Author Archives: Jordan K. Hummel

Adams, Pattison, & Ward, The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought

Oxford HandbookNext month Oxford University Press will publish The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought edited by Nicholas Adams (University of Edinburgh), George Pattison (University of Oxford), and Graham Ward (University of Oxford).  The publisher’s description follows.

 ‘Modern European thought’ describes a wide range of philosophies, cultural programmes, and political arguments developed in Europe in the period following the French Revolution. Throughout this period, many of the wide range of ‘modernisms’ (and anti-modernisms) had a distinctly religious and even theological character-not least when religion was subjected to the harshest criticism. Yet for all the breadth and complexity of modern European thought and, in particular, its relations to theology, a distinct body of themes and approaches recurred in each generation. Moreover, many of the issues that took intellectual shape in Europe are now global, rather than narrowly European, and, for good or ill, they form part of Europe’s bequest to the world-from colonialism and the economic theories behind globalisation through to democracy to terrorism. This volume attempts to identify and comment on some of the most important of these.

 The thirty chapters are grouped into six thematic parts, moving from questions of identity and the self, through discussions of the human condition, the age of revolution, the world (both natural and technological), and knowledge methodologies, concluding with a section looking explicitly at how major theological themes have developed in modern European thought. The chapters engage with major thinkers including Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Barth, Rahner, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Wittgenstein, and Derrida, amongst many others. Taken together, these new essays provide a rich and reflective overview of the interchange between theology, philosophy and critical thought in Europe, over the past two hundred years.

Caryl, Strange Rebels

Strange RebelsThis month Basic Books will publish Strange Rebels by Christian Caryl.  The publisher’s description follows.

 Few moments in history have seen as many seismic transformations as 1979. That single year marked the emergence of revolutionary Islam as a political force on the world stage, the beginning of market revolutions in China and Britain that would fuel globalization and radically alter the international economy, and the first stirrings of the resistance movements in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than any other year in the latter half of the twentieth century, 1979 heralded the economic, political, and religious realities that define the twenty-first. In Strange Rebels, veteran journalist Christian Caryl shows how the world we live in today—and the problems that plague it—began to take shape in this pivotal year. 1979, he explains, saw a series of counterrevolutions against the progressive consensus that had dominated the postwar era. The year’s epic upheavals embodied a startling conservative challenge to communist and socialist systems around the globe, fundamentally transforming politics and economics worldwide. In China, 1979 marked the start of sweeping market-oriented reforms that have made the country the economic powerhouse it is today. 1979 was also the year that Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland, confronting communism in Eastern Europe by reigniting its people’s suppressed Catholic faith. In Iran, meanwhile, an Islamic Revolution transformed the nation into a theocracy almost overnight, overthrowing the Shah’s modernizing monarchy. Further west, Margaret Thatcher became prime minister of Britain, returning it to a purer form of free-market capitalism and opening the way for Ronald Reagan to do the same in the US. And in Afghanistan, a Soviet invasion fueled an Islamic holy war with global consequences; the Afghan mujahedin presaged the rise of al-Qaeda and served as a key factor—along with John Paul’s journey to Poland—in the fall of communism. Weaving the story of each of these counterrevolutions into a brisk, gripping narrative, Strange Rebels is a groundbreaking account of how these far-flung events and disparate actors and movements gave birth to our modern age.

Skinner & Gelderen, Freedom and the Construction of Europe

Freedom and EuropeThis month Cambridge University Press published Freedom and the Construction of Europe edited by Quentin Skinner (University of London) and Martin van Gelderen (European University Institute).  The publisher’s description follows.

Freedom, today perceived simply as a human right, was a continually contested idea in the early modern period. In Freedom and the Construction of Europe an international group of scholars explore the richness, diversity and complexity of thinking about freedom in the shaping of modernity. Volume 1 examines debates about religious and constitutional liberties, as well as exploring the tensions between free will and divine omnipotence across a continent of proliferating religious denominations. Volume 2 considers free persons and free states, examining differing views about freedom of thought and action and their relations to conceptions of citizenship. Debates about freedom have been fundamental to the construction of modern Europe, but represent a part of our intellectual heritage that is rarely examined in depth. These volumes provide materials for thinking in fresh ways not merely about the concept of freedom, but how it has come to be understood in our own time.

Afsaruddin, Striving in the Path of God

JihadThis May, Oxford University Press will publish Striving in the Path of God by Asma Afsaruddin (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows.

 In popular and academic literature, jihad is predominantly assumed to refer exclusively to armed combat, and martyrdom in the Islamic context is understood to be invariably of the military kind. This perspective, derived mainly from legal texts, has led to discussions of jihad and martyrdom as concepts with fixed, universal meanings divorced from the socio-political circumstances in which they have been deployed through the centuries. Asma Afsaruddin studies in a more holistic manner the range of significations that can be ascribed to the term jihad from the earliest period to the present and historically contextualizes the competing discourses that developed over time. Many assumptions about the military jihad and martyrdom in Islam are thereby challenged and deconstructed. A comprehensive interrogation of varied sources reveals early and multiple competing definitions of a word that in combination with the phrase fi sabil Allah translates literally to “striving in the path of God.”

Contemporary radical Islamists have appropriated this language to exhort their cadres to armed political opposition, which they legitimize under the rubric of jihad. Afsaruddin shows that the multivalent connotations of jihad and shahid recovered from the formative period lead us to question the assertions of those who maintain that belligerent and militant interpretations preserve the earliest and only authentic understanding of these two key terms. Retrieval of these multiple perspectives has important implications for our world today in which the concepts of jihad and martyrdom are still being fiercely debated.

Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner & Nolt, “The Amish”

kraybill FINAL pbs logo bottom.inddThis month John Hopkins University Press will publish The Amish by Donald B. Kraybill (Elizabethtown College), Karen M. Johnson-Weiner (SUNY-Potsdam), and Steven N. Nolt (Goshen College).  The publisher’s description follows. 

The Amish have always struggled with the modern world. Known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle, and horse-and-buggy mode of transportation, Amish communities continually face outside pressures to modify their cultural patterns, social organization, and religious world view. An intimate portrait of Amish life, The Amish explores not only the emerging diversity and evolving identities within this distinctive American ethnic community, but also its transformation and geographic expansion.

Donald B. Kraybill, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt spent twenty-five years researching Amish history, religion, and culture. Drawing on archival material, direct observations, and oral history, the authors provide an authoritative and sensitive understanding of Amish society.

Amish people do not evangelize, yet their numbers in North America have grown from a small community of some 6,000 people in the early 1900s to a thriving population of more than 275,000 today. The largest populations are found in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with additional communities in twenty-seven other states and Ontario.

The authors argue that the intensely private and insular Amish have devised creative ways to negotiate with modernity that have enabled them to thrive in America. The transformation of the Amish in the American imagination from “backward bumpkins” to media icons poses provocative questions. What does the Amish story reveal about the American character, popular culture, and mainstream values? Richly illustrated, The Amish is the definitive portrayal of the Amish in America in the twenty-first century.

Modood, “Multiculturalism”

Modood-Multiculturalism3This month Polity Books will publish Multiculturalism by Tariq Modood (University of Bristol).  The publisher’s description follows.

 At a time when many public commentators are turning against multiculturalism in response to fears about militant Islam, immigration or social cohesion, Tariq Modood, one of the world’s leading authorities on multiculturalism, provides a distinctive contribution to these debates. He contends that the rise of Islamic terrorism has neither discredited multiculturalism nor heralded a clash of civilizations. Instead, it has highlighted a central challenge for the 21st century – the urgent need to include Muslims in contemporary conceptions of democratic citizenship.

In the second edition of this popular and compelling book, Modood updates his original argument with two new chapters. He reassesses the relationship between multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and assimilation, demonstrating that multiculturalism is crucial for successful integration. He also argues that while multiculturalism poses a significant challenge to existing forms of secularism, this challenge should not be exaggerated into a crisis. In so doing, Modood adds new vigor to the claim that multiculturalism remains a living force which is shaping our polities, even as its death is repeatedly announced.

This book will appeal to students, researchers and teachers of politics, sociology and public policy, as well as to anyone interested in the prospects of multiculturalism today.

Şahin, The Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman

Empire and PowerNext month Cambridge University Press will publish Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World by Kaya Şahin (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows.

Kaya Şahin’s book offers a revisionist reading of Ottoman history during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566). By examining the life and works of a bureaucrat, Celalzade Mustafa, Şahin moves beyond traditional, teleological approaches and argues that the empire was built as part of the Eurasian momentum of empire building, and demonstrates the imperial vision of sixteenth-century Ottomans. This unique study shows that, in contrast with many Eurocentric views, the Ottomans were active players in European politics, with an imperial culture in direct competition with that of the Habsburgs and the Safavids. Indeed, this book explains Ottoman empire building with reference to the larger Eurasian context, from Tudor England to Mughal India, contextualizing such issues as state formation, imperial policy, and empire building in the period more generally. Şahin’s work also devotes significant attention to the often-ignored religious dimension of the Ottoman-Safavid struggle, showing how the rivalry redefined Sunni and Shiite Islam, laying the foundations for today’s religious tensions.

Schaeffer, Kapstein, and Tuttle, Sources of Tibetan Tradition

Sources of Tibetan TraditionThis month Columbia University Press will publish Sources of Tibetan Tradition edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer (University of Virginia), Matthew T. Kapstein (University of Chicago), and Gray Tuttle (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows.

 The most comprehensive collection of Tibetan works in a Western language, this volume illuminates the complex historical, intellectual, and social development of Tibetan civilization from its earliest beginnings to the modern period. Including more than 180 representative writings, Sources of Tibetan Tradition spans Tibet’s vast geography and long history, presenting for the first time a diversity of works by religious and political leaders; scholastic philosophers and contemplative hermits; monks and nuns; poets and artists; and aristocrats and commoners. The selected readings reflect the profound role of Buddhist sources in shaping Tibetan culture while illustrating other major areas of knowledge. Thematically varied, they address history and historiography; political and social theory; law; medicine; divination; rhetoric; aesthetic theory; narrative; travel and geography; folksong; and philosophical and religious learning, all in relation to the unique trajectories of Tibetan civil and scholarly discourse. The editors begin each chapter with a survey of broader social and cultural contexts and introduce each translated text with a concise explanation. Concluding with writings that extend into the early twentieth century, this volume offers an expansive encounter with Tibet’s exceptional intellectual heritage.

Powell on Islamic Law in Turkey

Russell Powell (Seattle University School of Law) has posted Evolving Views of Islamic Law in Turkey. The abstract follows.

The tradition of Kemalist secularism (laiklik) in Turkey is often cited to distinguish Turkey as an exceptional case among predominantly Muslim countries. While it is true that the Turkish Constitution, laws, and legal opinions approach the relationship between the state and religion very differently than those of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or even Indonesia, it would be wrong to underestimate the role that religion plays in the formation of Turkish legal norms, including citizen understanding of those norms. There is a wealth of literature describing the nature of Turkish secularism and its evolution. A number of both quantitative and qualitative studies inquire about the preference for Shari’a among Turkish voters. The typical question asks whether respondents favor the establishment of a Shari’a state. Over the past fifteen years, these surveys have received response rates ranging between five and twenty-five percent in favor of such a state. However, these results are extremely problematic, because they do not provide any context or meaning for “the establishment of a Shari’a state,” either for those who favor it or for those who oppose it. This study begins to unpack the range of possible meanings attributed to Shari’a within Turkey, both among voters and among intellectuals, as a framework for future empirical studies and as a basis for deeper understandings of the role of Islam within Turkish law and politics.

Wachtel, “The Faith of Remembrance”

The Faith of RemembranceThis past January, University of Pennsylvania Press published The Faith of Remembrance by Nathan Wachtel (Collège de France). The publisher’s description follows.

In a series of intimate and searing portraits, Nathan Wachtel traces the journeys of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Marranos—Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism but secretly retained their own faith. Fleeing persecution in their Iberian homeland, some sought refuge in the Americas, where they established transcontinental networks linking the New World to the Old. The Marranos—at once Jewish and Christian, outsiders and insiders—nurtured their hidden beliefs within their new communities, participating in the economic development of the early Americas while still adhering to some of the rituals and customs of their ancestors. In a testament to the partial assimilation of these new arrivals, their faith became ever more syncretic, mixing elements of Judaism with Christian practice and theology.

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