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Religions, Volume 11, Issue 2 (February 2020) – 48 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The normative discourse widely shared in mainstream Sikhism affirms the equality between man and [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Inculturation, Anthropology, and the Empirical Dimension of Evangelization
Religions 2020, 11(2), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020101 - 23 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Using anthropological and theological perspectives and secondary literature, this paper argues that the scientific study of culture by professional anthropologists and social scientists is an essential component in the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization through inculturation. Inculturation, the process of inserting the Christian [...] Read more.
Using anthropological and theological perspectives and secondary literature, this paper argues that the scientific study of culture by professional anthropologists and social scientists is an essential component in the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization through inculturation. Inculturation, the process of inserting the Christian message, requires scientific discernment to know which cultural traits are compatible or contrary to the Christian faith, requiring anthropological training and active collaboration between theologians and professional anthropologists. Evangelization has an incarnational and empirical dimension when inserting the Gospel in human cultures. A genuine evangelization of cultures must be firmly rooted in the empirical reality of local cultures. The philosophical and theological orientation of many inculturationists and missionaries may sufficiently address the metaphysical dimension of the Christian faith, but not its empirical aspect when preached and adapted to human behavior in society, which entails scientific ethnographic research and active dialogue among clerics, missionaries, and social scientists. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Fantastic Tricks before High Heaven,” Measure for Measure and Performing Triads
Religions 2020, 11(2), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020100 - 22 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Reading Measure for Measure through the logic of substitution has been a long-standing critical tradition; the play seems to invite topical, political, and religious parallels at every turn. What if the logic of substitution in the play goes beyond exchange and seeks out [...] Read more.
Reading Measure for Measure through the logic of substitution has been a long-standing critical tradition; the play seems to invite topical, political, and religious parallels at every turn. What if the logic of substitution in the play goes beyond exchange and seeks out a triadic logic instead? This insistent searching for the triad appears most notably in the performance of Measure for Measure by Cheek by Jowl (2013–2019). Cheek By Jowl’s strategies of touring, simplicity, movement, and liberation create a dynamic and ever-evolving performance. This article puts Cheek by Jowl’s performance of Measure for Measure in conversation with C.S. Peirce’s (and subsequent theorists) explorations of triadic logic with Puttenham’s rhetoric of traductio (repetition with variation, and "tranlacing"), in addition to critical work on substitutions in the play. Tracing the superfluity of substitutions in rhetoric and performance of the play allows us to see how the play refuses binaries, and energizes triadic logic as a means to liveness in performance. Both Shakespeare’s play and the Cheek By Jowl production use a triadic structure which suggests the Trinity, foregrounding the body as a site of mediation and liveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Theatrical Drama)
Open AccessArticle
Seven Faces of a Fatwa: Organ Transplantation and Islam
Religions 2020, 11(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020099 - 21 Feb 2020
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Abstract
A new fatwa was announced by the British National Health Service (NHS) in June 2019 to clarify the Islamic position on organ donation. Additionally, the NHS promotional material presents brief arguments for and against organ donation in Islam. However, to date, research into [...] Read more.
A new fatwa was announced by the British National Health Service (NHS) in June 2019 to clarify the Islamic position on organ donation. Additionally, the NHS promotional material presents brief arguments for and against organ donation in Islam. However, to date, research into the various fatwas on organ donation is required. This article goes beyond the dichotomous positions mentioned by the NHS and goes on to explore and summarise seven conflicting views on the issue extrapolated from an exhaustive reading of fatwas and research papers in various languages since 1925. Our discussion is circumscribed to allotransplant and confined to the gifting of organs to legally competent adult donors at the time of consent. These arguments include an analysis of the semantic portrayal of ownership in the Qur’an; considering the net benefit over the gross harm involved in organ donation; balancing the rights of the human body with the application of the rule of necessity; understanding the difference between anthropophagy and organ transplantation; understanding of death, and the conceptualisation of the soul. We argue that, given the absence of clear-cut direction from Muslim scripture, all seven positions are Islamic positions and people are at liberty to adopt any one position without theological guilt or moral culpability. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles—New Insights Into the Early History of Samari(t)an–Jewish Relations
Religions 2020, 11(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020098 - 21 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This article addresses the way the book of Ezra-Nehemiah on one hand and Chronicles on the other reflect the relationship between Samaria and Judah in the postexilic period. With regard to Ezra-Nehemiah, the focus is placed on Ezra 4:1–5, 6–23, 24, which evokes [...] Read more.
This article addresses the way the book of Ezra-Nehemiah on one hand and Chronicles on the other reflect the relationship between Samaria and Judah in the postexilic period. With regard to Ezra-Nehemiah, the focus is placed on Ezra 4:1–5, 6–23, 24, which evokes a particular image of the nature of the relationship between Samaria and Judah within the report of the construction of the temple in Ezra 1–6 that can function paradigmatically for the book as a whole. With regard to Chronicles, the focus lies on the theme of cult centralization, which became established in a particular manner through the reception of earlier tradition. The article concludes that both works, each in its own way, call forth critique of Samaria and the Samaritans in order to establish a separate Judean or Jewish group identity. The critique of the two works is dated to the late fourth or early third centuries BCE. As such, both are reckoned among the first witnesses heralding a shift in the perception of Samaria in biblical literature, namely toward a polemical and unequivocally negative perspective attested later in, for example, Josephus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
Confession and Hope: Ekklesia’s Task in the Global Emergency
Religions 2020, 11(2), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020097 - 20 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Humanity is currently faced with deadly dangers that could bring about the breakdown of civilization, and even the end of human life on earth in short order. The Marxist and Green thinker Rudolf Bahro spoke of a ‘logic of salvation’, which involved a [...] Read more.
Humanity is currently faced with deadly dangers that could bring about the breakdown of civilization, and even the end of human life on earth in short order. The Marxist and Green thinker Rudolf Bahro spoke of a ‘logic of salvation’, which involved a return to the idea of God. Ekklesia arose as a witness to such a logic of salvation. It can be understood as a social movement, that sketches out a prefigurative politics that can then be realised. The contemporary church needs to recover this understanding, adopting climate change as a confessional issue that defines its common life. This could be part of a practical logic of salvation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hope in Dark Times)
Open AccessArticle
Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram
Religions 2020, 11(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020096 - 20 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This article attempts to shed light on the challenges confronting relevant actors (state and non-state) in countering the threat of terrorism recruitment by focusing on the Boko Haram terrorist organization, whose presence and activities threaten the security of the Lake Chad region. The [...] Read more.
This article attempts to shed light on the challenges confronting relevant actors (state and non-state) in countering the threat of terrorism recruitment by focusing on the Boko Haram terrorist organization, whose presence and activities threaten the security of the Lake Chad region. The article uses a qualitative research technique combining key informant interviews with stakeholders familiar with the conflict, academic and non-academic documents, reports, and policy briefs. The findings of the article suggest that despite the various initiatives by stakeholders aimed at containing the strategies of recruitment, the group continues to expand its base by launching coordinated attacks that further destabilize the region. These challenges stem from a lack of a clear-cut counterterrorism strategy, a dearth in technological and mutual trust between actors and locals in the management and utilization of intelligence, and the inability of state institutions to ‘coerce and convince’ citizens in terms of its capacity to counter the danger of terrorism recruitment and expansion. The article, amongst other things, recommends a community policing model similar to the ‘Nyumba-Kumi security initiative’ adopted by most countries in East Africa for the effective assessment and detection of threat forces; the state and its agencies should show the capacity to coerce and convince in dealing with the (ideological, religious, social, and economic) conditions, drivers, and factors promoting the spread of terrorism as well as other forms of violent extremism in the society; furthermore, there is a need for stakeholders to adopt a comprehensive and holistic counterterrorism/violent extremism strategy to reflect present-day security challenges as well as to guarantee sustainable peace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
‘In Our Whole Society, There Is No Equality’: Sikh Householding and the Intersection of Gender and Caste
Religions 2020, 11(2), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020095 - 19 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Sikhism is widely understood and celebrated as san egalitarian religion. This follows from its interpretation as a challenge to the caste schema of Hinduism as well as readings which suggest its gender equality. This paper explores the intersection of caste and gender in [...] Read more.
Sikhism is widely understood and celebrated as san egalitarian religion. This follows from its interpretation as a challenge to the caste schema of Hinduism as well as readings which suggest its gender equality. This paper explores the intersection of caste and gender in Sikh society in relation to Guru Nanak’s tenet that Sikhs be householders. Nanak’s view that householding is the basis of religious life and spiritual liberation—as opposed to the caste Hindu framework in which householding relates only to the specific stage of life in which one is married and concerned with domestic affairs—was one of the most important social and ritual reforms he introduced. By eliminating the need for an asceticism supported by householders, or in other words the binary framework of lay and renunciant persons, Nanak envisioned the possibility that the rewards of ascetism could accrue to householders. For Sikhs living at Kartarpur, the first intentional Sikh community, established by Guru Nanak as a place of gathering and meditation, Nanak’s egalitarian ideals were practiced so that women and members of all castes were equal participants. Guru Nanak’s model for social and ritual life presents a radical challenge to the hierarchies and exclusions of Hinduism, and yet, contains within it the basis for ongoing caste and gender disparity for Sikhs, since most Sikhs continue to arrange their householding around caste endogamous marriages and social and domestic arrangements which privilege men. Taking the position shared by a number of Sikh ethnographic informants, and supported by a number of feminist scholars, that the realization of an equal Sikh society remains incomplete, I juxtapose the continued acquiescence to caste and gender with the vision of an ideal and socially just society put forward by the Gurus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Gender and Sikh traditions)
Open AccessArticle
Religion and the Limits of Metatheatre in Our Town and Sunday in the Park with George
Religions 2020, 11(2), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020094 - 18 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This essay explores theatrical drama alongside aspects of religious dimensionality David Tracy analyzes in terms of limit experience, limit language, and limit questions. The claim is that metatheatrical forms can correlate with limit dimensions, a correlation which may prove as pertinent as ritual [...] Read more.
This essay explores theatrical drama alongside aspects of religious dimensionality David Tracy analyzes in terms of limit experience, limit language, and limit questions. The claim is that metatheatrical forms can correlate with limit dimensions, a correlation which may prove as pertinent as ritual for linking drama with religious experience, thought, and practice. Here, metatheatre and limit dimensions are further defined in respect to Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play, Our Town, and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1984 musical, Sunday in the Park with George. The essay identifies distinct though often overlapping forms of metatheatre: plays or performances that (1) explicitly refer to themselves, or (2) represent theatrical or theatre-like works within their stories and expressed worlds (e.g., plays within plays), or (3) dramatize theatre-like and performative aspects of ordinary life. Just as Wilder foregrounds metatheatrical relations to create an impression of the eternal, Sondheim and his collaborators reflect on their work’s ontological conditions of possibility by bringing to life another work, a painting, at distantly separated moments in time. Our Town and Sunday in the Park invite us to enter social and ritualized spaces inhabited by commonplace yet archetypal persons; they culminate in moments where the audience is to discern past, present, and future in simultaneous proximity; and with their different contents and forms, they prove good plays for elaborating relations among theatre, limit experience, and religious dimensionality. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Burka Ban: Islamic Dress, Freedom and Choice in The Netherlands in Light of the 2019 Burka Ban Law
Religions 2020, 11(2), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020093 - 18 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This article, part of an evolving and large project, examines the relationship between clothing, freedom and choice, and specifically Islamic dress in shaping the identity of Dutch Muslim women after the Burka Ban that was voted into law on 1 August 2019 in [...] Read more.
This article, part of an evolving and large project, examines the relationship between clothing, freedom and choice, and specifically Islamic dress in shaping the identity of Dutch Muslim women after the Burka Ban that was voted into law on 1 August 2019 in the Netherlands. It discusses the debates before and after this date, as well as the background to the ban. A veil covering the face is a garment worn by some Muslim women to adhere to an interpretation of hijab (modest dress). It can be referred to as a burqa or niqab. In the aftermath of the Burka Ban that prompted considerable public alarm on the part of Muslim men and women, niqab-wearing women, as well as women who do not wear a veil, but are in solidarity with their niqabi sisters, raised a number of questions that form the basis for the analysis presented here: how do Dutch Muslim women shape their identity in a way that it is both Dutch and Muslim? Do they incorporate Dutch parameters into their Muslim identity, while at the same time weaving Islamic principles into their Dutch sense of self? The findings show how Islamic clothing can be mobilized by Dutch Muslim women to serve identity formation and personal (religious) choice in the Netherlands, where Islam is largely considered by the non-Muslim population to be a religion that is oppressive and discriminatory towards women. It is argued that in the context of being Dutch and Muslim, these women express their freedom of choice through clothing, thus pushing the limits of the archetypal Dutch identity and criticizing Dutch society while simultaneously stretching the meaning of Islam to craft their own identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gender, Dress and Religion: Contexts and Configurations)
Open AccessArticle
Religious Diversity in Australia: Rethinking Social Cohesion
Religions 2020, 11(2), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020092 - 18 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This paper argues for a reconsideration of social cohesion as an analytical concept and a policy goal in response to increasing levels of religious diversity in contemporary Australia. In recent decades, Australian has seen a revitalization of religion, increasing numbers of those who [...] Read more.
This paper argues for a reconsideration of social cohesion as an analytical concept and a policy goal in response to increasing levels of religious diversity in contemporary Australia. In recent decades, Australian has seen a revitalization of religion, increasing numbers of those who do not identify with a religion (the ”nones”), and the growth of religious minorities, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. These changes are often understood as problematic for social cohesion. In this paper, we review some conceptualizations of social cohesion and religious diversity in Australia, arguing that the concept of social cohesion, despite its initial promise, is ultimately problematic, particularly when it is used to defend privilege. We survey Australian policy responses to religious diversity, noting that these are varied, often piecemeal, and that the hyperdiverse state of Victoria generally has the most sophisticated set of public policies. We conclude with a call for more nuanced and contextualized analyses of religious diversity and social cohesion in Australia. Religious diversity presents both opportunities as well as challenges to social cohesion. Both these aspects need to be considered in the formation of policy responses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Australian Public Life: Resurgence, Insurgence, Cooption?)
Open AccessArticle
Women and Sikhism in Theory and Practice: Normative Discourses, Seva Performances, and Agency in the Case Study of Some Young Sikh Women in Northern Italy
Religions 2020, 11(2), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020091 - 17 Feb 2020
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Abstract
The paper reflects on the role of women in Sikhism in theory and social practice, starting from a case study in northern Italy. Although the normative discourse widely shared in mainstream Sikhism affirms the equality between man and woman and the same possibility [...] Read more.
The paper reflects on the role of women in Sikhism in theory and social practice, starting from a case study in northern Italy. Although the normative discourse widely shared in mainstream Sikhism affirms the equality between man and woman and the same possibility to manifest devotion through every kind of seva (social service within gurdwaras), empirical observation in some Italian gurdwaras has shown a different picture, as there is a clear division of tasks that implicitly subtends a gender-based hierarchy. This relational structure is challenged by intergenerational tensions, especially by young women born or raised in Italy, who may want to develop a different Sikh identity, considered compatible also with the Italian social and cultural context. In this initial process of collective identity definition and of agency, the female participation in the religious seva within gurdwaras is identified as the tool for change of power relations that cross genders and generations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Gender and Sikh traditions)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction: God out of Mind
Religions 2020, 11(2), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020090 - 17 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This Special Issue of Religions is about the encounter between thought experiments and theology [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God out of Mind: Thought Experiments, Science, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
The True Jesus Church and the Bible in Republican China
Religions 2020, 11(2), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020089 - 14 Feb 2020
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Abstract
During China’s Republican Era (1912–1949), the True Jesus Church, comprising one of the largest indigenous Pentecostal/charismatic churches in China, created a whole set of exclusive salvation doctrines based on its unique biblical interpretation. This paper attempts to illustrate the role that the Bible [...] Read more.
During China’s Republican Era (1912–1949), the True Jesus Church, comprising one of the largest indigenous Pentecostal/charismatic churches in China, created a whole set of exclusive salvation doctrines based on its unique biblical interpretation. This paper attempts to illustrate the role that the Bible played in the development of the True Jesus Church (TJC for short) and how its biblical interpretations functioned in the shaping of its exclusive identity based on certain aspects of its charismatic experiences and unique doctrinal system. The founding of the TJC relied upon charismatic experiences, which were regarded as the work of the Holy Spirit to prove the authority of the Church. Doctrinally, the approaches to biblical interpretation employed by TJC leaders were another source of the church’s unique identity: The exclusive status the church assigned to itself was evident in its distinct interpretive approaches, as well as in its innovative rituals, especially facedown immersion baptism. Along with various influences of the Pentecostal tradition and the Chinese social context, these hermeneutics were an important reason for the TJC’s development as an independent denomination in the Republican era. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Women’s Ijtihad and Lady Amin’s Islamic Ethics on Womanhood and Motherhood
Religions 2020, 11(2), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020088 - 13 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Women’s position, identity, and value in Islam have been affected by androcentric interpretations of the Qur’an and hadith throughout Islamic history. Women’s roles in society, as well as their position vis-à-vis Islamic sources and authority, have been shaped by these interpretations. In Shi’a [...] Read more.
Women’s position, identity, and value in Islam have been affected by androcentric interpretations of the Qur’an and hadith throughout Islamic history. Women’s roles in society, as well as their position vis-à-vis Islamic sources and authority, have been shaped by these interpretations. In Shi’a Islam, due to the majority male clergy’s resistance, women have rarely reached the highest loci of Shi’i authority and jurisprudence. However, there have been women scholars who have transgressed these normative frameworks. Lady Amin, who was one of the most prominent Iranian theologians of the 19th and 20th centuries, is a notable example. Lady Amin had great knowledge of jurisprudence and gained the status of mujtahida at the age of forty. Her scholarly work addressed not only interpretations of the Qur’an and hadith, but also women’s issues and gender politics of her time. This study addresses women’s ijtihad in Shi’a Islam and investigates Lady Amin’s teachings on the topics of womanhood and motherhood. This study focuses on Lady Amin’s book of Islamic ethics, titled Ways of Happiness: Suggestions for Faithful Sisters, written as a Shi’i source of guidance with a specific focus on women and gender in Shi’a Islam. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem and Ben Ammi’s Theology of Marginalisation and Reorientation
Religions 2020, 11(2), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020087 - 13 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This paper will look at the way the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem have utilised the theological narrative of marginalisation in their quest for identity and self-determination. The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem are an expatriate black American group who have lived in [...] Read more.
This paper will look at the way the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem have utilised the theological narrative of marginalisation in their quest for identity and self-determination. The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem are an expatriate black American group who have lived in Israel since 1969, when their spiritual leader, Detroit-born Ben Ammi, received a vision commanding him to take his people back to the Promised Land. Drawing on a long tradition in the African American community that self-identified as the biblical Israelites, the African Hebrew Israelites are marginalised in their status as Americans, as Jews, and as Israelis. We will examine the writings of Ben Ammi in order to demonstrate that this biblically based motif of marginalisation was a key part of his theology, and one which enabled his movement to grow and sustain itself; yet, in comparison with other contemporaneous theological movements, Ben Ammi utilised a specific variant of this motif. Rejecting the more common emphasis on liberation, Ammi argued for an eschatological reorientation around the marginalised. This article will conclude that Ben Ammi’s theology is key to understanding how the community has oriented itself and how it has proved successful in lasting 50 years against both internal disputes and external attacks. Full article
Open AccessArticle
From Religious to Cultural and Back Again: Tourism Development, Heritage Revitalization, and Religious Transnationalizations among the Samaritans
Religions 2020, 11(2), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020086 - 13 Feb 2020
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Abstract
The Samaritans form a community of about 810 people split between Mount Gerizim (West Bank) and Holon (Israel). Through tourism of holy sites and cultural heritage promotion, this article examines different ways in which religion can be used as a cultural resource. How [...] Read more.
The Samaritans form a community of about 810 people split between Mount Gerizim (West Bank) and Holon (Israel). Through tourism of holy sites and cultural heritage promotion, this article examines different ways in which religion can be used as a cultural resource. How do these phenomena contribute to the emergence of a transnationalization of religion in the globalized context? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
The Samaritan and Jewish Versions of the Pentateuch: A Survey
Religions 2020, 11(2), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020085 - 12 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This article discusses the main differences between the Samaritan and the Jewish versions of the Pentateuch. The Samaritan Bible consists of the Torah—that is, the Five Books of Moses—also called the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). The Jewish Bible contains in addition the Prophets and [...] Read more.
This article discusses the main differences between the Samaritan and the Jewish versions of the Pentateuch. The Samaritan Bible consists of the Torah—that is, the Five Books of Moses—also called the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). The Jewish Bible contains in addition the Prophets and the Writings, a total of 39 books. The introduction seeks to present both traditions in their own right and in relation to other ancient textual traditions (the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient Greek and Latin, and the Septuagint). The focus of this article is on the shared tradition of the Pentateuch with special emphasis on the textual and theological character of the Samaritan Pentateuch: major variants in the SP, the Moses Layer, and the cult place. This article closes with discussion of editions and translations of the Samaritan Bible and the Masoretic Bible respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
Latin American Christians Living in the Basque Country (Spain): What Remains and What Changes
Religions 2020, 11(2), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020084 - 12 Feb 2020
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Abstract
The research we will present is based on interviews conducted with the Latin American immigrant population and the indigenous population of the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC hereafter). We seek to identify religious features tracing similarities and differences between three populations: First, the native [...] Read more.
The research we will present is based on interviews conducted with the Latin American immigrant population and the indigenous population of the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC hereafter). We seek to identify religious features tracing similarities and differences between three populations: First, the native community of the BAC, second, Latin American immigrants living in the BAC, and third, Latin Americans in their home countries. In the latter case, we based on the research carried out by Gustavo Morello’s team. Analysis of the data obtained so far allows us to compare across two different processes in the Christian religion: On the one hand, the religious experience of Latin Americans in their countries of origin and the religious experience of Latin American immigrants in the BAC; on the other hand, between the latter community and the native population. This paper highlights conclusions referring: (1) The similarities in two significant processes, i.e., religious pluralism and religious autonomy; (2) the differences on religious hybridization, public presence and the use of religious artefacts. In short, it is a contribution to a better understanding of the effects produced on religious experiences in a context marked by secularization and religious pluralism. Full article
Open AccessArticle
“Language, Sex, and Luther: Feminist Observations”
Religions 2020, 11(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020083 - 11 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Reading Luther from a feminist perspective reveals paradoxes and ambiguities in Luther’s writings related to language and sex, but we cannot make sense of Luther without important historical information, particularly the history of the meaning of sex; it affords a fresh reading of [...] Read more.
Reading Luther from a feminist perspective reveals paradoxes and ambiguities in Luther’s writings related to language and sex, but we cannot make sense of Luther without important historical information, particularly the history of the meaning of sex; it affords a fresh reading of Luther. Even while Luther reinforces male-identified language and symbolism, he begins to shift it, and his work offers clues relevant to theological dialogue on the androcentrism of the Christian tradition 500 years into the ongoing reformation of Christianity. Because of the power dynamics infused in Western accounts of sex, gender, and sexuality for humans, Christians cannot in good faith cling to a primary gender or sex identity for God. More careful English translations demonstrate Luther is a resource in this work because he begins to shift an androcentric view of God and humanity even while paradoxically repeating it. Previous English translations of Luther have obscured his shifts in language and imagery and thus have led English readers to misunderstand Luther’s subtle but powerful views. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Luther’s theology and Feminism)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction: Teaching Dante
Religions 2020, 11(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020082 - 11 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This introduction to the Special Issue “Teaching Dante” summarizes the volume’s essays and discusses the conference at which they were initially presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle
Contradictions, Contextuality, and Conceptuality: Why Is It That Luther Is Not a Feminist?
Religions 2020, 11(2), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020081 - 10 Feb 2020
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Abstract
It is the aim of this article to constructively discuss some of the feminist critique that has been raised against the sixteenth century reformer, Martin Luther, and concomitantly to demonstrate the complexity, and primarily liberal aspects, of his view of women. At its [...] Read more.
It is the aim of this article to constructively discuss some of the feminist critique that has been raised against the sixteenth century reformer, Martin Luther, and concomitantly to demonstrate the complexity, and primarily liberal aspects, of his view of women. At its outset, the article points to the fact that there are many different types of feminism, the biggest difference existing between constructivist and essentialist feminisms. Having placed myself as a constructivist feminist with a prophetic-liberating perspective, I ponder how feminism as an -ism can again earn the respect it seems to have lost in the wider academia. I suggest that feminists nuance their use of strong concepts when assessing historical texts, viewing the assessed texts against the backdrop of their historical context, and that feminists stop romanticizing the Middle Ages as a golden age for women. In this vein, I point to the problem that many feminists make unsubstantiated and counterfactual statements based on co-readings of different strands of Protestantism, and that they often uncritically repeat these statements. I problematize, first, the psycho-historian Lyndal Roper’s claim that Luther should have held some of the most misogynist formulations known, which is absurd against the backdrop of the misogyny found in the centuries before Luther, especially in medieval texts by the Dominicans /the Scholastics. Second, the claims of feminist theologian Rosemary R. Ruether’s that Luther, like Calvin, worsened the status of women, which are counterfactual. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Luther’s theology and Feminism)
Open AccessArticle
A Perspectival Account of Acedia in the Writings of Kierkegaard
Religions 2020, 11(2), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020080 - 10 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Søren Kierkegaard is well-known as an original philosophical thinker, but less known is his reliance upon and development of the Christian tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins, in particular the vice of acedia, or sloth. As acedia has enjoyed renewed interest in [...] Read more.
Søren Kierkegaard is well-known as an original philosophical thinker, but less known is his reliance upon and development of the Christian tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins, in particular the vice of acedia, or sloth. As acedia has enjoyed renewed interest in the past century or so, commentators have attempted to pin down one or another Kierkegaardian concept (e.g., despair, heavy-mindedness, boredom, etc.) as the embodiment of the vice, but these attempts have yet to achieve any consensus. In our estimation, the complicated reality is that, in using slightly different but related concepts, Kierkegaard is providing a unique look at acedia as it manifests differently at different stages on life’s way. Thus, on this “perspectival account”, acedia will manifest differently according to whether an individual inhabits the aesthetic, ethical, or religious sphere. We propose two axes for this perspectival account. Such descriptions of how acedia manifests make up the first, phenomenal axis, while the second, evaluative axis, accounts for the various bits of advice and wisdom we read in the diagnoses of acedia from one Kierkegaardian pseudonym to another. Our aim is to show that Kierkegaard was not only familiar with the concept of acedia, but his contributions helped to develop and extend the tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kierkegaard and Theology)
Open AccessArticle
‘Non-Religion’ as Part of the ‘Religion’ Category in International Human Rights
Religions 2020, 11(2), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020079 - 10 Feb 2020
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Abstract
‘Religion’ still occupies and maintains a position of formal and informal privilege in many current societies. It retains these privileges despite the increasing numbers of people who label themselves ‘non-religious’. There is also evidence that overtly non-religious people are being persecuted due to [...] Read more.
‘Religion’ still occupies and maintains a position of formal and informal privilege in many current societies. It retains these privileges despite the increasing numbers of people who label themselves ‘non-religious’. There is also evidence that overtly non-religious people are being persecuted due to the continuation of these privileges. This paper will examine such treatment of the non-religious in the context of human rights instruments and laws. It lays out the international law case for the rights of the non-religious. It also discusses the extent to which state actors have or have not ignored human rights standards in their persecution or deprivileging of non-religious people. This paper will proceed through a three-step analysis. Step 1 is to examine the aspirational Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in relation to the non-religious. The relevant sections of the UDHR and interpretations that they have received will be discussed. Step 2 is to do the same with the binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Finally, Step 3 is to give examples of lower-level and local laws, where I shall examine the extent to which individual countries’ laws and practices toward non-religious people support or contradict the treaty commitments that those countries have made. The continuation in coercion/persecution cases suggests that something is amiss with human rights protections being provided to the non-religious. If we are to create social structures that are more inclusive of the non-religious and to advocate for non-religious rights, it is necessary to examine the societal power and privilege still held by ‘religion’. It is hoped that this article can inform and encourage further similar engagements among sociologists, religious studies scholars, activists and lay-people interested in the treatment of non-religious peoples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Power, and Resistance: New Ideas for a Divided World)
Open AccessArticle
God, the Middle Term: Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard, and Christ’s Mediation in Works of Love
Religions 2020, 11(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020078 - 08 Feb 2020
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Abstract
In this article, I argue that in Works of Love Søren Kierkegaard stays true to his Lutheran roots in detailing an ethic of neighbor love that draws deeply on and unfolds the implications of the inseparable realities of justification and Christ’s mediation in [...] Read more.
In this article, I argue that in Works of Love Søren Kierkegaard stays true to his Lutheran roots in detailing an ethic of neighbor love that draws deeply on and unfolds the implications of the inseparable realities of justification and Christ’s mediation in the social sphere. The article unfolds in two parts. Since neither of these realities are explicit in Works of Love, the first part considers Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s account of Christ as mediator in order to provide a framework for thinking about and identifying their presence in Kierkegaard’s thought. Engaging with Bonhoeffer in this manner is particularly useful, not least because he was deeply influenced by Kierkegaard and also stood in the Lutheran tradition, but also because although he outlines the expansive nature of Christ’s mediatorial work to tantalizing effect, he never unfolds its concrete, ethical implications for the Christian life. With the key aspects of Bonhoeffer’s account in mind, the second part of this article demonstrates and argues for an overlooked theological dynamic in Works of Love: namely, that Kierkegaard’s account of God’s mediation not only shares these keys aspects, but also unfolds the ethical implications of Christ’s mediation for the Christian life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Kierkegaard and Theology)
Open AccessEditorial
Introduction to “Religious Environmentalism Activism in Asia: Case Studies in Spiritual Ecology”
Religions 2020, 11(2), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020077 - 07 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Environmental issues and problems are serious; some are getting worse, and occasionally new ones are still being discovered (Flannery 2010; Meyers and Kent 2005; Ripple et al. 2017) [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Masculinity in the Sikh Community in Italy and Spain: Expectations and Challenges
Religions 2020, 11(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020076 - 07 Feb 2020
Viewed by 189
Abstract
Since the 1990s, the Sikh community in India has entered a phase of considerable socioeconomic and demographic transformation that is caused by the large-scale practice of female feticide, the spread of higher education among women, and the mass emigration of unskilled men to [...] Read more.
Since the 1990s, the Sikh community in India has entered a phase of considerable socioeconomic and demographic transformation that is caused by the large-scale practice of female feticide, the spread of higher education among women, and the mass emigration of unskilled men to the Western countries. These changes have a great impact on the traditional configuration of gender roles and disrupt the construction of masculinity in the Sikh community in India and in the diaspora. Based on ethnographic observations and 64 in-depth interviews with Sikh immigrants in Spain (26) and Italy (22) and their relatives in India (16), this paper first explores the expectations of masculinity in the Sikh community in Italy and Spain; and second, analyses the challenges that are imposed by the socioeconomic and demographic transformation in the Indian Sikh community and the social environment in the host countries on the construction of masculinity in the Sikh community in both countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Gender and Sikh traditions)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring Religiousness and Hope: Examining the Roles of Spirituality and Social Connections among Salvadoran Youth
Religions 2020, 11(2), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020075 - 07 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Given the strong link between religiousness and hope, we sought to further understand the relations of these potentially powerful resources for youth living in adversity. Although existing research suggests that religiousness might be associated with adolescent hope via spirituality and social connections, few [...] Read more.
Given the strong link between religiousness and hope, we sought to further understand the relations of these potentially powerful resources for youth living in adversity. Although existing research suggests that religiousness might be associated with adolescent hope via spirituality and social connections, few studies have tested models that integrate both. Thus, as applied psychologists, the aim of this paper was to test a theoretical model in the lives of youth. Drawing on a Relational Developmental Systems metatheory, we sought to further elucidate the relations between religiousness and hope and to explore how involvement in the faith-based youth-development organization, Compassion International (CI), might facilitate character strengths like hope. In order to do so, we tested whether religiousness was directly and indirectly (via spirituality and social connection) related to hopeful future expectations, using a sample of 9–15-year-olds in El Salvador (M = 11.6 years; n = 888), half of whom were involved in CI and the other half of whom were a locally matched counterfactual sample. Structural equation models revealed that higher levels of religiousness were directly and indirectly associated with higher levels of hope in relation to higher levels of spirituality and social connections among these youth. CI-supported youth reported significantly higher levels of religiousness than the counterfactual sample. Findings suggest that the relationship between religiousness and hope is best understood when it incorporates youth’s spirituality and social connections associated with religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Perspectives on Religion and Positive Youth Development)
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Open AccessEditorial
Reenvisioning Christian Ethics: An Introduction and Invitation
Religions 2020, 11(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020074 - 06 Feb 2020
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Abstract
This article by the guest editor introduces the theme of this special issue of Religions, reveals some of his underlying convictions and assumptions regarding the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics, and introduces each of the eight articles in this collection. Rather than [...] Read more.
This article by the guest editor introduces the theme of this special issue of Religions, reveals some of his underlying convictions and assumptions regarding the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics, and introduces each of the eight articles in this collection. Rather than a discipline, Christian ethics might more accurately be described as a field of scholarly endeavor engaging a range of partner disciplines. Each contributor was invited to offer a distinct perspective on this task, contributing to a collective reenvisioning of the field. The guest editor describes his underlying convictions, that the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics is real, perspectival, dialogical, collaborative, and purposeful. Correspondingly, he sees the task as awe-filled, discerning, responsive, participatory, and hopeful. Envisioned is a confluence of intersectional, interdisciplinary, and intercultural approaches expanding beyond the academy and even beyond the Christian in order to partner with all members of global society for the common good, shared justice, and full flourishing of all of creation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
Open AccessArticle
Was the Temple on Mount Gerizim Modelled after the Jerusalem Temple?
Religions 2020, 11(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020073 - 06 Feb 2020
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Abstract
Was the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim modelled after the temple in Jerusalem? This question is important for our understanding of the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and the people who worshipped there in the Persian and Hellenistic period; if the Gerizim temple was [...] Read more.
Was the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim modelled after the temple in Jerusalem? This question is important for our understanding of the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and the people who worshipped there in the Persian and Hellenistic period; if the Gerizim temple was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, the argument in favour of the Gerizim cult as derived from the cult in Jerusalem is strengthened. On the other hand, if no such connection can be demonstrated convincingly, one must look elsewhere for the answer to the question of Samaritan origins. The present study gives a brief introduction to the relationship between early Judaism and early Samaritanism, or rather Southern and Northern Yahwism, followed by a presentation of Mount Gerizim and the excavations that were carried out there between 1982 and 2006. Finally, I shall turn to the theory that the temple on Mount Gerizim was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, which has been recast by Dr Yitzhak Magen (2008). I conclude that the archaeological remains from the Persian-period sanctuary on Mount Gerizim offer no evidence that this temple was modelled on the temple in Jerusalem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
Open AccessArticle
Master Questions, Student Questions, and Genuine Questions: A Performative Analysis of Questions in Chan Encounter Dialogues
Religions 2020, 11(2), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020072 - 05 Feb 2020
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Abstract
I want to know whether Chan masters and students depicted in classical Chan transmission literature can be interpreted as asking open (or what I will call “genuine”) questions. My task is significant because asking genuine questions appears to be a decisive factor in [...] Read more.
I want to know whether Chan masters and students depicted in classical Chan transmission literature can be interpreted as asking open (or what I will call “genuine”) questions. My task is significant because asking genuine questions appears to be a decisive factor in ascertaining whether these figures represent models for dialogue—the kind of dialogue championed in democratic society and valued by promoters of interreligious exchange. My study also contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of early Chan not only by detailing contrasts between contemporary interests and classical Chan, but more importantly by paying greater attention to the role language and rhetoric play in classical Chan. What roles do questions play in Chan encounter dialogues, and are any of the questions genuine? Is there anything about the conventions of the genre that keeps readers from interpreting some questions in this way? To address these topics, I will proceed as follows. First, on a global level and for critical-historical context, I survey Chan transmission literature of the Song dynasty in which encounter dialogues appear, and their role in developments of Chan/Zen traditions. Second, I zoom in on structural elements of encounter dialogues in particular as a genre. Third, aligning with the trajectory of performative analyses of Chan literature called for by Sharf and Faure, I turn to develop and criticize a performative model of questions from resources in recent analytic and continental philosophy of language and I apply that model to some questions in encounter dialogue literature. Full article
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