Tag Archives: History of Religion

“Marmaduke Pickthall” (Nash, ed.)

In October, Brill Publishers will release “Marmaduke Pickthall: Islam and the Modern World,” edited by Geoffrey P. Nash (University of Sutherland). The publisher’s description follows:

Brill_logoThis new volume of essays marks eighty years since the death of Marmaduke Pickthall. His various roles as translator of the Qurʾan, traveller to the Near East, political journalist writing on behalf of Muslim Turkey, and creator of the Muslim novel are discussed.

In later life Pickthall became a prominent member of the British Muslim community in London and Woking, co-worker with Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, supporter of the Khilafat movement, and editor of the journal Islamic Culture under the patronage of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Marmaduke Pickthall: Islam and the Modern World makes an important contribution to the field of Muslims in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.

Gerrard, “The Church at War”

In September, Routledge will release “The Church at War: The Military Activities of Bishops, Abbots and Other Clergy in England, c. 900–1200,” by Daniel M.G. Gerrard (Oxford Brookes University). The publisher’s description follows:

The fighting bishop or abbot is a familiar figure to medievalists and much of what is known of the military organization of England in this period is based on ecclesiastical logo-rt-cevidence. Unfortunately the fighting cleric has generally been regarded as merely a baron in clerical dress and has consequently fallen into the gap between military and ecclesiastical history. This study addresses three main areas: which clergy engaged in military activity in England, why and when? By what means did they do so? And how did others understand and react to these activities? The book shows that, however vivid such characters as Odo of Bayeux might be in the historical imagination, there was no archetypal militant prelate. There was enormous variation in the character of the clergy that became involved in warfare, their circumstances, the means by which they pursued their military objectives and the way in which they were treated by contemporaries and described by chroniclers. An appreciation of the individual fighting cleric must be both thematically broad and keenly aware of his context. Such individuals cannot therefore be simply slotted into easy categories, even (or perhaps especially) when those categories are informed by contemporary polemic. The implications of this study for our understanding of clerical identity are considerable, as the easy distinction between clerics acting in a secular or ecclesiastical capacity almost entirely breaks down and the legal structures of the period are shown to be almost as equivocal and idiosyncratic as the literary depictions. The implications for military history are equally striking as organisational structures are shown to be more temporary, fluid and ’political’ than had previously been understood.

Sanneh, “Beyond Jihad”

In September, Oxford University Press will release Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam by Lamin Sanneh (Yale University). The publisher’s description follows:Beyond Jihad

Over the course of the last 1400 years, Islam has grown from a small band of followers on the Arabian peninsula into a global religion of over a billion believers. How did this happen? The usual answer is that Islam spread by the sword-believers waged jihad against rival tribes and kingdoms and forced them to convert. Lamin Sanneh argues that this is far from the whole story. Beyond Jihad examines the origin and evolution of the African pacifist tradition in Islam, beginning with an inquiry into the faith’s origins and expansion in North Africa and its transmission across trans-Saharan trade routes to West Africa. The book focuses on the ways in which, without jihad, the religion spread and took hold, and what that tells us about the nature of religious and social change.

At the heart of this process were clerics who used religious and legal scholarship to promote Islam. Once this clerical class emerged, it offered continuity and stability in the midst of political changes and cultural shifts, helping to inhibit the spread of radicalism, and subduing the urge to wage jihad. With its policy of religious and inter-ethnic accommodation, this pacifist tradition took Islam beyond traditional trade routes and kingdoms into remote districts of the Mali Empire, instilling a patient, Sufi-inspired, and jihad-negating impulse into religious life and practice. Islam was successful in Africa, Sanneh argues, not because of military might but because it was made African by Africans who adapted it to a variety of contexts.

Little, “The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright”

The Many Captivities of Esther WheelwrightIn September, Yale University Press will release The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright by Ann M. Little (Colorado State University). The publisher’s description follows:

Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696–1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, she became a Catholic and lived like any other young girl in the tribe. At age twelve, she was enrolled at a French-Canadian Ursuline convent, where she would spend the rest of her life, eventually becoming the order’s only foreign-born mother superior. Among these three major cultures of colonial North America, Wheelwright’s life was exceptional: border-crossing, multilingual, and multicultural. This meticulously researched book discovers her life through the communities of girls and women around her: the free and enslaved women who raised her in Wells, Maine; the Wabanaki women who cared for her, catechized her, and taught her to work as an Indian girl; the French-Canadian and Native girls who were her classmates in the Ursuline school; and the Ursuline nuns who led her to a religious life.

Olivelle, “A Dharma Reader”

In October, Columbia University Press will release A Dharma Reader: Classical Indian Law, translated and edited by Patrick Olivelle (University of Texas at Austin). The publisher’s description follows:

A Dharma ReaderWhether defined by family, lineage, caste, professional or religious association, village, or region, India’s diverse groups did settle on an abstract concept of law in classical times. How did they reach this consensus? Was it based on religious grounds or a transcendent source of knowledge? Did it depend on time and place? And what apparatus did communities develop to ensure justice was done, verdicts were fair, and the guilty were punished?

Addressing these questions and more, A Dharma Reader traces the definition, epistemology, procedure, and process of Indian law from the third century B.C.E. to the middle ages. Its breadth captures the centuries-long struggle by Indian thinkers to theorize law in a multiethnic and pluralist society. The volume includes new and accessible translations of key texts, notes that explain the significance and chronology of selections, and a comprehensive introduction that summarizes the development of various disciplines in intellectual-historical terms. It reconstructs the principal disputes of a given discipline, which not only clarifies the arguments but also relays the dynamism of the fight. For those seeking a richer understanding of the political and intellectual origins of a major twenty-first-century power, along with unique insight into the legal interactions among its many groups, this book offers conceptual detail, historical precision, and expository illumination unlike any other volume.

“Islamic Thought in China (Lipman, ed.)

Islamic Thought in ChinaThis month, Edinburgh University Press released Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17th to the 21st Century edited by Johnathan N. Lipman (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts). The publisher’s description follows:

How can people belong simultaneously to two cultures, originating in two different places and expressed in two different languages, without alienating themselves from either? Muslims have lived in the Chinese culture area for 1400 years, and the intellectuals among them have long wrestled with this problem. Unlike Persian, Turkish, Urdu, or Malay, the Chinese language never adopted vocabulary from Arabic to enable a precise understanding of Islam’s religious and philosophical foundations. Islam thus had to be translated into Chinese, which lacks words and arguments to justify monotheism, exclusivity, and other features of this Middle Eastern religion. Even in the 21st century, Muslims who are culturally Chinese must still justify their devotion to a single God, avoidance of pork, and their communities’ distinctiveness, among other things, to sceptical non-Muslim neighbours and an increasingly intrusive state.

The essays in this collection narrate the continuing translations and adaptations of Islam and Muslims in Chinese culture and society through the writings of Sino-Muslim intellectuals. Progressing chronologically and interlocking thematically, they help the reader develop a coherent understanding of the intellectual issues at stake.

Bradford & Horton, “Mixed Blessings”

Mixed BlessingsIn May, the University of British Columbia released Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada by Tolly Bradford (Concordia University of Edmonton) and Chelsea Horton. The publisher’s description follows:

Mixed Blessings transforms our understanding of the relationship between Indigenous people and Christianity in what is now Canada.

While acknowledging the harm of colonialism, including the trauma inflicted by church-run residential schools, this book challenges the portrayal of Indigenous people as passive victims of malevolent missionaries who experienced a uniformly dark history. Instead, the authors — scholars in history, Indigenous studies, religious studies, and theology — illuminate the diverse and multifaceted ways that Indigenous communities and individuals across Canada have interacted, and continue to interact, meaningfully with Christianity.

Ranging widely across time and place, these insightful case studies explore why some Indigenous people — including prominent leaders such as Louis Riel and Edward Ahenakew — historically aligned themselves with Christianity while others did not. It also plumbs the processes and politics involved in combining spiritual traditions and reflects on the role of Christianity in Indigenous communities today.

Raboteau, “American Prophets”

In September, Princeton University Press will release “American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice,” by Albert J. Raboteau (Princeton University).  The publisher’s description follows:

American Prophets sheds critical new light on the lives and thought of seven major prophetic figures in twentieth-century America whose social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice.k10655

In this compelling and provocative book, acclaimed religious scholar Albert Raboteau tells the remarkable stories of Abraham Joshua Heschel, A. J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer—inspired individuals who succeeded in conveying their vision to the broader public through writing, speaking, demonstrating, and organizing. Raboteau traces how their paths crossed and their lives intertwined, creating a network of committed activists who significantly changed the attitudes of several generations of Americans about contentious political issues such as war, racism, and poverty. Raboteau examines the influences that shaped their ideas and the surprising connections that linked them together. He discusses their theological and ethical positions, and describes the rhetorical and strategic methods these exemplars of modern prophecy used to persuade their fellow citizens to share their commitment to social change.

A momentous scholarly achievement as well as a moving testimony to the human spirit, American Prophets represents a major contribution to the history of religion in American politics. This book is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about social justice, or who wants to know what prophetic thought and action can mean in today’s world.

“Pope Innocent II (1130-43)” (Doran & Smith, eds.)

In June, Routledge released “Pope Innocent II (1130-43): The World vs. The City,” edited by John Doran (University of Chester) and Damian J. Smith (St. Louis University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The pontificate of Innocent II (1130-1143) has long been recognized as a watershed in the history of the papacy, marking the transition from the age of reform to the so-9781472421098called papal monarchy, when an earlier generation of idealistic reformers gave way to hard-headed pragmatists intent on securing worldly power for the Church. Whilst such a conception may be a cliché its effect has been to concentrate scholarship more on the schism of 1130 and its effects than on Innocent II himself. This volume puts Innocent at the centre, bringing together the authorities in the field to give an overarching view of his pontificate, which was very important in terms of the internationalization of the papacy, the internal development of the Roman Curia, the integrity of the papal state and the governance of the local church, as well as vital to the development of the Kingdom of Sicily and the Empire.

MacCulloch, “All Things Made New”

In September, Oxford University Press will release All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy by Diarmaid MacCulloch (Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:

All things made newThe most profound characteristic of Western Europe in the Middle Ages was its cultural and religious unity, a unity secured by a common alignment with the Pope in Rome, and a common language – Latin – for worship and scholarship. The Reformation shattered that unity, and the consequences are still with us today. In All Things Made New, Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of the New York Times bestseller Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, examines not only the Reformation’s impact across Europe, but also the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the special evolution of religion in England, revealing how one of the most turbulent, bloody, and transformational events in Western history has shaped modern society.

The Reformation may have launched a social revolution, MacCulloch argues, but it was not caused by social and economic forces, or even by a secular idea like nationalism; it sprang from a big idea about death, salvation, and the afterlife. This idea – that salvation was entirely in God’s hands and there was nothing humans could do to alter his decision – ended the Catholic Church’s monopoly in Europe and altered the trajectory of the entire future of the West.

By turns passionate, funny, meditative, and subversive, All Things Made New takes readers onto fascinating new ground, exploring the original conflicts of the Reformation and cutting through prejudices that continue to distort popular conceptions of a religious divide still with us after five centuries. This monumental work, from one of the most distinguished scholars of Christianity writing today, explores the ways in which historians have told the tale of the Reformation, why their interpretations have changed so dramatically over time, and ultimately, how the contested legacy of this revolution continues to impact the world today.