Despite popular images of priests seeking enlightenment in snow-covered mountain temples, the central concern of Japanese Buddhism is death. For that reason, Japanese Buddhism’s social and economic base has long been in mortuary services—a base now threatened by public debate over the status, treatment, and location of the dead. Bonds of the Dead explores the crisis brought on by this debate and investigates what changing burial forms reveal about the ways temple Buddhism is perceived and propagated in contemporary Japan.
Mark Rowe offers a crucial account of how religious, political, social, and economic forces in the twentieth century led to the emergence of new funerary practices in Japan and how, as a result, the care of the dead has become the most fundamental challenge to the continued existence of Japanese temple Buddhism. Far from marking the death of Buddhism in Japan, Rowe argues, funerary Buddhism reveals the tradition at its most vibrant. Combining ethnographic research with doctrinal considerations, this is a fascinating book for anyone interested in Japanese society and religion.
In this much-needed examination of Buddhist views of death and the afterlife, Carl B. Becker bridges the gap between books on death in the West and books on Buddhism in the East.
Other Western writers have addressed the mysteries surrounding death and the afterlife, but few have approached the topic from a Buddhist perspective. Here, Becker resolves questions that have troubled scholars since the beginning of Buddhism: How can Buddhism reconcile its belief in karma and rebirth with its denial of a permanent soul? What is reborn? And when, exactly, is the moment of death?
By systematically tracing Buddhism’s migration from India through China, Japan, and Tibet, Becker demonstrates how culture and environment affect Buddhist religious tradition.
In addition to discussing historical Buddhism, Becker shows how Buddhism resolves controversial current issues as well. In the face of modern medicine’s trend toward depersonalization, traditional Buddhist practices imbue the dying process with respect and dignity. At the same time, Buddhist tradition offers documented precedents for decision making in cases of suicide and euthanasia.
Critical Edition with introduction and commentary by Leon J. Weinberger
This is the first in-depth study of three 11th- to 12th-century poets from Balkan Byzantium. Included are all of the known works by Moses b. Hiyya, Joseph b. Jacob Qalai, and Isaac b. Judah, collected from rare manuscripts and printed editions and from Geniza collections at Oxford and Cambridge. These works provide the evidence that the Balkan synagogue poets favored distinctive literary forms even as they show the strong influence of the Hispanic-Hebrew writers. Completing the volume are indexes of rabbinic, Aramaic, and payyetanic usages and tables of metonymical terms.
Published by the Hebrew Union College Press, distributed by The University of Alabama Press.
Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement: Buddhism and the Cultural Construction of Power describes a transformation in Buddhist practice in contemporary Burma. This revitalization movement has had real consequences for how the oppressive military junta, in power since the early 1960s, governs the country.
Drawing on more than ten years of extensive fieldwork in Burma, Ingrid Jordt explains how vipassanā meditation has brought about a change of worldview for millions of individuals, enabling them to think and act independently of the totalitarian regime. She addresses human rights as well as the relationship between politics and religion in a country in which neither the government nor the people clearly separates the two. Jordt explains how the movement has been successful in its challenge to the Burmese military dictatorship where democratically inspired resistance movements have failed.
Jordt's unsurpassed access to the centers of political and religious power in Burma becomes the reader's opportunity to witness the political workings of one of the world's most secretive and tyrannically ruled countries. Burma's Mass Lay Meditation Movement is a valuable contribution to Buddhist studies as well as anthropology, religious studies, and political science.
The Jewish practice of bar mitzvah dates back to the twelfth century, but this ancient cultural ritual has changed radically since then, evolving with the times and adapting to local conditions. For many Jewish-American families, a child’s bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is both a major social event and a symbolic means of asserting the family’s ongoing connection to the core values of Judaism. Coming of Age in Jewish America takes an inside look at bar and bat mitzvahs in the twenty-first century, examining how the practices have continued to morph and exploring how they serve as a sometimes shaky bridge between the values of contemporary American culture and Judaic tradition.
Interviewing over 200 individuals involved in bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, from family members to religious educators to rabbis, Patricia Keer Munro presents a candid portrait of the conflicts that often emerge and the negotiations that ensue. In the course of her study, she charts how this ritual is rife with contradictions; it is a private family event and a public community activity, and for the child, it is both an educational process and a high-stakes performance.
Through detailed observations of Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and independent congregations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Munro draws intriguing, broad-reaching conclusions about both the current state and likely future of American Judaism. In the process, she shows not only how American Jews have forged a unique set of bar and bat mitzvah practices, but also how these rituals continue to shape a distinctive Jewish-American identity.
Central to both biblical narrative and rabbinic commentary, circumcision has remained a defining rite of Jewish identity, a symbol so powerful that challenges to it have always been considered taboo. Lawrence Hoffman seeks to find out why circumcision holds such an important place in the Jewish psyche. He traces the symbolism of circumcision through Jewish history, examining its evolution as a symbol of the covenant in the post-exilic period of the Bible and its subsequent meaning in the formative era of Mishnah and Talmud.
In the rabbinic system, Hoffman argues, circumcision was neither a birth ritual nor the beginning of the human life cycle, but a rite of covenantal initiation into a male "life line." Although the evolution of the rite was shaped by rabbinic debates with early Christianity, the Rabbis shared with the church a view of blood as providing salvation. Hoffman examines the particular significance of circumcision blood, which, in addition to its salvific role, contrasted with menstrual blood to symbolize the gender dichotomy within the rabbinic system. His analysis of the Rabbis' views of circumcision and menstrual blood sheds light on the marginalization of women in rabbinic law. Differentiating official mores about gender from actual practice, Hoffman surveys women's spirituality within rabbinic society and examines the roles mothers played in their sons' circumcisions until the medieval period, when they were finally excluded.
In The Cow in the Elevator Tulasi Srinivas explores a wonderful world where deities jump fences and priests ride in helicopters to present a joyful, imaginative, yet critical reading of modern religious life. Drawing on nearly two decades of fieldwork with priests, residents, and devotees, and her own experience of living in the high-tech city of Bangalore, Srinivas finds moments where ritual enmeshes with global modernity to create wonder—a feeling of amazement at being overcome by the unexpected and sublime. Offering a nuanced account of how the ruptures of modernity can be made normal, enrapturing, and even comical in a city swept up in globalization's tumult, Srinivas brings the visceral richness of wonder—apparent in creative ritual in and around Hindu temples—into the anthropological gaze. Broaching provocative philosophical themes like desire, complicity, loss, time, money, technology, and the imagination, Srinivas pursues an interrogation of wonder and the adventure of writing true to its experience. The Cow in the Elevator rethinks the study of ritual while reshaping our appreciation of wonder's transformative potential for scholarship and for life.
The Jewish High Holidays—the ten days beginning with the New Year Festival of Rosh Hashanah and culminating with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement—constitute the most sacred period of the Jewish year. During this season, religious as well as nonaffiliated Jews attend synagogue services in unparalleled numbers. Yet much of what they find there can be unwelcoming in its patriarchal imagery, leaving many worshipers unsatisfied. For those seeking to connect more deeply with their Judaism, and for all readers in search of a contemplative approach to the themes of the fall season, poet and scholar Marcia Falk re-creates the holidays’ key prayers and rituals from an inclusive perspective. Among the offerings in The Days Between are Hebrew and English blessings for festive meals, prayers for synagogue services, and poems and meditations for quiet reflection. Emphasizing introspection as well as relationship to others, Falk evokes her vision of the High Holidays as “ten days of striving to keep the heart open to change.” Accessible and welcoming to modern readers, The Days Between is steeped in traditional sources and grounded in liturgical and biblical scholarship. It will serve as a meaningful alternative or supplement to the traditional liturgy for individuals, families, synagogues, and communities small and large—that is, for all who seek fresh meaning in the High Holidays.
"Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty . . . weaves a brilliant analysis of the complex role of dreams and dreaming in Indian religion, philosophy, literature, and art. . . . In her creative hands, enchanting Indian myths and stories illuminate and are illuminated by authors as different as Aeschylus, Plato, Freud, Jung, Kurl Gödel, Thomas Kuhn, Borges, Picasso, Sir Ernst Gombrich, and many others. This richly suggestive book challenges many of our fundamental assumptions about ourselves and our world."—Mark C. Taylor, New York Times Book Review
"Dazzling analysis. . . . The book is firm and convincing once you appreciate its central point, which is that in traditional Hindu thought the dream isn't an accident or byway of experience, but rather the locus of epistemology. In its willful confusion of categories, its teasing readiness to blur the line between the imagined and the real, the dream actually embodies the whole problem of knowledge. . . . [O'Flaherty] wants to make your mental flesh creep, and she succeeds."—Mark Caldwell, Village Voice
In this theoretically rich exploration of ethnic and religious tensions, Janet McIntosh demonstrates how the relationship between two ethnic groups in the bustling Kenyan town of Malindi is reflected in and shaped by the different ways the two groups relate to Islam. While Swahili and Giriama peoples are historically interdependent, today Giriama find themselves literally and metaphorically on the margins, peering in at a Swahili life of greater social and economic privilege. Giriama are frustrated to find their ethnic identity disparaged and their versions of Islam sometimes rejected by Swahili.
The Edge of Islam explores themes as wide-ranging as spirit possession, divination, healing rituals, madness, symbolic pollution, ideologies of money, linguistic code-switching, and syncretism and its alternatives. McIntosh shows how the differing versions of Islam practiced by Swahili and Giriama, and their differing understandings of personhood, have figured in the growing divisions between the two groups. Her ethnographic analysis helps to explain why Giriama view Islam, a supposedly universal religion, as belonging more deeply to certain ethnic groups than to others; why Giriama use Islam in their rituals despite the fact that so many do not consider the religion their own; and how Giriama appropriations of Islam subtly reinforce a distance between the religion and themselves. The Edge of Islam advances understanding of ethnic essentialism, religious plurality, spirit possession, local conceptions of personhood, and the many meanings of “Islam” across cultures.
In the Red Sea Hills of eastern Sudan, where poverty, famines, and conflict loom large, women struggle to gain the status of responsible motherhood through bearing and raising healthy children, especially sons. But biological fate can be capricious in impoverished settings. Amidst struggle for survival and expectations of heroic mothering, women face realities that challenge their ability to fulfill their prescribed roles. Even as the effects of modernity and development, global inequities, and exclusionary government policies challenge traditional ways of life in eastern Sudan and throughout many parts of Africa, reproductive traumas—infertility, miscarriage, children’s illnesses, and mortality—disrupt women’s reproductive health and impede their efforts to achieve the status that comes with fertility and motherhood.
In Embodying Honor Amal Hassan Fadlalla finds that the female body is the locus of anxieties about foreign dangers and diseases, threats perceived to be disruptive to morality, feminine identities, and social well-being. As a “northern Sudanese” viewed as an outsider in this region of her native country, Fadlalla presents an intimate portrait and thorough analysis that offers an intriguing commentary on the very notion of what constitutes the “foreign.” Fadlalla shows how Muslim Hadendowa women manage health and reproductive suffering in their quest to become “responsible” mothers and valued members of their communities. Her historically grounded ethnography delves into women’s reproductive histories, personal narratives, and ritual logics to reveal the ways in which women challenge cultural understandings of gender, honor, and reproduction.
Eight years ago, in an unprecedented intellectual endeavor, the Dalai Lama invited Emory University to integrate modern science into the education of the thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in exile in India. This project, the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, became the first major change in the monastic curriculum in six centuries. Eight years in, the results are transformative. The singular backdrop of teaching science to Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns offered provocative insights into how science and religion can work together to enrich each other, as well as to shed light on life and what it means to be a thinking, biological human. In The Enlightened Gene, Emory University Professor Dr. Arri Eisen, together with monk Geshe Yungdrung Konchok explore the striking ways in which the integration of Buddhism with cutting-edge discoveries in the biological sciences can change our understanding of life and how we live it. What this book discovers along the way will fundamentally change the way you think. Are humans inherently good? Where does compassion come from? Is death essential for life? Is experience inherited? These questions have occupied philosophers, religious thinkers and scientists since the dawn of civilization, but in today’s political discourse, much of the dialogue surrounding them and larger issues—such as climate change, abortion, genetically modified organisms, and evolution—are often framed as a dichotomy of science versus spirituality. Strikingly, many of new biological discoveries—such as the millions of microbes that we now know live together as part of each of us, the connections between those microbes and our immune systems, the nature of our genomes and how they respond to the environment, and how this response might be passed to future generations—can actually be read as moving science closer to spiritual concepts, rather than further away. The Enlightened Gene opens up and lays a foundation for serious conversations, integrating science and spirit in tackling life’s big questions. Each chapter integrates Buddhism and biology and uses striking examples of how doing so changes our understanding of life and how we lead it.
In this provocative book, Benjamin Ginsberg examines the cycle of Jewish success and anti-Semitic attack throughout the history of the Diaspora, with a concentrated focus on the "special case" of America. For Ginsberg, the essential issue is not anti-Jewish feeling, but the conditions under which such sentiment is likely to be used in the political arena. The Fatal Embrace identifies the political dynamics that, historically, have set the stage for the persecution of Jews.
Who and what are marriage and sex for? Whose practices and which ways of talking to god can count as religion? Lucinda Ramberg considers these questions based upon two years of ethnographic research on an ongoing South Indian practice of dedication in which girls, and sometimes boys, are married to a goddess. Called devadasis, or jogatis, those dedicated become female and male women who conduct the rites of the goddess outside the walls of her main temple and transact in sex outside the bounds of conjugal matrimony. Marriage to the goddess, as well as the rites that the dedication ceremony authorizes jogatis to perform, have long been seen as illegitimate and criminalized. Kinship with the goddess is productive for the families who dedicate their children, Ramberg argues, and yet it cannot conform to modern conceptions of gender, family, or religion. This nonconformity, she suggests, speaks to the limitations of modern categories, as well as to the possibilities of relations—between and among humans and deities—that exceed such categories.
Muslim marriages have been the focus of considerable public debate in Europe and beyond, in Muslim-majority countries as well as in settings where Muslims are a minority. Most academic work has focused on how the majority Sunni Muslims conclude marriages. This volume, in contrast, focuses on Twelver Shi'a Muslims in Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Indonesia, Norway, and the Netherlands. The volume makes an original contribution to understanding the global dynamics of Shi'a marriage practices in a wide range of contexts--not only its geographical spread but also by providing a critical analysis of the socio-economic, religious, ethnic, and political discourses of each context. The book sheds light on new marriage forms presented through a bottom up approach focusing on the lived experiences of Shi'a Muslims negotiating a diverse range of relationships and forms of belonging.
In the beginning, says the ancient Hindu text the Rg Veda, was man. And from man’s sacrifice and dismemberment came the entire world, including the hierarchical ordering of human society. The Head Beneath the Altar is the first book to present a wide-ranging study of Hindu texts read through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory of the sacrificial origin of religion and culture. For those interested in Girard and comparative religion, the book also performs a careful reading of Girard’s work, drawing connections between his thought and the work of theorists like Georges Dumézil and Giorgio Agamben. Brian Collins examines the idea of sacrifice from the earliest recorded rituals through the flowering of classical mythology and the ancient Indian institutions of the duel, the oath, and the secret warrior society. He also uncovers implicit and explicit critiques in the tradition, confirming Girard’s intuition that Hinduism offers an alternative anti-sacrificial worldview to the one contained in the gospels.
Western society has never been more interested in interiority. Indeed, it seems more and more people are deliberately looking inward—toward the mind, the body, or both. Michal Pagis’s Inward focuses on one increasingly popular channel for the introverted gaze: vipassana meditation, which has spread from Burma to more than forty countries and counting. Lacing her account with vivid anecdotes and personal stories, Pagis turns our attention not only to the practice of vipassana but to the communities that have sprung up around it. Inward is also a social history of the westward diffusion of Eastern religious practices spurred on by the lingering effects of the British colonial presence in India. At the same time Pagis asks knotty questions about what happens when we continually turn inward, as she investigates the complex relations between physical selves, emotional selves, and our larger social worlds. Her book sheds new light on evergreen topics such as globalization, social psychology, and the place of the human body in the enduring process of self-awareness.
This book compares Islamic and Western political formulations, highlighting areas of agreement and disparity. Building on this analysis, the author goes on to show that political Islam offers a serious alternative to the dominant political system and ideology of the West.
Sabet argues that rather than leading to a "Clash of Civlizations" or the assimilation of Islam into the Western system, a positive process of interactive self-reflection between Islam and liberal democracy is the best way forward.
Beginning this process, Sabet highlights key concepts of Islamic political thought and brings them into dialogue with Western modernity. The resulting synthesis is essential reading for advanced undergraduate and graduate students of Islamic and Middle Eastern politics, political theory, comparative politics and international relations.
Integrating the Islamic faith with modern psychotherapy is at the forefront of the spiritually integrated psychotherapy movement. To bring this work to wider attention and to promote its continuation, Dr. Carrie York Al-Karam has brought together the present volume of nine essays, each of which is written by a Muslim clinician who practices Islamically integrated psychotherapy (IIP)—a modern approach that unites the teachings, principles, and interventions of the faith with Western therapeutic approaches.
As delineated in the Introduction, IIP has emerged from a variety of domains including the psychology of religion and spirituality, multicultural psychology and counseling, transpersonal psychology, Muslim Mental Health, and Islamic Psychology. The individual chapters then describe a variety of ways IIP is practiced by Muslim clinicians in their service provision with Muslim clients.
The contributors discuss a wide range of topics, such as how Islam can be viewed as a system for psychological wellbeing, or a “science of the soul”; what marital counseling can look like from an Islamically-integrated perspective; Prophet Mohammed as a psycho-spiritual exemplar in a new approach called The HEART Method; the use of Quranic stories in family therapy; as well as using Islamic teachings when working with Muslim children and adolescents.
A description of the various approaches is supplemented with discussions of their theoretical underpinnings as well as research-based recommendations for advancing clinical application. What emerges is a vital resource for Muslim and non-Muslim clinicians alike as well as the lay Muslim reader wanting to know more about how the Islamic faith and psychotherapy are engaging with each other in a modern clinical context.
Jewish traditional foods often have symbolic meanings. A Passover matzo is a taste of Egyptian slavery. The Hanukkah latke reminds us of the little jug of oil that burned, miraculously, for eight nights. Noshing hamentaschen at Purim, we remember the villain Haman, and his thwarted plan to destroy the Jews. Even more than in the synagogue, Jewish life takes place around the dining table. Jewish sages compare the dining table to an altar, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Jewish meals are ceremonies and celebrations that forge a pathway between body and soul. In this unique cookbook, Carol Ungar links the cultural and religious symbolism of Jewish foods to more than one hundred recipes drawn from international Jewish cultures and traditions. She offers easy-to-follow recipes for Shabbat meals and all the Jewish holidays, from Rosh Hashana to the nine days before Tisha b’Av, along with fascinating briefs on how many Jewish foods—challah, kreplach, farfel, and more—express core Jewish beliefs. With ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, and recipes adapted for the time- and health-conscious cook, this volume is for anyone who wishes to flavor Shabbat and holiday meals with Jewish soul.
Develop a keener ear for Paul’s rhetorical strategy
Patterson uses cognitive metaphor theory to trace the apostle Paul’s use of metaphors from the Jewish sacrificial system in his moral counsels to the Philippians and the Corinthians. In these letters, Paul moves from the known (the practice of sacrifice) to the unknown (how to live in accord with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ). Patterson illustrates that the significant sacrificial metaphors in 1 Corinthians and Philippians are not derived from Jewish sacrifices of atonement, but rather from the Passover and sacrifices of thanksgiving. Attention to these metaphors demonstrates that imagery drawn from these sacrifices shapes the overall moral counsel of the letters, reveals more varied and nuanced interpretations of sacrificial references in Paul’s letters, and sheds light on Paul’s continuity with Jewish cultic practice.
Clarification of the strategic function of metaphors as a means of establishing an imaginative framework for ethical deliberation
Evidence of Paul’s active processes of theological reflection
Exploration of the intertwining of Jewish cultic practice with the rhetoric of moral commitment within early Christian churches
Timothy D. Lytton Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress HD9005.L98 2013 | Dewey Decimal 338.476610088296
In an era of anxiety about the safety and industrialization of the food supply, kosher food—with $12 billion in sales—is big business. Timothy Lytton tells a story of successful private-sector regulation: how independent certification agencies rescued U.S. kosher supervision from corruption and made it a model of nongovernmental administration.
Nineteenth-century philologist and Biblical critic William Robertson Smith famously concluded that the sacred status of holy places derives not from their intrinsic nature but from their social character. Building upon this insight, Mecca and Eden uses Islamic exegetical and legal texts to analyze the rituals and objects associated with the sanctuary at Mecca.
Integrating Islamic examples into the comparative study of religion, Brannon Wheeler shows how the treatment of rituals, relics, and territory is related to the more general mythological depiction of the origins of Islamic civilization. Along the way, Wheeler considers the contrast between Mecca and Eden in Muslim rituals, the dispersal and collection of relics of the prophet Muhammad, their relationship to the sanctuary at Mecca, and long tombs associated with the gigantic size of certain prophets mentioned in the Quran.
Mecca and Eden succeeds, as few books have done, in making Islamic sources available to the broader study of religion.
The great pilgrimage center of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has become in recent years the spiritual home of a new class of Hindu-Buddhist religious devotees. These ecstatic priests and priestesses invariably display long locks of matted hair, and they express their devotion to the gods through fire walking, tongue-piercing, hanging on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.
The increasing popularity of these ecstatics poses a challenge not only to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the official religion of Sri Lanka) but also, as Gananath Obeyesekere shows, to the traditional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing initially on one symbol, matted hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the conventional distinction between personal and cultural symbols is inadequate and naive. His detailed case studies of ecstatics show that there is always a reciprocity between the personal-psychological dimension of the symbol and its public, culturally sanctioned role. Medusa's Hair thus makes an important theoretical contribution both to the anthropology of individual experience and to the psychoanalytic understanding of culture. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative significance of belief in spirits, and a host of related issues concerning possession states and religiosity, this book marks a provocative advance in psychological anthropology.
The Orthodox Jewish tradition affirms that Jewish exile will end with the coming of the Messiah. How, then, does Orthodoxy respond to the political realization of a Jewish homeland that is the State of Israel? In this cogent and searching study, Aviezer Ravitzky probes Orthodoxy's divergent positions on Zionism, which range from radical condemnation to virtual beatification.
Ravitzky traces the roots of Haredi ideology, which opposes the Zionist enterprise, and shows how Haredim living in Israel have come to terms with a state to them unholy and therefore doomed. Ravitzky also examines radical religious movements, including the Gush Emunim, to whom the State of Israel is a divine agent. He concludes with a discussion of the recent transformation of Habad Hassidism from conservatism to radical messianism.
This book is indispensable to anyone concerned with the complex confrontation between Jewish fundamentalism and Israeli political sovereignty, especially in light of the tragic death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The Miriam Tradition works from the premise that religious values form in and through movement, with ritual and dance developing patterns for enacting those values. Cia Sautter considers the case of Sephardic Jewish women who, following in the tradition of Miriam the prophet, performed dance and music for Jewish celebrations and special occasions. She uses rabbinic and feminist understandings of the Torah to argue that these women, called tanyaderas, "taught" Jewish values by leading appropriate behavior for major life events.
Sautter considers the religious values that are in music and dance performed by tanyaderas and examines them in conjunction with written and visual records and evidence from dance and music traditions. Explaining the symbolic gestures and motions encoded in dances, Sautter shows how rituals display deeply held values that are best expressed through the body. The book argues that the activities of women in other religions might also be examined for their embodiment and display of important values, bringing forgotten groups of women back into the historical record as important community leaders
The counting of the Omer begins with the escape from enslavement to the wandering path of freedom, leading to a mystical encounter with God, Sinai and Torah. This volume, beginning with its informative contextual introduction, provides a spiritual guide for a personal journey through the Omer toward meaningful and purposeful living. Beautiful and evocative readings for each day, matched with the daily Omer blessing, offer a transformative path from Passover to Shavuot.
The prohibition against pigs is one of the most powerful symbols of Jewish culture and collective memory. Outlawed Pigs explores how the historical sensitivity of Jews to the pig prohibition was incorporated into Israeli law and culture.
Daphne Barak-Erez specifically traces the course of two laws, one that authorized municipalities to ban the possession and trading in pork within their jurisdiction and another law that forbids pig breeding throughout Israel, except for areas populated mainly by Christians. Her analysis offers a comprehensive, decade-by-decade discussion of the overall relationship between law and culture since the inception of the Israeli nation-state.
By examining ever-fluctuating Israeli popular opinion on Israel's two laws outlawing the trade and possession of pigs, Barak-Erez finds an interesting and accessible way to explore the complex interplay of law, religion, and culture in modern Israel, and more specifically a microcosm for the larger question of which lies more at the foundation of Israeli state law: religion or cultural tradition.
Pathways to Contemporary Islam: New Trends in Critical Engagement highlights that the current tensions in Islam and the Muslim world are the result of historical dynamics as opposed to an alleged incompatibility between religious tradition and modernity. The emphasis on pathways indicates that critical engagement and contestation have always been intrinsic to the history of Islam. The aim of the book is to elaborate the contemporary pathways and analyse the trends that contest the Islamic intellectual tradition, the relationship between religion and politics, and the individual and collective practice of religion. The collection of essays analyses the current efforts of critical re-engagement with the Islamic intellectual tradition and underlines the historical diversity of Islamic orthodoxies that led to the establishment of various pathways in the practice and role of religion in Muslim societies.
David W. Montgomery presents a rich ethnographic study on the practice and meaning of Islamic life in Kyrgyzstan. As he shows, becoming and being a Muslim are based on knowledge acquired from the surrounding environment, enabled through the practice of doing. Through these acts, Islam is imbued in both the individual and the community. To Montgomery, religious practice and lived experience combine to create an ideological space that is shaped by events, opportunities, and potentialities that form the context from which knowing emerges. This acquired knowledge further frames social navigation and political negotiation.
Through his years of on-the-ground research, Montgomery assembles both an anthropology of knowledge and an anthropology of Islam, demonstrating how individuals make sense of and draw meanings from their environments. He reveals subtle individual interpretations of the religion and how people seek to define themselves and their lives as “good” within their communities and under Islam.
Based on numerous in-depth interviews, bolstered by extensive survey and data collection, Montgomery offers the most thorough English-language study to date of Islam in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. His work provides a broad view into the cognitive processes of Central Asian populations that will serve students, researchers, and policymakers alike.
Religious Bodies Politic examines the complex relationship between transnational religion and politics through the lens of one cosmopolitan community in Siberia: Buryats, who live in a semiautonomous republic within Russia with a large Buddhist population. Looking at religious transformation among Buryats across changing political economies, Anya Bernstein argues that under conditions of rapid social change—such as those that accompanied the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and the fall of the Soviet Union—Buryats have used Buddhist “body politics” to articulate their relationship not only with the Russian state, but also with the larger Buddhist world.
During these periods, Bernstein shows, certain people and their bodies became key sites through which Buryats conformed to and challenged Russian political rule. She presents particular cases of these emblematic bodies—dead bodies of famous monks, temporary bodies of reincarnated lamas, ascetic and celibate bodies of Buddhist monastics, and dismembered bodies of lay disciples given as imaginary gifts to spirits—to investigate the specific ways in which religion and politics have intersected. Contributing to the growing literature on postsocialism and studies of sovereignty that focus on the body, Religious Bodies Politic is a fascinating illustration of how this community employed Buddhism to adapt to key moments of political change.
For roughly two thousand years, the veneration of sacred fossil ammonites, called Shaligrams, has been an important part of Hindu and Buddhist ritual practice throughout South Asia and among the global Diaspora. Originating from a single remote region of Himalayan Nepal, called Mustang, Shaligrams are all at once fossils, divine beings, and intimate kin with families and worshippers. Through their lives, movements, and materiality, Shaligrams then reveal fascinating new dimensions of religious practice, pilgrimage, and politics. But as social, environmental, and national conflicts in the politically-contentious region of Mustang continue to escalate, the geologic, mythic, and religious movements of Shaligrams have come to act as parallels to the mobility of people through both space and time. Shaligram mobility therefore traverses through multiple social worlds, multiple religions, and multiple nations revealing Shaligram practitioners as a distinct, alternative, community struggling for a place in a world on the edge.
If the People of Israel understood themselves to share a common ancestry as well as a common religion, how could a convert to their faith who did not share their ethnicity fit into the ancient Israelite community? While it is comparatively simple to declare religious beliefs, it is much more difficult to enter a group whose membership is defined in ethnic terms. In showing how the rabbis struggled continually with the dual nature of the Israelite community and the dilemma posed by converts, Gary G. Porton explains aspects of their debates which previous scholars have either ignored or minimized.
The Stranger within Your Gates analyzes virtually every reference to converts in the full corpus of rabbinic literature. The intellectual dilemma that converts posed for classical Judaism played itself out in discussions of marriage, religious practice, inheritance of property, and much else. Reviewing the rabbinic literature text by text, Porton exposes the rabbis' frequently ambivalent and ambiguous views.
The Stranger within Your Gates is the only examination of conversion in rabbinic literature to draw upon the full scope of contemporary anthropological and sociological studies of conversion. It is also unique in its focus on the opinions of the community into which the convert enters, rather than on the testimony of the convert. By approaching data with new methods, Porton heightens our understanding of conversion and the nature of the People of Israel in rabbinic literature.
Edited by the acclaimed scholar Jacob Neusner, this thirty-five volume English translation of the Talmud Yerushalmi has been hailed by the Jewish Spectator as a "project...of immense benefit to students of rabbinic Judaism."
Unfinished Gestures presents the social and cultural history of courtesans in South India who are generally called devadasis, focusing on their encounters with colonial modernity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following a hundred years of vociferous social reform, including a 1947 law that criminalized their lifestyles, the women in devadasis communities contend with severe social stigma and economic and cultural disenfranchisement. Adroitly combining ethnographic fieldwork with historical research, Davesh Soneji provides a comprehensive portrait of these marginalized women and unsettles received ideas about relations among them, the aesthetic roots of their performances, and the political efficacy of social reform in their communities.
Poignantly narrating the history of these women, Soneji argues for the recognition of aesthetics and performance as a key form of subaltern self-presentation and self-consciousness. Ranging over courtly and private salon performances of music and dance by devadasis in the nineteenth century, the political mobilization of devadasis identity in the twentieth century, and the post-reform lives of women in these communities today, Unfinished Gestures charts the historical fissures that lie beneath cultural modernity in South India.
Each year, in a solemn Sunni Muslim feast, the Ait Mizane of southern Morocco reenact the story of Abraham as a ritual sacrifice, a symbolic observance of their submission to the divine. After this sober ceremony comes a bacchanalian masquerade which seems to violate every principle the sacrifice affirmed. Because of the apparent contradiction between sacrifice and masquerade, observers have described the two as entirely separate events. This book reunites them as a single ritual process within Islamic tradition.
The Washington Haggadah
Joel ben Simeon Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress BM674.63.W3713 2011 | Dewey Decimal 296.45371
After the Bible, the Passover haggadah is the most widely read classic text in the Jewish tradition. More than four thousand editions have been published since the late fifteenth century, but few are as exquisite as the Washington Haggadah, which resides in the Library of Congress. Now, a stunning facsimile edition meticulously reproduced in full color brings this beautiful illuminated manuscript to a new generation.
Joel ben Simeon, the creator of this unusually well-preserved codex, was among the most gifted and prolific scribe-artists in the history of the Jewish book. David Stern’s introduction reconstructs his professional biography and situates this masterwork within the historical development of the haggadah, tracing the different forms the text took in the Jewish centers of Europe at the dawn of modernity.
Katrin Kogman-Appel shows how ben Simeon, more than just a copyist, was an active agent of cultural exchange. As he traveled between Jewish communities, he brought elements of Ashkenazi haggadah illustration to Italy and returned with stylistic devices acquired during his journeys. In addition to traditional Passover images, realistic illustrations of day-to-day life provide a rare window into the world of late fifteenth-century Europe.
This edition faithfully preserves the original text, with the Hebrew facsimile appearing in the original right-to-left orientation. It will be read and treasured by anyone interested in Jewish history, medieval illuminated manuscripts, and the history of the haggadah.