Special Issue "Exploring Modern Religious Changes from the Perspective of Narrative Theology"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Verna Marina Ehret
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religious Studies, Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA 16546, USA
Interests: constructive theology; narrative theology; religion and violence; philosophical theology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Religions are always adapting to accommodate changes in the culture and environment in which they exist. The narrative theologies of religions worldwide aid in this evolution of religion because they contain both mechanisms for identity and mechanisms for change. The narratives ground communities in a trajectory of ideas, providing a sense of connection to the past and continuity with the future. The narratives also allow members of religious communities to construct their own identities within the larger identity of a collective. At the same time, the narratives are fluid, not only in their interpretation of the past and present, but also in their projections of how the future will unfold. The interplay of identity and change in narrative theology allows religious communities to continually respond to changes in cultural and social values, ethics, and political and physical environments.

We invite proposals that engage in narrative theology, either from a constructive perspective in facilitating religious change or an analytical perspective that explores the intersection of narrative theology and modern changes in religion. The aim of this Special Issue is to explore narrative theology, as it is broadly conceived, and its impact on modern religious changes from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to theology, religious ethics, the history of religions, politics and religion, religion and ecology, the sociology of religion, and the philosophy of religion.

I look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Verna Marina Ehret
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • narrative
  • theology
  • identity
  • change
  • culture
  • conflict
  • environment
  • politics
  • society

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

Article
Dialogue or Narrative? Exploring Tensions between Interpretations of Genesis 38
Religions 2021, 12(11), 947; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110947 - 01 Nov 2021
Viewed by 571
Abstract
We examine dialectical tensions between “dialogue” and “narrative” as these discourses supplant one another as the fundamental discourse of intelligibility, through juxtaposing two interpretations of Genesis 38 rooted in changing interpretative paradigms. Is dialogue properly understood as a narrative genre, or is narrative [...] Read more.
We examine dialectical tensions between “dialogue” and “narrative” as these discourses supplant one another as the fundamental discourse of intelligibility, through juxtaposing two interpretations of Genesis 38 rooted in changing interpretative paradigms. Is dialogue properly understood as a narrative genre, or is narrative the content about which people are in dialogue? Is the divine–human relationship a narrative drama or is it a dialogue between a god and human beings? We work within parameters laid out by the philosophical hermeneutics of Gadamer (primarily representing dialogue) and Ricoeur (primarily representing narrative). On the one hand, a feminist approach can develop Tamar as a courageous hero in impossible circumstances, strategizing to overturn Judah’s patriarchal naïveté. On the other hand, Judah seems to be able to be read as a tragic hero, seeking to save Tamar. These readings challenge one another, where either Tamar’s or Judah’s autonomy is undermined. By putting these interpretations into dialogue, our aim is to show that neither dialogue nor narrative succeeds the other with finality, and that we can achieve a fragile integration of the two (dialogue and narrative) despite their propensity toward polarization. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Dialogue or Narrative: A Tension between Interpretations of Genesis 38
Authors: *Hide before peer review*
Affiliation: *Hide before peer review*
Abstract: We examine dialectical tensions between “dialogue” and “narrative” as these discourses supplant one another as the fundamental discourse of intelligibility, through juxtaposing two interpretations of Genesis 38 rooted in changing interpretative paradigms. Is dialogue properly understood as a narrative genre, or is narrative the content about which people are in dialogue? Is the divine-human relationship a narrative drama or is it a dialogue between a god and human beings? We work within parameters laid out by the philosophical hermeneutics of Gadamer (primarily representing dialogue) and Ricoeur (primarily representing narrative). On the one hand, a feminist approach can develop Tamar as a courageous hero in impossible circumstances, strategizing to overturn Judah’s patriarchal naiveté. On the other hand, Judah seems to be able to be read as a tragic hero, seeking to save Tamar. These readings challenge one another, where either Tamar’s or Judah’s autonomy is undermined. By putting these interpretations into dialogue, our aim is to show that neither dialogue nor narrative succeeds the other with finality, and that we can achieve a fragile integration of the two (dialogue and narrative) despite their propensity toward polarization.

Title: Narrative Theology and Monotheism
Authors: *Hide before peer review*
Affiliation: *Hide before peer review*
Abstract: This article discusses how narrative theory offers a theological model that substantially differs from both its first wave treatment in the 1980’s (when Ricoeur, Hauerwas and others used narrative theory to interpret the Christian scriptures), as well as its second wave treatment (the general project of Literature and Theology, which explored religious imagery in non-canonical texts). One commonality that underlies these projects is a gesture toward the notion of divine presence as manifestation. As a core analogy, this approach to narrative theology is largely poetic, understanding poetry as an art form structured to foreground the presence of particular words. Such words gain a liturgical quality as a metaphor or symbol that connects the poem or story to a more familiar mythopoetic structure. Three common approaches include when the particular presence of the text is sacrificed in order to reveal the religious glory that it would otherwise conceal, whether the text performs as a friend to religious or theological structures, and even when the text is said to offer a reinterpretation or new message. The second part of my paper suggests that a third approach to narrative theology would distinguish narrative (as a structure or process) from a narrative (a particular set of words). Most narrative theorists discriminate between text (words chosen in a particular narrative), fabula (a hypothetical, chronological set of events) and szujet (the arrangement or presentation of events). A narrative is never present (only specific word choices are), but nonetheless provides a guiding influence on word choices (following Riffaterre) as well as an internal (although ineffable) core structure that allows readers to understand appropriate and inappropriate choices within a text. The third part of my paper applies this insight to the monotheism/polytheism debate presented in archetypal psychology and in Reza Aslan’s God.

Title: Climate collapse and Noah’s Ark
Authors: *Hide before peer review*
Affiliation: *Hide before peer review*
Abstract: Myths are open storylines that invite elaboration and modification. The flood narrative of Genesis 6–9, for example, has been readily employed to motivate endangered species protection and to reflect on the rising seas and mass extinctions associated with climate change. The distinctive features of any retelling of the Noah’s Ark story reflect the needs of historically situated and culturally embedded audiences. This paper demonstrates the interpretive flexibility of the biblical flood narrative by analyzing retellings of Noah’s story in Jewish midrash, the Qur’an, secular fiction, and epic film. It then turns to our contemporary context to define the distinctive features of a suitable retelling of the myth in these times of ongoing climate collapse, with explicit consideration of the meaning of the human, the nature of the divine, and the possibilities for other-than-human agency.

Title: The Raziel Tarot as Visual Narrative Theology
Authors: *Hide before peer review*
Affiliation: *Hide before peer review*
Abstract: In the past several decades, there has been a rise in the production and consumption of Tarot decks in Western culture as a means of self-reflection and self-determined spiritual exploration. Rachel Pollack and Robert M. Pike’s 2016 The Raziel Tarot: The Secret Teachings of Adam & Eve (Hermes Publications) is a Jewish adaptation of the conventional twenty-two-card Major Arcana of traditional Tarot decks, which invites querents to engage visually with biblical figures and Kabbalistic themes in an intertextual construction of meaning through a sophisticated system of allegory and symbolism in which the subject becomes the active interpreter of traditional biblical stories. The essay places Rachel Pollack and Robert M. Pike’s 2016 The Raziel Tarot within New Age transformational discourses and practices, exploring The Raziel Tarot’s open-ended theological interplay between the reader (querant) and image as text. I argue that The Raziel Tarot offers querants an innovative modality in contemporary narrative theology that connects members of New Age and Tarot communities to traditional biblical hermeneutics in ways that create space for women and genderqueer voices to expand the construction of meaning alongside orthodox rabbinical midrash.

Title: The Role of Narrative Theology in the Anti-Colonial Nationalism of Ukraine
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Abstract: The strong connection between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state is a known fact (Blitt 2011). The narrative of the “chosen” nation and “third Rome” have fueled Russian neo-imperial national discourse, which shapes Russian Foreign Policy in the “near abroad.” The use of ROC to shape and disseminate these narratives in Ukraine, as means a of justification of Russian aggression, post Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity in 2014, are well documented (Petro 2017). The purported ambivalence to religion in Ukraine, or the fluidity with which Ukrainian’s approach to religion (Wanner 2014), makes it more vulnerable to religious narratives of imperial belonging propagated by ROC. Thus, the decision of the President Poroshenko to pursue recognition of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in 2018 was a valiant effort to aid in construction of Ukraine’s anti-colonial religious national narrative. The literature on religious nationalism offers a number of ways in which religion plays a role in national identity narratives (Rieffer 2003, Juergensmeyer 1993, 1996, 2001, 2019), from full integration of the two narratives to an instrumental role of religion. This paper seeks to analyze the role of the religious narrative of OCU in post-colonial nationalism in Ukraine. The paper argues that long-term post-Soviet legacies that contributed to the religious ambivalence, coupled with short-term economic and public concerns continue to impede the development of widely supported anti-colonial nationalism, which incorporates the OCU at the core of this narrative. The evidence points to public confusion and sometimes full rejections of the importance of an independent OCU. The paper concludes with evaluation of possible the implications such rejection and confusion of religious narrative in Ukraine might cause for the development of post-colonial identity and the future relationship with neo-colonial Russia.

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