This May, Brill Publishing will release “The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830): Deists and Puritans of Islam” by Giovanni Bonacina (University of Urbino). The publisher’s description follows:
In The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830) Giovanni Bonacina offers an account of the early reactions in Europe to the rise of the Wahhabi movement in Arabia. Commonly pictured nowadays as a form of Muslim fundamentalism, the Wahhabis appeared to many European witnesses as the creators of a deistic revolution with serious political consequences for the Ottoman ancien regime. They were seen either in the light of contemporary events in France, or as Islamic theological reformers in the mould of Calvin, opposing an established church and devotional traditions. These audacious but fascinating attempts to interpret the unknown by way of the better known are illustrated in Bonacina’s book.
This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Shi’i Reformation in Iran: The Life and Theology of Shari’at Sangelaji” by Ali Rahnema (American University of Paris). The publisher’s description follows:
Shi ‘ism caught the attention of the world as Iran experienced her revolution in 1979 and was subsequently cast in the mold of a monolithic discourse of radical political Islam. The spokespersons of Shi’i Islam, in or out of power, have not been the sole representatives of the faith. Nonconformist and uncompromising, the Shi‘i jurist and reformist Shari’at Sangelaji (1891–1944) challenged certain popular Shi‘i beliefs and the mainstream clerical establishment, guarding and propagating it. In Shi’i Reformation in Iran, Ali Rahnema offers a fresh understanding of Sangelaji’s reformist discourse from a theological standpoint, and takes readers into the heart of the key religious debates in Iran in the 1940s. Exploring Sangelaji’s life, theological position and disputations, Rahnema demonstrates that far from being change resistant, debates around why and how to reform the faith have long been at the heart of Shi’i Islam.
Drawing on the writings and sermons of Sangelaji, as well as interviews with his son, the book provides a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the reformist’s ideas. As such it offers scholars of religion and Middle Eastern politics alike a penetrating insight into the impact that these ideas have had on Shi’ism—an impact which is still felt today.
This month, Brill releases “Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico” by Ran Tene (Hebrew University). The publisher’s description follows:
“Conversion” is a basic religious concept, which has manifold implications for our everyday lives. Ran Tene’s Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico utilizes a cross-disciplinary methodology in which the fields of Philosophy, History, and Literary Studies are drawn upon to analyze conversion. He focuses on two moments in Spanish writing about Mexican missions, the early to mid-sixteenth century writings of the Spanish missionaries to Mexico and the early seventeenth century manuscripts of the author/copyist Fray Juan de Torquemada. The analysis exposes changes in worldviews – including the concepts of identity, ownership, and cruelty – through missionary eyes. It suggests two theoretical models – the vision model and the model of touch – to describe these changes, which are manifested in the missionary project and in the texts that it (re)produced.
The Library of Law and Liberty has posted my review of Gerard Russell’s Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, a new book on Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Russell describes the history and present circumstances of these groups, including their struggle to emigrate and find new homes in places like the United States:
Will these communities survive in their new environments? Russell hopes so. He describes some touching examples of endurance, like the time he heard a clerk speaking Aramaic in a supermarket in suburban Detroit. But he wonders how long it can last. For all its great achievements, America has a way of destroying traditional identities, and it’s difficult to maintain one’s distinctive customs for very long. He wonders whether escape to the West isn’t “a back-loaded contract for immigrant communities—get the benefit of prosperity now, pay the loss of identity later.” Still, it beats annihilation, which is what threatens these groups at home.
You can read the whole review here.
This May, the University of South Carolina Press will release “Varieties of Southern Religious History: Essays in Honor of David G. Mathews” edited by Regina D. Sullivan (Carson-Newman University) and Monte Harrell Hampton (North Carolina State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Comprising essays written by former students of Donald G. Mathews, a distinguished historian of religion in the South, Varieties of Southern Religious History offers rich insight into the social and cultural history of the United States. Fifteen essays, edited by Regina D. Sullivan and Monte Harrell Hampton, offer fresh and insightful interpretations in the fields of U.S. religious history, women’s history, and African American history from the colonial era to the twentieth century. Emerging scholars as well as established authors examine a range of topics on the cultural and social history of the South and the religious history of the United States.
Essays on new topics include a consideration of Kentucky Presbyterians and their reaction to the rising pluralism of the early nineteenth century. Gerald Wilson offers an analysis of anti-Catholic bias in North Carolina during the twentieth century, and Mary Frederickson examines the rhetoric of death in contemporary correspondence. There are also reinterpretations of subjects such as late-eighteenth-century Ohio Valley missionaries Lorenzo and Peggy Dow, a recontextualization of Millerism, and new scholarship on the appeal of spiritualism in the South. This collection provides fresh insight into a variety of topics in honor of Donald G. Mathews and his legacy as a scholar of southern religion.
This month, The University of Chicago Press releases “Revival and Awakening: American Evangelical Missionaries in Iran and the Origins of Assyrian Nationalism” by Adam Becker (New York University). The publisher’s description follows:
Most Americans have little understanding of the relationship between religion and nationalism in the Middle East. They assume that the two are rooted fundamentally in regional history, not in the history of contact with the broader world. However, as Adam H. Becker shows in this book, Americans—through their missionaries—had a strong hand in the development of a national and modern religious identity among one of the Middle East’s most intriguing (and little-known) groups: the modern Assyrians. Detailing the history of the Assyrian Christian minority and the powerful influence American missionaries had on them, he unveils the underlying connection between modern global contact and the retrieval of an ancient identity.
American evangelicals arrived in Iran in the 1830s. Becker examines how these missionaries, working with the “Nestorian” Church of the East—an Aramaic-speaking Christian community in the borderlands between Qajar Iran and the Ottoman Empire—catalyzed, over the span of sixty years, a new national identity. Instructed at missionary schools in both Protestant piety and Western science, this indigenous group eventually used its newfound scriptural and archaeological knowledge to link itself to the history of the ancient Assyrians, which in time led to demands for national autonomy. Exploring the unintended results of this American attempt to reform the Orient, Becker paints a larger picture of religion, nationalism, and ethnic identity in the modern era.
In April, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “The Roman Inquisition: Trying Galileo” by Thomas F. Mayer (Augustana College). The publisher’s description follows:
Few legal events loom as large in early modern history as the trial of Galileo. Frequently cast as a heroic scientist martyred to religion or as a scapegoat of papal politics, Galileo undoubtedly stood at a watershed moment in the political maneuvering of a powerful church. But to fully understand how and why Galileo came to be condemned by the papal courts—and what role he played in his own downfall—it is necessary to examine the trial within the context of inquisitional law.
With this final installment in his magisterial trilogy on the seventeenth-century Roman Inquisition, Thomas F. Mayer has provided the first comprehensive study of the legal proceedings against Galileo. By the time of the trial, the Roman Inquisition had become an extensive corporatized body with direct authority over local courts and decades of documented jurisprudence. Drawing deeply from those legal archives as well as correspondence and other printed material, Mayer has traced the legal procedure from Galileo’s first precept in 1616 to his second trial in 1633. With an astonishing mastery of the legal underpinnings and bureaucratic workings of inquisitorial law, Mayer’s work compares the course of legal events to other possible outcomes within due process, showing where the trial departed from standard procedure as well as what available recourse Galileo had to shift the direction of the trial. The Roman Inquisition: Trying Galileo presents a detailed and corrective reconstruction of the actions both in the courtroom and behind the scenes that led to one of history’s most notorious verdicts.
This March, Brill Publishing will release “Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transitional Movement” edited by David W. Kim (Australian National University). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume explores the religious transformation of each nation in modern Asia. When the Asian people, who were not only diverse in culture and history, but also active in performing local traditions and religions, experienced a socio-political change under the wave of Western colonialism, the religious climate was also altered from a transnational perspective. Part One explores the nationals of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan, focusing on the manifestations of Japanese religion, Chinese foreign policy, the British educational system in Hong Kong in relation to Tibetan Buddhism, the Korean women of Catholicism, and the Scottish impact in late nineteenth century Korea. Part Two approaches South Asia through the topics of astrology, the works of a Gujarātī saint, and Himalayan Buddhism. The third part is focused on the conflicts between ‘indigenous religions and colonialism,’ ‘Buddhism and Christianity,’ ‘Islam and imperialism,’ and ‘Hinduism and Christianity’ in Southeast Asia.
In February, Princeton University Press released “Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History” by Todd M. Endelman (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:
Between the French Revolution and World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jews left the Jewish fold—by becoming Christians or, in liberal states, by intermarrying. Telling the stories of both famous and obscure individuals, Leaving the Jewish Fold explores the nature of this drift and defection from Judaism in Europe and America from the eighteenth century to today. Arguing that religious conviction was rarely a motive for Jews who became Christians, Todd Endelman shows that those who severed their Jewish ties were driven above all by pragmatic concerns—especially the desire to escape the stigma of Jewishness and its social, occupational, and emotional burdens.
Through a detailed and colorful narrative, Endelman considers the social settings, national contexts, and historical circumstances that encouraged Jews to abandon Judaism, and factors that worked to the opposite effect. Demonstrating that anti-Jewish prejudice weighed more heavily on the Jews of Germany and Austria than those living in France and other liberal states as early as the first half of the nineteenth century, he reexamines how Germany’s political and social development deviated from other European states. Endelman also reveals that liberal societies such as Great Britain and the United States, which tolerated Jewish integration, promoted radical assimilation and the dissolution of Jewish ties as often as hostile, illiberal societies such as Germany and Poland.
In May, Routledge will publish “Daoism in Japan: Chinese traditions and their influence on Japanese religious culture” by Jeffrey L. Richey (Berea College). The publisher’s description follows:
Like an ancient river, Daoist traditions introduced from China once flowed powerfully through the Japanese religious landscape, forever altering its topography and ecology. Daoism’s presence in Japan still may be discerned in its abiding influence on astrology, divination, festivals, literature, politics, and popular culture, not to mention Buddhism and Shinto. Despite this legacy, few English-language studies of Daoism’s influence on Japanese religious culture have been published.
Daoism in Japan provides an exploration of the particular pathways by which Daoist traditions entered Japan from continental East Asia. After addressing basic issues in both Daoist Studies and the study of Japanese religions, including the problems of defining ‘Daoism’ and ‘Japanese,’ the book looks at the influence of Daoism on ancient, medieval and modern Japan in turn. To do so, the volume is arranged both chronologically and topically, according to the following three broad divisions: “Arrivals” (c. 5th-8th centuries CE), “Assimilations” (794-1868), and “Apparitions” (1600s-present). The book demonstrates how Chinese influence on Japanese religious culture ironically proved to be crucial in establishing traditions that usually are seen as authentically, even quintessentially, Japanese.
Touching on multiple facets of Japanese cultural history and religious traditions, this book is a fascinating contribution for students and scholars of Japanese Culture, History and Religions, as well as Daoist Studies.