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Religions, Volume 15, Issue 5 (May 2024) – 113 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Biblical scholars have long debated the identity of ‘the sons of gods’ who father the heroic Nephilim in the brief story in Genesis 6. Are they gods or human elites or descendants of the line of Seth? I argue that the framing of the problem relies on the false assumption that the Bible promotes ‘monotheism’. Stimulated by the provocative Māori translation of Genesis 1–11 in He Tīmatanga (2023), this article adopts a hermeneutical strategy to counter monotheistic misreadings of the Bible, and their racist effects, by reading Māori stories of the ancient divine hero Tāwhaki alongside the Bible’s account of the Nephilim, thereby drawing out hitherto unnoticed elements in the biblical story. Supported also by analysis of the Sumerian King List, the article concludes that ‘the sons of the gods’ are at once gods, elite humans, and Sethites. View this paper
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12 pages, 290 KiB  
Article
Accommodation and Compromise in the Contact Zone: Christianity and Chinese Culture in Modern Hong Kong Literature
by Yi Yang
Religions 2024, 15(5), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050629 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Situated in the unique historical context of Hong Kong—a contact zone between East and West—this study explores how Christianity’s introduction through British colonialism and missionary efforts has intertwined with and influenced Chinese cultural traditions. By examining selected works of Xu Dishan and Chen [...] Read more.
Situated in the unique historical context of Hong Kong—a contact zone between East and West—this study explores how Christianity’s introduction through British colonialism and missionary efforts has intertwined with and influenced Chinese cultural traditions. By examining selected works of Xu Dishan and Chen Zanyi, this study reveals the dynamic negotiations of identity and values between these two cultural and religious traditions. These literary works not only depict the complexities of cultural hybridity but also provide insights into the evolving nature of cultural identity in Hong Kong, illustrating how global religions and local traditions can merge and transform each other. This study contributes to understanding the intricate dance of religious exchange, conflict, and compromise in Hong Kong’s cross-culture setting, suggesting that such literary explorations can bridge Christianity with the socio-economic, cultural, and historical fabric of Chinese society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Expressions of Chinese Christianity in Texts and Contexts)
18 pages, 1267 KiB  
Article
Compilation of Dictionaries and Scientific and Technological Translations by Western Protestant Missionaries in China in the Nineteenth Century
by Jin Tao and Lixin Wan
Religions 2024, 15(5), 628; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050628 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 376
Abstract
The 19th century saw the important transformation of modern Western concepts into Chinese lexical resources. The missionaries were the initiators and important driving force for the translation of Western books into Chinese in modern China. They promoted ‘translating terms’ and ‘coining terms’ in [...] Read more.
The 19th century saw the important transformation of modern Western concepts into Chinese lexical resources. The missionaries were the initiators and important driving force for the translation of Western books into Chinese in modern China. They promoted ‘translating terms’ and ‘coining terms’ in their translations of Western books and the compilation of dictionaries with the cooperation of Chinese intellectuals. Their work provided a tangible ‘word’ carrier of ‘concepts’ for disseminating modern knowledge from the West to the East. Compiled by missionaries, the English–Chinese bilingual dictionaries introduced a brand-new concept of dictionary compilation and changed China’s history of having zidian (字典, character dictionaries) but no cidian (辞典, specialized dictionaries). In particular, John Fryer applied the translation method of creating new words or characters in the translation of chemical terminology. Members of the School and Textbook Series Committee, including John Fryer and Calvin Wilson Mateer, made great contributions to theories and strategies for translation, which keep inspiring Chinese–English translation of terminology and its theoretical construction. Full article
13 pages, 649 KiB  
Article
Sacred Resurgence: Revitalizing Buddhist Temples in Modern China
by Yifeng Liu
Religions 2024, 15(5), 627; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050627 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 364
Abstract
This paper examines the construction and maintenance of Chinese Han Buddhist temples in modern China against the backdrop of societal transformation. Initially, it analyzes the profound impact of social changes since the mid-19th century on Buddhist monasteries, including political turmoil, economic development, and [...] Read more.
This paper examines the construction and maintenance of Chinese Han Buddhist temples in modern China against the backdrop of societal transformation. Initially, it analyzes the profound impact of social changes since the mid-19th century on Buddhist monasteries, including political turmoil, economic development, and urbanization. Furthermore, the paper explores how temples were reconstructed and revitalized within this historical context, highlighting the monastic community’s unwavering commitment to protecting the Dharma and ensuring its enduring presence. Additionally, this paper also explores the role of charismatic monks in enhancing the sanctity of temples and the influence of Buddhist institutional frameworks on the dynamics of state and society. The study employs a multifaceted analysis to understand the complex interplay between temple construction, economic development, and the cultural heritage of Buddhism in China. Full article
15 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Commemoration of the Dead in the Context of Alternative Spirituality: Collective and Solitary Rituals
by Tatiana Bužeková
Religions 2024, 15(5), 626; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050626 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 346
Abstract
The ritualised commemoration of the deceased belongs to the most common forms of communication with the dead. The meaning that people ascribe to a religious commemoration ritual is determined by a concrete religious doctrine, although it can be influenced by a broader cultural [...] Read more.
The ritualised commemoration of the deceased belongs to the most common forms of communication with the dead. The meaning that people ascribe to a religious commemoration ritual is determined by a concrete religious doctrine, although it can be influenced by a broader cultural tradition. However, in the context of alternative spiritual currents, there can be many possible interpretations of communication with the dead, as there is no “official” doctrine supported by established institutions. In addition, alternative spirituality is marked by the emphasis on individuality, which results in the predominance of solitary practice. Yet, in various contexts, the tension between individuality and community can be manifested in different forms of ritualised behaviour, ranging from strictly private performances to prescribed group rituals. The paper addresses different levels of individual and collective practice in the context of alternative spirituality in Slovakia, a post-socialist country with a predominantly Christian, mostly Catholic, population. It makes use of the theoretical tools of Mary Douglas’ theory relating to the connection between cosmological beliefs and particular forms of social life. Rituals and ritualised behaviour are considered in the case of the triduum of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. The results of ethnographic research on spiritual circles operating in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, have shown that these holidays are perceived and practiced differently by people with different religious or spiritual affiliation. The individual interpretation and the degree of associated ritualised behaviour depend on personal background, as well as the social organisation of a circle to which a practitioner belongs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
9 pages, 235 KiB  
Article
Grounding Intelligibility, Safeguarding Mystery: A Neoclassical Reading of Ernan McMullin’s Legacy
by Amerigo Barzaghi
Religions 2024, 15(5), 625; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050625 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 370
Abstract
This paper suggests a “neoclassical” reading of Ernan McMullin’s thought on science and theology. McMullin’s Augustinian convictions on God and the God–world relation coincide with those of some prominent scholars from two renowned schools of neo-scholastic philosophy of the twentieth century in Louvain [...] Read more.
This paper suggests a “neoclassical” reading of Ernan McMullin’s thought on science and theology. McMullin’s Augustinian convictions on God and the God–world relation coincide with those of some prominent scholars from two renowned schools of neo-scholastic philosophy of the twentieth century in Louvain and Milan. The school of Milan, thanks to the work of some disciples of its leading figure, Amato Masnovo, developed a neoclassical version of neo-scholasticism, articulating a fundamental theory of knowledge, as well as an essential, rigorous path to God. We recall the main tenets of a neoclassical path to God, and we interpret this path as a possible contribution to the science–theology dialogue, in line with McMullin’s Augustinism. A neoclassical approach to science and theology, with its rediscovery and reactualization of some ideas of classic philosophy in an interdisciplinary context, grounds the intelligibility of the universe and safeguards its mystery. Full article
14 pages, 322 KiB  
Article
A Comparison of Human Life in Christian and Chinese Buddhist Bioethics
by Fuyi Wang
Religions 2024, 15(5), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050624 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 396
Abstract
Bioethics provides a new perspective for the comparative study of Christianity and Chinese Buddhism. This paper provides a comprehensive comparison of the sources, states of existence, and fundamental principles and purposes of the Christian and Chinese Buddhist perspectives on human life, focusing specifically [...] Read more.
Bioethics provides a new perspective for the comparative study of Christianity and Chinese Buddhism. This paper provides a comprehensive comparison of the sources, states of existence, and fundamental principles and purposes of the Christian and Chinese Buddhist perspectives on human life, focusing specifically on the realm of bioethics. It places special emphasis on teachings about God’s creation and dependent origination, original sin and Buddhist causality, as well as love and compassion. Despite the significant geographic distance between Christianity and Chinese Buddhism, the dialogue highlights potential cultural differences and interpretations. It also demonstrates mutual acceptance and the process of redefining one’s own identity. Religious bioethics greatly benefits from a comprehensive study of various religions from around the world. It aims to encourage cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research on different religions globally. It promotes religious bioethics as a relevant field of study. Full article
11 pages, 207 KiB  
Article
Artificial Intelligence and an Anthropological Ethics of Work: Implications on the Social Teaching of the Church
by Justin Nnaemeka Onyeukaziri
Religions 2024, 15(5), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050623 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 499
Abstract
It is the contention of this paper that ethics of work ought to be anthropological, and artificial intelligence (AI) research and development, which is the focus of work today, should be anthropological, that is, human-centered. This paper discusses the philosophical and theological implications [...] Read more.
It is the contention of this paper that ethics of work ought to be anthropological, and artificial intelligence (AI) research and development, which is the focus of work today, should be anthropological, that is, human-centered. This paper discusses the philosophical and theological implications of the development of AI research on the intrinsic nature of work and the nature of the human person. AI research and the implications of its development and advancement, being a relatively new phenomenon, have not been comprehensively interrogated in the social and ethical teachings of the Catholic Church. This paper, therefore, proposes a path for this interrogation by expounding a discourse which is believed to be epistemically helpful in the developing discourse of AI in the ethical and social teachings of the Church. The advancement in the research on AI is not only redefining the meaning of work, but, even more so, it is questioning the metaphysical notion of the human person and the theological notion of work as an intrinsic part in the selfhood and dignity of the human person. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reimagining Catholic Ethics Today)
11 pages, 354 KiB  
Article
Bioethics, Suffering, and the Culture Wars
by Jonathan B. Imber
Religions 2024, 15(5), 622; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050622 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 341
Abstract
This article provides an analysis of the enduring disagreements among bioethicists over the divide between secular and religious boundaries that are reflected in liberal, libertarian, and conservative approaches to medicine as a profession and vocation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the [...] Read more.
This article provides an analysis of the enduring disagreements among bioethicists over the divide between secular and religious boundaries that are reflected in liberal, libertarian, and conservative approaches to medicine as a profession and vocation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the most authoritative voices to address the problem of suffering were Protestants, Strict Calvinists, hydropaths, and homeopaths. Other religious and medical groups had regularly confronted pain and suffering in the nineteenth century in light of the discovery and increasing use of anesthesia. Rationalizations for suffering were first and foremost indebted to strong beliefs about divine will and about the seemingly inevitable course of nature. Did physical pain reflect the wrongdoing of one individual or of an entire community? What was the appropriate way to respond to the natural circumstances of growth, decay, and healing? Such questions produced a varied rhetoric of suffering that emerged in new ways in the second half of the twentieth century. Questions and concerns about the ethical foundations of medical practice—what should and should not be permitted—illustrate the present cultural struggles. Full article
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12 pages, 640 KiB  
Article
Belief in Religion or Participation in Insurance? The Impact of Religious Beliefs on the Decision to Participate in Social Health Insurance in China
by Mengran Chai and Lin Wu
Religions 2024, 15(5), 621; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050621 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 476
Abstract
Investigating the factors that influence individual decisions to participate in social health insurance is an essential component of constructing a multi-tiered, comprehensive social health insurance system, and religious beliefs may constitute an important potential factor. Utilising data from the China General Social Survey [...] Read more.
Investigating the factors that influence individual decisions to participate in social health insurance is an essential component of constructing a multi-tiered, comprehensive social health insurance system, and religious beliefs may constitute an important potential factor. Utilising data from the China General Social Survey (CGSS), this study has developed a comprehensive explanatory framework encompassing both macro- and micro-level analyses to ascertain the impact of religious beliefs on individual decisions to participate in social health insurance through quantitative methods. The findings indicate that religious beliefs significantly diminish the likelihood of individuals participating in social health insurance, and the influence varies among different types of religions; endogeneity and robustness tests offer robust support for these conclusions. With respect to heterogeneity, the influence of religious beliefs on the decision to participate in social health insurance exhibits differentiation across dimensions such as educational attainment, social trust levels, income levels, and self-rated health statuses. Furthermore, the social interaction effect and the employment opportunity effect are identified as potential mechanisms driving this influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
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20 pages, 369 KiB  
Article
The Brazilian Hymnological Melting Pot: Investigating Ethnoracial Discourses in the Compilation of the Lutheran Hymnal Livro de Canto (2017)
by Fernando Berwig Silva
Religions 2024, 15(5), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050620 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 416
Abstract
In 1926, a New York Times article described the cultural and ethnic flows in south Brazil as a “Melting Pot”. The report predicted that German Brazilians, tied to their ethnoracial origin, would soon be Brazilianized. The study of congregational song practices offers [...] Read more.
In 1926, a New York Times article described the cultural and ethnic flows in south Brazil as a “Melting Pot”. The report predicted that German Brazilians, tied to their ethnoracial origin, would soon be Brazilianized. The study of congregational song practices offers insight into the relationship between migration, race, culture, and ethnicity. Moreover, investigating Brazilian Lutheran singing practices helps us understand how the New York Times’ prediction unfolded on the ground. This paper examines the Brazilian Lutheran hymnal Livro de Canto, published in 2017, and displays how Brazil’s ethnoracial diversity is manifested and negotiated in the Lutheran context, both musically and theologically. By interviewing members of the hymnal committee and investigating how they dealt with Brazil’s ethnoraciality in the context of the hymnal compilation, this paper demonstrates ways denominations and churchgoers negotiate theological, cultural, musical, and ethnoracial identities through congregational singing. More importantly, it showcases how Brazilian Lutheran church music practices inform broader social conversations around racism, nationalism, Blackness, and Brazilianness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race, Religion, and Nationalism in the 21st Century)
15 pages, 601 KiB  
Article
Caring for–Caring about: Negotiations of Values in Pastoral Care
by Mikkel Gabriel Christoffersen, Annette Daniela Haußmann and Anne Austad
Religions 2024, 15(5), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050619 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 338
Abstract
The term “care” in pastoral care means caring for others. Yet those who care for others in pastoral conversations can also be defined existentially as people who care about the world, that is, people who hold values. This article explores how caring for [...] Read more.
The term “care” in pastoral care means caring for others. Yet those who care for others in pastoral conversations can also be defined existentially as people who care about the world, that is, people who hold values. This article explores how caring for and caring about commence in pastoral practice, with special attention paid to conflicts of values in pastoral conversations. The article proposes a typology of subjects for value conflicts in pastoral care, and it proposes a set of strategies for navigating those conflicts. We base both proposals on an analysis of German and Norwegian verbatims, i.e., protocols of pastoral caregivers’ memories of pastoral care encounters. These verbatims highlight that while pastoral caregivers and care seekers have different roles and obligations in pastoral care, an existential encounter occurs which has its own potentials and pitfalls. Thereby, we draw attention to the necessary negotiations of values that transpire in pastoral conversations in postsecular societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pastoral and Spiritual Care in Pluralistic Societies)
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14 pages, 253 KiB  
Article
Faith, Knowledge, and the Ausgang of Classical German Philosophy: Jacobi, Hegel, Feuerbach
by Todd Gooch
Religions 2024, 15(5), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050618 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 310
Abstract
This article revisits Feuerbach’s “break with speculation” in the early 1840s in light of issues raised by the original Pantheism Controversy, initiated in 1785 by the publication of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza. The article first describes the [...] Read more.
This article revisits Feuerbach’s “break with speculation” in the early 1840s in light of issues raised by the original Pantheism Controversy, initiated in 1785 by the publication of Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza. The article first describes the concerns underlying Jacobi’s repudiation of Spinozism, and rationalism more generally, in favor of a personalistic theism that disclaims the possibility of philosophical knowledge of God. It goes on to reconstruct Hegel’s alternative to Jacobi’s famous salto mortale before considering how Feuerbach’s critique of Hegel’s philosophy of religion, as well as the personalism of the so-called Positive Philosophy (inspired by the late Schelling), was influenced by both Spinoza and Jacobi in ways that have not yet received sufficient attention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of German Idealism on Religion)
7 pages, 161 KiB  
Article
Pondering Diversity in Contemporary Culture: Towards Establishing a Framework for a Dialogical Approach to Religious Education in Australian Catholic Schools
by Richard M. Rymarz
Religions 2024, 15(5), 617; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050617 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 391
Abstract
This paper seeks to deepen the understanding of religious plurality using a range of conceptual lenses and then to draw out some implications for a dialogical approach to religious education in Catholic schools. While what was, until very recent times, seen as conventional [...] Read more.
This paper seeks to deepen the understanding of religious plurality using a range of conceptual lenses and then to draw out some implications for a dialogical approach to religious education in Catholic schools. While what was, until very recent times, seen as conventional religious affiliation has certainly weakened in Australia and elsewhere, this does not necessarily lead to a multiplication of communal beliefs, practices and values. Following Smith, Inglehart and others, what has emerged is a dominant cultural hegemony which has a range of characteristics, but the most pertinent for the discussion here is the loss of the transcendent imperative and the subsequent decline in the knowledge of, and identification with, narratives associated with once-dominant religious communities. An understanding of diversity in the current cultural milieu in Australia needs to consider this hegemony as expressed in a commonality of beliefs, values and practices regardless of expressed affiliation, religious or not. Understanding diversity in this framework establishes a basis for better considering what a dialogical approach to religious education would involve. A dialogical approach to religious education is taken as a settled norm and not one that is heavily contested. A number of the implications of the proposed understanding of diversity for religious education are given. These include following a Vygotskian scaffolded approach to pedagogy and seeing an important place for the articulation of the home religious tradition. Full article
28 pages, 309 KiB  
Article
Social Media and the Spiritual Journey: The Place of Digital Technology in Enriching the Experience
by Talib Hussain and Dake Wang
Religions 2024, 15(5), 616; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050616 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 407
Abstract
This qualitative study explores the utilization of social media among Pakistani pilgrims during spiritual journeys and investigates its impact on their pilgrimage experiences. Thirty Pakistani pilgrims who had embarked on spiritual journeys to various religious sites were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis [...] Read more.
This qualitative study explores the utilization of social media among Pakistani pilgrims during spiritual journeys and investigates its impact on their pilgrimage experiences. Thirty Pakistani pilgrims who had embarked on spiritual journeys to various religious sites were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze the interview transcripts, revealing five main stages of social media usage: pre-trip preparation, real-time updates and guidance, community building and support, sharing experiences and insights, and post-trip reflection and engagement. At each stage, social media played diverse roles, including providing information and support, fostering connections with fellow pilgrims, sharing personal experiences, and facilitating spiritual dialogue. This explorative study underscores the significance of social media in enhancing the pilgrimage experience for Pakistani pilgrims, serving as a valuable tool for information dissemination, community building, spiritual support, and personal reflection throughout the pilgrimage journey. The findings contribute to a deeper understanding of how social media shapes pilgrims’ experiences and fosters their spiritual growth, emphasizing the need for further research to explore the nuanced dynamics of social media usage in the context of pilgrimage. Overall, this study sheds light on the unique role of social media in the spiritual journeys of Pakistani pilgrims and highlights its implications for pilgrimage practices and the broader discourse on religious tourism. Full article
10 pages, 186 KiB  
Article
Evolution, Evil, Co-Creation and the Value of the World
by Robin Attfield
Religions 2024, 15(5), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050615 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 325
Abstract
This article builds on and supplements an earlier one in this journal about theodicy. It focuses on species extinctions and on the possible role of humanity as fallible co-creators. Christopher Southgate has suggested that co-creators might shoulder the task of curtailing extinctions. In [...] Read more.
This article builds on and supplements an earlier one in this journal about theodicy. It focuses on species extinctions and on the possible role of humanity as fallible co-creators. Christopher Southgate has suggested that co-creators might shoulder the task of curtailing extinctions. In appraising this view, I distinguish between extinctions resulting from evolution, which humans have limited power to reverse, but which are held to be indispensable for the evolution of complexity, consciousness and self-consciousness, and those caused by humanity itself, which humans should reduce, even if they cannot be halted. Human creativity, however, extends further to the development of skills, trades, the arts and literature. Church Fathers, such as Ambrose, Theodoret and Cosmas Indicopleustes, held that God left the creation incomplete so that humanity could enhance it; certainly, human creativity has introduced agriculture, navigation, technology and culture, adding to the value of the world. Granted belief in creation, this can be understood as co-creation. Granted the value that humanity continues to add to the world, the belief that such creativity flows from the creator’s overall plan emerges as a coherent one. Full article
14 pages, 237 KiB  
Article
From Crossroads to Holistic Impact: Charting a Praxical Course for Transforming Theological Education in Africa
by Barnabé Anzuruni Msabah
Religions 2024, 15(5), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050614 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 559
Abstract
Theological education in Africa is currently at a crossroads and requires a thorough re-evaluation. The framework for teaching and learning introduced by missionaries during colonial times, which often prioritized Western perspectives and ignored indigenous African contexts, does not adequately address the complex issues [...] Read more.
Theological education in Africa is currently at a crossroads and requires a thorough re-evaluation. The framework for teaching and learning introduced by missionaries during colonial times, which often prioritized Western perspectives and ignored indigenous African contexts, does not adequately address the complex issues and needs of African communities today. As a result, the impact of theological practice lacks both relevance and sustainability within grassroots communities. There is therefore a need for a theological framework that is more relevant, contextual, and responsive to the realities and aspirations of African people in the present context. This article advocates for the decolonization of theological education for a praxical approach rooted in lived experiences. It is essential to firmly anchor theological reflection and action in African traditions in order to effectively address contextual issues. This calls for action beyond academic reform towards meeting the pressing needs of the population. This article sheds light on the inadequacies of the colonial framework within theological education, serving as crucial indicators for holistic and sustainable transformation within the field. Case studies drawn from theological institutions, and local churches from selected countries in East, Central and Southern Africa provide nuanced insights into the importance of this transformative process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonization of Theological Education in the African Context)
15 pages, 778 KiB  
Article
Schēma: A Semantic Puzzle—Some Hermeneutical and Translational Difficulties about Philippians 2:7d
by Teresa Bartolomei
Religions 2024, 15(5), 613; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050613 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 371
Abstract
The occurrence of the term σχήμα in Phil 2:7d is analyzed in comparison with two other crucial Pauline occurrences: 1 Cor 7:31 and Phil 3:21 (here as a semanteme included in the verb μετασχηματίσει). This comparative study aims to provide a revision [...] Read more.
The occurrence of the term σχήμα in Phil 2:7d is analyzed in comparison with two other crucial Pauline occurrences: 1 Cor 7:31 and Phil 3:21 (here as a semanteme included in the verb μετασχηματίσει). This comparative study aims to provide a revision of the current interpretation of the word as designating the outward, sensory, accidental appearance in which Christ’s human nature was manifested to those who dealt with him. This traditional reconstruction is unsatisfactory in two respects: (1) it is tributary to a substantialist ontology that identifies corporeality as a mere spatial extension, unrelated to historicity and (2) it is fraught with highly problematic theological, potentially docetic, implications. As an alternative, the term σχήμα is here interpreted within the framework of the great Pauline theology of history: as a temporal–eschatological marker designating the peculiar temporal state of transience and suffering corruptibility inherent in physicality and corporeal life. This change also clarifies the conceptual articulation of σχήμα with the parallel expression μορφὴν δούλου. According to this interpretation, contrary to the prevailing view, the locution “slave form” does not designate ‘the’ or ‘one’ ‘human form’ but the ‘creature form’, as cosmic submission to temporal finitude. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Pauline Research: Philippians)
11 pages, 380 KiB  
Article
Connecting to Resilience, Hope, and Spirituality through a Narrative Therapy and Narrative Medicine Creative Writing Group for People Affected by Cancer
by Laura Béres, Leah Getchell and Amandi Perera
Religions 2024, 15(5), 612; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050612 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 390
Abstract
In this article, the authors will describe a creative writing therapeutic group program they developed based on narrative therapy and narrative medicine principles. This was a Social Science and Humanities Research Council—Partnership Engagement Grant funded project, the aim of which was to develop [...] Read more.
In this article, the authors will describe a creative writing therapeutic group program they developed based on narrative therapy and narrative medicine principles. This was a Social Science and Humanities Research Council—Partnership Engagement Grant funded project, the aim of which was to develop a facilitator’s manual for people interested in offering this group, titled “Journey through Words”. The link to the agency partner’s website, where the manual is available, is provided. The group program is structured over 6 weeks and includes a writing prompt each week, focusing on the storyline of resilience rather than the storyline of diagnosis or disease. Using a narrative inquiry approach, the facilitators kept brief field notes following group meetings. These field notes indicate that although spirituality was not planned as an identified focus of the program, due to the space narrative therapy provides for people to describe their values, preferences, and hopes during hardship, the experience of the group was that members shared reflections which were deeply spiritual in nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality, Resilience and Posttraumatic Growth)
16 pages, 521 KiB  
Article
“I Thought It Was Beautiful; I Just Wish I Could Understand It”: The Awkward Dance of Multilingual Worship
by Marcell Silva Steuernagel
Religions 2024, 15(5), 611; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050611 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 414
Abstract
This article explores strategies for planning and leading multilingual worship. It offers an overview of translation and multilingualism for readers unfamiliar with the growing body of scholarship in these fields and connects them to the role of translation and multilingualism in Christian worship, [...] Read more.
This article explores strategies for planning and leading multilingual worship. It offers an overview of translation and multilingualism for readers unfamiliar with the growing body of scholarship in these fields and connects them to the role of translation and multilingualism in Christian worship, leveraging decolonial perspectives to critique its history. This article draws from a data set of approximately 40 liturgies designed for the Course of Study School of the United Methodist Church at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. It uses selections from these liturgies to demonstrate how issues of translation and multilingualism might be dealt with in worship planning and leadership. Finally, the article points to possibilities for further exploration at the intersection between Christian worship and multilingualism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multilingualism in Religious Musical Practice)
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22 pages, 585 KiB  
Article
The Evolutionary Masks of Love: Continuities between Judeo-Christian Religious Love and Modern Secular Love
by Juan Antonio Roche Cárcel and Javier Gil-Gimeno
Religions 2024, 15(5), 610; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050610 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 299
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to establish a series of links between some of the main religious formulas that arise in Judaism and Christianism and the romantic and confluent love characteristic of modern societies. To carry it out, firstly, we analyze love [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to establish a series of links between some of the main religious formulas that arise in Judaism and Christianism and the romantic and confluent love characteristic of modern societies. To carry it out, firstly, we analyze love in historical Judaism, reflecting on the Ahavah formula, the predominant formula in this religious context. Secondly, to study the Christian drift of love, we first analyze how the emergence of this new religious faith (Christianism) provokes a change in the Jewish way of understanding it (love). Subsequently, we analyze some of the three main formulas in which love materializes in Christianism: Agape, Caritas, and Amor Sui. Regarding modern love, we first carry out a contextualization focused on the processes of secularization and individualization, and their impact on it. Afterwards, we present the main features that define both romantic and confluent love, and finally, we analyze the Judeo-Christian characters inherited for such types of love. The methodology used focused on a literature review and theoretical reflection based on this review. The research carried out allows us to establish sociological continuities between Judeo-Christian religious love and modern secular love in the terms used throughout the paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences)
13 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
The African Pastor as a Public Figure in Response to Gender-Based Violence in South Africa: A Public Pastoral Intervention
by Patrick Nanthambwe and Vhumani Magezi
Religions 2024, 15(5), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050609 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 320
Abstract
The burgeoning field of public theology has garnered significant scholarly attention. Amidst its multifaceted discussions, a recurring theme asserts that theology plays a vital and irreplaceable role in public discourse. This perspective contends that engaging with matters of public concern from a theological [...] Read more.
The burgeoning field of public theology has garnered significant scholarly attention. Amidst its multifaceted discussions, a recurring theme asserts that theology plays a vital and irreplaceable role in public discourse. This perspective contends that engaging with matters of public concern from a theological standpoint not only contributes meaningfully to public discourse but also shapes our understanding of the world, human existence, and the divine. Within the African context, particularly in South Africa, gender-based violence (GBV) remains a pressing societal issue despite government and organizational efforts. This article delves into the potential role of pastors as public figures in addressing the persistent challenge of GBV. It explores the implications of pastors assuming public roles within an African context and how this engagement can be instrumental in combating GBV. By drawing on literature related to public practical theology, pastoral care, and GBV in South Africa, the article advocates for proactive public interventions by pastoral ministries. Through synthesizing insights from existing scholarship, it contributes to ongoing discussions at the intersection of theology, pastoral practice, and societal issues, with a specific focus on addressing GBV in the unique South African context. Full article
9 pages, 231 KiB  
Article
Doing the Word: Reawakening the Church to Save Society in Southern Africa
by Kimion Tagwirei
Religions 2024, 15(5), 608; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050608 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 331
Abstract
Southern African societies are presently beleaguered by manifold socio-economic, political, and environmental challenges. Ordinary people long for answers to questions about how to mitigate these challenges. Meanwhile, the Church mostly preaches the gospel and establishes and grows denominations across the world. Proclaiming the [...] Read more.
Southern African societies are presently beleaguered by manifold socio-economic, political, and environmental challenges. Ordinary people long for answers to questions about how to mitigate these challenges. Meanwhile, the Church mostly preaches the gospel and establishes and grows denominations across the world. Proclaiming the gospel in word is good; however, without demonstrating the gospel with transformational deeds, the Church remains Salvationist and partially missionary. Bearing in mind that the integral mission of the Church is advancing the gospel holistically, fractional mindfulness of the gospel, hearing the words without performing the corresponding deeds, is defacing its identity. Today, this situation is problematic and helpless, as society is in dire need of a wholesome Church that acts in accordance with its own faith and values and attends to the soul, the body, and all other facets of life. Much has been published about the integral mission of the Church, though little has been said about its role in social action. By qualitatively reviewing the literature and observing the Southern African context and some biblical examples, this paper finds the integral mission to be the predominant and comprehensive purpose of the existence of the Church. While the Church could be aware of its mandate, it should be reawakened so that it becomes a doer of the Word and stands out as the salt and light of the world by contributing to addressing the needs of society. Full article
8 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Developing Christ as Consolatory Example in the Christ Encomium
by Alex W. Muir
Religions 2024, 15(5), 607; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050607 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 408
Abstract
While Paul Holloway’s scholarship on Philippians has been important, his classification of Philippians as a letter of consolation has gained relatively little traction. Interestingly, however, Holloway follows Karl Barth in labelling a large section of the letter, Phil 1:27–2:16, a ‘hortatory digression’, which [...] Read more.
While Paul Holloway’s scholarship on Philippians has been important, his classification of Philippians as a letter of consolation has gained relatively little traction. Interestingly, however, Holloway follows Karl Barth in labelling a large section of the letter, Phil 1:27–2:16, a ‘hortatory digression’, which could be seen to diminish the extent of consolation in this part of the letter. In this article, I seek to develop Holloway’s work to argue that the Christ encomium in Phil 2:6–11 has elements of consolatory discourse that relates to other parts of the letter. Phil 2:6–11 illustrates and exemplifies how comfort (παράκλησις), consolation (παραμύθιον), and joy (χαρά) can be derived by individuals and communities in the face of opposition or destitution (cf. Phil 1:27–2:4). I propose that Christ undergoes a form of voluntary desolation in 2:6–8 but then receives something different from consolation in his glorious exaltation and the bestowal of the divine name. Although Paul and the Philippians will not receive universal worship like Christ, they can imitate him by following in this trajectory of becoming like God, thus receiving divine consolation and transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Pauline Research: Philippians)
24 pages, 467 KiB  
Article
Journeys without End: Narrative Endings and Implied Readers in Acts of the Apostles and Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana
by Pieter B. Hartog
Religions 2024, 15(5), 606; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050606 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 394
Abstract
This contribution compares the final sections of Acts of the Apostles and Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Through this comparison, I aim to show that these two writings resemble one another in their attention to travel as a literary theme. Both [...] Read more.
This contribution compares the final sections of Acts of the Apostles and Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Through this comparison, I aim to show that these two writings resemble one another in their attention to travel as a literary theme. Both Acts and Life employ this theme to communicate their message and, in their narrative endings, set up their implied readers as travelers who are meant to continue the journeys of the protagonists in these writings. At the same time, Acts and Life differ in how exactly they envision their readers to continue the journeys of their protagonists. I will argue that these similarities and differences can be explained by the shared social and intellectual climate that Acts and Life inhabit: both writings result from discourses on travel and self that were rife among intellectuals in the Roman Empire in the first three centuries of our era, irrespective of their ethnic, legal, or cultural affiliations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Travel and Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean)
14 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
The Dead in Vernacular Magic Practices among Bosniaks
by Mirjam Mencej
Religions 2024, 15(5), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050605 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 418
Abstract
Based on fieldwork research among the Bosniak (Muslim) population in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this article starts with the technique of summoning the dead, aimed at obtaining information about missing goods. It argues that the practice of summoning the dead, like [...] Read more.
Based on fieldwork research among the Bosniak (Muslim) population in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, this article starts with the technique of summoning the dead, aimed at obtaining information about missing goods. It argues that the practice of summoning the dead, like practices aimed at magically harming others, is based on the same moral rules that govern everyday relations between the living and the dead. While these rules are generally followed and observed in everyday life, they can also be deliberately inverted to one’s own advantage or to the disadvantage of others. Ultimately, I argue that the dead prove to be moral agents who act when moral norms are violated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
13 pages, 227 KiB  
Article
The Preacher as Artist: An Exploration of Sermon Creation as Art-Making
by Ruthanna B. Hooke
Religions 2024, 15(5), 604; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050604 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 367
Abstract
Preaching is one of the most creative things a pastor does. This essay explores how a theology of creativity, the imagination, and the arts can encourage preachers to embrace proclamation as creative work. The invitation to preachers to engage their creativity and imagination [...] Read more.
Preaching is one of the most creative things a pastor does. This essay explores how a theology of creativity, the imagination, and the arts can encourage preachers to embrace proclamation as creative work. The invitation to preachers to engage their creativity and imagination in preaching rests on the theological claim that creativity is intrinsic to human beings as made in the image of God the Creator. To create is to realize a core human vocation and to deepen knowledge of God. The imagination is a primary avenue to such knowledge, since the imagination is a faculty that allows for a holistic grasp of realities both seen and unseen. An artistic approach to preaching is appropriate in that art functions in similar ways to preaching: like preaching, art explores the depths of human existence, creates wholes out of fragments, and makes connections between seemingly disparate phenomena. The dispositions of the artist are vital for preachers, especially the courage and risk-taking required in art-making as a venture into the unknown. These functions of art and qualities of the artist lead to reflections concerning the particular challenges involved in being a Christian artist, and to the role of beauty in the knowledge of God and hence in preaching. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Homiletical Theory and Praxis)
13 pages, 210 KiB  
Article
Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore
by H. Leng Toh and Daniel Thornton
Religions 2024, 15(5), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050603 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 279
Abstract
This article explores the way in which love is understood and expressed through the original English lyrics of songs by New Creation Church Singapore (NCC) in comparison to the original songs from Hillsong Church Australia (Hillsong) through the period of 2014–2020. While NCC [...] Read more.
This article explores the way in which love is understood and expressed through the original English lyrics of songs by New Creation Church Singapore (NCC) in comparison to the original songs from Hillsong Church Australia (Hillsong) through the period of 2014–2020. While NCC has a multilingual congregation, reflective of the larger Singaporean society, it composes and releases original contemporary congregational songs (CCS) with English lyrics. English is the primary language in Singapore; however, it is shaped by the languages spoken in homes (e.g., Mandarin, Malay, Tamil). Combined with the theological emphases of NCC, its CCS provide a unique lens into English as a common language of worship. This article demonstrates that while the use of English lyrics is a unifying force for multilingual congregational worship, it is also not benign, but actively shaping Christian confession and associated theology and being shaped by wider multilingual contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multilingualism in Religious Musical Practice)
2 pages, 151 KiB  
Correction
Correction: Huijs et al. (2024). Spirituality as a Predictor of Well-Being, Mental Distress or Both: A Four-Week Follow-Up Study in a Sample of Dutch and Belgian Adults. Religions 15: 179
by Thijs Huijs, Arjan W. Braam, Renske Kruizinga, Nele Jacobs, Jennifer Reijnders and Marianne Simons
Religions 2024, 15(5), 602; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050602 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 210
Abstract
In the original publication (Huijs et al [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality in Psychiatry)
16 pages, 389 KiB  
Article
Ham Sok Hon: Bridging Spirituality and Politics
by Song-Chong Lee
Religions 2024, 15(5), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050601 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 351
Abstract
This paper aims to offer an interpretation of Ham Sok Hon’s views on the dynamic relationship between religion and politics. While considerable discussion has already taken place in the Korean academic community across various fields, including philosophy, theology, and political science, many of [...] Read more.
This paper aims to offer an interpretation of Ham Sok Hon’s views on the dynamic relationship between religion and politics. While considerable discussion has already taken place in the Korean academic community across various fields, including philosophy, theology, and political science, many of which propose ssial philosophy as the metaphysical foundation of his political thoughts, there still remains a need for a more systematic understanding of their relationship, which I argue is closely linked to his concept of jeonilhwa gwajeong (the process of unification/integration). By exploring Ham’s unique analysis, particularly in relation to the notion of ipcheseong (stereoscopic/multi-dimensional), this paper will underscore their shared roots and objectives across different spheres of life: one pertaining to salim (human affairs) seeking the pursuit of fairness and equality, and the other dealing with spirituality, aspiring to grasp the sublime aspects of human existence. Both religion and politics, as these movements are termed, are mutually dependent, with their culmination promising peace and harmony in historical reality. Through highlighting Ham’s integrated perspective on religion and politics, I will ultimately suggest a specific discourse—civil religion—as a theoretical framework to effectively unravels Ham’s viewpoints. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Coexistence in Korea)
12 pages, 1425 KiB  
Article
Two Contemplation Models of Nāmamātra in the Yogācāra Literature
by Seongho Choi
Religions 2024, 15(5), 600; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050600 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 310
Abstract
This article contextualizes the meaning of nāmamātra in the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkārabhāṣya and explores the history of modifications of this term in the Yogācāra literature. The term already exists in the pre-Yogācāra literature, such as the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā and the Bhavasaṃkrāntisūtra, where it means [...] Read more.
This article contextualizes the meaning of nāmamātra in the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkārabhāṣya and explores the history of modifications of this term in the Yogācāra literature. The term already exists in the pre-Yogācāra literature, such as the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā and the Bhavasaṃkrāntisūtra, where it means name only. The chapter Bodhisattvabhūmi of the Yogācārabhūmi applies this meaning and explains how to interpret it to understand the true nature of the contemplative object; that is, what is named is nothing but a name, and what exists is the inexpressible thing (vastu). When people lack this understanding and regard for the expressed object as existent, they suffer subsequent afflictions and suffering. A similar but slightly modified explanation is also found in the Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya, where the author states that a single object has two intrinsic characteristics (svalakṣaṇas), the conventional and the ultimate, and that the former is expressed by a mere name and is non-existent, while the latter is ineffable and existent. However, the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkārabhāṣya and Sthiramati’s commentary on it, the *Sūtrālaṃkāravṛttibhāṣya, insert another meaning of nāmamātra: there are only mental factors. They also describe two contemplation phases, whereby practitioners should first understand the non-existence of the expressed object before recollecting the term nāmarūpa in the context of the five constituents (pañcaskandha) and concluding that material and physical factors (rūpa) do not exist; rather, only the mental factors do (nāmamātra). Finally, this second meaning of nāmamātra should be further contemplated, and the mere mental factors should also be regarded as ultimately non-existent because the external objects causing them were already considered non-existent. This examination of various Yogācāra explanations of nāmamātra sheds light on the multiple phases of modifications of Buddhist terms that occurred in the Yogācāra literature during the systematization of Yogācāra contemplation. Full article
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