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Religions, Volume 15, Issue 6 (June 2024) – 105 articles

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15 pages, 3602 KiB  
Article
Defending the “Backward Civilization”: The Resurrection of a Forgotten 17th Century Text in 20th Century Intellectual Discourse on Islam
by Mahmut Cihat İzgi and Enes Ensar Erbay
Religions 2024, 15(6), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060734 (registering DOI) - 16 Jun 2024
Abstract
It is an irony of history that since texts transcend the intentions and purposes of their authors, their meaning and significance are often contested anew as they enter new historical contexts; even historical texts are thus subject to reading and criticism over time. [...] Read more.
It is an irony of history that since texts transcend the intentions and purposes of their authors, their meaning and significance are often contested anew as they enter new historical contexts; even historical texts are thus subject to reading and criticism over time. This article discusses the posthumous fate of Henry Stubbe’s own text on Islamic history, The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism—seen by some to represent a Copernican revolution in the study of Islam. The fate of this work is a clear example of the critical contingencies and fluctuating fortunes experienced by a corpus of texts. The continuing existence of a text as an object open to reconfiguration and re-evaluation is termed its after-history (Nachgeschichte) or afterlife (Nachleben). This notion of the afterlife of an object as a period of critical appreciation and political appropriation aptly defines the fate and fame of The Rise and Progress of Mahometanism. The present study seeks to explore the narrative surrounding a publication authored by Stubbe in the 17th century and finally published by Hafiz Mahmud Khan Shairani, with the critical support of Ottoman intellectual Halil Halid Bey, nearly two centuries later. Its objective is to investigate how the life and contributions of a figure whose work has transcended generations was resurrected within the political backdrop of the 20th century, as evidenced in the columns of Ottoman newspapers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam and the West)
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10 pages, 414 KiB  
Article
Mindful Encounters: A Buddhist Revisitation of Daniel J. Siegel’s Mind Definition
by Chien-Te Lin
Religions 2024, 15(6), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060733 (registering DOI) - 15 Jun 2024
Viewed by 63
Abstract
The mind holds crucial significance in Buddhism that encompasses a distinct understanding. While Daniel Siegel defines the “mind” as an embodied and relational process responsible for regulating energy and information flow, this article evaluates it from the Buddhist perspective. Here, I conduct a [...] Read more.
The mind holds crucial significance in Buddhism that encompasses a distinct understanding. While Daniel Siegel defines the “mind” as an embodied and relational process responsible for regulating energy and information flow, this article evaluates it from the Buddhist perspective. Here, I conduct a succinct analysis of this definition, suggesting potential modifications from a Buddhist perspective. Though Buddhism may recognize the mind’s role in regulating the flow of energy and information during dynamic interactions between individuals and their natural and social surroundings, as proposed by Siegel, it also acknowledges the intricate process of forming karmic imprints. Within this framework, I propose revisiting Siegel’s definition through the lens of Buddhist karma theory and steering towards a middle way of comprehending our mind, concluding that this revision not only enhances completeness but also practicality for mindfulness exercises. Full article
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30 pages, 10154 KiB  
Article
“The Gates of Eternal Life”: Metamorphosis and Performativity in Middle to Late Byzantine Sculpted Church Doors (with a Case Study of a Wallachian Wooden Door)
by Elisabeta Negrău
Religions 2024, 15(6), 732; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060732 (registering DOI) - 15 Jun 2024
Viewed by 157
Abstract
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in analyzing the manufacturing techniques of Byzantine church doors in laboratory settings. However, the connection between the iconography and significance of the décor of church doors and their liturgical performativity, as well as their [...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in analyzing the manufacturing techniques of Byzantine church doors in laboratory settings. However, the connection between the iconography and significance of the décor of church doors and their liturgical performativity, as well as their parallels with iconostases in Byzantium, remained a relatively underexplored area of study. This article seeks to delve deeper into these intersections. By focusing on the relationship between the iconography of church doors in Middle to Late Byzantium and their connection to the sacred space and liturgical practices, I aim to shed light on how these artworks played a crucial role in the sacred experience of the Byzantines. This exploration will not highlight only the aesthetic evolution of church door artwork but also emphasize the communal and embodied nature of the religious experience during the Byzantine era. Their intricate designs were not merely decorative elements but served as portals to the divine, enriching the salvation journey of worshippers as they crossed the threshold into the liturgical spaces. By conducting an examination of the development of door iconography and their symbolism throughout the empire’s history, the transformation of narrative depictions from the Middle Byzantine era to the Palaiologan period, culminating in a convergence of symbolic meanings within the sacred space of the church, is delineated. This transformation is further exemplified by a sculpted church door from the Principality of Wallachia. By bridging the gap between art history and religious studies, this article aims to rekindle interest in the profound symbolism and significance of Byzantine church doors and their relation to sacred liturgical space, offering a broader perspective on an important aspect of Byzantine heritage. Full article
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15 pages, 257 KiB  
Article
Barth’s “Alternative” Follower: Stanley Hauerwas and the Traditions of 20th-Century North American Theology and Ethics
by Renzhong Cui and Siyi Han
Religions 2024, 15(6), 731; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060731 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 209
Abstract
This paper explores Stanley Hauerwas’s unique perspective on the traditions of 20th-century North American theology and ethics, particularly his similarity to Karl Barth in viewing theology and ethics as inseparable. Although deeply influenced by Barth, Hauerwas defends this view in the American context [...] Read more.
This paper explores Stanley Hauerwas’s unique perspective on the traditions of 20th-century North American theology and ethics, particularly his similarity to Karl Barth in viewing theology and ethics as inseparable. Although deeply influenced by Barth, Hauerwas defends this view in the American context in a manner distinct from Barth‘s theological approach. Additionally, Hauerwas critiques Barth’s ecclesiology, which leads him to attempt to transcend some limitations of Barthian theology by developing a theological ethics “system” that emphasizes the practicality of the church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Issues in Christian Ethics)
18 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
Mashhadis and Immigration: Redemptive Narratives and Practical Challenges
by Hilda Nissimi
Religions 2024, 15(6), 730; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060730 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 181
Abstract
This paper analyzes redemptive narratives constructed by Mashhadi Jewish immigrants through oral histories, memoirs, and life stories collected across generations. It examines how conceptions of religion, community, and family shaped their meaning-making around migration challenges. The first case study examines Malka Aharonoff’s lamentation [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes redemptive narratives constructed by Mashhadi Jewish immigrants through oral histories, memoirs, and life stories collected across generations. It examines how conceptions of religion, community, and family shaped their meaning-making around migration challenges. The first case study examines Malka Aharonoff’s lamentation reconstructed from religious redemption across generations into a Zionist narrative. The second analyzes Esther Amini’s published memoir, which reconciles her story with that of her immigrant parents through narrative, demonstrating its role across generations with gender as the focal point. The later cases of Aharon Namdar and Mehran Bassal present individual oral histories, capturing major migration waves from Iran, playing out the differing import and expression given to Zionism and to religion by different immigrants. The study explores how selective appropriation and cultural translation occurred between generations. It sheds light on ideological and cultural frameworks underlying immigrant perspective. By comparing narratives emphasizing collective redemption versus individual experiences, it offers insights into identity formation and the role of memory in immigrant communities dispersing over time. By demonstrating narrative’s therapeutic role in processing dislocation across generations, the study sheds light on cultural transmission and identity formation within dispersed immigrant communities. It offers a fresh perspective on their migration experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Immigration)
11 pages, 236 KiB  
Article
“Relief of Man’s Estate”: The Theological Origins of the Modern Biomedical Project
by Todd T. W. Daly
Religions 2024, 15(6), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060729 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 163
Abstract
In recent years, medicine has been increasingly described as “Baconian”, in reference to the scientific methodology laid out by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who, in criticizing Aristotle’s natural philosophy, called for cultivating useful knowledge in order to eradicate disease and extend human life by [...] Read more.
In recent years, medicine has been increasingly described as “Baconian”, in reference to the scientific methodology laid out by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who, in criticizing Aristotle’s natural philosophy, called for cultivating useful knowledge in order to eradicate disease and extend human life by attenuating aging. Contemporary medicine is often described as “Baconian” insofar as it is devoted to the relief of suffering and the expansion of choice. These two features continue to exert pressure on medicine to expand understandings of both suffering and wellness. Recent attempts to reclassify human aging as a disease, for instance, bear witness to the Baconian impulse. In this article, I discuss and critique the religious origins of Bacon’s call for a new kind of practical rationality in service of improving humanity, showing that they were deeply theological and considerably informed by events recorded in the biblical book of Genesis. I will also argue that the theological nature of Bacon’s program, while theocentric in nature, suffers from inattention to Christology, which challenges Bacon’s theology and the Baconian Project. Attending to Christological concerns modifies Bacon’s approach to bioethics, which recognizes both the fallenness of creation and the power of medicine to address the human condition, especially human aging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theology and Science: Loving Science, Discovering the Divine)
14 pages, 329 KiB  
Article
Transitions in Patristic Cosmology: From Cosmophobia to Universe-(Re)Making
by Doru Costache
Religions 2024, 15(6), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060728 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 321
Abstract
The field of Patristics, or early Christian and Mediaeval Studies, traditionally works along the lines of historical and literary criticism. But this method is not always useful, especially when it comes to complex objects and circumstances. No wonder the current trend of replacing [...] Read more.
The field of Patristics, or early Christian and Mediaeval Studies, traditionally works along the lines of historical and literary criticism. But this method is not always useful, especially when it comes to complex objects and circumstances. No wonder the current trend of replacing it, more often than not, by interdisciplinary frameworks. The article begins accordingly by reviewing three interdisciplinary frameworks, namely, the “socio-historical method”, “Deep Time”, and archaeological theorist Roland Fletcher’s “transitions”, highlighting their suitability for a comprehensive approach to Patristic cosmology. Here, cosmology should not be taken in the narrow sense of contemporary science. It means both a way of representing reality—a worldview—and a way of inhabiting the world. The present article analyses the evolution of the early Christian and mediaeval perception of the environment and the cosmos in Greek sources, pointing to successive transitions from apprehension (cosmophobia) to a keen interest in understanding nature to the thought that holiness represents a universe-(re)making agency. It addresses relevant historical and social circumstances, but proposes that the above transitions were triggered by internal or existential factors as well, and not only external, thus complementing Fletcher’s outline, which focuses upon external catalysts, such as economy and technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Patristics: Essays from Australia)
16 pages, 418 KiB  
Article
Theōria as Cure for Impiety and Atheism in Plato’s Laws and Clement of Alexandria
by Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides
Religions 2024, 15(6), 727; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060727 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 168
Abstract
The article examines the impact of Plato’s views on atheism and impiety, relayed in the Laws, on Clement of Alexandria. Clement employed the adjectives godless (atheos) and impious (asebēs) often in his writings as accusations against pagan philosophers [...] Read more.
The article examines the impact of Plato’s views on atheism and impiety, relayed in the Laws, on Clement of Alexandria. Clement employed the adjectives godless (atheos) and impious (asebēs) often in his writings as accusations against pagan philosophers and/or heretics, but also in his defence of Christians against the very charge of atheism on account of their rejection of pagan gods (Stromata 7.1; cf. Tertullian’s Apologia 10). I argue that Clement, perceptive of Plato’s defence of philosophical contemplation (theōria) and its civic benefits in the Laws, reworked the latter’s association of disbelief with excessive confidence in fleshly pleasures (Leges 888A) in tandem with his stipulation of virtue as the civic goal of his ideal colonists of Magnesia who ought to attune to the divine principles of the cosmos. Thus, Clement promoted the concept of citizenship in the Heavenly kingdom, secured through contemplation and its ensuing impassibility. For Plato and Clement, atheism was the opposite of genuine engagement with divine truth and had no place in the ideal state. Although Clement associated the Church with peace, his views were adapted by Firmicus Maternus to sanction violent rhetoric against the pagans in the fourth century when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Patristics: Essays from Australia)
21 pages, 1367 KiB  
Article
Religious and Spiritual Diversity in Multiple Modernities: A Decolonial Perspective Focusing on Peripheral Religious Expressions
by Cristián Parker
Religions 2024, 15(6), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060726 - 14 Jun 2024
Viewed by 193
Abstract
This paper challenges the World Religion Paradigm (WRP) dominating religious studies, advocating for a decolonial approach that focuses on diverse and often marginalized religious expressions. The approach that prioritizes world religions over the rich diversity of religious expressions in multiple modernities turns out [...] Read more.
This paper challenges the World Religion Paradigm (WRP) dominating religious studies, advocating for a decolonial approach that focuses on diverse and often marginalized religious expressions. The approach that prioritizes world religions over the rich diversity of religious expressions in multiple modernities turns out to be insufficient and biased. Through theoretical research, this paper explores the implications of multiple modernities for the religious landscape. Drawing on Eisenstadt’s theory of multiple modernities, the analysis critiques linear notions of modernization and secularization, and it highlights the complex interplay between religious centers and peripheries. It develops a critical examination of how the theory of the Axial Age, by prioritizing elites and centers in the historical genesis of world religions, generates a preconception that overlooks the religious and spiritual productivity of the peripheries, which persists within current interpretative frameworks. To emphasize the dynamic between center and periphery as a key factor in understanding religious diversity, the text proposes some theoretical theses. By embracing a diversity paradigm and decolonizing frameworks, this paper offers a more inclusive understanding of religious phenomena, contributing to a broader discourse on religion and spirituality beyond Eurocentric perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Religions in Multiple Modern Societies: The Global South)
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10 pages, 198 KiB  
Article
Secular Religiosity: Heretical Imperative, Jewish Imponderables
by Paul Robert Mendes-Flohr
Religions 2024, 15(6), 725; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060725 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 84
Abstract
The article develops a concept of “secular religiosity” to characterize “post-traditional” Jewish affiliation as an individual and private matter, which the sociologist Peter Berger casts as a “heretical imperative” to make autonomous, individual choices. The waning of the heteronomous authority of rabbinic Judaism, [...] Read more.
The article develops a concept of “secular religiosity” to characterize “post-traditional” Jewish affiliation as an individual and private matter, which the sociologist Peter Berger casts as a “heretical imperative” to make autonomous, individual choices. The waning of the heteronomous authority of rabbinic Judaism, yielded theological and hermeneutic strategies to address the “secular religiosity” of individuals who sought to affirm distinctive Jewish spiritual and devotional practices. The article concludes by adumbrating two contrasting paradigmatic strategies exemplified by Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heretical Religiosity)
13 pages, 262 KiB  
Article
Representations of the Ottoman Empire in the West: Abdülhamid II’s Portrait in the French Press
by Selim Argun and Hatice Rumeysa Dursun
Religions 2024, 15(6), 724; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060724 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 141
Abstract
This article examines representations of Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II in the French press. Analyzing these representations will help one to better understand the Western perceptions of the Ottoman Empire and the Orient. This study is based on the analysis of selected French newspapers [...] Read more.
This article examines representations of Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II in the French press. Analyzing these representations will help one to better understand the Western perceptions of the Ottoman Empire and the Orient. This study is based on the analysis of selected French newspapers such as L’Illustration, Le Journal Illustré, Le Monde Illustré, L’Univers Illustré and Le Petit Journal, as well as other secondary sources (articles and books). Using a critical discourse analysis, this study aims to comprehend how the West, particularly the French press, positioned Abdülhamid II and the Ottoman Empire and how it evolved over time. The analysis of the coverage of Abdülhamid II’s accession to power and, afterwards, his portrait as a Sultan demonstrates not only the struggle of the European powers (especially France and Britain) to gain supremacy over the Ottoman Empire but also the orientalist discourse of the French press with regard to Abdülhamid II. While the coverage of Abdülhamid II’s enthronement ceremony contains both positive and negative representations of the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire, a negative approach was adopted mostly in the coverage of his portrait after his accession to power as Abdülhamid II, as he adopted a policy of balance vis-à-vis the European powers. Overall, the French representations of Abdülhamid II and the Ottoman Empire shed light on the rivalries among the European powers over the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 19th century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam and the West)
9 pages, 367 KiB  
Essay
Religion and Violence: Help from the Egyptian Desert
by Stuart E. Parsons
Religions 2024, 15(6), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060723 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 160
Abstract
Support for political violence by fundamentalist religious movements is both wide-spread and problematic, and now especially in Christian fundamentalist circles. To address this, this essay describes important components of the sophisticated ascetic and contemplative theory of spirituality of the fourth-century desert Christian spiritual [...] Read more.
Support for political violence by fundamentalist religious movements is both wide-spread and problematic, and now especially in Christian fundamentalist circles. To address this, this essay describes important components of the sophisticated ascetic and contemplative theory of spirituality of the fourth-century desert Christian spiritual master Evagrius of Pontus. Then, based on his theory, this essay offers guidance to modern-day Christian and non-Christian clergy who want to avoid alienating their congregations through partisan political stances, but who nevertheless seek to reduce those mental, emotional, and relational pathologies in their congregations which predispose passive and active support for political violence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions and Violence: Dialogue and Dialectic)
18 pages, 469 KiB  
Article
Talmud Today: A Politics of Forgetting
by Sergey Dolgopolski
Religions 2024, 15(6), 722; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060722 - 12 Jun 2024
Viewed by 242
Abstract
The article deals with the way in which the “theological” as the question of the Biblical G-d’s involvement in the world, as in the Talmuds, and in light of Heidegger’s thought about forgetting and forgetfulness (Verborgenheit and Vergessenheit), becomes a political [...] Read more.
The article deals with the way in which the “theological” as the question of the Biblical G-d’s involvement in the world, as in the Talmuds, and in light of Heidegger’s thought about forgetting and forgetfulness (Verborgenheit and Vergessenheit), becomes a political question about the attitude of the Jew and Israel toward the Heimat. In Heidegger, forgetting is about beings hiding from the view rather than about a psychological or “subjective” process to which forgetting has been reduced in modernity. The Heimat hides from the persons’ life, no matter how strongly the persons strive for their Heimat “subjectively” or politically, Heidegger argues. The essay further detects a residual modernity and subjectivism in Heidegger’s concession to forgetting as only a secondary operation, a loss, in comparison to the primary, “authentic” relationship to the Heimat, which, for him, one can and should hope for. That residual modern subjectivity in Heidegger enables and necessitates a comparison with the roles forgetting plays in relationships between G-d, Israel, and the Land in the two Talmuds as, similarly to Heidegger, dealing with and working against forgetting, if not Being, then the Law of the mutual obligations between G-d and Israel. The resulting analysis distills a conundrum in the Palestinian rabbis. Delivery on Israel’s obligations towards G-d conditions Israel’s arrival to the Land, that is to say Israel’s fully successful exodus from Egypt. Yet, any clear memory of, and delivery on, these obligations, i.e., any humanly delivered testament to the law of G-d, constitutes an acute danger of forgetting masked as a would-be-certitude in the “memory” of the would-be-original law. Regaining the status of a full-fledged, never-tamed primordial power in relationships between G-d and Israel, forgetting, in the Palestinian rabbinic thought, undermines the deployment of logos as a way to formulate the Law fully. Letting the G-d in the world, logos however proves prone to reducing G-d to (a) theos, thus drawing the G-d into disappearance and forgetting. Such a counter-current to the copulation of theos with logos, the primordial power of forgetting operates even before any memory captured in words and images becomes possible. Arriving from antiquity to modernity, this counter-current continues to operate despite the currently prevalent demotion of forgetting to a subjective political act of a person or nation. Full article
12 pages, 306 KiB  
Article
Paul’s Christology in the Corinthian Letters
by David K. Bernard
Religions 2024, 15(6), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060721 - 12 Jun 2024
Viewed by 211
Abstract
To explore Christian origins, we need to explore Christology, and to study early Christology, Paul’s Corinthian letters are indispensable. In these letters, Paul spoke of Jesus in various ways: fundamentally as a human who died and rose again; sometimes as Yahweh, the one [...] Read more.
To explore Christian origins, we need to explore Christology, and to study early Christology, Paul’s Corinthian letters are indispensable. In these letters, Paul spoke of Jesus in various ways: fundamentally as a human who died and rose again; sometimes as Yahweh, the one God of Israel; and somehow in distinction from God. While there are various options for understanding Paul’s discussion, the best explanation is that Paul viewed Jesus as the epiphany, manifestation, human personification, or incarnation of the one God. Paul’s language was consistent with Jewish monotheism, used categories of thought available in both Jewish and Hellenistic circles, and did not explicitly delineate two divine persons or two divine centers of consciousness. Instead, he described one transcendent God who became incarnate. In short, for Paul, Jesus is the God of Israel in self-revelation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
16 pages, 374 KiB  
Article
Understanding Paul as an Antitype of Job: The Joban Allusion in 2 Corinthians 12:1–10
by Sanghwan Lee
Religions 2024, 15(6), 720; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060720 - 12 Jun 2024
Viewed by 463
Abstract
A careful reading of 2 Corinthians 12:1–10 reveals that the passage shares several motifs with the Book of Job: (1) a supernatural adversary, (2) physical suffering, (3) an otherworldly place, (4) social adversity, (5) affluence, and (6) boasting. In light of an audience-critical [...] Read more.
A careful reading of 2 Corinthians 12:1–10 reveals that the passage shares several motifs with the Book of Job: (1) a supernatural adversary, (2) physical suffering, (3) an otherworldly place, (4) social adversity, (5) affluence, and (6) boasting. In light of an audience-critical perspective, this article proposes that the language and imagery in 2 Corinthians 12:1–10 contain a number of allusions that could direct its audience to juxtapose Paul with Job—a well-known righteous figure who demonstrated physical vulnerability but received public vindication from YHWH. According to this reading, the Joban allusion in the Corinthian passage functions as a rhetorical device that defends Paul’s apostolic authority against the super-apostles’ charge that his vulnerability evinces his lack of authority. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
20 pages, 24494 KiB  
Article
Formation of a Sacred Urban Landscape: Study on the Spatial Distribution of Pagodas in Mrauk-U, Myanmar
by Yan Zhou, Hong Jiang, Tianyang Lu and Xinjie Shen
Religions 2024, 15(6), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060719 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 314
Abstract
Studying the correlation between religions and cities is conducive to understanding the role of worship in shaping human settlements. Mrauk-U, the capital of the Arakan Kingdom in Southeast Asia during the 15th–18th centuries, was once a regional Buddhist center, and the pagodas distributed [...] Read more.
Studying the correlation between religions and cities is conducive to understanding the role of worship in shaping human settlements. Mrauk-U, the capital of the Arakan Kingdom in Southeast Asia during the 15th–18th centuries, was once a regional Buddhist center, and the pagodas distributed throughout this city demonstrate the visible influence of Buddhism. The purpose of this study is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the significance of Buddhism in Mrauk-U by exploring the correlation between the pagodas and the urban space. Based on first-hand spatial data, historical maps, and archaeological studies, the spatial distribution characteristics of the pagodas in Mrauk-U were analyzed using the methods of spatial and literature analysis. Their relationships with the urban structure, mountains, water systems, and open space were visualized and examined using the GIS platform; then, the hidden historical mechanisms were investigated. This study concludes that Mrauk-U’s pagodas, as urban images, have shaped its sacred urban landscape system, revealing that Buddhism played an important role in shaping Mrauk-U’s physical space and social and cultural characteristics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space for Worship in East Asia)
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21 pages, 606 KiB  
Article
Between Wine and Tea: A Discussion Based on Master Taixu’s Use of Dual Imagery
by Xiaoxiao Xu
Religions 2024, 15(6), 718; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060718 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 308
Abstract
The imagery of wine and tea is important in classical and modern Chinese poetry, with an intricate relationship between the two especially evident in the work of Taixu 太虛 (1890–1947), a prominent poet–monk in 20th-century China. Taixu’s attitude toward wine—a drink that is [...] Read more.
The imagery of wine and tea is important in classical and modern Chinese poetry, with an intricate relationship between the two especially evident in the work of Taixu 太虛 (1890–1947), a prominent poet–monk in 20th-century China. Taixu’s attitude toward wine—a drink that is deeply rooted in Chinese culture—evolves significantly over time, from initial approval to eventual condemnation due to its detrimental effects on both personal health and society. Nevertheless, it continues to feature prominently in his poetry. The same is true of tea, which Taixu often uses to evoke either Buddhist study or his own healthy lifestyle. This article explores this and other complex meanings in Taixu’s poems, such as his association of wine with knights and tea with hermits. It also discusses how he achieves a delicate balance between the two beverages, sometimes employing both types of imagery in a single poem—a literary innovation that helped to establish his reputation as a central figure in modern Chinese poetry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The History of Religions in China: The Rise, Fall, and Return)
15 pages, 287 KiB  
Article
The Violation of the Law and Religious Freedom in the Context of the Case of the Russian Church in Sofia—A Real Legal, Political and Canonical Issue
by Dilyan Nikolchev
Religions 2024, 15(6), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060717 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 529
Abstract
For more than a century, in the center of Sofia, the capital of the Republic of Bulgaria, there is and functions the church of St. Nikolai Mirlikiyski the Wonderworker, known as the Russian church. The church was built at the beginning of the [...] Read more.
For more than a century, in the center of Sofia, the capital of the Republic of Bulgaria, there is and functions the church of St. Nikolai Mirlikiyski the Wonderworker, known as the Russian church. The church was built at the beginning of the 20th century with the idea of being part of the complex of the Russian imperial diplomatic body in Sofia and to serve the Russian diplomats, their families and the Orthodox Russian citizens living permanently or temporarily in the Bulgarian capital. However, after its consecration in 1914, disputes began, both regarding the ownership of the church building and the canonical jurisdiction of the church—of the Metropolitan of Sofia or the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. This dispute culminated in September 2023, with the expulsion from Bulgaria of several Russian and Belarusian clergies serving in the Russian church on charges of espionage in favor of the Russian Federation. The subsequent closure of the church by the Russian ambassador Mitrofanova led to internal and external political tension and ecclesiological chaos in the country. The Russian side violated the Bulgarian Law on Religions, known as the Confessions Act 2002, and directly infringed the Statute of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. This article provides expert answers to the public law, property rights and canonical issues concerning the case of the Russian church in Sofia, based on the relevant sources of law (ecclesiastical and civil). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Right to Freedom of Religion: Contributions)
12 pages, 279 KiB  
Article
The History of the Myeongjin School (1906–1910): A Critical Examination of Korean Buddhism’s First Modern Educational Institution within the Pre-Colonial Context
by Cheonghwan Park and Kyungrae Kim
Religions 2024, 15(6), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060716 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 282
Abstract
During the operation of the Myeongjin School, it not only employed many leading Buddhist progressives, but graduated key Buddhist reformers. Overcoming conservative opposition within the Korean Buddhist community, during its brief operation the Myeongjin School would open dozens of branches at temples throughout [...] Read more.
During the operation of the Myeongjin School, it not only employed many leading Buddhist progressives, but graduated key Buddhist reformers. Overcoming conservative opposition within the Korean Buddhist community, during its brief operation the Myeongjin School would open dozens of branches at temples throughout Korea, prompting a proliferating modern education throughout its Buddhist community. Over the century, the institute founded as the Myeongjin School suffered repeated closures during Korea’s Japanese Annexation only to emerge from the Korean War as Dongguk University Seoul. As Korea’s oldest and largest Buddhist university, Dongguk has produced over 350,000 graduates and, despite transitioning to a more secular approach to education, it remains a leading center for monastic education, Buddhist studies, and intellectual culture. This article examines, in detail, the origins, founding, and operation of the Myeongjin School within the dynamic political and religious context of Korea’s early modern period, in addition to the school’s impact, subsequent history, and legacy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Coexistence in Korea)
13 pages, 497 KiB  
Article
Origen’s ‘Celsus’: Questions of Identity
by Harold Tarrant
Religions 2024, 15(6), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060715 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 328
Abstract
This article will investigate a certain similarity between Origen’s response to Celsus’ True Logos and the criticisms against Longinus’ interpretation of the early pages of Plato’s Timaeus made in Proclus’ Commentary by a certain Origenes, usually held to be a pagan though without [...] Read more.
This article will investigate a certain similarity between Origen’s response to Celsus’ True Logos and the criticisms against Longinus’ interpretation of the early pages of Plato’s Timaeus made in Proclus’ Commentary by a certain Origenes, usually held to be a pagan though without compelling evidence. Origen begins by assuming that ‘Celsus’ was an Epicurean of that name, even though it has long been obvious that ‘Celsus’ has adopted a Platonist point of view and that Origen’s answers often rely on Plato’s authority; in Proclus, Origenes regularly regards Longinus’ explanations as turning Plato into a hedonist by having him aim at the reader’s pleasure, and at one point Longinus even made reference to Epicurus. The paper uses recent work on the presence in Porphyry and Lucian of alternative names, whether inside philosophic schools or as a nom de plume, to argue that Origen could not be sure of his opponent’s identity, but that as he wrote he came to suspect that ‘Celsus’ was in fact his younger contemporary Longinus, the initial teacher of Porphyry himself. Hence the allusions to his ‘philological’ tendencies. If this is correct, then there is additional reason to identify Origen with Origenes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Patristics: Essays from Australia)
11 pages, 191 KiB  
Article
Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Theological Method and Metaphysics
by Kyungrae Kim
Religions 2024, 15(6), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060714 - 10 Jun 2024
Viewed by 449
Abstract
After the rise of logical positivism, even in the realm of theology, there was a trend to give up on accepting the actions of God in history as objective acts and to create an atmosphere of separating faith and reason. Wolfhart Pannenberg’s work [...] Read more.
After the rise of logical positivism, even in the realm of theology, there was a trend to give up on accepting the actions of God in history as objective acts and to create an atmosphere of separating faith and reason. Wolfhart Pannenberg’s work presents a compelling integration of theology with the rational and empirical rigors of the scientific age. Through a comprehensive theological method, he aimed to establish a dialogue between faith and scientific inquiry, challenging the exclusivity of logical positivism by proposing a theological metaphysics grounded in the concept of retroactive ontology. Pannenberg’s approach is distinguished by its systematic application of hermeneutics, considering the totality of history as the context for divine revelation, and positioning the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a pivotal event that embodies God’s influence on the world. His innovative ontology, which enables one to consider divine action as objective, seeks to validate theology as a science, engaging with natural sciences to foster a mutual enrichment between faith and reason. Pannenberg’s methodological rigor and metaphysical framework offer a robust foundation for a theology that is both intellectually defensible and deeply rooted in Christian faith, advocating for a theology of nature that reconciles the divine with the empirical world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theological Metaphysics and Scriptural Interpretation)
15 pages, 339 KiB  
Article
Propaganda Fide and the Role of Apostolic Nuncios during the Early Modern Period: A Case Study of China
by Rui Zhang
Religions 2024, 15(6), 713; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060713 - 9 Jun 2024
Viewed by 296
Abstract
In 1622, a counter-reformist concept of the mission led to the foundation of Propaganda Fide, a congregation to which the Supreme Pontiffs entrusted various tasks at the global level, including the reassertion of the pope’s authority over missionary activities, which had previously been [...] Read more.
In 1622, a counter-reformist concept of the mission led to the foundation of Propaganda Fide, a congregation to which the Supreme Pontiffs entrusted various tasks at the global level, including the reassertion of the pope’s authority over missionary activities, which had previously been dominated by European secular powers using the patronage system. In carrying out its mandate, the new Congregation also charged apostolic nuncios, almost entirely Italian, with collecting information from and establishing direct contacts with the states of Catholic Christianity and of missionary territories beyond. These nuncios not only performed activities of a religious nature but also served as diplomats and representatives of the pope, endowed with particular powers and faculties. This article introduces the role of apostolic nuncios and analyzes the results of the first of these sent by the Propaganda Fide to China, Charles Thomas Maillard de Tournon. It will show that, as the first papal legate to China, he was not entirely successful in his objectives, but his mission can be seen as a turning point in the history of relations between the Holy See and China and as an important episode which helps us to understand not only early Sino–papal relations but also the development of the new global vision of the Catholic Church as it was formulated by the Propaganda Fide. Full article
11 pages, 219 KiB  
Article
Why a Cracker? Jephthah’s Daughter as the Unleavened Bread of Passover
by Amanda Walls
Religions 2024, 15(6), 712; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060712 - 8 Jun 2024
Viewed by 224
Abstract
This article presents a new hypothesis regarding the social and ideological functions of the otherwise unknown festival to commemorate Jephthah’s daughter and the meaning of its symbols and occasions. A unique event in the biblical world, this festival is the only time known [...] Read more.
This article presents a new hypothesis regarding the social and ideological functions of the otherwise unknown festival to commemorate Jephthah’s daughter and the meaning of its symbols and occasions. A unique event in the biblical world, this festival is the only time known to us in which Israelite women were expected to appear together in public assembly. Judges 11:39–40 enjoin “the daughters of Israel” to celebrate it annually. The story of Jephthah’s daughter, summarized in Judges 11:34–39, evokes and develops many themes that intersect with the depiction of and the prescriptions for observing two well-known festivals that share a season: the holiday of Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Maṣṣot. A synthesis of the correlations among the holidays will suggest that the festival dedicated to honoring Jephthah’s daughter was an early, long-lasting folk version of Maṣṣot in which the daughter represented the festival’s ritual staple, unleavened bread. Full article
14 pages, 498 KiB  
Article
The Missional Power of the Christ-Hymn
by Mark J. Keown
Religions 2024, 15(6), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060711 - 8 Jun 2024
Viewed by 313
Abstract
Discussions of Philippians 2:6–11 consider whether it is intended kerygmatically or ethically. Kerygmatic proponents consider that Paul inserted an early hymn to narrate the story of Christ’s coming and his exaltation to encourage the worship of Christ. Ethical readers argue that the hymn [...] Read more.
Discussions of Philippians 2:6–11 consider whether it is intended kerygmatically or ethically. Kerygmatic proponents consider that Paul inserted an early hymn to narrate the story of Christ’s coming and his exaltation to encourage the worship of Christ. Ethical readers argue that the hymn aims to shape readers’ ethical posture. Others argue that both ideas are in play. This essay argues that the passage has kerygmatic power. It declares the story of Christ’s coming, self-emptying and humbling, incarnation, death, exaltation, and cosmic lordship. However, it also presents Christ as the ultimate ethical paradigm. It argues, however, that the “ethical” reading is reductionistic unless explained in the direction of social relationships (socioethically) and mission (missioethically). The passage’s missional power is then clarified. First, the broader context in the first century is missional and evangelistic. Second, the “fabric” of the letter urges engagement in gospel proclamation. Third, the movement of the passage is missional, and it succinctly proclaims the gospel of Christ. Fourth, the purpose of Christ’s exaltation is universal submission supposing the proclamation of his lordship. Finally, the hymn climaxes with worship, the end goal of all missions. As such, the hymn should be read through a missional and evangelistic lens as it invites readers to participate in God’s goal of universal submission to Jesus Christ as Lord. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Pauline Research: Philippians)
18 pages, 363 KiB  
Article
An Analysis of Jesuit Missionary Aleni’s Interpretation of Aristotelian Theory of Perception: Based on Xingxue Cushu in Late Ming China
by Qi Zhao
Religions 2024, 15(6), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060710 - 7 Jun 2024
Viewed by 296
Abstract
In Xingxue cushu, Aleni devotes himself to elucidating Aristotle’s theory of perception as presented in De Anima and Parva Naturalia. The challenge in this endeavor lies in understanding the essence of Aristotle’s perception, with physicalism and spiritualism holding opposite positions. To [...] Read more.
In Xingxue cushu, Aleni devotes himself to elucidating Aristotle’s theory of perception as presented in De Anima and Parva Naturalia. The challenge in this endeavor lies in understanding the essence of Aristotle’s perception, with physicalism and spiritualism holding opposite positions. To reconcile this contradiction, some scholars approach it from the perspective of dualism and the impurity principle. Nevertheless, these interpretations fail to resolve the inherent dilemma of perception. This article employs the pattern of combination and separation to propose that Aleni’s interpretation of this dilemma is effective and clarifies the controversy. Perception encompasses both psychological and physical dimensions, and the two are based on each other in the process of actualization. Nonetheless, psychological and physical activities are separated in the definition. Influenced by Confucianism, Aleni associates human perception with morality, further emphasizing the necessity of definitional separation. Full article
30 pages, 1609 KiB  
Article
Anna Katharina Emmerich and the Impacts of Catholic Romanticism in 19th-Century Germany
by Robson Rodrigues Gomes Filho
Religions 2024, 15(6), 709; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060709 - 7 Jun 2024
Viewed by 400
Abstract
As a result of a close relationship established between Romanticism and Catholicism in the struggle against modernity in the early 19th century, a significant number of mystical phenomena, especially involving visionary women, spread throughout Europe during the 19th century. The works of Anna [...] Read more.
As a result of a close relationship established between Romanticism and Catholicism in the struggle against modernity in the early 19th century, a significant number of mystical phenomena, especially involving visionary women, spread throughout Europe during the 19th century. The works of Anna Katharina Emmerick stand as one of the earliest and primary influencers in this regard. Her mystical visions were transcribed and published by a romantic intellectual who had converted to Catholicism in that same context: Clemens Brentano. However, despite inspiring various mystical phenomena in the Catholic milieu, Emmerich’s visions raised suspicion within the Catholic Church due to the presence of supposed pagan and superstitious elements from Brentano’s Romanticism in her descriptions. This suspicion has resulted in ongoing difficulty in advancing her canonization process. In light of this debate, this article discusses the impacts of the union between Romanticism and Catholicism in early 19th-century Germany. It focuses on the case of Anna Katharina Emmerich and Clemens Brentano. Full article
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17 pages, 2285 KiB  
Article
My Friend the Cross: Cross-Directed Prayer in Seventh-Century Monastic Communities and New Media Studies
by Daniel An
Religions 2024, 15(6), 708; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060708 - 7 Jun 2024
Viewed by 315
Abstract
While scholars have long recognized the central importance of the cross within Syriac-speaking Christian communities in late antique Mesopotamia, the question of how physical crosses functioned as aids for prayer has only recently begun to be explored. The present article addresses this question [...] Read more.
While scholars have long recognized the central importance of the cross within Syriac-speaking Christian communities in late antique Mesopotamia, the question of how physical crosses functioned as aids for prayer has only recently begun to be explored. The present article addresses this question with respect to East Syrian monastic communities in seventh-century Mesopotamia, focusing on the context of the monastic cell. Bringing together accounts of cross-directed prayer in Syriac monastic literature with archaeological evidence for crosses from the region, the article concludes that physical crosses played an important role as mediating devices of divine presence that were both always at hand and the frequent objects of monastics’ sensorial attention. These conclusions are subsequently discussed through the lens of recent research from the field of new media studies toward the goal of understanding how cross-directed prayer may have served to bridge monastic spirituality and sociality in Mesopotamia. Full article
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13 pages, 428 KiB  
Article
Monks’ Militia and the Spread of the Buddhist Yŏnghŏm (Wonder) during the Japanese Invasion in the Sixteenth Century
by Yong Tae Kim
Religions 2024, 15(6), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060707 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 263
Abstract
This paper explores the influence and significance of the activities of the monks’ militia during the Japanese invasion of Chosŏn, from the perspective of the religious efficacy of Buddhism and the spread of the Buddhist concept of wonder. After examining the concept that [...] Read more.
This paper explores the influence and significance of the activities of the monks’ militia during the Japanese invasion of Chosŏn, from the perspective of the religious efficacy of Buddhism and the spread of the Buddhist concept of wonder. After examining the concept that the monks’ militia played an important part in the war, fighting against enemies in major battles and constructing and defending fortresses, this paper proposes that the religious efficacy of Buddhism was revealed through the performance of burial and guiding ceremonies. Restoring the religious wonder of Buddhism, which had been criticized by the Confucian literati, Buddhist rituals for consoling the bereaved and praying for the welfare of the dead came to thrive. A dilemma existed between the principle of keeping the Buddhist precepts and the reality of fulfilling the demands of loyalty since the activities of the monks’ militia greatly damaged the Buddhist community. While killing was a direct infringement of the values of the sangha, the monks violated this precept in the cause of protecting the state and practicing loyalty. In this situation, where there was such a dilemma between the Buddhist and secular worlds, these monks’ prioritization of loyalty not only indicated the desperate national situation of the time but also reflected the social, cultural, and political context of the Confucian society of Chosŏn. This paper also explores how renowned generals of the monks’ militia, including Samyŏng Yujŏng, emerged as heroes among the people, and memories of their deeds were transmitted through wonder stories. Yujŏng was highly praised as a symbol of Buddhist loyalty, and his heroic story was expanded and reproduced among the population through folk tales and novels. While the intellectuals of Chosŏn who followed Confucian values did not believe those wonder stories, the trauma that the war left behind demanded the appearance of wondrous heroes who helped people overcome that trauma, and this demand enabled Yujŏng to emerge as one of these heroic figures. The activities of the monks’ militia, the religious efficacy of Buddhism, and the creation of the heroic narratives of the monks’ militia generals prove that Buddhism had a firm foundation in late Chosŏn society. Full article
20 pages, 300 KiB  
Article
The Pursuit of Justice in the Women’s March: Toward an Islamic Liberatory Theology of Resistance
by Etin Anwar
Religions 2024, 15(6), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060706 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 336
Abstract
The Women’s March on 21 January 2017, opened a new social and political landscape for Muslim women to engage in Islamic liberatory activism. I locate Muslim women’s participation in the marches following the 2017 ‘Muslim travel ban policy’ as a site for discovering [...] Read more.
The Women’s March on 21 January 2017, opened a new social and political landscape for Muslim women to engage in Islamic liberatory activism. I locate Muslim women’s participation in the marches following the 2017 ‘Muslim travel ban policy’ as a site for discovering the link between the politics of resistance and the utility of Islam as a source for liberation. I argue that Muslim women living in minority and post-secular contexts resort to faith as a source of agentival liberation to address the political rhetoric of anti-Islamic sentiments and policies. The outcome of this research demonstrates (1) how Muslim women activists challenge the Western narratives of being oppressed and explore the ways they want to represent themselves; (2) how Islam serves as a catalyst for theological resistance and how this enhances the role of Muslim women as moral and spiritual agents in transforming their political and social conditions; (3) how the Islamic liberation in the US context historically intersects with Black churches’ resistance toward White racism; and (4) how Muslim women’s agency as spiritual beings is linked to the promotion of justice in the Western liberatory movements. Overall, the article shows how Muslim women resort to their spiritual journey and use such narratives to confront unjust political rhetoric and policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Liberation Theologies)
17 pages, 3713 KiB  
Article
For Ever and Ever the Perfect Wedding Picture: Converging Religious and Secular Norms and Values in Wedding Photography
by Marie-Therese Mäder
Religions 2024, 15(6), 705; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15060705 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 249
Abstract
The paper examines how stylistic norms of wedding photography express, affirm, adapt, and reshape religious and secular values by combining ethical considerations with qualitative ethnographic observations. The first part offers a critique of the distinction between civil secular and religious weddings in current [...] Read more.
The paper examines how stylistic norms of wedding photography express, affirm, adapt, and reshape religious and secular values by combining ethical considerations with qualitative ethnographic observations. The first part offers a critique of the distinction between civil secular and religious weddings in current scholarship. In the second part, the relation between norms and values in an ethics of wedding photos is elaborated. The discussion is illustrated with examples from a study with 27 married couples and their wedding photos. The study reveals two key aspects: In the production of wedding photos, the triangular relation between the couple, their guests, and the location, the so-called locationship, is staged through the lens of the camera. In this triangle, the blending of religious and secular norms and values could be observed. Another significant aspect is how norms and values originating from wedding photography of religious ceremonies continue to impact secular norms and values. It is particularly noteworthy that religion serves as an aesthetic matrix in wedding photography, contributing to a “visual enchantment”, irrespective of whether the ceremony is religious or secular in nature. Full article
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