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Ancient Egyptian Demonology. Studies on the Boundaries between the Demonic and the Divine in Egyptian Magic by P. Kousoulis (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta: Peeters) In the Egyptian context, what we term magic and demon, drawing on our own cultural heritage, are not seen as negative aspects of cultural practice and conceptualisation. Similarly, the Egyptian equivalents do not carry the pejorative connotations borne by the modern terms and their Greek antecedents; magic and demons can be forces for good as well as evil. Indeed, the practice of magic and the conceptualisation of personified demonic agents are central to the Egyptian understanding of the workings of the world from the very continuation of the cosmos itself down to the vicissitudes of existence faced by individuals. In particular, the broader practice of magic and articulation of the involvement of demonic agency form one of the crucial links in Ancient Egypt between individual existence on the human level and the level of nature or the cosmos, the realm of the gods. Unlike, though, the explicit recognition of the term demon in the ancient Greek language and religion, as the intermediary between god and mortals, the majority of the demonic names in the Egyptian literature do not possess an apparent ontological essence, or a clearly defined denotation. Their characteristics and role depended momentously on the verbal and performative ritual environment they were part of. The relation between the name of a demon and its cosmic-natural personification is not contradictory as it may seem, but it is closely interwoven in a well established ritual framework of words and actions. This multi-authored volume of 10 essays comprises an up-to-date authorization account of many aspects of ancient Egyptian demonology, including the multiple persona of the demonic or name vs. identity in the Egyptian formation of the demonic, nightmares and underworld demons, dream rituals and magic, categories of demonic entities and the vague distinction between the divine and the demonic in Egyptian cosmology and ritual, the theological and demonic aspects of Egyptian magic, demons as reflections of human society. Contributors include Paul John Frandsen, Hedvig Gyory, Joachim Friedrich Quack, Yvan Koenig, Panagiotis Kousoulis, Alan Lloyd, Robert Ritner, Alessandro Roccati, Kasia Szpakowska and Penelope Wilson. More

A Companion to Greek Mythology by Ken Dowden and Niall Livingstone (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World: Wiley-Blackwell) approaches the richly diverse phenomenon of Greek myth from a distinctive new angle -- one that delves deeply into its origins in shared Indo-European story patterns and the Greeks’ contacts with their Eastern Mediterranean neighbours. Contributions from a team of international experts trace the development of Greek myth into a shared language, heritage, and way of thinking throughout the entire Greco-Roman world.
Individual essays address such topics as how myths were presented in stories, poems, dramas and all forms of visual art, as well as the role of myth in philosophy, learning, religion, mystery-cult, and Greek self identity. Other essays explore contemporary reception of Greek myth and the potential of modern theoretical approaches. A Companion to Greek Mythology offers invaluable insights into the ancient world that will help to shape our understanding of the wide ranging appeal and influence of Greek myth across the ages. More

The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece by Marguerite Rigoglioso (Palgrave) Greek religion is filled with strange sexual artifacts––stories of mortal women's couplings with gods, rituals like the  basilinna's “marriage” to Dionysus, beliefs in the impregnating power of snakes and deities, and more. In this provocative study, Marguerite Rigoglioso suggests these are remnants of an early Greek cult of divine birth, not unlike that of Egypt. Scouring myth, legend, and history from a female-oriented perspective, she argues that many in the highest echelons of Greek civilization believed non-ordinary conception was the only means possible of bringing forth true leaders, and that special virgin priestesshoods were dedicated to this practice. Her book adds a unique perspective to our understanding of antiquity, and has significant implications for the study of Christianity and other religions in which divine birth claims are central. More

The Myth of Paganism: Nonnus, Dionysus and the World of Late Antiquity by Robert Shorrock, Series Editor: David Taylor (Classical Literature and Society Series: Bristol Classical Press) With the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman world in the fourth century AD, the role of the poet underwent a radical transformation. In place of the traditional poet of the Muses there emerged a new figure, claiming inspiration and authority from Christ. The poet of Christ soon came to eclipse the poet of the Muses, and in doing so established a conceptual framework that still drives modern approaches to the period. Christian poetry is taken seriously as making a relevant and valuable contribution to our understanding of the late antique world; by contrast pagan or secular poetry is largely ignored, as though it were devoid of meaning.
The Myth of Paganism seeks to re-evaluate the role of pagan poetry in late antiquity. Instead of maintaining a strict dichotomy between pagan and Christian, it presents a broader definition of these poets as active participants and collaborators in the creation of late antique culture. Attention focuses on an exploration of the contemporary resonance of Nonnus Dionysiaca traditionally regarded as a pagan epic in terms of its theme and content, yet in all probability the work of a Christian poet responsible for a Homeric-style retelling of St Johns Gospel. More

Sepher Raziel: A Sixteenth Century English Grimoire by Don Karr and Stephen Skinner (Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic Series, Volume 6: Golden Hoard / Llewellyn Worldwide)Sepher Raziel (also called Liber Salomenk) is not the same as the Hebrew Sepher Raziel ha-Melakh. It is a full grimoire in the Solomonic tradition from a 1564 century English manuscript, derived from Latin sources. As such it is one of the earliest grimoires produced in this series. It begins with directions for making the parchment, pen and ink of Art, required to write the names. It contains seven separate Treatises:

  1. Liber Clavis which is concerned with astrology and its correct use in magic, something long forgotten by modern astrologers, with the precise interactions between planets, Signs and Houses.
  2. The Ala outlines in four sections the magical virtues of stones, herbs and beasts, and words.
  3. The Tractatus Thymiamatus explains why incense is essential to magical operations, and the effect of various incenses on the spirits, with a list of the key perfumes and suffumigations. An Appendix gives the modern and botanical names.
  4. The Treatise of Times gives details of the correct hours of the day and night for each operation, with associated angels and the proper names of the Sun, Moon and planets to be used in each season. This is something left out of almost all other grimoires.
  5. The Treatise on Purity explains the exact preparations, and the reasons for ritual purity.
  6. Samaim is a treatise on the seven Heavens, with the names of their angels.
  7. The Book of Virtues and Miracles is a treatise on the Semiforas, the names of God, and how they are to be used in invocation to produce miraculous results.


Journal of a UFO Investigator: A Novel by David J. Halperin (Viking) is set in the early part of 1963 and seems to have been written up around 1966. It covers of the arc of high school, the crucible of adolescent angst and alienation. On first reading it seems to be a slightly autobiographical coming of age tale of a lonely scholarly Jewish boy, living more in the Gentile world than in the comfort of a Jewish extended family. His mother is chronically ill with a heart condition which may have emerged during her pregnancy with Danny. He feels a profound guilty responsibility for his mother's illness and at the same time finds that her behavior distances him from her. Danny idealizes his slightly remembered grandfather who was a religious Jew, a Rabbi. His father is an unhappy man who is mostly remote except for his occasional excavations of his son’s pimples with a pin. At 13 Danny Schapiro is at the end of childhood and his childhood friends and at the beginning of adolescence with its sexual anxiety and naivety. Danny is confused about his Jewishness, he has been warned by his mother that it sets him apart, especially when it comes to girls and dating. It seems all adolescents share a trait of universal loneliness and disaffection where they are set apart and find no group to cling. More

Constructing Tradition: Means and Myths of Transmission in Western Esotericism by Andreas Kilcher, Antoine Faivre, Matthias Heiduk, and Philipp Theisohn (Aries Book Series: Brill Academic) The question of constructing tradition, concepts of origin, and memory as well as techniques and practices of knowledge transmission, are central for cultures in general. In esotericism, however, such questions and techniques play an outstanding role and are widely reflected upon, in its literature. Esoteric paradigms not only understand themselves in elaborated mytho-poetical narratives as bearers of "older", "hidden", "higher" knowledge. They also claim their knowledge to be of a particular origin. And they claim this knowledge has been transmitted by particular (esoteric) means, media and groups. Consequently, esotericism not only involves the construction of its own tradition; it can even be understood as a specific form of tradition and transmission. The various studies of the present volume, which contains the papers of a conference held in Tubingen in July 2007, provide an overview of the most important concepts and ways of constructing tradition in esotericism. More

Roman Attitudes Toward the Christians: From Claudius to Hadrian by John Granger Cook (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament: Mohr Siebeck)  John Granger Cook investigates the earliest interactions between Roman authorities and Christians. The events in Claudius' time surrounding "Chrestos" and possible Jewish Christians are fascinating but obscure. The persecutions of Nero and Trajan may be crucial for interpreting certain texts of the New Testament, including the Gospel of Mark, 1 Peter, and the Apocalypse. Scholars have become increasingly skeptical of a persecution of the Christians during Domitian's rule, and the evidence is not strong. The rescript of Hadrian did little to change Trajan's policy with regard to the Christians. Although the texts provide no evidence for a general law against the Christians (probably no such law existed until the time of Decius), they do give some indication of the way magistrates characterized ("constructed") constructed") Christians: to Nero and his prefects the Christians were arsonists and harbored intense hatred of the human race; to Pliny and Trajan they were people who did not "supplicate our gods." More

Praising the Goddess: A Comparative and Annotated Re-Edition of Six Demotic Hymns and Praises Addressed to Isis  by Holger Kockelmann (Archiv Fur Papyrusforschung Und Verwandte Gebiete - Beihefte: DeGruyter) In recent decades, the relation between Egyptian and Greek praises of the goddess Isis has received much scholarly attention. The present study, however, focuses on six Demotic hymns and praises directed to this goddess: P. Heidelberg dem. 736 verso, O. Hor 10, Theban Graffiti 3156, 3462, 3445, and P. Tebt. Tait 14. These texts from the second century BC to the second century AD are re-edited in facsimile, transliteration and translation. A commentary to each document discusses philological matters, providing improved readings in some instances. For the first time, the six texts are analyzed comparatively in regard to formal features and content. The concept of Isis that is outlined by the Demotic sources is set against Isis' role as described by other Egyptian sources (such as temple inscriptions or theophoric personal names) and by Greek eulogies of the goddess. An appendix offers an overview of other Demotic hymns and praises addressed to various divinities. More

Hearsay, History, and Heresy: Collected Essays on the Roman Republic by Richard E. Mitchell and Randall Howarth (Gorgias Press) This book features a selection of articles written be Richard Mitchell concerning the origins and development of the ancient Roman state and the modern historiography of our understanding of that history. The introduction and commentary are provided by one of his PhD students,. Randall S. Howarth, whose own work is very much concerned with the same topics. The publication of these articles in a single volume provides a comprehensive commentary on the assumptions governing modern reconstructions of the period and the problems informing those assumptions.
The social and institutional history of the Roman Republic, especially that of the earliest years, is one of the most problematic and contested areas of study in the ancient world. Modem scholars have tended to assume that we should take the broad outlines of the traditions handed to us by the Romans at face value, despite their invention hundreds of stories after the fact. The inevitable result is that the dominant modern narrative contains a core of assumptions of dubious historicity. While some scholars have made significant attempts to correct portions of the obviously flawed narrative, virtually none have gone so far as to question its most fundamental elements. Mitchell's work has always done exactly this and when originally published, the majority of his arguments were regarded as radical. Nevertheless, over the last twenty years, or so, scholarly consensus is inexorable moving toward Mitchell. This collection traces the development of Mitchell's thought processes and highlights all of the most important evidence. More

A Palaeographic Study of Early Writing in Egypt  by I. Regulski (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta: Peeters) In trying to reconstruct the early phases of our culture, we rely mostly on sources from the ancient Near East. This is perhaps more true of the history of writing than of any other great cultural accomplishment. It would be unthinkable even to try to sketch the history of writing without taking into consideration the written sources of ancient Egypt. The present contributes to the research of writing evolution in Egypt as an attempt to collect, describe, and evaluate the earliest attestations of writing from a palaeographic point of view. The book aims to present a thorough investigation of the development of sign forms, from its first appearance around 3250BC until the reign of Djoser (ca. 2700BC) at the beginning of Dynasty III. It features the first-ever palaeographic collection of all available signs and inscriptions. The survey permitted reconstruction of the complex process of codification and reform of the Egyptian script that finally resulted in the hieroglyphic writing of the Old Kingdom. More

Pictograms or Pseudo-Script? Non-Textual Identity Marks in Practical Use in Ancient Egypt and Elsewhere edited by B.J.J. Haring and Olaf E. Kaper (Proceedings of a Conference in Leiden, 19-20 December 2006. UITGAVEN - EGYPTOLOGICAL PUBLICATIONS: Peeters Publishers) Marking systems such as masons marks, property marks, pot marks, quarry marks and team marks confront us with the large variation in the use of graphic signs. They are often similar to writing, yet they are not script in the strictest sense of the word. The practical purposes of marks include claims to property and responsibilities, both individual and collective, for which regular scripts are also used. he marking systems are seen to operate in combination with writing, but frequently also in isolation. In societies that use writing, the marks appear to be strongly influenced by it: their shapes are often identical and they may be similarly arranged in lines or columns. In this sense the marking systems may be called a pseudo script, for in spite of their resemblance to writing, the signs remain mere pictograms. This volume brings together for the first time the results of research on practical marking systems in ancient Egypt and other cultures, making it possible to define the common characteristics of their appearance and their uses. It is the result of a conference hosted by the Egyptology Department at Leiden University in 2006. The great geographical and chronological range covered by the volume, the sign corpora added to many of the contributions, and the indices also make it the first important reference work on this intriguing topic. More

Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy by Alejandro Jodorowsky (Inner Traditions) Psychomagic describes a healing path using the power of dreams, theater, poetry, and shamanism.

While living in Mexico, legendary filmmaker, visionary writer and psychotherapist Alejandro Jodorowsky became familiar with the colorful and effective cures provided by folk healers. He says he realized that it is easier for the unconscious to understand the language of dreams than that of rationality. Illness can even be seen as a physical dream that reveals unresolved emotional and psychological problems.
Psychomagic presents the shamanic and genealogical principles Jodorowsky discovered to create a healing therapy that could use the powers of dreams, art, and theater to empower individuals to heal wounds that in some cases had traveled through generations. The concrete and often surreal poetic actions Jodorowsky employs are part of an elaborate strategy intended to break apart the dysfunctional persona with whom the patient identifies in order to connect with a deeper self. According to Jodorowsky, that is when true transformation can manifest. More

Hawara in the Graeco-Roman Period: Life and Death in a Fayum Village by Inge Uytterhoeven  (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta: Peeters) In the 12th Dynasty, Pharaoh Amenemhat III (ca. 1842-1797 BC) built his pyramid at Hawara, a site near the entrance of the Egyptian Fayum oasis. From that time into the Graeco-Roman Period, the pyramid and funerary temple of Hawara, the so-called Labyrinth of the ancient sources, as well as its extended necropolis would attract numerous adherents of the cult for Pramarres, the deified Amenemhat III, and many other visitors. The source material available for the village and necropolis of Hawara covers a period of almost 3000 years, reaching from the 12th Dynasty (ca. 1800 BC) to the Arab Period (10th century AD). Thanks to the many archaeological data, literary texts, inscriptions and papyri, Hawara forms an ideal case study for the interdisciplinary research of an Egyptian site. Taking the sources related to the Graeco-Roman occupation phase of Hawara as a starting point, this monograph offers a picture of life and death in this Fayum village. The part dealing with the living pays attention to the topographical situation of the village, its population, administration, economy and religious life. The second part focuses on the dead who were buried on the site by reconstructing their socio-economic position and provenance. More

Berakhyah Ben Natronai ha-Nakdan, Sefer Ko’ah Ha-Avanim (On the Virtue of the Stones). Hebrew Text and English Translation. With a Lexicological Analysis of the Romance Terminology and Source Study by Gerrit Bos and Julia Zwink (Brill Academic)  The lore of the supposed magic and medical virtue of stones goes back to the Babylonians and peaks out in the lapidary literature of the Middle Ages. The famous work of Marbode of Rennes, which made lapidaries a very popular type of medieval scientific literature, was translated into numerous vernacular languages. The Jewish tradition, missing a particular lapidary literature of its own, absorbed non-Jewish works like that of Marbode. Several Anglo-Norman Marbode translations could be identified as the main source of the present edited Hebrew lapidary Ko’ah Ha-Avanim, written by Berakhyah Ben Natronai ha-Nakdan around 1300. The edition is accompanied by an English translation, a source study, and a linguistic analysis of the Romance, mostly Anglo-Norman, terms featuring within the text in Hebrew spelling. More

Human Rights or Religious Rules? by J. A. van der Ven (Empirical Research in Religion and Human Rights: Brill) The relation between religion and human rights is a contested one, as they appear to compete with one another. Religion is often considered to represent a tradition of heteronomy and subordination in premodern times. Human rights emerged from early modern and modern times and stand for principles like human dignity, autonomy, equality. The first question in this book is how to define religion, its meaning, functions and structures, and how to study it. The second question is how to understand religion from its relation with human rights in such a way that justice is done to both religion and human rights. These questions are dealt with using a historical and systematic approach. The third question is what the impact of religion might be On attitudes towards human rights, i.e. human rights culture. For an answer, empirical research is reported among about woo students, Christians, Muslims, and nonreligious, at the end of secondary and the beginning of tertiary education in the Netherlands. More

The Sun Rises: A Shaman's Chant, Ritual Exchange and Fertility in the Apatani Valley by Stuart Blackburn (Brill's Tibetan Studies Library: Brill Academic) At the centre of this study is a shaman's chant performed during a three-week long feast in the eastern Himalayas. The book includes a translation of this 12-hour text chanted in Apatani, a Tibeto-Burman language, and a description of the events that surround it, especially ritual exchanges with ceremonial friends, in which fertility is celebrated. The shaman's social role, performance and ritual language are also described. Although complex feasts, like this one among Apatanis, have been described in northeast India and upland Southeast Asia for more than a century, this is the first book to present a full translation of the accompanying chant and to integrate it into the interpretation of the social significance of the total event. More

Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain Volume One: Historical Introduction to the Return of the Gods by Kenneth Dean, Zheng Zhenman (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik, Volume 23, 1: Brill Academic)

Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain Volume 2: A Survey of Village Temples and Ritual Activities by Kenneth Dean, Zheng Zhenman (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik, Volume 23, 2: Brill Academic) Making ingenious use of a wide variety of sources, and old as well as modern technical resources, Kenneth Dean and Zheng Zhenman here set a new standard for an histoire totale for a coherently well-defined cultural region in China. At the same time, these books deal in-depth with the ongoing negotiation of modernity in Chinese village rituals. This study will no doubt become a major advance in the descriptive and theoretically integrative account of religious practice. All those interested in contemporary China, Chinese religion, ritual and modernity, regional history, Chinese popular culture, Daoism and local cults, and comparative religion and globalization.

Over the past thirty years, local popular religion has been revived and re-invented in the villages of the irrigated alluvial plain of Putian, Fujian, China. Volume 1 provides a historical introduction to the formation of 153 regional ritual alliances made up of 724 villages. Early popular cults, Ming lineages, Qing multi-village alliances, late Qing spirit-medium associations, 20th  century state attacks on local religion, and the role of Overseas Chinese and local communities in rebuilding the temple networks are discussed. Volume 2 surveys the current population, lineages, temples, gods, and annual rituals of these villages. Maps of each ritual alliance, the distribution of major cults and lineages, are included. More


The Clavis or Key to the Magic of Solomon: From an Original Talismanic Grimoire in Full Color by Ebenezer Sibley and Frederick Hockley by Joseph H Peterson (Ibis) The Clavis or Key to the Magic of Solomon is one of several notebooks from the estate of Ebenezer Sibley, transcribed under the direction of Frederic Hockley (1808-1885). Sibley was a prominent physician and an influential author, who complemented his scientific studies with writings on the “deeper truths” including magic, astrology, alchemy, and hypnotherapy. Both Sibley and Hockley were major inspirations in the occult revival of the past two centuries, influencing A.E. Waite, S.L. Mathers, Aleister Crowley, as well as the Golden Dawn, Rosicrucian, and Masonic movements. This collection reflects Sibley’s teachings on the practical use of celestial influences and harmonies. The Clavis contains clear and systematic instructions for constructing magical tools and pentacles for many practical purposes. It includes eight separate magical texts: The Mysterious Ring, Experiments of the Spirits, Birto, Vassago, Agares, Bealpharos, The Wheel of Wisdom, and the Complete Book of Magic Science. The manuscript reproduced here is the most accurate and complete known, very beautifully and carefully written complete with extraordinary hand-colored seals and colored handwritten text. 282 color pages with a color fold-out and a huge index. More

Greek Sacred Law (2nd Edition with a Postscript)  by Eran Lupu (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World: Brill Academic Publishers) This work contains two parts. Part I constitutes a guide to the corpus of Greek sacred law and its contents. A discussion of the history of the corpus and the principles governing its composition is followed by a detailed review of its contents, in which the evidence is classified according to subject matter. Part II contains inscriptions published since the late 1960s from all around the Greek world excluding Cos and Asia Minor (checklists for these are appended). The text of each inscription is presented alongside restorations, epigraphical commentary, translation, and a comprehensive running commentary. Most of the inscriptions are illustrated. The volume should prove useful to scholars of Greek religion, historians, and epigraphists. More

Tradition and Modernity by Chen Lai, translated by Edmund Ryden (Brill's Humanities in China Library Volume 3: Brill Academic Publishers) The question for twentieth-century China has been the integration of tradition and modernity. In this collection of essays written over a period of twenty years (1987-2006), Chen Lai reflects on the question in an informative and original way. He reads behind the political slogans and engages with the thought both of Max Weber, Talcott Parsons, and western sociology, and representative Chinese thinkers, notably Feng Youlan and Liang Shuming. While the focus is on China, the book also appeals to anyone interested in this fascinating question of how to modernize whilst retaining the positive values of tradition. Chen Lai's unique and balanced grasp of society marks him out as the foremost thinker in China on this topic today. More

  1. Mystical Metal of Gold: Essays on Alchemy And Renaissance Culture edited by Stanton J. Linden (AMS Studies in the Renaissance: AMS Press) Continuing strong interest in alchemy and hermeticism in many academic fields is reflected in the growing number of scholarly books and articles, specialized journals, colloquia and conferences, and university-level courses and seminars devoted to these and related subjects. Furthermore, as a visit to virtually any bookshop reveals, there' exists a large - perhaps steadily increasing - popular and semi-popular market for these works. Two related characteristics mark the academic, research-oriented side of this burgeoning enterprise: its interdisciplinary nature and its tendency to reassess and reinterpret, often radically, the authors, works, and ideas that are its focus, frequently with the result of discovering a high level of alchemical and hermetic interest where previously it had not been suspected or at least readily admitted.

    This collection of new essays reflects this groundswell of activity, touching on fields as diverse as history of science and medicine, literature, history, art history and iconography, philosophy, religion, and numismatics. Contributors include both internationally known scholars and several new and original voices. The period of focus is 1500 to 1700 and essays on both English and Continental culture are included. The book's title, "Mystical Metal of Gold," alluding to alchemy's spiritual and physical - esoteric and exoteric - dimensions, itself suggests the rich diversity of this vital field of research.  More

Divine Knowledge: Buddhist Mathematics According to Antoine Mostaert's Manual of Mongolian Astrology and Divination by Brian G. Baumann (Brill's Inner Asian Library: Brill Academic Publishers) In an original and compelling examination of traditional mathematics, this comprehensive study of the anonymous; Manual of Mongolian Astrology and Divination (published by A. Mostaert in 1969) takes on the fundamental problem of the post‑enlightenment categorization of knowledge, in particular the inherently problematic realms of religion and science, as well as their subsets, medicine, ritual, and magic. In the process of elucidating the rhetoric and logic shaping this manual the author reveals not only the intertwined intellectual history of Eurasia from Greece to China but also dismantles many of the discourses that have shaped its modern interpretations. More

Magic in the Ancient Greek World by Derek Collins (Blackwell Ancient Religions: Wiley-Blackwell) Magic in the Ancient Greek World is an innovative introduction to the practice of magic during the classical period. This book develops a framework for understanding the role of magic in Greek life. 
Thematically organized around detailed case studies of individual types of magic, this volume examines the use of spells, drugs, binding curses, figurines, and the specialists who offered them. Collins reveals how each of these magical practices worked and the cultural structures that allowed them to occur.
Original and insightful, Magic in the Ancient Greek World takes the reader inside both the social imagination and the ritual reality that made magic possible in ancient Greece. More

Alchemy and Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem, translated by Klaus Ottmann (Spring Publications) A groundbreaking text on alchemy by the leading scholar of Jewish mysticism is presented here for the first time in English translation. Scholem looks critically at the connections between alchemy, the Jewish Kabbalah; its christianized varieties, such as the gold- and rosicrucian mysticisms, and the myth-based psychology of C.G. Jung, and uncovers forgotten alchemical roots embedded in the Kabbalah.
Ever since the end of the Middle Ages, when the European world became acquainted with Jewish mysticism and theosophy, the Kabbalah has been thought of as a com­plex intertwining of a multitude of concepts. The name of this arcane discipline became a popular catchword in Re­naissance and Baroque theosophical and occult circles, having been declared and revered as the guardian of the oldest and highest mystical wisdom of mankind by its first Christian mediators, among them, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Johannes Reuchlin. Since there was nothing to be feared from the very few who were knowledgeable about the real Kabbalah, it became a kind of banner under which the public could be offered just about anything — from the authentically Jewish or weakly Judaic meditations of deeply Christian mystics to the carnival attractions of geomancy and tarot-card fortune telling. The word Kabbalah stirred up reverential shudders and enveloped all. Even the most alien elements of occidental folklore became "Kabbalah"; even the natural sciences of the time, such as astrology, alchemy, and natural magic, were in some sense leaning toward occultism. Kabbalah continues to bear this heavy burden, one that at times obscures its true content — in the communis opinio, with lay and theosophical adepts, and in the language of many European writers and even scholars. In this century, with charlatans such as Aleister Crowley and his followers in England, and especially in the 19th cen­tury, with Eliphas Levi, Papus (Gerard Encausse), and other French theosophists of the Martinist school, everything humanly possible has been done to confound all occult disciplines with the "sacred" Kabbalah. Many books that flaunt the word Kabbalah on their title pages have nothing or practically nothing to do with it.  Scholem maintains a purist approach that emphasizes the autochthonic origins of Kabbalah within Judaism . More

The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions by Mark Juergensmeyer (Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology: Oxford University Press) is a reference for understanding world religious societies in their contemporary global diversity. Comprising 60 essays, the volume focuses on communities rather than beliefs, symbols, or rites. It is organized into six sections corresponding to the major living religious traditions: the Indic cultural region, the Buddhist/Confucian, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim regions, and the African cultural region. In each section an introductory essay discusses the social development of that religious tradition historically. The other essays cover the basic social facts, the community’s size, location, organizational and pilgrimage centers, authority figures, patterns of governance, major subgroups and schisms, as well as issues regarding boundary maintenance, political involvement, role in providing cultural identity, and encounters with modernity. Communities in the diaspora and at the periphery are covered, as well as the central geographic regions of the religious traditions. Thus, for example, Islamic communities in Asia and the United States are included along with Islamic societies in the Middle East. The contributors are leading scholars of world religions, many of whom are also members of the communities they study. The essays are written to be informative and accessible to the educated public, and to be respectful of the viewpoints of the communities analyzed. More

Religion Without Belief: Contemporary Allegory and the Search for Postmodern Faith by Jean Ellen Petrolle (State University of New York Press) In our present cultural moment, when God is supposed to be dead and metaphysical speculation unfashionable, why does postmodern fiction--in a variety of genres--make such frequent use of the ancient rhetorical form of allegory? In Religion Without Belief, Jean Ellen Petrolle argues that contrary to popular understandings of postmodernism as an irreligious and amoral climate, postmodern allegory remains deeply engaged in the quest for religious insight. Examining a range of films and novels, this book shows that postmodern fiction, despite its posturing about the unverifiable nature of truth and reality, routinely offers theological and cosmological speculation. Works considered include virtual-reality films such as The Matrix and The Truman Show, avant-garde films, and Amerindian and feminist novels. More

The Higher Self in Christopher Brennan's Poems: Esotericism, Romanticism, Symbolism by Katherine Barnes (Aries: Brill Academic) Many critics contend that Christopher Brennan is Australia's most important scholar and poet. Because his poetry was often written in a more obscure fashion, he never received the recognition that scholars of world literature believe he deserved. Poems 1913 is considered his most important work, and it is on the basis of that collection that Brennan's writing is considered some of the finest poetry produced before the start of World War I.  More

A Good Life in a World Made Good: Albert Eustace Haydon, 1880-1975 by Creighton Peden (American Liberal Religious Thought: Peter Lang Publishing) Creighton Peden is a scholar of 19th and 20th century, liberal theology who, for this book, was able to draw upon previously unavailable original sources - lectures, notes, and radio broadcasts. When it comes to research, understanding, and appreciation of the topic, Peden is without peer. A Good Life in a World Made Good: Albert Eustace Haydon, 1880-1975, chronicles Haydon’s journey from evangelical Christian to religious humanism - pausing along the way to engage world religions. Always faithful in the pursuit of truth, Haydon was equally interested in the development of human character. No theologian, preacher, or student of American religious thought could fail to benefit from reading this intellectual biography. More

The Voudon Gnostic Workbook by Michael Bertiaux ( Expanded Edition) (Weiser Books) A long-awaited new edition of the seminal text on the spiritual system that is a convergence of Gnosticism and Haitian voodoo, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, is a singular sacred work that is comprehensive in scope--from "how to be a lucky Hoodoo" to how magick and voodoo intersect energetically, to esoteric time travel. Complete with charts and graphs and instructive interdimensional physics, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook is an "object of desire" among students of the occult. Michael Bertiaux is an occult practitioner and instructor in the Chicago area who developed a large following based on his voodoo-infused Gnostic teachings. 
The The Voudon Gnostic Workbook presents the teachings of a Franco-Haitian esoteric and theurgical society known as "La Couleuvre Noire" (The Black Snake), which by reason of their tradition is believed by its members to be a society derived from an adept who died in Leogane, Haiti, in 1774. This tradition also entails teachings derived from African mysticism and spiritism, as these teachings were developed in two hundred years of occult work and casework practice in esotericism and a type of psychology within Haitian culture and the wider Voudon diaspora, which grew out of the occult practices of the members of this order.

A Companion to Greek Religion edited by Daniel Ogden (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World: Blackwell) covers all aspects of religion in the ancient Greek world from the archaic, through the classical and into the Hellenistic period. Each of the volume’s 29 essays is written by an international expert and provides a survey of a particular area that reflects contemporary scholarship. All the contributions place an emphasis on religious life as it was experienced by Greek men and women at different times and in different places. Myth is considered alongside religion throughout. The Companion opens with a series of contextual essays devoted to the Near-Eastern and Minoan backgrounds to Greek religion, the religious structures of Greek society, women and sex in religious life, and mystery cults and magic. There follow major sections on local religious systems, sacred space and ritual, and the divine. Other chapters consider the interactions between religion and art, literature and philosophy, and look at particular topics, such as time in Greek religion, whether the Greeks can be said to have had religious wars, and representations of Greek religion in cinema. More

The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press) This unparalleled study of early Eastern and Western philosophy challenges every existing belief about the foundations of Western civilization. Spanning thirty years of intensive research, this book proves what many scholars could not explain: that today’s Western world must be considered the product of both Greek and Indian thought—Western and Eastern philosophies.

Thomas McEvilley explores how trade, imperialism, and migration currents allowed cultural philosophies to intermingle freely throughout India, Egypt, Greece, and the ancient Near East. This groundbreaking reference will stir relentless debate among philosophers, art historians, and students.  More

Companion to Roman Religion edited by Jorg Ruepke (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World: Blackwell) provides a comprehensive treatment of Roman religion within its cultural, social, and historical contexts.Written by international experts, this volume offers a new approach, directing its focus away from the gods and concentrating on the human-figures of Roman religion. The book addresses the media through which religion was experienced and shared, including epigraphy, mosaics, wall-paintings, drama, and poetry, and provides, for example, the first ever history of religious motifs on coins. Placing the various discourses and practices into a larger geographical and cultural framework, this volume also considers the cults, gods, iconography, rituals, and texts that were exported widely throughout the empire, revealing the sprawling landscape of Roman religion. Judaism and Christianity are firmly placed within a strongly historical approach, covering the period from the eighth century BC to the fourth century AD.  More

Companion to Roman Religion edited by Jorg Ruepke (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World: Blackwell) provides a comprehensive treatment of Roman religion within its cultural, social, and historical contexts.Written by international experts, this volume offers a new approach, directing its focus away from the gods and concentrating on the human-figures of Roman religion. The book addresses the media through which religion was experienced and shared, including epigraphy, mosaics, wall-paintings, drama, and poetry, and provides, for example, the first ever history of religious motifs on coins. Placing the various discourses and practices into a larger geographical and cultural framework, this volume also considers the cults, gods, iconography, rituals, and texts that were exported widely throughout the empire, revealing the sprawling landscape of Roman religion. Judaism and Christianity are firmly placed within a strongly historical approach, covering the period from the eighth century BC to the fourth century AD.  More

Echoes from the Gnosis: 100th Anniversary Edition of the Spiritual Classics by G.R.S. Mead edited by John Algeo, introduction Robert Gilbert, Commentary by Stephan Hoeller (Quest Books) Long before the mid-twentieth-century discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, G. R. S. Mead had translated ancient Gnostic texts. Here in one book is the entire collection of his eleven volumes first published between 1906 and 1908, including "The Hymn of Jesus" and "The Wedding Song of Wisdom."
Each Gnostic text has added historical background, source information, literary comment, and spiritual interpretation. Mead, who devoted his life to esoteric studies and was a pioneer in the Gnostic revival, uniquely understood the complex symbolism of his subject. The reader may be surprised to learn that some of these texts were originally not books, but instead initiatory mystery rituals.
Editor John Algeo preserves Mead's own inspired language. To enhance the texts for today's readers, the volume includes new explanatory essays by contemporary Gnostic Stephan Hoeller and a biography by Robert Gilbert, a world authority on Mead. More

Doing The Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise edited by B. Carmon Hardy (Kingdom in the West: the Mormons and the American Frontier, Volume 9: Arthur H. Clark Company) Celestial Marriage—the "doctrine of the plurality of wives"—polygamy. No issue in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly known as the Mormon Church) has attracted more attention. From its contentious and secretive beginnings in the 1830s to its public proclamation in 1852, and through almost four decades of bitter conflict with the federal government to Church renunciation of the practice in 1890, this belief helped define a new religious identity and unify the Mormon people, just as it scandalized their neighbors and handed their enemies the most effective weapon they wielded in their battle against Mormon theocracy. More

Does God Believe in Human Rights?: Essays on Religion and Human Rights by Nazila Ghanea, Alan Stephens, and Raphael Walden (Studies in Religion, Secular Beliefs and Human Rights: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers / Brill Academic)

Where can religions find sources of legitimacy for human rights? How do, and how should, religious leaders and communities respond to human rights as defined in modern International Law? When religious precepts contradict human rights standards - for example in relation to freedom of expression or in relation to punishments - which should trump the other, and why? Can human rights and religious teachings be interpreted in a manner which brings reconciliation closer? Do the modern concept and system of human rights undermine the very vision of society that religions aim to impart? Is a reference to God in the discussion of human rights misplaced? Do human fallibilities with respect to interpretation, judicial reasoning and the understanding of human oneness and dignity provide the key to the undeniable and sometimes devastating conflicts that have arisen between, and within, religions and the human rights movement?

In this volume, academics and lawyers tackle these most difficult questions head-on, with candour and creativity, and the collection is rendered unique by the further contributions of a remarkable range of other professionals, including senior religious leaders and representatives, journalists, diplomats and civil servants, both national and international. Most notably, the contributors do not shy away from the boldest question of all - summed up in the book's title.  More 

World Religions, 5th edition by Warren Matthews (Wadsworth Publishing) Presenting both the histories and the prevalent worldviews of the major world religions, Matthews' WORLD RELIGIONS methodically introduces students to the richness and diversity of these traditions. The "Worldview" sections in particular make this textbook the most helpful textbook when it comes to comparative analyses of the religions. In these sections students can see how the different religions understand a common set of ten human concerns that are fundamental to all religions. Furthermore, this text combines insightful, engaging prose with maps, photographs, timelines, excerpts from sacred texts, and other helpful pedagogical aids, to employ a scholarly approach that neither shields students from current research nor encumbers them with it. Students are encouraged, individually and collectively, to pursue their own dialogues with the voices and nuances of these religions. More

World Religions And Social Evolution Of The Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective by Andrey Korotayev (Edwin Mellen Press) is a book of startling simplicity and depth that suggests an empirical solution to viewing the subjectivist/objectivist dilemmas in the social sciences and history.
It will have a profound effect on how comparison is done in the future in anthropology, and suggests an answer to why some anthropologists, starting with Geertz, are reluctant to suggest comparison as an adequate method.
The Murdockian comparative approach, up to Korotayev, had developed to the point where the nonindependence of cultures was well-recognized, and ways of taking the larger configurations of cultural systems into account had been reckoned to lie, in the latest iteration, along lines of high-order proto-linguistic communities. More

Introduction to Asian Religions by Bradley K. Hawkins (Longman) Introduction to Asian Religions provides a straightforward and accessible overview of the religions of Asia, including Islam. More

Religion, Society, and Modernity in Turkey by Serif Mardin (Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East: Syracuse University Press) A selection of the finest essays by Serif Mardin, offering a historical and cultural analysis of the late Ottoman period and Republican Turkey. This book collects Serif Mardin’s seminal essays written throughout the span of his prolific career. Comprising some of the author’s finest and most incisive writings, these essays deal with the historical background, political travails, and socioeconomic metamorphosis of Turkey during a century of modernization. More

Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia (3 Volume Set) edited by Phyllis Jestice (ABC-CLIO) How does a person become holy? In nearly every religion and culture throughout history; women and men have been recognized for their unusual connection to the divine or for their exceptional service to faith and humanity. Spainning all major religions of the world, Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia is the first reference to provide a cross-cultural perspective on the subject, presenting the most significant holy individuals in history and examining their impact across religions, cultures, regions, and time periods. More

Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual by Nikki Bado-Fralick (AAR Academy Series: Oxford University Press) Imagine yourself sitting on the cool damp earth, surrounded by deep night sky and fields full of fireflies, anticipating the ritual of initiation that you are about to undergo. Suddenly you hear the sounds of far-off singing and chanting, drums booming, rattles "snaking," voices raised in harmony. The casting of the Circle is complete. You are led to the edge of the Circle, where Death, your challenge, is waiting for you. With the passwords of "perfect love" and "perfect trust" you enter Death's realm. The Guardians of the four quarters purify you, and you are finally reborn into the Circle as a newly made Witch. More

Secret Societies Of The Middle Ages: The Assassins, Templars & the Secret Tribunals of Westphalia by Thomas Keightley, James Wasserman (Weiser Books) explores the foundations of modern secret societies, examining the history and known facts of three very different organizations. More

Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion by Alan Segal (Doubleday) A magisterial work of social history, Life After Death illuminates the many different ways ancient civilizations grappled with the question of what exactly happens to us after we die. More

Death and Dying: A Reader by Thomas A. Shannon (Readings in Bioethics: Sheed and Ward, Rowman & Littlefield) (Hardcover) Ten readings represent current and historical legal, ethical, and medical thinking on issues like the definition of death, prolonging life, tube feeding, palliative care, and physician-assisted suicide. Contributors include philosophers, psychiatrists, and medical doctors. More

Death And Afterlife In A Tamil Village: Discourses Of Low Caste Women by Nathalie Peyer (Perfromanzen/Performances: Interkulturelle Studien Zu Ritual, Spiel Und Theate ... cultural Studies on Ritual, Play and Theatre: Lit Verlag) Studies of death rituals and of beliefs about the afterlife in India have mainly been carried out from the perspective of male members of high castes following the Sanskritic tradition. Contrary to this, the present study focuses on rural low caste women's discourses about death and afterlife. Their talk about death and afterlife is analyzed in a wider social context. This reveals that death is symbolically related to and meaningful for the social order, the recreation of life, and the status of women. It is important to control death as it is considered a vulnerable state of transition that is constantly endangered by impurity and by attacks of malign ghosts. More

San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences by J. David Lewis-Williams, D. G. Pearce (The African Archaeology Series: Altamira Press) At the intersection of Western culture and Africa are the San people of the Kalahari Desert. Once called bushmen, the San have survived various characterizations—from prehuman animals by the early European colonials to aboriginal conservationists in perfect harmony with nature by recent New Age adherents. Neither carica­ture does justice to the complex worldview of the San. Eminent anthropologists J. D. Lewis-Williams and D. G. Pearce present a balanced view of the spiritual life of this much-studied culture, examining the interplay of their cosmology, myths, rituals, and art. Integrating archaeological finds, historical accounts, ethnographic information, and interpretation of rock art, the authors discuss San cosmic geography, the role of shamans and mind-altering substances, the ritual of the trance dance, the legends recorded on stone, and other intriguing accounts of other-worldly experiences. From this, Lewis-Williams and Pearce detail the worldview of the San, how it plays out in their society, and how it has been challenged and altered by the modern world. For students of anthropology, archaeology, religion, and African studies, this volume is essential and fascinating reading. More

Returning to the Essential: Selected Writings of Jean Bies by Jean Bies (Perennial Philosophy Series: World Wisdom) Bies introduces readers to metaphysical, esoteric, and spiritual teachings from diverse scared sources. His words are rooted in the inexhaustible ground of the Perennial Philosophy, the language of the Essential to which this book invites us to return. More

The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg: A Collection of Original Documents, Illustrative of the Theology Wisdom, and Usages of the Bardo-Druidic Systems of the Isle of Britain by J. Williams Ab Ithel (Weiser Books) Serious students of Druidism and Paganism, as well as Celtic historians, are sure to include Barddas in their libraries. Barddas contains the only extant description of Bardo-Druidic Celtic philosophy. It is a metaphysical and spiritual description of beliefs handed down by word of mouth by Druidic initiates from before the Roman occupation of the British Isles. More

The Secret History of Freemasonry: Its Origins and Connection to the Knights Templar by Paul Naudon (Inner Traditions) Historians often make a sharp distinction between the operative masonry of the Middle Ages--referring to the associations of builders that formed during that time--and the speculative Freemasonry of modern times, emphasizing that there is no direct bridge connecting the two. In addition, they have scoffed at Masonic claims concerning the close relationships between the Lodge and the Temple. Using medieval archives housed throughout Europe, historian Paul Naudon reveals that there was in fact a very intimate connection between the masons and the Knights Templar. Church records of medieval Paris show that most, if not all, of the masons of that time were residents of the Templar censive, which allowed them to work on the Temple’s large building projects and enjoy exemptions and liberties from both Church and state through the protection of this powerful order. More

Cathedral of the Black Madonna: The Druids and the Mysteries of Chartres by Jean Markale (Inner Traditions) Explores the connection between ancient druidic worship of a virgin at Chartres and the veneration of the Black Madonna, examines the Virgin Mary’s origins in the pagan worship of the Mother Goddess, identifies Mary with the dominant solar goddess of matriarchal societies. The great cathedral of Chartres is renowned the world over as a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and for its remarkable stained glass and mystical labyrinth. But the foundations of this sanctuary go back to a time long before Christianity, when this site was a clearing where Druids worshipped a virgo paritura, a virgin about to give birth. Now at this ancient meeting place, where all the Druids in Gaul gathered once a year, there stands Chartres cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and home to one of the most venerated Black Madonnas in Europe: Our Lady of the Pillar. More

The Mysteries of Mithras: The Pagan Belief That Shaped the Christian World by Payam Nabarz (Inner Traditions) showers the reader with dense historical information about the origins of Mithras, an ancient Persian protector god whose worship can be traced as far back as the second millennium B.C.E. The Mithras cult is said to pre-date even Zoroastrianism, and made its way west into the pagan traditions of the Roman Empire. Nabarz, a Mithras revivalist, Sufi and practicing dervish, offers a book that is part history-primer, part practical guide "designed to help the spiritual seeker develop a deeper understanding of the Mithraic mysteries," and perform initiation rites and Mirthraic liturgy. Readers unfamiliar with Persian history, Eastern religions, and Roman paganism may find it difficult to wade beyond the background information packed into the first half of the book. Filled with interesting history, solid research and a range of Mithraic myths from around the world, the initial chapters are slow going. For those interested in the contemporary practice of Mithraism, Nabarz's exploration of this tradition picks up when he tells the Mithraic fairytale of Simorgh, which explains the nature of Mithras's partner, the goddess Anahita, and takes the reader step by step through a series of meditations and initiation rites. Luckily, Payam's chapters are organized so that the reader can choose between practical guidance and Mithraic history. More

Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism 2 volumes edited by Antoine Faivre, Roelof Van Den Broek, Jean-Pierre Brach, Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Brill Academic) is the first comprehensive reference work to cover the entire domain of "Gnosis and Western Esotericism" from the period of Late Antiquity to the present. Containing around 400 articles by over 180 international specialists, it provides critical overviews discussing the nature and historical development of all its important currents and manifestations, from Gnosticism and Hermetism to Astrology, Alchemy and Magic, from the Hermetic Tradition of the Renaissance to Rosicrucianism and Christian Theosophy, and from Freemasonry and Illuminism to 19th-century Occultism and the contemporary New Age movement. Furthermore it contains articles about the life and work of all the major personalities in the history of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, discussing their ideas, significance, and historical influence. There is little doubt that this dictionary fills a lacuna in religious studies and that the caliber of entries, closer to encyclopedic than definitional, makes available concise and sympathetic information, histories, biographies, and bibliographies of use to any student of the subject. Also the set is priced a bit lower than many of Brill Academic’s usual monographs, probably in recognition that this reference work will attract lively academic interest and notice. Given the importance of the work and the general competence of the articles, I want to review the somewhat artificial parameters set by the editors as what was included and excluded within the domain of the western esoteric.  More

Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes: The Initiatory Teachings of the Last Supper by Mark H. Gaffney (Inner Traditions International) Reveals the hidden meaning of the Grail and a secret Christian doctrine for achieving higher consciousness.

  • Shows that Gnosticism is not a derivative of Christianity but the revelation of the true message of Jesus.
  • Describes the ancient relationship between water and spirit.
  • Explains the doctrine of immanence taught by Jesus at the Last Supper.
  • Features the translated source text from The Refutation of All Heresies by Bishop Hippolytus, the only existing record of the Naassene Sermon.

In the third century C.E., the Catholic Bishop Hippolytus composed a Refutation of All Heresies in which his chief target was the Gnostic sect the Naassenes, whose writings included a recounting of Jesus' actual teachings at the Last Supper. Contrary to Church attacks, the Naassenes were not a heretical derivative of Christianity but the authentic foundation and purveyor of Christ's message. In fact, much of what passes as Christianity has nothing to do with the original teachings of its founder.

The message recorded in the Naassene Sermon was intended for an inner circle of disciples who were prepared for advanced initiation into Jesus' wisdom teachings. The Grail discussed therein was not an actual chalice but a symbol of the indwelling of the divine. The teachings involved the awakening of spirit and included practices aimed at restoring the soul's lost connection with God. Immanence, in the true sense intended by Jesus, thus allows for spiritual attainment in this life by ordinary individuals without the intermediary of Church or priest. This was the real meaning of the Last Supper and why the Naassenes believed that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the Mystery traditions.  

The Significant Role Of Initiation In The Traditional Igbo Culture And Religion by George Nnaemeka Oranekwu (Iko) The main prospect among other things, therefore, is to study properly the significant role of initiation in the Traditional Igbo culture and Religion, not only to appreciate the density of meaning but more to see how it can form a valuable foundation, an inculturation basis for a fruitful, meaningful and enduring pastoral catechesis of Christian Initiation. In other words, how can the idea of initiation in traditional Igbo culture and religion be used to make “Christus pro nobis” become “Christus in nobis". If every work or study must have a method of approach, ours then will not and cannot be an exception. Which system of approach is adopted here for this study?
The system of approach mainly adopted in this study is historico­analytical. It is nonetheless also descriptive, expository and synthetical. The nature of this study and the aim it is set to achieve demand that the above approach be adopted for the purpose of coherence and clarity. More

Truth: Interdisciplinary Dialogues in a Pluralist Age edited by Christine Helmer, Kristin De Troyer, Katie Goetz (Studies in Philosophical Theology, 22: Peeters, David Brown Book Company) The volume relates the controversy concerning competing knowledge claims to truth. In a pluralist context, substantive claims can no longer be made by skirting epistemological issues. Rather, claims concerning content can only be adequately addressed once epistemological issues have been clarified. Truth must furthermore be related to the hermeneutical task of understanding another's position. Finally, truth must be related to the rules governing the path by which competing claims arrive at consensus. This volume is the product of a symposium on "Truth: Interdisciplinary Dialogues in a Pluralist Age" held in Claremont, California from March 10-15, 2002 and sponsored by the Claremont School of Theology. It contains interdisciplinary dialogues between philosophers of religion, theologians, historians, and biblical scholars. The interdisciplinary dialogues are structured thematically; "Truth and Reality" is the theme structuring contributions by Marvin A. Sweeney (Claremont), Christine Helmer (Claremont), Christof Landmesser (T bingen), Kristin De Troyer (Claremont), D.Z. Phillips (Claremont), and John S. Kloppenborg (Toronto). "Truth and History" is the focus of contributions by Tammi J. Schneider (Claremont), Lori Anne Ferrell (Claremont), and Anselm Kyongsuk Min (Claremont). The theme of "Truth and Religious Pluralism" is treated in contributions by Lieven Boeve (Louvain), Richard Amesbury (Valdosta) & H. Jong Kim (Claremont), Marjorie Suchocki (Claremont), and David Ray Griffin (Claremont).

Excerpt: Truth is only problematized when competing points of view vie for attention. The context in which truth is raised is one marked not by peace, but by controversy.

It is the aim of this volume to relate the controversy concerning competing knowledge claims to truth. In a pluralist context, substantive claims can no longer be made by skirting epistemological issues. Rather, claims concerning content can only be adequately addressed once epistemological issues have first been clarified.

Epistemological issues, however, cover more than just theories of knowing and how truth adjudicates between competing claims. Truth must furthermore be related to the hermeneutical task of understanding another's position. With understanding, the controversy is focused on one disputed issue, and produces knowledge in the process of arriving at some consensus regarding the one contended point. Finally, truth must be related to the rules governing the path by which competing claims arrive at consensus (or at least preliminary consensus). The appeal to truth criteria along this path is used when comparing positions according to their respective truth values, and thereby aids the resolving of disagreement. Truth in a pluralist age, hence, requires epistemology.

By situating truth in a dialogical context, we characterize truth as a search. Never wholly revealed by the divine in an eternal moment, nor able to be monopolized by an individual or group, truth is rather radically elusive. Within the bounds of finite reason, truth is available as partial and penultimate. The possibility of its search is given by its transcendental status, and the lure of its search is given by desire, located more in feeling than in thinking, which impels the search in the first place.

Contextualizing the search for truth in this volume are interdisciplinary dialogues between philosophers of religion, theologians, historians and biblical scholars. As a common focal point, the question of truth is posed by these fields in the context of discussing religion. This is no coincidence. In the history of Western thought, theology has been in a unique position to pose the truth question. As the study of the supreme being in relation to the self and world, theology has viewed absolute truth in view

of truth in the mind as well as in things in order to give truth its epistemological and its ontological foci. The unity of truth is constituted by the diversity of epistemological and ontological considerations arising from fields outside theology's immediate range, such as philosophy or history, or within its own purview, such as biblical studies or the philosophy of religion. By viewing a dimension of the self/world/God relation, each field contributes its particular understanding of the truth of its subject matter.

In this book, the interdisciplinary dialogues are structured thematically. Three sections concentrate on three aspects of the truth question in order to promote dialogue as the process by which truth as an intersubjective search is regulated. In the first section, "Truth and Reality," the age-old truth definition formulated by Aristotle and Aquinas concerning the agreement between language and reality is posed anew. Although truth as correspondence is not uncontroversial in this section, the common focal point of the contributions rests on interpreting how a type of language is related to a kind of reality construed by that language. The second section, "Truth and History," treats the question of the historical referentially of biblical and religious-historical texts. This discussion brings to light the question of how the truth of particular textual genres involves a dimension of reality, however pragmatically, empirically or speculatively that reality might be understood. In the third section, "Truth and Religious Plural-ism," the question addressed concerns truth as part of the epistemological apparatus to compare and contrast religious claims. The discussion focuses on how truth claims can be made given the context of religious diversity while also acknowledging the penultimacy of those claims with-out relativist consequences. As an experiment in structuring dialogue, the three themes propose differing dimensions to truth in order to invite both methodological and substantive reflections.

The first section raises the difficulties and merits of truth as correspondence, as well as connecting these issues to historical, linguistic and systematic considerations. Marvin Sweeney begins by taking seriously the fact that there are many truths within the Bible. He takes on the case of "true and false prophecy," and proposes that most biblical books contain a combination of true and potentially false prophecy. The interpreters of the prophetic voices disagree with their predecessors about the precise message—rendering former potentially true prophecies into potentially false ones. Jeremiah debates with contemporaries regarding the meaning of the Isaian tradition. Is the message about the deliverance from the Assyrians true? Or should the people submit to  the Babylonians?A problem, however, arises, for how can one prophet claim that the other one is a false prophet without himself being labeled a false prophet? The truth of an earlier prophet, Sweeney concludes, is relative to the circumstances and the means by which the prophecy is interpreted and by *Mich it is realized.

In her paper, Christine Helmer builds on the problem of many truths in the field of systematic theology. A plurality of co-existing theological systems is not so much conceived as a problem but as an inevitabily given the Kantian (and Schleiermacherian) limits of knowing. From this starting-point, she proposes a model constitutive of systematic theological plurality. She embeds correspondence in coherence, arguing that the possibility for systematic coherence is ontologically/transcendentally grounded and theologically expressed in the narrative structure of classic systematic-theological ordering from creation to eschatology. Finally, the difficulty of the correspondence between theological propositions and reality is resolved by the Kantian figure of regulative and constitutive ideas.

Christof Landmesser demonstrates how the age of Enlightenment and the concurrent development of the historical-critical method lead to a marginalization of truth in view of the New Testament. He argues for a perspective from which truth can be claimed for New Testament science. What justifies scholars in claiming a statement to be true? Landmesser points to the need for a coherence analysis of the New Testament texts, appealing to the threefold criteria of comprehensiveness, consistency and cohesiveness. In view of the correspondence between statements and reality, he offers a transcendental solution, the "proposition" in Punter s sense. Although all scientific statements about the New Testament must remain principally open to potential falsification or verification, there is a "christological preference criterion" that cannot be logically justified, yet is necessary for construing the self/world/God relation, and is to be acknowledged by a scientific study of the New Testament.

Kristin De Troyer studies Psalm 130. This psalm describes how a per-son tries to make sense of his/her belief in the coming of a forgiving God while at the same time being weighed down by the burden of Israel's sins. De Troyer takes a cognitive linguistic approach, and thus, moves out of the adequatio argument, exploring how categorizing in concepts and judging in metaphors creates (true) meaning for human beings. In her analysis, De Troyer asks questions related to the characters, their actions, and their situations in life, and finally, the focal issue of the psalm. A study of the prepositions and conjunctions used in the psalm shows how the psalmist struggled with two opposing perspectives of life and God, and how both options can give meaning to life.

In a typical Phillips mode—examining the assumptions behind the allegiance of philosophers of religion to the adequatio rei et intellectus—D. Z. Phillips precisely questions the need for an adequatio—"Must Truths Tally? "—and moves the discussion from determining truth to investigating sense and meaning. In the first three sections, Phillips unravels beliefs about empirical matters, moral beliefs and religious beliefs. In his final section, he points to the difference in responsibilities of the philosopher and the theologian, the latter carrying the burden of preserving "pictures of God," the former loving to bring—and lovely bringing—clarity to the discussion.

John Kloppenborg summarizes the contribution of Phillips and then probes two questions. What sense might the historian of religion make of religious polemics and conversion; and how is the historian and exegete to understand the relation of the truth claims contained in their texts to their work as an exegete? Kloppenborg answers by taking a closer look at "idolatry." He concludes that conceptual analysis will not lead to the persuasion of one or the other believer—a conclusion very much in line with Phillips. Then Kloppenborg questions Phillips' job description of a theologian as the guardian of the "pictures," by pointing to the impossibility of knowing which picture of God preserves or effaces the divine image. This leaves the exegete and the historian with precisely the same task as the philosopher, namely clarifying the pictures and tracking its changes through history.

The second section on truth and history has at its forefront the referential question of biblical and historical texts. Tammi Schneider questions the historical truth in ancient texts. She discusses three cases in which one has at least two different views of what actually happened in a specific event. Is Hezekiah's report on Jerusalem correct, or do the Assyrian's own annals provide a true account of the event? How can one combine the biblical information on Jehu, and especially his dealing with the house of Omri, with the text of the Black Obelisk? And what precisely does "Israel" stand for in the biblical and non-biblical texts? Schneider argues that the biblical and the non-biblical texts offer their own readings of the events and that they reflect different understandings of the same event. The authors of the biblical texts as well as the authors of the non-biblical texts describe what is real for them, leaving the reader with different truths.

Using the fascinating example of the "ocular catechism," Lori Anne Ferrell demonstrates how the newly emerging scientific paradigm in the seventeenth century—that skilled knowledge conferred power and con-firmed truth—influenced the new religion, in which English Protestants

were being taught a version of Calvin's doctrine of assurance that called on their skills of observation and analysis to record the signs of their election to salvation with accuracy and specificity. The belief in science and scientific instrumentation buttressed the idea that any learner could grasp the Truth, and thus could, e.g., get a clear picture of the doctrine of predestination. In brief, Ferrell shows that even hard ideas could be taught by easy method—Calvinism for Dummies avant la letter!

Anselm Min offers a reading of Hegel's ontology of truth against the criticism that Hegel sublated historical particularity into his speculative philosophy. For Min, Hegel's understanding of truth is correlated with his understanding of being as dynamic and open-ended. Truth resides in the process of being's becoming. On this basis, Min argues against a totalizing interpretation of Hegel's understanding of history, and acknowledges that for Hegel, it is the historical context in which all philosophy makes its appearance including Hegel's own.

The third theme of truth and religious pluralism advances beyond the classical typology associated with this topic (exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism) by taking pluralism seriously in full view of the truth question. Lieven Boeve also leaves the adequatio circle behind, and approaches the issue of truth from both a philosophical and fundamental-theological perspective. He links so-called post-modem philosophy with negative theology. He correctly points to the fact that it is precisely the presence of the other and the truth of the other that opens up the category of truth by insisting on the deficit both in our talking about the other as well as the Other. His solid recontextualized theological thinking offers a discourse about the One who cannot be contained in words, and who leaves theological truth open.

Richard Amesbury and H. Jong Kim continue on the path taken by Boeve, focusing on the plurality of religions and its repercussions on the issue of truth. In the first part of their contribution, they defend the classical conception of truth against Rorty's attempt to replace objectivity with an ethnocentric solidarity with one's peers, and against Alston, who divorces truth from epistemological considerations. In the second part, the authors focus on the incompatibility of different religious practices. They suggest that relativism can be avoided by distinguishing between the prescription of a practice and its appropriation. In the third part, they consider some theological possibilities for addressing the plurality of religious practices in the contemporary context.

In her paper, Marjorie Suchocki proposes a Whiteheadian ontology of truth as a solution to the problem of different religions' differing doctrinal claims. She distinguishes between various layers of truth, locating doctrinal truth at the highest "cosmic level" of truth, and eliminating the verifiability issue at this level. From a Whiteheadian perspective, this cosmic level is ontologically undergirded by the role of God and from a Jamesean perspective, "cosmic truth" consists of projections of culturally determined concepts into that culture's view of ultimate reality. Suchocki concludes that truth claims cannot be adjudicated at the intellectual level between religions, but rather that the truth of each faith system depends on that system's lived reality and the cultural concepts abstracted from that reality to express claims of ultimacy.

In the final paper of this volume, David Ray Griffin argues that a model integrating truth as correspondence with a dialogical notion of truth is best suited to address the contemporary situation of religious pluralism. He provides a defense of truth as correspondence in terms of what he calls a hard-core commonsense notion. On this basis, he can argue for absolute truth as an ontological claim. Nevertheless, he admits that the process of arriving at knowledge is fallible. Hence knowledge as dialogical is necessary to promote the mutual understanding of truth claims between the religions.

The book is beautifully illustrative of the "Claremont way." It represents a diversity of disciplinary interests, a plurality of religious affiliations, and a manifold of methodological and substantive views; it includes agreement and argument, both continuity between disciplines and discontinuity among individual fields. Yet it is the diversity which represents the common unity: truth as a search engaging dialogue and hopefully continuing to do so.

Christophany: The Fullness of Man by Raimon Panikkar, Foreword by Alfred DiLascia  (Faith Meets Faith Series: Orbis Books) Definitely an astounding “Christology,” one that envisions a truly universal encompassing the spirit of the Christ as the completion of humanity, outside the dogmas and orthodoxies, denominations and traditions of history and sect, to embrace all people of all religions or none. Here is a Christology that Atheist, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist, Animinist and Pagan could embrace without abandoning the distinctive mythos of their own tradition. Panikkar’s excursions into world religions offers some saving theological insights that should be deeply considered because his ideas easily and definitely subvert the polarities of symbol and concept to reground the religious vision in the human condition. More

Faithful Generations: Race and New Asian American Churches by Russell Jeung (Rutgers University Press) (Hardcover) Religion-both personal faith and institutional tradition-plays a central role in the lives of the 12.5 million Asians in the United States. It provides comfort and meaning, shapes ethical and political beliefs, and influences culture and arts. Faithful Generations details the significance of religion in the construction of Asian American identity. As an institutional base for the movement toward Asian American panethnicity, churches provide a space for theological and political reflection and ethnic reinvention. More

Melting the Venusberg: A Feminist Theology of Music by Heidi Epstein (Continuum International Publishing Group) reconstructs music's theological significance by implicating it in the "politics of representation," by delineating the very concrete processes through which are ascribed music symbolic or metaphorical value, in short by treating it as a discursive practice, one socializing force among many. Such "radical" theological critiques and rearticulations of extramusical meanings may seem problematic only to those for whom music provides a transcendent oasis, who need music to remain hermetically sealed, unstained by the mundane—virginal. More

God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature edited by Gregory E. Ganssle, David M. Woodruff (Oxford University Press) This is a collection of previously unpublished essays about God's relation to time. The essays have been selected to represent debates between those who believe God to be atemporal and those who do not. The essays highlight issues such as how the nature of time is relevant to whether God is temporal and how God's other attributes are compatible with his mode of temporal being. By focusing on the metaphysical aspects of time and temporal existence, the text contributes to philosophical theology within the analytic tradition. More

New Religions: A Guide : New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities edited by Christopher Partridge (Oxford University Press) Well conceived and handsomely executed these descriptions of new religions provide a personal touch with each entry attempting to note some of the unique features these various groups have and to whom they appeal. The book also ahs great design features and is fun to read and browse, providing authoritative, personable cultural contexts, a “cliff-notes” to who’s who in the NRMs. More

Legitimating New Religions by James R. Lewis (Rutgers University Press) (Hardcover) James R. Lewis has written the first book to deal explicitly with the issue of how emerging religions legitimate themselves. The legitimacy that new religions seek in the public realm is primarily that of social acceptance. Through a series of wide-ranging case studies, Lewis explores legitimation strategies as well as the tactics that critics use to de-legitimate such groups. Cases include the Raelian Movement, Native American prophet religions, spiritualism, the Church of Christ-Scientist, Scientology, Church of Satan, Heaven’s Gate, Unitarianism, Hindu reform movements, and Soka Gakkai, a new Buddhist sect.  More

Religion and Emotion: Approaches and Interpretations by John Corrigan (Oxford University Press) (Hardcover) Over the past decade interest in emotion has developed very substantially across a number of academic disciplines, including religious studies. This anthology of recent papers is the first collection to address the relation of religion and emotion. Each of the selected pieces is a foundational interpretative essay in the renaissance of the study of religion and emotion. The authors examine attitudes toward and expressions of emotion in a wide range of religious traditions and periods, through various textually based, historical, and ethnographic approaches. Among the themes considered are the relation of emotion to moral or religious norms, the role of emotion in faith, religious emotion as a performance of feeling in ritual contexts, and the relation of emotion to religious language. Specific topics range from filial emotions and filial values in medieval Korean Buddhism to weeping and spirituality in sixteenth-century Jewish mysticism. A substantial introduction places the essays within the broader context of the study of emotion and elucidates the major themes of the book. This volume provides a much-needed introduction to this growing area of study and will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of comparative religion, anthropology, and psychology. More

Ten Essential Texts in the Philosophy of Religion: Classics and Contemporary Commentary by Steven M. Cahn (Oxford University Press) Offering a new approach to teaching the philosophy of religion, this anthology is organized around ten of the most widely read texts in the field. Presented in their entirety or in their germane portions, these classic texts serve as a framework for a variety of accessible contemporary essays that include basic discussions of the issued raised. The book's distinctive structure gives students the opportunity to study in depth complete historical works while also conveying a sense of how today's philosophers have explored related issues. Editor Steven M. Cahn has annotated each text to clarify all unfamiliar references. He also provides introductions that contain biographical profiles of the authors and philosophical commentaries on their writings. The text definitely makes the bulk on any upper division philosophy course in the philosophy of religion and should become a staple for such courses. More

Philosophical Hermeneutics & Biblical Exegesis edited by Petr Pokorny, Jan Roskovec (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament, 153: Mohr Siebeck; dist. Coronet Books Inc) The authors of these English & German essays focus on the analysis of the hermeneutical process, which is what occurs when texts are interpreted successfully. They are based on talks given at a symposium on "Philosophical Hermeneutics" held at the Center for Biblical Studies in Prague in November 2001. In addition to an introductory talk by Paul Ricoeur about the basic problems of philosophical hermeneutics, the volume contains contributions from prominent researchers from all religious denominations on the subjects of philosophical hermeneutics, exegesis, and theology. More

Mysticism and Morality, A New Look At Old Questions by Richard H. Jones (Lexington: Rowman & Littlefield) explores an often neglected area of comparative religious ethics: mysticism. By addressing a myriad of traditions, both Eastern and Western, Jones explores the question: Is mysticism moral? His discussion of this questions takes him through Hinduism, Jainism, varieties of Buddhism, Tantra, Daoism, and Christianity. Richard Jones's unique work is a salient addition to philosophy of religion, ethics, and religious studies. More

Divine Therapy: Love, Mysticism and Psychoanalysis by Janet Sayers (Oxford Medical Publications: Oxford University Press) Many debate whether religion is good for our health. Starting with this question, Janet Sayers, author of Mothering Psychoanalysis and Freudian Tales, provides a fascinating account of today's psychotherapy. 

Divine Therapy is told through love stories. They highlight the risks and healing transformations of what some call 'at-one-ment' with another in love, mysticism, art and psychoanalysis. Sayers movingly explores this by drawing on the philosophical and psychological writings of William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein, Simone Weil, Erich Fromm, Paul Tillich, Viktor Frankl, Melanie Klein, Adrian Stokes, Marion Milner and Donald Winnicott. She ends with one of the major figures of current psychoanalysis, Wilfred Bion, and with the insights of his followers, notably Christopher Bollas, Neville Symington and Julia Kristeva. More

Dictionaries of Philosophy

Okay here is a survey of many of the English language dictionaries of philosophy which are serviceable but all are idiosyncratic to a degree. James M. Baldwin’s old classic Dictionary probably approaches what I have in mind to some degree. I think we need a dictionary of philosophy written upon historical principles where each key term is defined by key thinkers and by era. Where many lesser terms of philosophy usually only found in phenomenological studies or orphan terms proposed by secondary thinkers are introduced and indexed. Given this pipe dream, I also would attempt concise syntactic analysis of various languages of philosophy as we are now awash in competing paradigms of philosophical and logical languages. So any scholars out there aware of any such project? 

The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy by Nicholas Bunnin, Jiyuan Yu (Blackwell Publishers) is a concise reference to the whole history of Western philosophy, from ancient Greece to the present day. The Dictionary's entries are written in a clear and direct style, which makes it easy for readers to engage with the central questions of philosophy, from epistemology to ethics, and from metaphysics to the philosophy of mathematics. The authors pay particular attention to terms that are crucial to contemporary debate. A unique feature of the Dictionary is its use of a quotation to conclude each entry on philosophical terms. These quotations not only illustrate the philosophical issues involved, but also serve as signposts for further study. Queries and objections are included in many of the entries to encourage readers to be active and critical in their response. More

Desire and Belief: Introduction to Some Recent Philosophical Debates by Arthur E. Falk (Hamilton: University Press of America) Some call it folk psychology; others call it the perennial philosophy. According to Arthur Falk, author of Desire and Belief, it's the traditional account of the mind's features that make it unique in nature. This work examines the nature of what philosophers call de re mental attitudes, paying close attention to the controversies over the nature of these and allied mental states. Over the course of the book, a story emerges within the traditional account that ultimately appeals to Darwinian principles. The book concludes with two chapters on the contemporary project of naturalizing the mind. More

The Creative Conscience As Human Destiny by Edward H. Strauch (Peter Lang Publishing) is an important contribution to the proper understanding of the significance of evolution as updated by the discoveries of contemporary biology. It provides a much needed correction of the misleading notions derived from a nineteenth century interpretation of Darwinism. He shows that evolution, far from being accidental and alien to human values, is positively directed by the processes of morphogenesis and symbiosis. The message of evolution is one of hope and progress for humanity rather than nihilism and despair. More

French Feminist Theory: An Introduction by Dani Cavallaro (Continuum) (Paperback) offers an introduction to the key concepts and themes in French feminist thought, both the materialist and the linguistic/psychoanalytic traditions. These are explored through the work of a wide range of theorists: Simone de Beauvoir, Chantal Chawaf, Helene Cixous, Catherine Clement, Christine Delphy, Marguerite Duras, Colette Guillaumin, Madeleine Gagnon, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Nicole-Claude Mathieu, Michele Montreley, Monique Plaza, Paola Tabet and Monique Wittig.
French Feminist Theory: An Introduction outlines the philosophical and political diversity of French feminism, setting developments in the field in the particular cultural and social contexts in which they have emerged and unfolded.  More

Studies in Judaism: First Series by Solomon Schechter, introduction by Ismar Schorsch, Studies in Judaism: Second Series by Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism: Third Series by Solomon Schechter, (Jewish Studies Classics 3: Gorgias Press), scholar, theologian, and architect of American Conservative Judaism was born in Romania, taught at Cambridge (to where he brought the bulk of the Cairo Genizah from 1890 to 1902) and thereafter in New York, where he headed the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and laid the groundwork for the Conservative movement. He attracted a faculty of outstanding European scholars, presided over the movement's growth, and in 1913 created the United Synagogue of America (later United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism). Reprint Edition. More

The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. 1 edited and translated with notes by Daniel C. Matt (Stanford University Press)
The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. 2 edited and translated with notes by Daniel C. Matt (Stanford University Press)

See www.sup.org/zohar

Ever since it emerged mysteriously in Castile, Spain toward the end of the 13th century, the Zohar has enthralled, confounded, challenged, and enraptured readers. Composed mostly in lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar is a mosaic of Bible, medieval homily, spiritual fantasy, and imaginative commentary, or midrash, on the Torah written in the form of a mystical novel. In it a group of rabbis wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah: at times they interpret the actions of biblical figures, and at other times, they take center stage themselves through their adventures on the road and their encounters with various astonishing characters. The scope of the Zohar is far greater than a single book; it is virtually an entire body of literature, whose central theme is the intimacy between human beings and God. In this lies one of the Zohar’s boldest propositions, the capacity of the human being to effect change in the divine realm. Awestruck by the profundity of its insights, symbolism, and dreamlike images, Jews in many lands over the centuries have come to accept the Zohar as revealed truth—no less sacred than the two other major texts of their religion, the Torah and the Talmud. And yet, until now, there has never been a fully reliable comprehensive, scholarly English translation of this revered work with line-by-line commentary. More

Making Sense of the Holocaust: Lessons from Classroom Practice by Simone Schweber, Gloria Ladson-Billings (Teachers College Press) (Hardcover) What lessons are conveyed implicitly and explicitly in teaching and learning about the Holocaust? Through three very readable case studies, the author reflects on the lessons taught, highlighting strengths and missed opportunities and illuminating important implications for the teaching of other historical episodes. More

The Hasidic Psychology: Making Space for Others by Mordechai Rotenberg (Transaction Publishers) Interest in the impact of ethical systems and social or religious ideologies on socio-behavioral patterns is a longstanding theme in social science research. While interest may have begun with Max Weber and his thesis of the relationship between the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. it extends far beyond this. Surprisingly. few studies have delved into the socio-behavioral patterns emanating from Jewish ethics. This hook. with a new introduction by the author. fills that gap. More

Historical Atlas of the Jewish People edited by Yohanan Aharoni, Shmuel Ahituv (Continuum Publishing Group) Anson F. Rainey is professor of Ancient Near Eastern cultures and Semitic linguistics at Tel Aviv University. He has participated in more than 25 seasons of field excavations and has a Masters of Theology in Old Testament and a Ph.D. with specialization in Ancient Near Eastern languages. Among his works is the monumental, 4-volume work, Canaanite in the Amarna Tablets.

This is the first atlas of its kind to document in such great detail the turbulent history of the Jewish people. A work of prodigious and meticulous scholarship by some of Israel's most brilliant scholars, this atlas portrays every aspect of Jewish history that lends itself to cartographic interpretation—from biblical times to the present day. This is the unique and fascinating story of how an ancient people, separated from their roots and dispersed throughout the world, survived in exile for two thousand years and eventually returned and recreated itself within the framework of a modern state. More

Rituals and Ritual Theory in Ancient Israel by Ithamar Gruenwald (Brill Reference Library of Ancient Judaism, 10: Brill Academic) in many ways the first of its kind, addresses the issue of rituals and their embedded ritual theory, in the religion of ancient Israel. The leading idea of the book is that rituals are a autonomous form of expression of the human mind. The human mind expresses itself in rituals, as it does in language, the arts, and mathematics. Rituals are not performative translations of symbols and ideas, and in religion, of any kind of theology. Theology does not explain how rituals are done and how they accomplish what they claim to do. More

Jews & Gentiles: A Historical Sociology of Their Relations by Werner J. Cahnman, edited by Judith T. Marcus, Zoltan Tarr (Transaction Publishers) Studies of the Jewish experience among peoples with whom they live share some similarities with the usual histories of anti-Semitism, but also some differences. When the focus is on anti-Semitism, Jewish history appears as a record of unmitigated hostility against the Jewish people and of passivity on their part. However, as Werner J. Cahnman demonstrates in this posthumous volume, Jewish-Gentile relations are far more complex. There is a long history of mutual contacts, positive as well as antagonistic, even if conflict continues to require particular attention. More


Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction, Fifth Edition edited by Richard H. Robinson, Willard L. Johnson, Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Wadsworth Publishing) This now classic and well-regarded historical introduction to Buddhism presents an engaging exploration of the diversity of thoughts and practices of a wide segment of followers of the Buddha. This new edition a major advance over what has gone before: It still covers five main aspects of Buddhism: ritual, devotion, doctrine, meditation, practice, and institutional history, but it has up-dated its approach to include a more complex scholarly consenus. More

The Cult of Nothingness: The Philosophers and the Buddha by Roger-Pol Droit, Translated by David Streight and Pamela Vohnson (University of North Carolina Press) (Hardcover) The common Western understanding of Buddhism today envisions this major world religion as one of compassion and tolerance. But as Roger-Pol Droit reveals, this view bears little resemblance to one broadly held in the nineteenth-century European philosophical imagination that saw Buddhism as a religion of annihilation calling for the destruction of the self. More

Reflections on Reality: The Three Natures and Non-Natures in the Mind-Only School: Dynamic Responses to Dzong-ka-ba's The Essence of Eloquence by Jeffrey Hopkins Volume 2 of _Dynamic Responses to Dzong-ka-ba's_ The Essence of Eloquence by Jeffrey Hopkins (A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press) _Reflections on Reality_ is the second volume in Jeffrey Hopkins's projected three-volume series on the Mind-Only section of Tsong kha pa's _The Essence of Eloquence_ (_Drang nges legs bshad snying po_), an influential fifteenth-century Tibetan work which systematically analyzes Mahayana philosophy. The first volume, _Emptiness in the Mind-Only School of Buddhism_ (hereafter _EMOSB_), contains Hopkins's critical edition of the Tibetan of the prologue and Mind-Only section of Tsong kha pa's text and an annotated translation thereof, along with an introduction and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. More

The Journey of One Buddhist Nun: Even Against the Wind by Sid Brown (Hardcover) (State University of New York Press, SUNY) The Life of One Buddhist Nun in Contemporary Thailand: The gripping story of Wabi, a young Thai woman who sought a religious life, The Journey of One Buddhist Nun recounts her struggle to overcome the numerous obstacles along her path.  More

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Understanding Buddhism by Gary Gach (Alpha Books) Englightenment has never been easier!

You're no idiot, of course. You know there's more to Buddhism than meditation and mantras, but your attempts to understand this popular philosophy have left you beyond baffled - and you know that can't be good karma ... More


Agnes Blannbekin, Viennese Beguine: Life and Revelations by Agnes Blannbekin, introductiona nd translation by Ulrike Wiethaus (Library of Medieval Women: D.S. Brewer) It has no doubt been more difficult for Christian women than for their male counterparts to pursue a purely religious lifestyle. Medieval European cultures defined women's proper role through their reproductive potential as mothers in a social system that privileged the rights of families over individuals and the rights of men over women. Girls were frequently married off at the onset of puberty and were expected to fit smoothly into the husband's family household economy through their domestic labor and the production of heirs to their spouses' lineage. Married women's right to own property and, once widowed, to inherit a sufficiently large proportion of wealth to keep them from a life of poverty, was severely regulated and differed widely across geographical regions and social classes. More

Bonhoffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister a Documentary Film by Martin Doblmeir (DVD) (First Run Features) This is a compelling documentary about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prominent Christian theologian. Bonhoeffer, who lived in Germany during the time of Nazi Germany, ultimately gave his life in an effort to stop Hitler's tyrannical rule and oppression of the Jewish race. More

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Brief Life by Renate Bethge, K. C. Hanson (Augsburg Fortress Publishers) His life became a symbol of Christian resistance to Hitler. His thought ushered in a new era of worldly Christianity. His personal struggle for authentic moral and religious stance became a beacon for a distracted world. Accompanied by family photos, the dramatic life, evolving thought, and perilous times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906—1945) are sketched in this short volume, which also features short excerpts from his writing.  More

Historical Jesus: Critical Concept in Religious Studies, 4 volume set edited by Craig A. Evans (Critical Concepts in Religious Studies: Routledge) The Historical Jesus constitutes a selection of seminal essays in Routledge's Critical Concepts in Religious Studies series. Ten topics are covered in four volumes. These topics are judged to be representative of the essential components that make up this interesting field of research, a field that opened up more than two centuries ago. More

Gratia Et Certamen: The Relationship Between Grace and Free Will in the Discussion of Augustine With the So-Called Semipelagians by Donato Ogliari (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 169: Peeters; dist. David Brown Book Co) Magisterial study conceptually carefully crafted, historically nuanced and theologically deft.  More

The Christological Assimilation of the Apocalypse: An Essay On Fundamental Eschatology by Paul O'Callaghan (Four Courts Press) Biblical apocalyptic texts that make imminent predictions of the end of the world as we know it, have fascinated Christians from the earliest times. Understandably, over the centuries such texts have been interpreted in a variety of different, even opposing, ways. This is particularly so in twentieth century biblical exegesis. Many authors would hold that apocalyptic texts, far from truly predicting the end of time, final resurrection, universal judgement and perpetual separation of just and wicked, are to be seen as merely existential or performative expressions of the sinner's radical dependence on a Sovereign Divinity. More

The Risen Jesus & Future Hope by Gary R. Habermas (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) (Paperback) Today it is widely agreed across a broad spectrum of opinion that the resurrection of Jesus is the central claim in the Christian faith. This can be seen in New Testament writings, and most scholars recognize that it remains so today. Supported by these writings, many recent scholars have shown that other doctrines also take the resurrection as their departure point. More


Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur’an Edited by Suha Taji-Farouki (The Institute of Ismaili: Studies Qur’anic Studies Series, 1: Oxford University Press) is an important source for anyone interested in the place of the Qur’an in a changing world. In the contemporary world, millions of Muslim refer to the Qur’an on a daily basis. They turn to it to justify their aspirations and, as we have seen recently with graphic effect, to explain their actions. The extent of such direct reference is probably unprecedented in the history of Islamic experience, and it brings with it a vast diversity of readers and readings. If academic debates speak in abstract terms of the virtual impossibility of fixed meaning in texts, recent Muslim thinking concerning the Qur’an furnishes much practical evidence of this. More

A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran by John Penrice (Dover Publications) unabridged republication of A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran, with Copious Grammatical References and Explanations of the Text, originally published by Henry S. King, London, 1873. It is every Muslim's duty to read the Koran and try to understand it, which can be a problematic task for those unacquainted with Arabic. The study and appreciation of Arabic literature likewise demands a thorough familiarity with the Koran; the majority of works by Muslim writers abound in allusions to its precepts and quotations from its pages. The sacred text's purity of style and elegance of diction make it the standard of Arabic. More

The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought by Mohammed Arkoun (Saqi Books) makes available for the first time the breadth and depth of Mohammed Arkoun’s thought to an English readership and reaffirms the significance of his contribution to Modern Islamic Studies and Religious Studies more generally.  More

The Ocean of the Soul: Men, the World and God in the Stories of Farid al-Din Attar by Hellmut Ritter. Translated by John O'Kane (Handbook of Oriental Studies Series: Brill Academic) Reviewed for H-Mideast-Medieval by Hermann Landolt, Institute of Islamic. Colors Mirrored, Colored and Uncolored: Hellmut Ritter's classic study on Attar and his world of ideas, Das Meer der Seele: Mensch, Welt und Gott in den Geschichten des Fariduddin Attar (1955), has been with us for a long time in the original German only. Fortunately for the majority of interested readers, this situation has now been doubly changed. We now have a Persian translation by Mihrafaq Bayburdi, an obvious sign of recognition coming from Attar's own homeland and the English translation here under review. More

The Concept of Sainthood in Early Islamic Mysticism: Two Works by Al-Hakim Al-Tirmidhi; An Annotated Translation with Introduction translation by Bernd Radtke (RoutledgeCurzon Press) provides translations of the earliest Arabic autobiography and the earliest theoretical explanation of the psychic development and powers of an Islamic holy man (Saint, Friend of God). It is an important primary source for a complex of religious ideas which have continued to exercise great influence in the Muslim world up until the present. More

Abbasid Studies: Occasional Papers of the School of Abbasid Studies, Cambridge, 6-10 July 2002 edited by James E. Montgomery, School of Abbasid Studies (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 135: Peeters) The `Abbasids fascinate. Their fascination stems, in part, from their elusiveness, their chameleon-like ability to adapt and change, whether it be to suit the tempo of the times (and thereby prolong dynastic survival) or to steer the Islamic community in previously unwonted or uncustom­ary directions (and thereby to consolidate their hegemony). The `Abbasids represent an ever-shifting pattern of regnai identities, identi­ties articulated through a complex matrix of negotiations and delegations of authority, of syncretistic and idiosyncratic ideologies, of malleable institutions, often very loosely constructed, and of a dazzling array of material and cultural splendours but rarely manifested in the civilized world. More

The Religious History of Central Asia from the Earliest Times to the Present Day by James Thrower (Studies in Asian Thought and Religion: Edwin Mellen Press) Given this work is a fine historical study of mostly Islamic religions in Central Asia and pretty much ignores the influence of Buddhism and shamanism in the same regions, it lacks the social cultural comprehensiveness needed for the region. More


Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings In Continental Thought by Matthew Calarco, Peter Atterton (Continuum International Publishing Group) (Paperback) The sight of man now fatigues. — What is present day Nihilism if not that? — We are tired of man. (Nietzsche) 

It is perhaps with a certain amount of incredulity and astonishment that we learn that Continental philosophy has only rarely given serious attention to the animal question. For the most part it has spoken about human beings — and little else. The general neglect of the animal question is puzzling not only because Continental philosophy has displayed a tremendous reluctance to embrace traditional humanism and anthropological discourse, but also because of the tremendous reception it has given a thinker as seemingly pro-animal as Nietzsche. We now have stronger reasons than ever before for rejecting a certain conception of what it is to be human, but we seem to be hardly any closer to a post-metaphysical thinking regarding the animal. You might say that Continental philosophy has had an easier time denouncing what Descartes or Kant said about the human than it has criticizing what they said about the animal, an observation that naturally leads one to question whether the humanism it rejects is really quite so defunct after all. The "end of humanism," the "ends of man," the "end of philosophy," the "death of the author," the "death of God," the "death of man" — these apocalyptic shibboleths are becoming self-defeating utterances amid a discourse that has said hardly anything about animals in comparison. More

Universal Ethics: Perspectives and Proposals from Scandinavian Scholars edited by Göran Bexell, Dan-Erik Andersson (The Raoul Wallenberg Institute Human Rights Library, Volume 11: Kluwer Academic Publishers) Questions on universal ethics are of utmost importance for peaceful relations between nations, cultures and religions. Are there common values or are all morals just expressions for various political, economic or religious interests? More

Common Morality: Deciding What to Do by Bernard Gert (Oxford University Press) Unlike the usual texts on ethics where students are taught to identify types of moral theory with types of moral justifications, Gert’s new text rather challenges us to learn what it is to reason morally and impartially. His general rules for an ethical system are especially flexible without allowing any easy sophistry that allows us to hoodwink ourselves or others in behaving badly for supposed good reasons.

In many ways Gert is the grand old man of practical ethics and this little book should make his procedures available to all who wish to act and access others actions upon a moral grid. A general account of morality with practical and accessible general rules could have revitalizing effect on public discourse and the holding our leaders and their decisions ethically accountable. However the skills suggested in this text may also help one clarify one’s own values as well as assess the common good. 

Moral problems do not always come in the form of great social controversies. More often, the moral decisions we make are made quietly, constantly, and within the context of everyday activities and quotidian dilemmas. Indeed, these smaller decisions are based on a moral foundation that few of us ever stop to think about but which guides our every action.

Here distinguished philosopher Bernard Gert presents a clear and concise introduction to what he calls "common morality"—the moral system that most thoughtful people implicitly use when making everyday, commonsense moral decisions and judgments. Common Morality is useful in that—while not resolving every disagreement on controversial issues—it is able to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable answers to moral problems.

In the first part of the book Gert lays out the fundamental features of common morality: moral rules, moral ideals, and a two-step procedure for determining when a violation of a moral rule is justified. Written in a nontechnical style, the ten general moral rules include rules on which everyone can agree, such as "do not kill," "do not deceive," and 'keep your promises." The moral ideals include similarly uncontroversial precepts such as "relieve pain and "aid the needy." In the second part of the book Gert examines the underlying concepts that justify common morality, such as the notions of rationality and impartiality.

The distillation of over 40 years of scholar-ship, this book is the most accessible version of Gert's influential theory of morality as well as an eye-opening look at the moral foundations of our everyday actions. Throughout the discussion is clear enough for a reader with little or no philosophy background.

Excerpt: A complete moral theory should not be taken to be a theory that provides a unique answer to every moral question. Rather, a complete moral theory should explain and justify the overwhelming agreement on most moral matters while at the same time explaining and justifying the limited disagreement on some of the most important moral matters. Moral theories that provide no explanation or justification for unresolvable moral disagreement are incomplete; those that claim there are no unresolvable moral disagreements are false.

A complete moral theory must not only provide analyses of the three concepts that are central to any account of morality—that of morality itself, of impartiality, and of rationality—but also show how these concepts are related to each other. A complete theory must also relate morality to human nature, making it clear why any beings having the essential features of human nature such as fallibility, rationality, and vulnerability would develop a system of morality with all of the features of our common morality. Al-though common morality is a system, it does not remove the need for human judgment. It is true that common morality is systematic enough that a computer could be programmed so that, provided with the facts of the case, it always comes up with acceptable moral answers. However, another computer could be programmed differently and still always come up with acceptable answers. There is no computer program that can tell you which of the competing computer programs you should adopt.

We often hear the complaint that scientific advances are out-stripping moral advances, as if we need to make new moral discoveries to deal with the new scientific discoveries and technology. We do need to understand how common morality applies to new situations, but there is no need for moral advances. Common morality, together with an understanding of the new situations created by scientific discoveries and technology, is sufficient to deal with any problem with which we are confronted. However, many people would prefer to make morality seem problematic. It is much harder to act immorally if you recognize that what you are doing is clearly immoral. Hobbes claims that if our interests were as affected by geometry as much as they are by morality, we would have no more agreement in geometry than we have in morality. The purpose of this book is to provide such a clear, coherent, and comprehensive description of morality and its justification, so that no one will be able to deceive himself or others about the moral acceptability of his actions. This will not eliminate immoral behavior, but by making it harder to defend immoral policies, it may contribute to the goal of common morality, which is the lessening of the amount of harm suffered. 

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