A book about the role of books in shaping the ancient religious landscape
This collection of essays by leading scholars from a variety of academic disciplines explores the ongoing relevance of Harry Gamble's Books and Readers in the Early Church (1995) for the study of premodern book cultures. Contributors expand the conversation of book culture to examine the role the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur'an played in shaping the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions in the ancient and medieval world. By considering books as material objects rather than as repositories for stories and texts, the essays examine how new technologies, new materials, and new cultural encounters contributed to these holy books spreading throughout territories, becoming authoritative, and profoundly shaping three global religions.
Comparative analysis of book culture in Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic contexts
Art-historical, papyrological, philological, and historical modes of analysis
Essays that demonstrate the vibrant, ongoing legacy of Gamble's seminal work
Bringing together texts from a variety of sectarian traditions, this reader provides the broadest selection of primary source Hindu literature available to date.
The volume is divided into two major parts. The first section presents selections that explore major themes in classical Sanskrit traditions, including those in the Vedic, Upanisadic, and Dharma literatures, as well as the classical philosophical-religious schools. The second part includes selections that highlight the sectarian and devotional movements related to major deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Sant, Tantra, and the goddess figures.
In addition to a general introductory chapter on Indian literature, each major section is introduced by an essay that places the selections within the context of Hindu history. This comprehensive reader stands on its own as an indispensable anthology of original textual sources for courses in Hinduism, while also serving as a companion volume to the text The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-Historical Introduction.
Scholars have long separated a few privileged “religions of the Book” from faiths lacking sacred texts, including ancient Roman religion. Looking beyond this distinction, Duncan MacRae delves into Roman treatises on the nature of gods and rituals to grapple with a central question: what was the significance of books in a religion without scripture?
The Mahabharata, an ancient and vast Sanskrit poem, is a remarkable collection of epics, legends, romances, theology, and ethical and metaphysical doctrine. The core of this great work is the epic struggle between five heroic brothers, the Pandavas, and their one hundred contentious cousins for rule of the land. This is the second volume of van Buitenen's acclaimed translation of the definitive Poona edition of the text. Book two, The Book of the Assembly Hall, is an epic dramatization of the Vedic ritual of consecration that is central to the book. Book three, The Book of the Forest, traces the further episodes of the heroes during their years in exile. Also included are the famous story of Nala, dealing with the theme of love in separation, and the story of Rama, the subject of the other great Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana, as well as other colorful tales.
Bringing together essential materials on the origins and development of Buddhist traditions from India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, and Japan, this anthology provides the broadest selection of primary source Buddhist literature available to date.
The volume is divided into two major parts: Theravada and Mahayana forms of Buddhism. The first section presents selections that explore major themes in Buddhist thought such as causality, Four Noble Truths, the doctrine of non-self, nibbana, meditation, and ethics, as well as literature about monastic life and regulations, women, and hagiography.
The second part includes selections from so-called wisdom literature and texts that represent the three major schools of Mahayana Buddhism: Pure Land, Madhyamika, and Yogacara. Selections also include sources from some of the major Chinese Buddhist schools such as Hua-yen, T'ien T'ai, Pure Land, and Ch'an. Readings by thinkers such as Tantric Buddhist reformer Tsong Khapa, Pure Land leaders Honen, Shinran, and Nichiren, as well as Zen Buddhists Dogen and Hakuin provide a perspective on regional and national traditions.
In addition to the general introduction, each major section is introduced by an essay that places the selections within the context of Buddhist history. This comprehensive reader stands on its own as an indispensable anthology of original textual sources for courses in Buddhism, while also serving as a companion volume to the text The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction.
Perhaps more than any other cause, the passage of texts from scroll to codex in late antiquity converted the Roman Empire from paganism to Christianity and enabled the worldwide spread of Christian faith. Guy Stroumsa describes how canonical scripture was established and how its interpretation replaced blood sacrifice in religious ritual.
"A wider range than usual of Sanskrit texts: not only interesting Vedic, epic, and mythological texts but also a good sampling of ritual and ethical texts. . . . There are also extracts from texts usually neglected, such as medical treatises, works on practical politics, and guides to love and marriage. . . . Readings from the vernacular Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil traditions [serve to] enrich the collection and demonstrate how Hinduism flourished not just in Sanskrit but also in its many mother tongues."—Francis X. Clooney, Journal of Asian Studies
"McLeod is a renowned scholar of Sikhism. . . . [This book] confirms my view that there is nothing about the Sikhs or their religion that McLeod does not know and there is no one who can put it across with as much clarity and brevity as he can. In his latest work he has compressed in under 150 pages the principal sources of the Sikh religion, the Khalsa tradition and the beliefs of breakaway sects like the Nirankaris and Namdharis. . . . As often happens, an outsider has sharper insight into the workings of a community than insiders whose visions are perforce restricted."—Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times
Historically, religious scriptures are defined as holy texts that are considered to be beyond the abilities of the layperson to interpret. Their content is most frequently analyzed by clerics who do not question the underlying political or social implications of the text, but use the writing to convey messages to their congregations about how to live a holy existence. In Western society, moreover, what counts as scripture is generally confined to the Judeo-Christian Bible, leaving the voices of minorities, as well as the holy texts of faiths from Africa and Asia, for example, unheard.
In this innovative collection of essays that aims to turn the traditional bible-study definition of scriptures on its head, Vincent L. Wimbush leads an in-depth look at the social, cultural, and racial meanings invested in these texts. Contributors hail from a wide array of academic fields and geographic locations and include such noted academics as Susan Harding, Elisabeth Shüssler Fiorenza, and William L. Andrews.
Purposefully transgressing disciplinary boundaries, this ambitious book opens the door to different interpretations and critical orientations, and in doing so, allows an ultimately humanist definition of scriptures to emerge.