Jewish Sources in the Narrative of Abraham in the ‘General estoria’

San Fernando Valley Credit: Oakshade, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. David A. Wacks / 05.24.2017 Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages University of Oregon I wrote about the influence of Jewish exegesis in the development of fictionality, that is, those aspects of prose fiction that serve to enhance the as-if function of fiction and make possible the suspension of disbelief required[…]

Explaining ‘Rakshabandan’ – a Hindu Festival that Celebrates the Brother-Sister Bond

A sister tying the protective thread. Vikram Verma By Dr. Matthew Schmalz / 08.07.2017 Associate Professor of Religion College of the Holy Cross This year, Monday, August 7 marks one of the most important celebrations for Hindus throughout the world: Rakshabandhan, a ceremony honoring the bond between sisters and brothers. The date of Rakshabandan varies from year to[…]

Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionism: Theocratic Pursuits in American Politics

By Steve Barry / 11.10.2011 I have previously written on the topic of Dominionism and then subsequently on a specific “brand” of Dominionism in the past. After reading an interview between Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches and Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania called Beyond Alarmism and Denial in the Dominionism Debate I felt[…]

The God of Israel: An Ancient People’s Growing Definition, Identification, and Understanding

Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall, Jerusalem / Photo by Peter Mulligan, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael W. Palmer / 12.09.2010 That Israel’s understanding of God changed over time is not a controversial claim. The biblical texts record significant changes very clearly. From Henotheism to Monotheism The twelve gods of the Greek Olympic pantheon with[…]

Tages against Jesus: Etruscan Religion in the Late Roman Empire

Sandstone Etruscan relief excavation / Creative Commons By Dr. Dominique Briquel Professor of Archaeology and Latin Université de Paris-Sorbonne Etruscan Studies 10:12 (2007), 153-161 It may seem strange to associate in this way two entities which, at first glance, would seem to have nothing in common. The civilization of the Etruscans, which flourished in Italy[…]

Science versus Religion in American Law

Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Steven Goldberg Professor Emeritus of Sociology City College of New York Introduction The power of organized religion has waxed and waned dramatically throughout human history. In many preindustrial societies, the church provided not only answers to what we think of today as scientific questions, but strict guidance to political leaders as[…]

The Christian Renaissance and Reformation in Continental Europe

Eight reformers (Hieronymus Bock, Johann Buchenhagen, Johann Calvin, Johannes Hus, Martin Luther, Philipp M. / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek By Dr. Stephen M. Feldman Jerry H. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law Adjunct Professor of Political Science University of Wyoming The Renaissance A first century AD bust of Cicero / Capitoline Museums, Rome Toward the end of[…]

Religion and Art in Ancient Greece

Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BCE – 1st century CE) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt[…]

Saint Catherine of Siena’s Divine Head

The head of Saint Catherine of Siena displayed at the Basilica of San Domenico. / Image credit: Giovanni Cerretani via Wikipedia 03.27.2017 One of the most captivating displays of saintly relics is at the Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico in Siena, Italy, a town about 45 miles (72km) south of Tuscany.  Worshippers and tourists who visit this[…]

A New Archaeological Framework for Cultural Changes in Ancient Buddhism

Mingora, the modern-day capital city of Swat or ancient Mengjieli / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Anna Filigenzi Professor of Archaeology University of Naples “L’Orientale” Towards a New Reading of Conflicting Sources The more analytical studies highlight the artistic value, theoretical coherence, and innovative character of the rock sculptures, the more glaring appears the contradiction with[…]

A New Festival in Madhya Pradesh Revives a Lost Indigenous Culture

The festival of Rani Kajal Mata / Screenshot from YouTube By Sangeeta Rane / 06.06.2017 Thousands of people have gathered in Verwada village in Barwani district to celebrate the newest festival in Madhya Pradesh – the festival of Rani Kajal Mata, an ancient, indigenous deity. The deity, a sacred rock, is the guardian goddess of the[…]

How a Growing Number of Muslim Women Clerics are Challenging Traditional Narratives

Indonesian female Muslim students read books in a library. Dadang Tri/Reuters By Dr. Rachel Rinaldo / 06.06.2017 Assistant Professor of Sociology University of Colorado Recent terrorist attacks such as the one in London inevitably lead to coverage of Islamist ideology, Muslim culture and Muslim women’s rights. What is often missing, however, in my view is[…]

When Philosophy Needed Muslims, Jews and Christians Alike

The Three Philosophers, by Giorgione, c.1506 / Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna By Dr. Peter Adamson / 05.24.2017 Professor of Philosophy Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich If you were asked to name the most important philosopher of 10th-century Baghdad, you would presumably not hesitate to say ‘al-Farabi’. He’s one of the few thinkers of the Islamic world[…]

Divine Images as Beings in Western Europe, 1500-1960: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

By Dr. William A. Christian Former Visiting Professor of Religious History, University of California, Santa Barbara Historian of Religion, MacArthur Foundation Fellows Program Toribia del Valintroduced one of the ways of connecting with the divine: the visit of a supernatural with counsel and instructions for a specific purpose, in her case to end a drought[…]

Patron Deities and Politics among the Classic Maya

Maya mask. Stucco frieze from Placeres, Campeche. Early Classic period (c. 250 – 600 AD) / Photo by Wolfgang Sauber, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City By Dr. Joanne Baron Lecturer in Anthropology University of Pennsylvania Introduction Most modern scholars agree that religious belief played at least some role in the exercise and legitimization of[…]

Woodcuts and Witches

Witches presenting wax dolls to the devil, featured in The History of Witches and Wizards (1720) / (Wellcome Library) Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.[…]

Ancient Religious World Views

Procession of twelve gods and goddesses. The figures from left to right are: Hestia (goddess of the hearth), with scepter; Hermes (messenger of the gods), with cap and staff; Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty), with veil; Ares (god of war), with helmet and spear; Demeter (goddess of agriculture), with scepter and wheat sheaf; Hephaestus[…]

‘Discarded History’ Exhibition Lifts the Lid on 1,000 Years of Medieval History

From the collection / Cambridge University Library Treasures from the world’s largest and most important collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts – chronicling 1,000 years of history in Old Cairo – have gone on display in Cambridge today for a six-month-long exhibition at Cambridge University Library. 04.27.2017 Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo opens to[…]

The Changing Nature of Sacred Spaces

The Multi-faith Chapel at Hebrew Senior Life / Newbridge On The Charles, Dedham, Massachusetts. Randall Armor, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Wendy Cadge / 04.26.2017 Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Brandeis University Congregational membership in the United States is slowly declining. Data from the General Social Survey show that 17 percent of[…]

The History of Art and Architecture in the Islamic World

Great Mosque at Damascus (Photo: G. Lewis) Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 04.12.2017 Brewminate Editor-in-Chief A Beginner’s Guide Introduction to Islam By Dr. Elizabeth Macauley-Lewis Assistant Professor, Graduate Center of Liberal Studies City University of New York Origins and the life of Muhammad the Prophet Islam, Judaism and Christianity are three of the world’s[…]

Pagan Shrines and Temples of Ancient Rome

The Roman temple Maison Carré of Nimes, France, built 19-16 BCE, dedicated to Gaius and Lucius, the grandsons of Augustus / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Rodolfo Lanciani Professor of Roman Topography (1878-1927) Università di Roma Ancient guide-books of Rome, published in the middle of the fourth century,[34] mention four hundred and twenty-four temples, three hundred[…]

Coercing Morality in Puritan Massachusetts

Stocks / Photo by BabelTowers, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Murray Rothbard From Conceived in Liberty (1975) Perhaps the bluntest expression of the Puritan ideal of theocracy was the Rev. Nathaniel Ward’s The Simple Cobbler of Aggawam in America (1647). Returning to England to take part in the Puritan ferment there, this Massachusetts divine was horrified[…]

Pagan to Christian: The Transformation of Rome

The Battle of Milvian Bridge, by Giulio Romano, 1520-1524 / Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, Rome By Dr. Rodolfo Lanciani Professor of Roman Topography (1878-1927) Università di Roma It has been contended, and many still believe, that in ancient Rome the doctrines of Christ found no proselytes, except among the lower and poorer classes of citizens.[…]