Next month, Oxford will publish Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation, by Joy A. Schroeder (Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary). The publisher’s description follows.
Joy A. Schroeder offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical story of Deborah, an authoritative judge, prophet, and war leader. For centuries, Deborah’s story has challenged readers’ traditional assumptions about the place of women in society.
Schroeder shows how Deborah’s story has fueled gender debates throughout history. An examination of the prophetess’s journey through nearly two thousand years of Jewish and Christian interpretation shows how the biblical account of Deborah was deployed against women, for women, and by women who aspired to leadership roles in church and society. Numerous women—and men who supported women’s aspirations to leadership—used Deborah’s narrative to justify female claims to political and religious authority. Opponents to women’s public leadership endeavored to define Deborah’s role as ”private” or argued that she was a divinely authorized exception, not to be emulated by future generations of women.
Deborah’s Daughters provides crucial new insight into the the history of women in Judaism and Christianity, and into women’s past and present roles in the church, synagogue, and society.
The persecution of Christians, slowly, is making its way onto the world’s agenda. In his annual Easter message, British Prime Minister David Cameron (above) urged churches in Britain to do more to draw attention to the suffering of Christians across the globe. Cameron also spoke, unusually, about his own Christian faith and the benefits Christianity “brings to Britain.” Skeptics might perceive an attempt to smooth relations with rank-and-file Conservatives, many of whom Cameron antagonized by supporting same-sex marriage. But politicians always have a variety of motives. Cameron deserves credit for raising the issue of persecution at a time when many in the West ignore it.
And why do so many in the West ignore the persecution of Christians? The always valuable John Allen explains:
Why isn’t this global war on Christians more of a cause célèbre?Fundamentally, the silence is the result of a bogus narrative about religion in the West. Most Americans and Europeans are in the habit of thinking about Christianity as a rich, powerful, socially dominant institution, which makes it hard to grasp that Christians can actually be victims of persecution.
I’ve made a similar point myself, here.
On May 30, Mercer University Press will publish Separation of Church and State: Founding Principle of Religious Liberty by Frank Lambert (Purdue University). The publisher’s description follows.
Frank Lambert tackles the central claims of the Religious Right “historians” who insist that America was conceived as a “Christian State,” that modern-day “liberals” and “secularists” have distorted and/or ignored the place of religion in American history, and that the phrase “the separation of church and state” does not appear in any of the founding documents and is, therefore, a myth created by the Left. He discusses what separates “bad” history from “good” history, and concludes that the self-styled “historians” of the Religious Right create a “useful past” that enlists the nation’s founders on behalf of present-day conservative religious and political causes. Through the use of selective quotations lifted out of context and interpreted through faulty logic, the result is a politicized religious history that says more about the Religious Right than it does about the nation’s founders. Lambert believes that the most effective means of critiquing such misuse of history is sound historical investigation that considers all the evidence, not just that which support’s [sic] an author’s biases, and draws reasonable conclusions grounded in historical context. The result exposes the Religious Right “history” as fabrications and half-truths. In fact, one of the foundational principles of the Constitution is that of separation as the key to safeguarding freedom: separation of powers, separation of federal and state governments, and separation of church and state.
Last month, CLR Student Fellow Jessica Wright ’14 traveled to Israel, where she considered the religious, legal, and political issues that continue to divide the country and region. The following is her photo essay from Jerusalem. To see the slide show, please click on the first image.
Each day in Jerusalem began with a walk to the Jaffa Gate, one of the seven entrances to the Old City. Divided into four uneven quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Armenian) and surrounded by the walls built by Suleiman in the early 16th century, the Old City is sacred to the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus preached and healed, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. Pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa or “Way of the Cross” to Golgatha, which is now located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter.
As noted historian Raymond Cohen observes, the Holy Sepulcher is the only church in the world where “first-century Herodian, second-century Hadrianic, fourth-century Constantinian, eleventh-century Byzantine, twelfth-century crusader, nineteenth-century neo-Byzantine, and twentieth-century modern masonry are visible in one place. The church is not only a monument to the culminating events of the Gospels but also a record in stone of the Christian saga.”
The Holy Sepulcher is also one of the only churches where six ancient Christian communions worship together. The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox churches are considered the major communities in the church; the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox churches are minor communities with rights of usage but not possession.
The Chapel of St. Helena, also known as the Chapel of St. Gregory, is a 12th century Armenian church located at the lower level of the Holy Sepulcher. According to tradition, this is the place where the Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, found relics of the True Cross.
The Holy Sepulcher itself is located in the Aedicule, a 19th Century structure, and contains the tomb of Christ and the Angel’s Stone (a fragment of the large stone that sealed the tomb).
Domes of the Holy Sepulcher
For Jews, Jerusalem is the site of the Temple, now in ruins except for the Western Wall. The Wall is considered the holiest site in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount.
Men praying at the Wall
Prayers at the Wall
Celebrating at the Wall
View of the Western Wall and Temple Mount
The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are two of the most important Muslim holy sites. Muslim tradition says Muhammad ascended to Heaven from the Mount in 621.
Har haBáyit or Haram al-Sharif
Haram al-Sharif before afternoon prayer
Lounging and Learning, Haram al-Sharif
Jerusalem has long been an object of desire, both spiritually and temporally, and it continues to be a city possessed by a diversity of communities.
Sending texts from the Wall
Bread for sale outside Haram al-Sharif, Har haBáyit
If you want to leave the Old City, walk up.
Afternoon in Jerusalem, New City
Jaffa Road at night
Looking out over the Old City from the Mount of Olives, one can understand why the Talmud teaches that “Ten measures of beauty descended on the world – nine were taken by Jerusalem, one by the rest of the world.”
All photos by Jessica Wright, Canon EOS 700D and Leica M3 (please do not use photos without permission).
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Religion and Democratization: Framing Religious and Political Identities in Muslim and Catholic Societies by Michael D. Driessen (John Cabot University). The publisher’s description follows.
Religion and Democratization is a comparative study of democratization in Muslim and Catholic societies. It explores the nature and impact of “religiously friendly democratization” processes, which institutionally favor a religion of state and allow religious political parties to contest elections. The book argues that religiously friendly democratization transforms both the democratic politics and religious life of society. The book explains this transformation by modeling the effects of religiously friendly democratization on the political goals of religious leaders and the political salience of religious identities. In a religiously charged national setting, religiously friendly democratization can generate more support for democracy among religious actors. By embedding religious ideas and values into its institutions, however, religiously friendly democratization also impacts national religious markets, creating more favorable conditions for the emergence of public religions and altering trajectories of religious life.
In making these arguments, the book draws on and advances recent scholarship from political science, sociology and philosophy on the relationship between religion and state in contemporary democracies. It engages empirical debates about global patterns of secularization and religious belief; normative debates about the role of public religions in post-secular societies; and theoretical debates about the democratic future of political Islam and political Catholicism.
The book anchors its theoretical claims in case studies of Italy and Algeria, integrating original qualitative evidence and statistical data on voters’ political and religious attitudes. It also compares the dynamics of religiously friendly democratization across the Muslim world today in Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia. Finally, the book examines the theory’s wider relevance through a statistical analysis of cross-national data on democracy, religiosity and religion-state relationships.
This month, Edinburgh University Press will publish Religion and Politics: European and Global Perspectives, edited by Johann Arnason (La Trobe University, Melbourne) and Ireneusz Karolewski (University of Wroclaw). The publisher’s description follows.
Combining theoretical and empirical research, these 12 essays examine the role of religion and its prospects in Europe. On the one hand, the volume discusses growing Islamic presence in Europe as a reminder of enduring religious pluralism, not least in view of the high prominence given to Islamic experience in arguments against over-generalised notions of secularisation. On the other hand, it explores the question of Christian motivated extremism and religious nationalism. Against this background, the contributors discuss the role of religion in other countries throughout the world including China, Japan, Russia and the MENA region.
Debates on religion and politics have, to a high degree, focused on contrasts between Europe and other parts of the world; the long-established assumption that modern societies are on a secularising path seemed have a stronger claim to validity in Europe than elsewhere. This book shows that, if European modernity does represent an exit from religion, this historical process and its implications are still very imperfectly understood.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years by Steven P. Miller (Webster University). The publisher’s description follows.
At the start of the twenty-first century, America was awash in a sea of evangelical talk. The Purpose Driven Life. Joel Osteen. The Left Behind novels. George W. Bush. Evangelicalism had become so powerful and pervasive that political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote of “a sense in which we are all evangelicals now.”
Steven P. Miller offers a dramatically different perspective: the Bush years, he argues, did not mark the pinnacle of evangelical influence, but rather the beginning of its decline. The Age of Evangelicalism chronicles the place and meaning of evangelical Christianity in America since 1970, a period Miller defines as America’s “born-again years.” This was a time of evangelical scares, born-again spectacles, and battles over faith in the public square. From the Jesus chic of the 1970s to the satanism panic of the 1980s, the culture wars of the 1990s, and the faith-based vogue of the early 2000s, evangelicalism expanded beyond churches and entered the mainstream in ways both subtly and obviously influential.
Born-again Christianity permeated nearly every area of American life. It was broad enough to encompass Hal Lindsey’s doomsday prophecies and Marabel Morgan’s sex advice, Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Carter. It made an unlikely convert of Bob Dylan and an unlikely president of a divorced Hollywood actor. As Miller shows, evangelicalism influenced not only its devotees but its many detractors: religious conservatives, secular liberals, and just about everyone in between. The Age of Evangelicalism contained multitudes: it was the age of Christian hippies and the “silent majority,” of Footloose and The Passion of the Christ, of Tammy Faye Bakker the disgraced televangelist and Tammy Faye Messner the gay icon. Barack Obama was as much a part of it as Billy Graham.
The Age of Evangelicalism tells the captivating story of how born-again Christianity shaped the cultural and political climate in which millions of Americans came to terms with their times.
In May, Cambridge University Press will publish The First French Reformation: Church Reform and the Origins of the Old Regime by Tyler Lange (Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt-am-Main). The publisher’s description follows.
The political culture of absolute monarchy that structured French society into the eighteenth century is generally believed to have emerged late in the sixteenth century. This new interpretation of the origins of French absolutism, however, connects the fifteenth-century conciliar reform movement in the Catholic Church to the practice of absolutism by demonstrating that the monarchy appropriated political models derived from canon law. Tyler Lange reveals how the reform of the Church offered a crucial motive and pretext for a definitive shift in the practice and conception of monarchy, and explains how this first French Reformation enabled Francis I and subsequent monarchs to use the Gallican Church as a useful deposit of funds and judicial power. In so doing, the book identifies the theoretical origins of later absolutism and the structural reasons for the failure of French Protestantism.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880 by Luke Harlow (University of Tennessee, Knoxville). The publisher’s description follows.
This book sheds new light on the role of religion in the nineteenth-century slavery debates. In it, Luke E. Harlow argues that ongoing conflict over the meaning of Christian ‘orthodoxy’ constrained the political and cultural horizons available for defenders and opponents of American slavery. The central locus of these debates was Kentucky, a border slave state with a long-standing antislavery presence. Although white Kentuckians famously cast themselves as moderates in the period and remained with the Union during the Civil War, their religious values showed no moderation on the slavery question. When the war ultimately brought emancipation, white Kentuckians found themselves in lockstep with the rest of the Confederate South. Racist religion thus paved the way for the making of Kentucky’s Confederate memory of the war, as well as a deeply entrenched white Democratic Party in the state.
This April, Ashgate Publishing will publish Between Cultural Diversity and Common Heritage: Legal and Religious Perspectives on the Sacred Places of the Mediterranean edited by Silvio Ferrari (University of Milan, University of Leuven) and Andrea Benzo (Italian Embassy in Riyadh). The publisher’s description follows.
Going beyond the more usual focus on Jerusalem as a sacred place, this book presents legal perspectives on the most important sacred places of the Mediterranean. The first part of the book discusses the notion of sacred places in anthropological, sociological and legal studies and provides an overview of existing legal approaches to the protection of sacred places in order to develop and define a new legal framework. The second part introduces the meaning of sacred places in Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought and focuses on the significance and role that sacred places have in the three major monotheistic religions and how best to preserve their religious nature whilst designing a new international statute. The final part of the book is a detailed analysis of the legal status of key sacred places and holy cities in the Mediterranean area and identifies a set of legal principles to support a general framework within which specific legal measures can be implemented. The book concludes with a useful appendix for the protection of sacred places in the Mediterranean region.
Including contributions from leading law and religion scholars, this interesting book will be valuable to those in the fields of international law, as well as religion and heritage studies.
Posted in Jessica P. Wright, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged Books, Christianity, Comparative Law and Religion, History of Religion, International Law, Islam, Judaism, Religion and Culture, Religion and Politics, Religion in the Middle East