contested belonging. I explore Malcolm X’s narrative as a critical commentary on American race relations and what it means to be a Muslim from America, paying particular attention to Malcolm X’s engagement with and ultimate upending of popular tropes of American inception and Muslim representation, namely the Plymouth Rock landing and the image of the Black Muslim. Despite his embrace of “American type thinking”—a focus on public relations in controlling image—Malcolm X’s text reinforces a binary between the diasporic and the national that helps shape our understanding of Islam in America today. Reading Malcolm X’s work as a narrative of contested belonging and as a cultural investment in American “literary Muslimness” offers new insight on current claims to indigeneity.
Abdolkarim Soroush founded one of the most important intellectual movements in Iran. This article traces the development of his thought through three distinct periods: (1) a critique of Marxism and its influence on Islamist political ideology, (2) an epistemological critique of Islamist truth claims, and (3) a hermeneutical approach to the Divine text and Prophetic tradition.
The Abrahamic religions recognize Abraham as the first to arrive at the truth of monotheism and live out the ideal relationship with God. He is the archetype of the stalwart religious individual willing to abandon everything in the journey to realize the truth of God. Yet while the Abrahamic religions all recognize his vital role, each understands his nature differently. In Judaism Abraham represents unfailing obedience to the divine command, while in Christianity he is the epitome of Christian faith. And in Islam Abraham was the first to submit fully and without reservation to the divine will. Because the religions that revere Abraham differ, so do their Abrahams. Thus, not only does Abraham serve as a symbol of common aspirations, he is also a source of disagreement and interreligious polemic, and a fulcrum for leveraging spiritual difference and claims to religious superiority.
Adam J. Silverstein
This chapter argues that both the focus on Abraham as a unifying figure and the categorization of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as comparable religions (which, importantly, are to be distinguished from others), have been in evidence since ancient times. The chapter draws on both the theological stances of each religion towards the other, and on assorted moments in history when the relationship between the Abrahamic religions—and amongst their adherents—was appreciated and even highlighted.
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.
The modern concept of the Abrahamic religions has roots in Christian theology, the academic study of the Near East, and the study of Islam. In the nineteenth century, Protestant theologians built on the idea of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ in developing the idea of a spiritual connection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time, students of the Near East understood the three religious traditions as sharing a common genealogical bond. Such recognition was enhanced by Islam’s own sense of the religion of Abraham, which was communicated to a broader public by western Islamicists. Although the concept of the Abrahamic religions does not preclude the privileging of one religion over the others, it has provided both scholars and laypeople with a useful way of exploring the common ground of the three faiths.
The Mediterranean has been an exceptionally important place of interaction, competition, and, at times, conflict among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, throughout the centuries since the rise of Islam. In this chapter, the emphasis is upon the themes of crystallization of identity, dispersion, and conflict. In the early Middle Ages the borders between the various religious communities in the Mediterranean were at times ill-defined, with frequent interaction and overlaps in religious identities. This situation changes in the Middle Ages, with permeable boundaries turning into physical, social, legal, and cultural walls. Thus, in many Mediterranean communities we can observe the crystallization of the religious groups into self-confident communities led by literate elites and wedded to codes of law embodied in the Talmud, in the evolving system of canon law, and in Muslim ḥadīths and fatwas. This stiffening of the boundaries is reflected in the Crusades and in the Iberian conflicts.
Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī’s (d. 321/933) Theory of ‘States’ (aḥwāl) and its Adaption by Ashʿarite Theologians
This chapter discusses the notion of ‘states’ (aḥwāl) in Muʿtazilite and Ashʿarite theology. The concept was borrowed from linguistics by the Muʿtazilite theologian Abū Hāshim al-Jubbāʾī (d. 321/933). It helped him to explain the nature of God’s attributes without asserting the existence of co-eternal beings in God. The conception of attributes as ‘states’ became a central doctrine among Abū Hāshim’s followers, the so-called Bahshamiyya school. The theory of aḥwāl was first rejected by Ashʿarite theologians. With Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī (d. 403/1013), however, an important representative of the school eventually came to use the term within the framework of his theory of attributes. Later, Abu l-Maʿālī al-Juwaynī (d. 478/1085–6) also followed al-Bāqillānī in adopting the notion of ḥāl.
Charting key turning points in the history of the academic study of the Qur’an, this chapter offers a survey of the debates and arguments which dominate discussions. Exploring what is meant by academic scholarship, the chapter assesses the profound influence of the work of figures such as Theodore Nöldeke, Abraham Geiger, Gustav Weil, and indeed Ignaz Goldziher; and it reviews developments in more recent approaches to the Qur’an, including the work of Rudi Paret, Montgomery Watt, John Wansbrough, Fazlur Rahman, Toshihiko Izutsu, Michel Cuypers, and Angelika Neuwirth. Also examined are key preliminary questions such as ‘the technical parameters of academic scholarship of the Qur’an’; ‘insider-outsider’ perspectives; ‘non-confessional’ and ‘confessional’ approaches; claims about ‘truth value’ statements; and the ‘intrusion of polemical discourses’.
This chapter is a critical literature review of recent social science research describing and analyzing the participation of Christian churches in various phases of the human rights movement in Latin America. Spanning the period from 1964 to the present, such human rights activism took place in the contexts of authoritarian rule, civil war, democratic transitions, and the consolidation of democracy. The chapter focuses on the influence of Christian church leaders, laity, organizations, and resources on the origins, growth, and maturation of human rights-oriented social movement organizations (SMOs). Drawing on Douglas McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly’s work on political process theory, this literature emphasizes the invaluable role of religious organizations in providing space, resources, protection, and framing to nascent human rights movements in the region during the 1960s-70s. Even so, the literature also grapples with the diverse range of political stances taken by Christian church leaders and activists, both within and across national-level cases. With the maturation of the movement and the transition to democracy, political process theory remained relevant, but failed to capture some of the key challenges and opportunities experienced by Christian activists, as opposed to social activists in general. Thus, scholarship shifted focus to organized religion’s capacity to build social capital and sustain meaningful Christian social and human rights activism.
Rubén René Dupertuis
The Acts of the Apostles offers a kind of sequel to Gospel of Luke, telling the story of the spread of the Jesus movement through the activities of key leaders, beginning in Jerusalem, moving westward into the Aegean region, and finally to Rome, the imperial center. Narrative approaches have been instrumental in turning attention to how the author tells the story using the tools of narrative—plot, characterization, and so on—as well as to how the author’s use of linguistic and cultural codes would have been heard by ancient readers. This chapter explores the importance of this westward geographical movement in Acts and, through a reading of the story of Paul’s visit to Philippi (Acts 16:11–40), looks at the ways in which the author of Acts adapts narrative conventions to highlight particular moments in the progression.
Peter C. Bouteneff
Adam and Eve, who barely appear in the Bible after they are introduced in the book of Genesis, serve a short but important list of functions within early Christian writing. They represent Christ and Mary, respectively, among other typological readings of the Paradise narrative. They also stand for all of humanity, partly by virtue of their location at the top of the human genealogy, and partly because their acts in the garden are commonly universalized to represent the sins of each and all. The understanding of their sin as resulting in an original guilt passed on through the generations is by no means a common one in early Christian writing. The question of their historical existence is not foreign to some of the ancient authors—nor does it really preoccupy any of them—but it does not receive a straightforward or consistent answer.
The narrative(s) in Genesis 1–3 is a foundational text for Western discourse on gender and sexuality. To date, studies of biblical masculinities have virtually ignored the biblical first male subject; feminist scholarship has long focused on Eve; and queer readings that render Genesis 1–3 alien to modern discourses are promising but small in number. This chapter takes some tentative first steps toward a more focused reception history of Adam as a gendered subject. In light of the current (and still relatively new) state of scholarship on biblical masculinities, the chapter then proposes that reception history and cultural-historical approaches to biblical “afterlives” offer a promising path for future work. Particular attention is paid to Adam’s gender in Genesis 1–3 itself and in the writings of Paul, as well as in later theological, literary, and artistic texts.
The chapter examines adherence and conversion in the Daoist religious tradition. In addition to discussing “conversion” as a comparative category and as a cultural phenomenon in China, this study investigates Daoist views on the subject and the ways in which Daoists have set parameters for religious affiliation. This is followed by an examination of domestic conversion, by people of both Chinese (“Han”) ethnic identity and ethnic minorities, to Daoism in Chinese history. The final section presents information on foreign conversion to Daoism. This includes brief discussions of Daoist conversion in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and the modern West. Here the chapter suggests that Daoism has become a global cultural and religious phenomenon. Throughout this chapter, specific attention is given to the ongoing process of voluntary conversion to Daoism as well as to the diverse motivations of potential converts.
The tradition of Qurʾānic interpretation is one of the richest aspects of cultural production in Arabic. Its richness goes beyond the question of explaining the content of Qurʾānic verses from a doctrinal point of view to present some brilliant acts of exploration of purely artistic constituents of the text of the Qurʾān as a whole, interconnected, interlaced body of discourse in which the sublime nature of the divine message is embodied in equally powerful, artistically sublime linguistic formulations. A prime example of this holistic nature of the text is seen by many mufassirīn to reside in the various types of majāzī and/or metaphorical language and, in the case of some Sufi mufassirīn, of symbolic language. The chapter explores the three arguably finest tafāsir in which this aesthetically oriented current of thought reaches its zenith: al-Zamakhsharī’s al-Kashshāf, Ibn ʿArabī’s al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, and Abū Ḥayyān’s al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ. While bringing out some of their finest achievements, this study also recognizes their limitations as well as the limitations of contemporary interpretations of the Qur’an and points to urgently needed fresh ways of writing about the Qurʾān from a predominantly aesthetic angle. It offers examples of aspects of this great text which can be understood in anew fashion if such fresh approaches are employed; in this light, the chapter looks at orality as a possible new source of knowledge that may help us understand some complex aspects of the Qur’an that have remained so far little understood or indeed explored.
A systematic consideration of the multiple relationships between aesthetics and religion demands a sorting-out of concepts and issues. “Aesthetics” may be understood as practice (art) and as theory. It can refer to a number of overlapping subjects, including art, symbol, feeling, beauty, taste, imagination, and perception. A theological or religious aesthetics considers any of these topics in the light of God, revelation, and the sacred. The contemporary world has seen a renewal of interest in religious aesthetics. Art has been increasingly recognized as an important theological “text” that complements the written word, and as a crucial component of communication of the Christian message. The theological consideration of art and beauty is made complex by the secularization of the contemporary world, which raises the question of the relation of aesthetics to Christian “conversion.”
Frank Burch Brown
Dirk J. Smit
Since the birth of the ecumenical movement in Edinburgh a century ago, much has changed ecumenically regarding the African continent. This chapter briefly tells the story of official ecumenism on African soil, including the history of the ecumenical movement and the presence of international confessional bodies and traditions. It then describes some of the complex stories of regional, national, and local ecumenism in Africa, including the history of the All Africa Conference of Churches and of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. Drawing on these stories, the chapter then lists five of the most important ecumenical challenges facing the continent—cultural, political, economic, peacemaking, and survival—which often give rise to informal ecumenism. It concludes with an overview of several well-known ecumenical initiatives and documents in Africa.
The narrative of Islam in America took a significant turn with the influx of a critical mass of Muslims migrating from the Middle East and South Asia in the twentieth century. The interaction between these immigrant Muslims and African American Muslims has shaped the current landscape for American Islam through the development of new institutions and modes of engagement. At the same time, however, the history of this interaction reveals the complexities that exist between multiethnic, multiracial and multi-ideological groups on an intrafaith level. This chapter explores the relationship between African American and immigrant Muslims over the past century. It will chart the engagement of individual immigrant Muslims, like Inayat Khan and Mohammad Sadiq, as well as groups and organizations, including the Ahmadiyya, Federation of Islamic Association, the Hanafi Madhab Center and the Muslim Students Association, with the African American Muslim community.