Magic and Science in Medieval Ashkenaz

A review of David Shyovitz’s A Remembrance of His Wonders By Dr. Dana Fishkin / 03.02.2018 Assistant Professor of Medieval History Touro College The study of medieval Jewish history often yields examples of beliefs, practices, conventions or sensibilities shared by both the Jewish minority and non-Jewish majority populations. Inevitably, the question of primacy arises: which group originated[…]

The Story of Padma Angdu, Tibetan Buddhist ‘Rinpoche’

Padma Angdu was anointed as a Tibetan Buddhist rinpoche, or enlightened being, in 2010. He was 6 years old at the time. By Patrick Winn / 02.15.2018 After death comes for a rinpoche — a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, imbued with supernatural powers — he or she may choose to reincarnate as an infant. Belief dictates that once these children grow old[…]

An Overview of the History of the Growth of Hinduism in the United States

Mahesh Yogi (seated in front) gained a following in the United States with musicians and artists, including members of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Ben Merk (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL), via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Vasudha Narayanan / 02.02.2018 Distinguished Professor of Religion University of Florida This week marks the death anniversary of Mahesh Yogi,[…]

Edom Divided: Jews and Christian Anti-Judaism in the Reformation

Jews in the Syngagoue by Rembrandt / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Lars Fischer / 10.27.2017 Honorary Research Associate, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies University College London “The Reformation” is really an umbrella term that covers a whole range of partly distinct, partly overlapping reformations that emerged and unfolded (even narrowly conceived) over the best[…]

When Americans Tried – and Failed – to Reunite Christianity

LeventeGyori/ By Dr. David Mislin / 11.08.2017 Assistant Professor, Intellectual Heritage Program Temple University Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther, a German monk, initiated a split in Christianity that came to be known as the Protestant Reformation. After the Reformation, deep divisions between Protestants and Catholics contributed to wars, hostility and violence in Europe and America. For centuries, each side[…]

Religions in Post-Secular Societies

Photo by Matthew Fearnley, Flickr, Creative Commons Religions offer an important cultural background for societies all over the world. In post-war Europe, however, religions have seemingly lost at least their public role. By Dr. Michael R. Reder / 08.23.2012 Director of the Joy Shechtman Mankoff Center for Teaching & Learning Connecticut College Of Religion and Secularization[…]

The Wittenberg Reformation as a Media Event

By Dr. Marcel Nieden / 07.27.2012 Professor of Protestant and Historical Theology Universität Duisburg-Essen Introduction Based on publishing statistics, this article traces the complexity of early Reformation processes of communication and depicts the most significant literary and nonliterary media with which the Wittenberg Reformation found its “public” (“Öffentlichkeit”) (pamphlets, illustrated handbills, Bible translations, sermons, performative[…]

What the Joyous Solitude of Early Hermits Can Teach Us about Being Alone

Loneliness (feeling alone) and solitude (being alone) are not the same thing. jessicahtam By Dr. Kim Haines-Eitzen / 02.08.2018 Professor of Early Christianity Cornell University In today’s world, loneliness seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Countless studies have highlighted the serious and negative impact that loneliness has on our health, our sense of well-being, and our ability to thrive[…]

Theodoret and Early Christian Growth in the Greek East

By Dr. Ioannis Papadogiannakis Lecturer in Patristics King’s College London Earth and sea are freed from their ancient ignorance; the error of idols is no longer to be seen; the darkness of ignorance has been dispersed, and the light of knowledge fills with its rays the whole inhabited world. Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians recognize the[…]

The Horoscope of Iskander Sultan

This 19th century Sudanese drawing of an amulet includes spells against the ‘evil eye’. Wellcome Library reference: MS Arabic 21. By Dr. Nikolai Serikoff / 11.11.2016 Asian Collections Librarian Wellcome Library An exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, ‘Power and Protection‘, [last year] was “the first major exhibition to explore the supernatural in the art of the Islamic[…]

Consequences of the Reformation Continue to Fade Five Centuries Later

Illustration of a small crowd gathered to watch as Martin Luther directs the posting of his 95 theses, protesting the practice of the sale of indulgences, to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. Dated 1517. (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)        By (left-to-right) Dr. Gregory A. Smith, Dr. Jessica Martinez, Dr. Becka[…]

The “Decalogue Bill”: When Kansas Assemblyman Charles Walters Tried to Make the Ten Commandments State Law, 1897

By Dr. Jenna Weissman Joselit / 08.03.2017 Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of History Director of the MA in Jewish Cultural Arts Program George Washington University Assemblyman Charles Walters, a Populist politician from Kansas, was in a bit of a tizzy. If the behavior of his fellow Americans was any indication,[…]

A Brief History of the Crusades

Knight, Psalter, with litany, prayers and Easter tables (The “Westminster Psalter”), c. 1200, f. 220 (British Library) By Dr. Susanna A. Throop / 08.08.2015 Assistant Professor of Art History Ursinus College What Were the Crusades? What comes to mind when you think of the crusades? Earnest and alarmingly buff knights (in shining armor, of course)[…]

Medieval Pilgrimage Routes and the Cult of the Relic

Basilica Ste-Madeleine, Vézelay, France, dedicated 1104 (photo: Dr. Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) By Christine M. Bolli / 08.08.2015 PhD Candidate in Art History University of California, Santa Barbara The end of the world Y2K. The Rapture. 2012. For over a decade, speculation about the end of the world has run rampant—all in conjunction with[…]

European Calvinism: Church Discipline

John Calvin on his deathbed in 1564, from a 19th-century engraving / Public Domain    By Dr. Jordan J. Ballor (left) and Dr. W. Bradford Littlejohn (right) / 03.25.2013 Ballor: Senior Research Fellow and Director of Publishing, Acton Institute Littlejohn: Research in Theology and Ethics Abstract This article surveys the 16th-century development and dissemination of[…]

Why So Many Americans Think Buddhism is Just a Philosophy

Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, Seattle, Washington. Wonderlane, CC BY By Dr. Pamela Winfield / 01.22.2018 Associate Professor of Religious Studies Elon University In East Asia, Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s death and entrance into final enlightenment in February. But at my local Zen temple in North Carolina, the Buddha’s enlightenment is commemorated during the holiday season of[…]

A Tantalizing Find from the Jews of Medieval Afghanistan

A letter in Judeo-Persian dealing with financial and family matters / Afghan Genizah collection at the National Library of Israel via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Samuel Thrope / 01.07.2016 Writer and Translator Based in Jerusalem In 1946, the French philologist André Dupont-Sommer published the first Jewish tombstone inscription from Firozkoh in Afghanistan. Dated between the[…]

Family Lines: Chasing Ghosts in Greece

By Jolene Latimer / 05.15.2017 All photos by the author Instead of sitting by her side, helping her gently pass into the afterlife, when my grandma died, I was standing on a street corner in Thessaloniki, Greece, eating a cheese pie. Since she was old and had complicated health, her death was an inevitability for[…]

How the Reformation was Remembered, Forgotten, Contested, and Re-Invented

Lives and Afterlives By Dr. Ceri Law AHRC Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Cambridge We explore the historical and literary afterlives of individuals and groups caught up in the Reformation, as well as the manner in which religious change stimulated the emergence and effected the transformation of types of life-writing. Subjects of investigation include figures omitted from official written histories of[…]

Flowers in Renaissance Manuscripts and Their Symbolism

Red roses in the Getty’s garden and as a detail in All Saints from the Spinola Hours, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig IX 18, fol. 257v Manuscript curators shed light on the associations and uses of seven favorite garden flowers in Renaissance manuscripts and their symbolism for[…]

Architecture and Symbolism in Buddhist Monasteries

Standing Male Worshipper (votive figure), c. 2900-2600 B.C.E., Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar, Iraq), gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen, 11 5/8 x 5 1/8 x 3 7/8″ / 29.5 x 10 cm, Sumerian (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) By Dr. Karen Shelby / 08.09.2015 Assistant Professor of Art History Baruch College, The City University of[…]

An Extended Overview of Hinduism

Wikimedia Commons Hindū Dharma or Hinduism (Sanskrit: हिन्दू धर्म, is often referred by its practitioners as Sanātana Dharma, सनातन धर्म; Vaidika Dharma, वैदिक धर्म; or Vedic Tradition) is the spiritual, philosophical, scientific and cultural system that originated in Bharatavarsha (the Indian subcontinent), that is based on the Vedas, and it is the oldest of all living religious traditions still practiced today. A Hindu, as per[…]

Hinduism at a Glance

Wikimedia Commons Hinduism (Sanskrit: Hindū Dharma — हिन्दू धर्म, also known as Sanātana Dharma, सनातन धर्म and Vaidika Dharma, वैदिक धर्म) is a religion originating in bharatavarsha (the Indian subcontinent), based on the Vedas. Modern Hinduism evolved from the ancient vaidika paramparā (Vedic tradition). Brief Overview Hinduism is mankind’s oldest spiritual declaration, the very fountainhead of faith on the planet. It emphasizes dharma (the right way of living) rather[…]

An Archaeological Dig in Israel Provides Clues to How Feasting Became an Important Ritual

LightField Studios/ By Dr. Natalie Munro / 12.15.2017 Professor of Anthropology University of  Connecticut This holiday season millions of families will come together to celebrate their respective festivals and engage in myriad rituals. These may include exchanging gifts, singing songs, giving thanks, and most importantly, preparing and consuming the holiday feast. Archaeological evidence shows that[…]

The True Meaning of Hannukah – Jewish Survival

Shutterstock By Dr. Alan Avery-Peck / 12.07.2017 Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies College of the Holy Cross Beginning on the evening of Dec. 12, Jews will celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah, perhaps the best-known and certainly the most visible Jewish holiday. While critics sometimes identify Christmas as promoting the prevalence in America today of[…]

The Altneuschul, Prague: Medieval Jewish Synagogue Architecture

Altneushul, Prague (photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 3.0) The Old New Synagogue or Altneuschul, situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe’s oldest active synagogue.[1] It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. By Dr. Carol Herselle Krinsky / 09.18.2017 Professor of Art History New York University In architecture, there is often a dominant mode of design in a given country or region at[…]

Failing Well: Accommodating Vices in an Ideal Vedic City

Samadhi Mandir of Srila Prabhupada (back side) at ISKCON, Mayapur, West Bengal, India / Photo by Joydeep, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. John Fahy Junior Research Fellow Woolf Institute University of Cambridge DOI: Abstract Since the early 1970s, the small town of Mayapur in West Bengal has been home to a multinational Gaudiya Vaishnava community of[…]