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Faculty of Divinity Publications

This page provides a selection of recent Faculty of Divinity publications on inter-faith relations and other forms of interface and interaction.

Books and Edited Volumes

 

Snyder, Julia and Daniel H. Weiss (eds) (2020) Scripture and Violence. London: Routledge.

Scripture and Violence explores the complex relationship between scriptural texts and real-world acts of violence. A variety of issues are addressed, including the prevalent modern tendency to express more concern about other people’s texts and violence than one’s own, to treat interpretation and application of scriptural passages as self-evident, and to assume that the actions of religious people are directly motivated by what they read in scriptures. The volume includes essays by scholars of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and is designed as an accessible resource to help readers think through these critical issues.

Andrejč, Gorazd and Daniel H. Weiss (eds) (2019) Interpreting Interreligious Relations with Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Theology and Religious StudiesBoston: Brill. 

This volume argues that Wittgenstein’s philosophy of religion and his thought in general continue to be highly relevant for present and future research on interreligious relations. Spanning several (sub)disciplines – from philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, comparative philosophy, comparative theology, to religious studies – the contributions engage with recent developments in interpretation of Wittgenstein and those in the philosophy and theology of interreligious encounter. The book shows that there is an important and under-explored potential for constructive and fruitful engagement between these academic fields. It explores, and attempts to realize, some of this potential by involving both philosophers and theologians, and critically assesses previous applications of Wittgenstein’s work in interreligious studies.

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet and Marija Grujić (eds) (2019) Post-Home: Dwelling on Loss, Belonging and Movement. Special Issue. EthnoScripts 21(1). Hamburg: University of Hamburg.

What is home after home? Where do bodies, landscapes and communities reside once alienated from the habitual? In its aftermath, does a dwelling continue to dwell? Can forms of belonging be replanted, or replaced with new ones? And, what kinds of claims are articulated in the belonging inclusive of absence? Contributors to this special issue tackle such vexed questions by situating them within specific timespaces of movement, travel and forced migration, through gendered and bodily transformations, in religious ritual and the promise of the eternal, through the dire straits of developmental projects, the loss and disintegration of social relations, as well as through the resurrected colonial and nationalist tropes. Each contribution unfolds intertwined intimate and political (hi)stories to keep pace with the workings of the returning pasts, arrested presents and imaginatively negotiated futures. 

Jackson Ravenscroft, Ruth (2019) The Veiled God: Friedrich Schleiermacher's Theology of Finitude. Leiden and Boston: Brill.

Friedrich Schleiermacher was a nineteenth century German theologian, philosopher, translator, philologist, and civil servant, and so The Veiled God, which offers an appraisal of his early work, and explores the cultural and academic impact of his theory of religion, is written at the interface of a number of academic disciplines. The book also critically examines Schleiermacher's definition of religion, as well as his understanding of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in contemporary Berlin.   

Lockhart, Alastair (2019) Personal Religion and Spiritual Healing: The Panacea Society in the Twentieth CenturyAlbany, NY: SUNY Press. 

The book examines the global spread of a system of religious healing developed by a small Christian group in the UK from the 1920s and through the 20th century. Over time, more than 100,000 people in more than 100 countries applied for the healing, and the book examines the underlying processes in the ways people adopted and adapted the healing system within their particular social, cultural, and historical contexts. The core of the book is a study of healing users in the UK, the USA, Jamaica and Finland. The analysis draws out the distinctive and common aspects of individuals' religious creativity in different national and cultural settings.

Bar-Asher Siegal, Michal, Daniel H. Weiss, and Holger Michael Zellentin (eds) (2018) Talmud and Christianity: Rabbinic Judaism after Constantine. Special double issue of Jewish Studies Quarterly 25(3) and 25(4). [Part 1 and Part 2]

This project explores new perspectives on the Talmud and Christianity in order to synergize important recent developments in the study of rabbinic Judaism: in particular, a better understanding of how closely the Palestianian and Babylonian Talmuds, respectively reflect the early Byzantine and Sasanian culture in which they evolved, and a growing sense of the editorial role of the rabbis. Likewise, in broader scholarship on Late Antiquity, increasing attention has been given to cultural context and literary interactions. This JSQ double issue, by working towards a new understanding of how to read rabbinic Judaism in light of the Christian elements of the rabbis’ Palestinian and Sasanian context, illuminates important new elements of Jewish/Christian relations, as well as of classical rabbinic Judaism itself.

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2018) Waiting for Elijah: Time and Encounter in a Bosnian Landscape. Oxford: Berghahn. 

Waiting for Elijah is an intimate portrait of time-reckoning, syncretism, and proximity in one of the world’s most polarized landscapes, the Bosnian Field of Gacko. Centered on the shared harvest feast of Elijah’s Day, the once eagerly awaited pinnacle of the annual cycle, the book shows how the fractured postwar landscape beckoned the return of communal life that entails such waiting. This seemingly paradoxical situation—waiting to wait—becomes a starting point for a broader discussion on the complexity of time set between cosmology, nationalism, and embodied memories of proximity.

McLarty, Jane D. (2018) Thecla's Devotion: Narrative, Emotion and Identity in the Acts of Paul and Thecla. Cambridge: James Clarke. 
Thecla's Devotion examines the interaction between Graeco-Roman literature and early Christian narrative, particularly in the expression of emotion, in the formation of Christian identity.

Snyder, Julia (2014) Language and Identity in Ancient Narratives: The Relationship between Speech Patterns and Social Context in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts of John, and Acts of Philip. WUNT 2, 370. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.  

Language and Identity in Ancient Narratives explores early Christian narratives from a sociolinguistic perspective. It analyzes how the words used by various characters correlate with both their own "religious" identity and that of their addressees. Among other things, the book describes ways in which "Christian" characters speak differently amongst themselves than when addressing either Jewish or gentile characters who are not "Christians."

 

Meggitt, Justin J. (2013) Early Quakers and Islam: Slavery, Apocalyptic and Christian-Muslim Encounters in the Seventeenth Century. Studies on Inter-Religious Relations 59. Uppsala: Swedish Science Press. 

A study of the relations between early Quaker slaves and their North African owners in the 17th century, an interreligious encounter that generated some of the most striking and constructive exegesis of the Qur’an in early modern England.

Winter, Tim, Richard Harries and Norman Solomon (eds) (2006) Abraham’s Children: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Conversation. Edinburgh: T&T Clark/Continuum. 

An edited volume, which includes four chapters by Winter, recording some proceedings of the Oxford Abrahamic Group. 

 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

 

Barua, Ankur (2020) ‘The Hindu Cosmopolitanism of Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble): An Irish Self in Imperial Currents’, Harvard Theological Review 113(1): 1–23. 

The Irishwoman, Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble), a well-known disciple of the charismatic Hindu guru Swami Vivekananda, creatively reconfigured some traditional Vedāntic vocabularies to present the “cosmo-national” (what we would today call the “cosmopolitan”) individual as one who is not antithetical to but is deeply immersed in the densities of one’s own national locations.

Lockhart, Alastair (2020) ‘New Religious Movements and Quasi-religion: Cognitive Science of Religion at the Margins’. Archive for the Psychology of Religion 42(1): 101-122.

The article examines the ways in which new and quasi-religious movements have been analysed in the cognitive science of religion and uncovers something of the underlying theoretical material in cognitive science of religion in its interaction with religious thinking.

Snyder, Julia A. (2020) ‘Apostles and Politics in the Roman Empire’. In Julia A. Snyder and Korinna Zamfir (eds) Reading the Political in Jewish and Christian Texts. Biblical Tools and Studies 38. Leuven: Peeters: 227–256

This essay discusses political perspectives in several early Christian texts that are set against the backdrop of the Roman empire. Although the Christian characters in these stories frequently face opposition from government officials, the essay argues that the texts should not be described as ‘anti-imperial’.

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet and Marija Grujić (2019) Thinking Post-Home: An Introduction. In Safet HadžiMuhamedović and Marija Grujić (eds) Post-Home: Dwelling on Loss, Belonging and Movement. Special issue of EthnoScripts 21(1): 1-29.

This introduction considers some of the ways in which the meanings and expressions of ‘home’ might change after persons, communities and things ‘move’ – by will, force, rituals, dreams, or otherwise – towards new spaces, times and bodies, as well as through new political and affective capacities. The editors reflect on the authors’ contributions, which variously seek to understand what happens to ‘home’ – as a sense of (place in) the world – after certain unhoming ruptures

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2019) ‘Flow and Constraint: Syncretism and Nationalism Along a Bosnian Sinking River’. In: Richard Povall (ed.) Liquidscapes: Tales and Tellings of Watery Worlds and Fluid States. Dartington: Art.Earth Imprint: 223-9.

This essay focuses on a Bosnian river, one of the longest underground watercourses in the world, known by various names and of central importance to Bosnian shared and syncretic rituals. Thinking through the notions of ‘flow’ and ‘constraint’, the essay juxtaposes the cosmological entanglements of the river to the socialist Yugoslav developmental projects, which substantially damaged the river’s natural and cultural landscapes, and the nationalist projects of anti-syncretic violence since the early 1990s.

Haecker, Ryan (2019) ‘A Plastic Possibility for Ralph Cudworth’s Libertarianism’. In Alfons Fürst (ed.) Origen’s Philosophy of Freedom in Early Modern Times: Debates about Free Will and Apokatastasis in 17th-Century England and Europe. Adamantiana Series 13. Münster: Achendorff Verlag: 75-85.

Christian Hengstermann has argued, in a “Freedom as Holistic Hegemonikon Causality”, that Ralph Cudworth’s libertarianism can be read, in anticipation of Robert Kane’s metaphor of the ‘incompatibilist mountain’, to have already implicitly responded to the ascent problem  and descent problem of free will by advancing the self-determined freedom of the hegemonikon. The hegemonikon is thus presented as the singular agent of self-causation that can both escape from determinism and freely determine so as to will what it chooses. And its causality can also be considered ‘holistic’, not merely as that of any singular causal agent, but rather as a singular human hegemonikon that imitates the causality of the holistic hegemonikon. Cudworth can, armed with this holistic hegemonikon causality, be re-read to advance an alternative libertarian theory with which to answer the philosophical problem of free will. I wish, with this reply, to argue that, in spite of the many merits of Cudworth’s libertarianism, there appears to remain an as yet unanswered logical problem of free will, which, I suggest, could only be answered by extending the principle of plasticity from plastic nature to plastic logic; the plastical logic of dialectic; and, supremely, of the divine dialectic of the Trinity.

Lockhart, Alastair (2019) ‘A Bud from the Tree of Life: William McDougall’s Response to Freud’. History and Philosophy of Psychology 20(1): 28-33.
A short article that focuses on the interaction between the ideas of the prominent interwar British psychologist, William McDougall, Professor of Psychology at Harvard 1920-27 and Duke University 1927-1938, and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. McDougall emerged from an idealistically inflected anthropological tradition in the Britain hospitable to religious ideas presenting a sharp contrast to Freud's reductive and anti-religious views.

Meggitt, Justin J. (2019) ‘A Turke Turn’d Quaker: Conversion from Islam to Radical Dissent in Early Modern England’. The Seventeenth Century 34(3): 353–80. 

Whilst accounts of early modern English ‘renegades’ who ‘turn’d Turke’ and converted to Islam, attracted considerable anxiety in Protestant England, and have been subject of considerable scholarship in recent years, this micro-historical study sheds light on the less well known phenomenon of movement in the other direction.

Snyder, Julia A. (2019) ‘Simon, Agrippa, and Other Antagonists in the Vercelli Acts of Peter’. In Ulrich Mell and Michael Tilly (eds) Gegenspieler: Zur Auseinandersetzung mit dem Gegner in frühjüdischer und urchristlicher LiteraturWUNT 428. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck: 311–31. 

This essay analyzes the portrayal of literary antagonists in an early Christian story about the apostle Peter. Peter faces opposition not only from a "Jewish magician" who challenges his teaching about Jesus, but also from members of the "pagan" Roman elite, who object to his ethical teachings. Among other things, the essay discusses what can be learned from this story about the experiences and values of storytellers in their own historical context.

Soars, Daniel J. (2019) ‘The Virtues of Comparative Theology’. Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies 32, Article 8. 

This article reflects on the practice of comparative theology and the sorts of virtues - personal as well as academic - which such interfaith experiments require of the practitioner. By exploring notions like doctrinal humility and rootedness in a particular tradition, we are forced to reflect upon the ‘virtues’ of the discipline in both senses of the word – not only those attributes required to engage in it, but the merits of doing it at all.

Waller, Giles (2019) ‘Complicity, Recognition, and Conversion in the Christus Patiens Drama’. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 49(1): 33–55.

This article traces the dynamic of tragic recognition and conversion through one of the most explicit attempts to consider the central narrative of the Gospels in a tragic mode, Hugo Grotius’s 1608 Christus Patiens (translated into English by George Sandys in 1640). Converting the Passion narrative into neoclassical drama, Christus Patiens raises troubling dramaturgical, ethical, and theological questions about the nature of Christian tragedy and its relation to atonement and conversion. The article traces the complex ways that this play elicits judgments of guilt and innocence from (and within) its audience and how these judgments connect to the desire to witness and be moved by the spectacle of tragic suffering. These questions are considered within the broader perspective of Reformation theologies of recognition and repentance.

Davison, Andrew (2018) ‘Christian Systematic Theology and Life Elsewhere in the Universe: A Study in Suitability’. Theology and Science 16(4): 447-461.  

This paper offers a three-way interaction between theology, natural science, and philosophy. I bring the philosophical distinction between necessity and possibility to bear, augmented by the scholastic category of fittingness, or suitability, on a longstanding discussion of whether Christians ought to entertain, or even expect, that sentient life elsewhere in the universe would have received its own incarnation. I show that two largely independent conversations have been going on, one framed around necessity and the other around possibility, and I suggest that suitability is a better category than either.

Davison, Andrew (2018) ‘“He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change”, but “who knows how?”: Evolution and Divine Exemplarity’. Nova et Vetera 16(4): 1067-1102

Here I look at the connections that can be drawn between scientific discussion of how evolution explores possible biological forms and mediaeval discussions of creatures as imitating ideas in the divine mind. In this way I respond to the tendency in theology of the past century or so to play down previous ideas of divine exemplarity – the sense that imitation of God stands as the wellspring of creaturely form – and suggest that this paradigm can find renewed use, with evolutionary thought not sweeping it away.

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2018) Syncretic Debris: From Shared Bosnian Saints to the ICTY Courtroom. In Ann Wand (ed.) Tradition, Performance and Identity Politics in European FestivalsEthnoScripts 20(1): 32-63.

This article is an anthropological postscript to the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), brought to a conclusion in 2017. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in Bosnia, I trace in the Tribunal’s archives the strange afterlives of two shared and syncretic saints, George and Elijah, their feasts and the religiously plural landscapes they encapsulated. Surfacing as debris after violent impact – displaced and disarticulated – they offer here a possibility of reading both along and against the grain of the archival expectations. I analyse the chartings of ethno-religious distinctions and the discourse of ‘historical enmities’ between Bosnian communities, with particular attention to the iterations of these arguments in the reports of ICTY’s expert witnesses. This sustained invention of the absence of shared tradition, although productive of debris, is, I argue, continually countered by the emplacement of remnants into rekindled wholes.

Meggitt, Justin J. (2018) ‘Early Unitarians and Islam: Revisiting a “Primary Document”'. In David Steers and Stephen Lingwood (eds) Unitarian Theology  II. Oxford: Faith and Freedom: 48–59.

The address of English Unitarians to the Moroccan ambassador in 1682 was foundational in the formation of a new and increasingly influential denomination, and is evidence of the complex perception of Islam amongst early modern Christians in the English-speaking world. 

Winter, Tim (2018) ‘The Inception of A Common Word. In Lejla Demiri and Yazid Said (eds) The Future of Interfaith Dialogue: Muslim-Christian Encounters through A Common Word. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 13-30.

A history of the origins of the Common Word, the best-known Muslim joint statement on Islam’s relationship to Christianity.

Barua, Ankur (2017) ‘The Absolute of Advaita and the Spirit of Hegel: Situating Vedanta on the Horizons of British Idealisms’. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34(1): 1-17.

What happens in a triangular “fusion of horizons” across the conceptual landscapes of Hegelian Idealism; British reconfigurations of Hegelian Idealism; and modernised restructurings of Advaita Vedānta, in British India and postcolonial India, through the lenses of Hegelian worldviews? – this article explores the philosophical significance of Hegel-influenced systems as an intellectual conduit for some Indo-British and Indo-European intellectual encounters.

Davison, Andrew (2017) ‘“Not to Escape the World but to Join It”: Responding to Climate Change with Imagination Not Fantasy’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences 375:20160365. 

The prospect of catastrophic climate change is well established, and yet human behaviour has not sufficiently changed so as to mitigate it. In this paper, I turn to philosophical and literary discussions of the role of the imagination, as a capacity that opens us up to the reality before us, in comparison to what has been called ‘fantasy’, which instead projects our aspirations or desires upon the world. I argue that those who reach too readily for futuristic technological solutions, rather than changes in behaviour, are following a ‘fantastic’ path here, and not only those who deny climate change outright. As such the paper stands as a discussion between science, engineering, philosophy, and literary studies.

Davison, Andrew (2017) ‘Looking Back toward the Origin: Scientific Cosmology as Creation ex nihilo Considered “from the Inside”’. In Gary Anderson and Markus Bockmuehl (eds) Creatio ex nihilo: Origins and Contemporary Significance. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press: 367-390. 

In this paper I retrieve metaphysical thinking from the high Middle Ages to provide resources for discussions about the theological implications of various theories in contemporary science about the earliest moments of the universe and the notion of ’t=0’ or a beginning to time.

Winter, Tim (2017) ‘Some Islamic reflections on Gavin D’Costa’s Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims’. Louvain Studies 40(3): 286-302.

A look at the genesis and theology of Vatican II’s declarations on Muslims, in the form of a review essay of this book by a Catholic theologian.

Barua, Ankur (2016) ‘Christian Visions of Vedanta: The Spiritual Exercises of Bede Griffiths and Henri Le Saux’. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 51(4): 524-551.

At first sight, nothing could seem to be further removed from the personalist theism of Christianity than the austere non-dualism of Advaita Vedānta which claims that there is no ontological distinction between devotee and deity – this article explores how two European Roman Catholic monks (one British and the other French) have nevertheless argued that precisely an Advaita-informed spirituality can revitalise Christian forms of contemplative life.

Barua, Ankur (2014) ‘Interreligious Dialogue, Comparative Theology, and the Alterity of Hindu Thought'. Studies in World Christianity 20(3): 215–237.

If non-Christian religious worldviews are to be conceptualised as radically other to Christianity, what might be the shape of a Christian style of engagement with them? – this article studies the work of two Scotsmen in British India, J. N. Farquhar (1861–1929) and A. G. Hogg (1875–1954), who struggled around a hundred years ago with this question vis-à-vis the religious universes of Vedāntic Hinduism.

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2014) ‘The Tree of Gernika: Political Poetics of Rootedness and Belonging’. In Penny Dransart (ed.) Living Beings: Perspectives on Interspecies Engagements [ASA Monographs]. Oxford: Bloomsbury: 53-72.

On 26 April 1937 Nazi aeroplanes razed Gernika to the ground. However, one oak tree survived – Gernikako Arbola – the Tree of Gernika, which symbolised freedoms of the Basque region since the fourteenth century. After the original ‘father tree’ died, another one was planted in the same place, in front of the Assembly House, in the nineteenth century. The trunk of the second tree, now known as the ‘old tree’, was later housed in a nearby shrine, and its acorns continued to be used to plant new oaks in Gernika and across the Basque diasporas. Its symbolic value has been woven into the Basque flag, coat of arms, folk songs and, more generally, into the poetics of Basque political identity. Building on recent anthropological theory on nonhuman agency, the article dwells on Basque inter-species engagements and the agentive qualities of this extraordinary arboreal being. 

HadžiMuhamedović, Safet (2013) ‘Bosnian Sacral Geography: Ethnographic Approaches to Landscape Protection’. In Josep-Maria Mallarach (ed.) Spiritual Values of Protected Areas of Europe. German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation: 56-62.

What happens when the states’ attempts to protect sacred spaces run counter to their traditional religious use? Who gets to protect and from whom? This article starts with the image of fenced up walls of Djevojačka Pećina, the ‘Maiden’s Cave’ in central Bosnia, one of the largest Muslim pilgrimage sites in Europe. The material interactions of the pilgrims with the cave are inseparable from the (protected) value of the site. The visitors touch the walls and floors of the cave in prayer, conduct ablution with the water from its walls, leave behind etchings with names, images and prayers, and drink water from a well located deep inside. The article suggests that ethnographic approaches to such cultural and natural heritage, based on long-term research and holistic understanding of sites, need to be a precondition for any protective intervention. 

Winter, Tim (2013) ‘Realism and the Real: Paradoxes of Islamic Pluralist Soteriology’. In Mohammad Hassan Khalil (ed.) Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 122-150.

An assessment of the viability of a pluralist Muslim theology of religions.

 

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RESEARCH: Book now to attend CIP's Webinars in October & November 2020

Sep 15, 2020

CIP Research Seminars go online with talks by Dr Justin Merritt and Dr Safet HadžiMuhamedović.

NEWS: Press Release: Scripture and Violence book out today

Sep 01, 2020

Scripture and Violence, edited by Dr Julia Snyder and Dr Daniel H. Weiss, is now out and available at a bookseller near you.

RESEARCH: Julian Göpffarth and Esra Özyürek on Muslim Public Intellectuals in the German Far Right

Jul 15, 2020

See the recent article by Julian Göpffarth and Professor Esra Özyürek, 'Spiritualizing Reason, Rationalizing Spirit: Muslim Public Intellectuals in the German Far Right'.