the faculty bookshelf
The Anthropology of Islamic Law: Education, Ethics, and Legal Interpretation at Egypt's Al-Azhar
The Anthropology of Islamic Law shows how hermeneutic theory and practice theory can be brought together to analyze cultural, legal, and religious traditions. These ideas are developed through an analysis of the Islamic legal tradition, which examines both Islamic legal doctrine and religious education. The book combines anthropology and Islamist history, using ethnography and in-depth analysis of Arabic religious texts. It focuses on higher religious learning in contemporary Egypt, examining its intellectual, ethical, and pedagogical dimensions. Data is drawn from fieldwork inside al-Azhar University, Cairo University's Dar al-Ulum, and the network of traditional study circles associated with the al-Azhar mosque. Together these sites constitute the most important venue for the transmission of religious learning in the contemporary Muslim world. The book gives special attention to contemporary Egypt, and also provides a broader analysis relevant to Islamic legal doctrine and religious education throughout history.
Setting Down the Sacred Past: African-American Race Histories
As early as the 1780s, African Americans told stories that enabled them to survive and even thrive in the midst of unspeakable assault. Tracing previously unexplored narratives from the late eighteenth century to the 1920s, Laurie Maffly-Kipp brings to light an extraordinary trove of sweeping race histories that African Americans wove together out of racial and religious concerns. Asserting a role in God’s plan, black Protestants sought to root their people in both sacred and secular time. A remarkable array of chroniclers—men and women, clergy, journalists, shoemakers, teachers, southerners and northerners—shared a belief that narrating a usable past offered hope, pride, and the promise of a better future. Combining Christian faith, American patriotism, and racial lineage to create a coherent sense of community, they linked past to present, Africa to America, and the Bible to classical literature. From collected shards of memory and emerging intellectual tools, African Americans fashioned stories that helped to restore meaning and purpose to their lives in the face of relentless oppression. In a pioneering work of research and discovery, Maffly-Kipp shows how blacks overcame the accusation that they had no history worth remembering. African American communal histories imagined a rich collective past in order to establish the claim to a rightful and respected place in the American present. Through the transformative power of storytelling, these men and women led their people—and indeed, all Americans—into a more profound understanding of their interconnectedness and their prospects for a common future.
Voice in Later Medieval English Literature: Public Interiorities
Lawton approaches later medieval English vernacular culture in terms of voice. As texts and discourses shift in translation and in use from one language to another, antecedent texts are revoiced in ways that recreate them (as "public interiorities") without effacing their history or future. The approach yields important insights into the voice work of late medieval poets, especially Langland and Chaucer, and also their fifteenth-century successors, who treat their work as they have treated their precursors. It also helps illuminate vernacular religious writing and its aspirations, and it addresses literary and cultural change, such as the effect of censorship and increasing political instability in and beyond the fifteenth century. Lawton also proposes his emphasis on voice as a literary tool of broad application, and his book has a bold and comparative sweep that encompasses the Pauline letters, Augustine's Confessions, the classical precedents of Virgil and Ovid, medieval contemporaries like Machaut and Petrarch, extra-literary artists like Monteverdi, later poets such as Wordsworth, Heaney, and Paul Valery, and moderns such as Jarry and Proust. What justifies such parallels, the author claims, is that late medieval texts constitute the foundation of a literary history of voice that extends to modernity. The book's energy is therefore devoted to the transformative reading of later medieval texts, in order to show their original and ongoing importance as voice work.
Faith and Humility
This book is devoted to articulating the connections between the nature and value of faith and humility. The goal is to understand faith and humility in a way that does not discriminate between religious and mundane contexts, between sacred and secular. It arises from a conviction that these two character traits are important to a flourishing life, and intimately related to each other in such a way that the presence of one demands the presence of the other. In particular, the book defends the claim that each of these virtues provides a necessary, compensating balance to the potential downside of the other virtue. The result of such an inquiry, if that inquiry is successful, will require a re-orienting of discussions surrounding faith, including debates about the relationship between faith and reason.
Zen Echoes: Classic Koans with Verse Commentaries by Three Female Chan Masters
Too often the history of Zen seems to be written as an unbroken masculine line: male teacher to male student. In this timely volume, Beata Grant shows us that women masters do exist—and have always existed. Zen Echoes is a collection of classic koans from Zen’s Chinese history that were first collected and commented on by Miaozong, a twelfth-century nun so adept that her teacher, the legendary Dahui Zonggao, used to tell other students that perhaps if they practiced hard enough, they might be as realized as her. Nearly five hundred years later, the seventeenth-century nuns Baochi and Zukui added their own commentaries to the collection. The three voices—distinct yet harmonious—remind us that enlightenment is at once universal and individual. In her introduction to this shimmering translation, Professor Grant tells us that the verses composed by these women provide evidence that “in a religious milieu made up overwhelmingly of men, there were women who were just as dedicated to Chan practice, just as advanced in their spiritual realization, and just as gifted at using language to convey that which is beyond language.”
On British Islam Religion, Law, and Everyday Practice in Shariʿa Councils
On British Islam examines the history and everyday workings of Islamic institutions in Britain, with a focus on shariʿa councils. These councils concern themselves with religious matters, especially divorce. They have a higher profile in Britain than in other Western nations. Why? Taking a historical and ethnographic look at British Islam, John Bowen examines how Muslims have created distinctive religious institutions in Britain and how shariʿa councils interpret and apply Islamic law in a secular British context. Bowen focuses on three specific shariʿa councils: the oldest and most developed, in London; a Midlands community led by a Sufi saint and barrister; and a Birmingham-based council in which women play a leading role. Bowen shows that each of these councils represents a prolonged, unique experiment in meeting Muslims' needs in a Western country. He also discusses how the councils have become a flash point in British public debates even as they adapt to the English legal environment. On British Islam highlights British Muslims' efforts to create institutions that make sense in both Islamic and British terms. This balancing act is rarely acknowledged in Britain—or elsewhere—but it is urgent that we understand it if we are to build new ways of living together.
The fourth volume in A People's History of Christianity series accents the astounding range of cultural and religious experience within medieval Christianity and the ways in which religious life structured all aspects of the daily lives of ordinary Christians. With ranking scholars from the U.S. and the Continent, this volume explores rituals of birth and death, daily parish life, lay-clerical relations, and relations with Jews and Muslims through a thousand years and many lands. Includes 50 illustrations, maps, and an 8-page color gallery.
Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America
Heavenly Merchandize offers a critical reexamination of religion's role in the creation of a market economy in early America. Focusing on the economic culture of New England, it views commerce through the eyes of four generations of Boston merchants, drawing upon their personal letters, diaries, business records, and sermon notes to reveal how merchants built a modern form of exchange out of profound transitions in the puritan understanding of discipline, providence, and the meaning of New England.
Mark Valeri traces the careers of men like Robert Keayne, a London immigrant punished by his church for aggressive business practices; John Hull, a silversmith-turned-trader who helped to establish commercial networks in the West Indies; and Hugh Hall, one of New England's first slave traders. He explores how Boston ministers reconstituted their moral languages over the course of a century, from a scriptural discourse against many market practices to a providential worldview that justified England's commercial hegemony and legitimated the market as a divine construct. Valeri moves beyond simplistic readings that reduce commercial activity to secular mind-sets, and refutes the popular notion of an inherent affinity between puritanism and capitalism. He shows how changing ideas about what it meant to be pious and puritan informed the business practices of Boston's merchants, who filled their private notebooks with meditations on scripture and the natural order, founded and led churches, and inscribed spiritual reflections in their letters and diaries.
Unprecedented in scope and rich with insights, Heavenly Merchandize illuminates the history behind the continuing American dilemma over morality and the marketplace.
Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Shaping of Modern African American Religion
In Preaching on Wax, Lerone A. Martin offers the first full-length account of the oft-overlooked religious history of the phonograph industry. He explains why a critical mass of African American ministers teamed up with the major phonograph labels of the day, how and why black consumers eagerly purchased their religious records, and how this phonograph religion significantly contributed to the shaping of modern African American Christianity.
From 1925 to 1941, approximately one hundred African American clergymen teamed up with leading record labels such as Columbia, Paramount, Victor-RCA to record and sell their sermons on wax. While white clerics of the era, such as Aimee Semple McPherson and Charles Fuller, became religious entrepreneurs and celebrities through their pioneering use of radio, black clergy were largely marginalized from radio. Instead, they relied on other means to get their message out, teaming up with corporate titans of the phonograph industry to package and distribute their old-time gospel messages across the country. Their nationally marketed folk sermons received an enthusiastic welcome by consumers, at times even outselling top billing jazz and blues artists such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.
These phonograph preachers significantly shaped the development of black religion during the interwar period, playing a crucial role in establishing the contemporary religious practices of commodification, broadcasting, and celebrity. Yet, the fame and reach of these nationwide media ministries came at a price, as phonograph preachers became subject to the principles of corporate America.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Gender Politics of Knowledge in Colonial Mexico
Each of the book's five chapters evokes a colonial Mexican cultural and intellectual sphere: the library, anatomy and medicine, spirituality, classical learning, and publishing and printing. Using an array of literary texts and historical documents and alongside secondary historical and critical materials, the author Stephanie Kirk demonstrates how Sor Juana used her poetry and other works to inscribe herself within the discourses associated with these cultural institutions and discursive spheres and thus challenge the male exclusivity of their precepts and precincts. Kirk illustrates how Sor Juana subverted the masculine character of erudition, writing herself into an all-male community of scholars. From there, Sor Juana clearly questions the gender politics at play in her exclusion, and undermines what seems to be the inextricable link previously forged between masculinity and institutional knowledge. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Gender Politics of Knowledge in Colonial Mexico opens up new readings of her texts through the lens of cultural and intellectual history and material culture in order to shed light on the production of knowledge in the seventeenth-century colonial Mexican society of which she was both a product and an anomaly.
Village Atheists: How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation
A much-maligned minority throughout American history, atheists have been cast as a threat to the nation's moral fabric, barred from holding public office, and branded as irreligious misfits in a nation chosen by God. Yet, village atheists—as these godless freethinkers came to be known by the close of the nineteenth century—were also hailed for their gutsy dissent from stultifying pieties and for posing a necessary secularist challenge to majoritarian entanglements of church and state. Village Atheists explores the complex cultural terrain that unbelievers have long had to navigate in their fight to secure equal rights and liberties in American public life.
Leigh Eric Schmidt rebuilds the history of American secularism from the ground up, giving flesh and blood to these outspoken infidels, including itinerant lecturer Samuel Porter Putnam; rough-edged cartoonist Watson Heston; convicted blasphemer Charles B. Reynolds; and atheist sex reformer Elmina D. Slenker. He describes their everyday confrontations with devout neighbors and evangelical ministers, their strained efforts at civility alongside their urge to ridicule and offend their Christian compatriots. Schmidt examines the multilayered world of social exclusion, legal jeopardy, yet also civic acceptance in which American atheists and secularists lived. He shows how it was only in the middle decades of the twentieth century that nonbelievers attained a measure of legal vindication, yet even then they often found themselves marginalized on the edges of a God-trusting, Bible-believing nation.
Village Atheists reveals how the secularist vision for the United States proved to be anything but triumphant and age-defining for a country where faith and citizenship were—and still are—routinely interwoven.
The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices
Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott examine the provenance of the Nag Hammadi Codices and defend the view that they were produced and read by Christian monks of Upper Egypt in the fourth and fifth centuries. Eschewing the modern classification of these texts as "Gnostic," the authors analyze the codices in the context of the diverse monastic culture of late antique Egypt, with special attention to monasticism in the Thebaid and controversies over extra-canonical books and the theological legacy of Origen. The question of ownership is examined by means of a detailed study of the Nag Hammadi Codices' scribal notes and colophons, the cartonnage papyri from the leather covers, and scribal habits and codicology, seen in comparison with contemporary Coptic and Greek biblical manuscripts, as well as a range of sources for Upper Egyptian monasticism.
The Discernment of Spirits: Assessing Visions and Visionaries in the Late Middle Ages (Spatmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation: Studies in the Late Middle Ages, Humanism and the Reformation)
Late medieval Christians lived in a world of visions, but they knew that not all visions came from God: angels, demons, illness, nature, or passion could also inspire an apparent divine visitation. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the involvement of visionaries in everything from reform movements to military campaigns to papal schisms raised the political and spiritual stakes of determining whether or not a vision was truly from God. In response, a diverse group of medieval thinkers – including men and women, clergy and laity, visionaries and theologians – gradually began to transform the loose patristic readings of Pauline discretio spirituum into a system with the potential to distinguish between true and false visions and between genuine and delusional visionaries. Wendy Love Anderson chronicles the historical, political, and spiritual struggles behind the flowering of late medieval mysticism and what came to be seen as the Christian doctrine of discernment of spirits.
The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom
This book provides a critical history of the distinctive tradition of Indian secularism known as Tolerance. Since it was first advanced by Mohandas Gandhi, the Tolerance ideal has measured secularism and civil religiosity by contrast with proselytizing religion. In India today, it informs debates over how the right to religious freedom should be interpreted on the subcontinent. Not only has Tolerance been an important political ideal in India since the early twentieth century; the framing assumptions of Tolerance permeate historical understandings among scholars of South Asian religion and politics.
Practicing Protestants: Histories of Christian Life in America, 1630–1965 (Lived Religions)
This collection of essays explores the significance of practice in understanding American Protestant life. The authors are historians of American religion, practical theologians, and pastors and were the twelve principal researchers in a three-year collaborative project sponsored by the Lilly Endowment.
Profiling practices that range from Puritan devotional writing to twentieth-century prayer, from missionary tactics to African American ritual performance, these essays provide a unique historical perspective on how Protestants have lived their faith within and outside of the church and how practice has formed their identities and beliefs. Each chapter focuses on a different practice within a particular social and cultural context. The essays explore transformations in American religious culture from Puritan to Evangelical and Enlightenment sensibilities in New England, issues of mission, nationalism, and American empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, devotional practices in the flux of modern intellectual predicaments, and the claims of late-twentieth-century liberal Protestant pluralism.
Breaking new ground in ritual studies and cultural history, Practicing Protestants offers a distinctive history of American Protestant practice.
Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations
Co-edited with edited W. David Nelson, Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations investigates how the Exodus has been, and continues to be, a crucial source of identity for both Jews and Judaism. It explores how the Exodus has functioned as the primary model from which Jews have created theological meaning and historical self-understanding. It probes how and why the Exodus has continued to be vital to Jews throughout the unfolding of the Jewish experience. As an interdisciplinary work, it incorporates contributions from a range of Jewish Studies scholars in order to explore the Exodus from a variety of vantage points. It addresses such topics as: the Jewish reception of the biblical text of Exodus; the progressive unfolding of the Exodus in the Jewish interpretive tradition; the religious expression of the Exodus as ritual in Judaism; and the Exodus as an ongoing lens of self-understanding for both the State of Israel and contemporary Judaism. The essays are guided by a common goal: to render comprehensible how the re-envisioning of Exodus throughout the unfolding of the Jewish experience has enabled it to function for thousands of years as the central motif for the Jewish people.