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Reading Scandalous Texts
Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought
Examines the early works of German-Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). Praised as a major political thinker of the twentieth century and vilified as the putative godfather of contemporary neoconservatism, Leo Strauss (1899–1973) has been the object of heated controversy both in the United States and abroad. This book offers a more balanced appraisal by focusing on Strauss’s early writings. By means of a close and comprehensive study of these texts, David Janssens reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s thought from its earliest beginnings until his emigration to the United States in 1937. He discusses the first stages in Strauss’s grappling with the “theological-political problem,” from his doctoral dissertation on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi to his contributions to Zionist periodicals, from his groundbreaking study of Spinoza’s critique of religion to his research on Moses Mendelssohn, and from his rediscovery of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy to his research on Hobbes. Throughout, Janssens traces Strauss’s rediscovery of the Socratic way of life as a viable alternative to both modern philosophy and revealed religion.
Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood
Plato's chora as developed in the Timaeus is a creative matrix in which things arise and stand out in response to the lure of the Good. Chora is paired with the Good, its polar opposite; both are beyond beingand the metaphors hitherto thought to disclose the transcendent. They underlie Plato's distinction of a procreative gap between being and becoming. The chiasmus between the Good and chora makes possible their mutual participation in one another. This gap makes possible both phenomenological and cosmological interpretations of Plato. Metaphor is restricted to beings as they appear in this gap through the crossing of metaphor's terms, terms that dwell with, rather than subulate, one another. Hermeneutically, through its iswe can see something being engendered or determined by that crossing.Bigger's larger goal is to align the primacy of the Good in Plato and Christian Neoplatonism with the creator God of Genesis and the God of love in the New Testament.
The Practice of Religious Studies
This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study of religion,on the one hand, and theology,on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion.
The Sacred Quest for Confusion
Why do we travel? Ostensibly an act of leisure, travel finds us thrusting ourselves into jets flying miles above the earth, only to endure dislocations of time and space, foods and languages foreign to our body and mind, and encounters with strangers on whom we must suddenly depend. Travel is not merely a break from routine; it is its antithesis, a voluntary trading in of the security one feels at home for unpredictability and confusion. In Bewildered Travel Frederick Ruf argues that this confusion, which we might think of simply as a necessary evil, is in fact the very thing we are seeking when we leave home.
Ruf relates this quest for confusion to our religious behavior. Citing William James, who defined the religious as what enables us to "front life," Ruf contends that the search for bewilderment allows us to point our craft into the wind and sail headlong into the storm rather than flee from it. This view challenges the Eliadean tradition that stresses religious ritual as a shield against the world’s chaos. Ruf sees our departures from the familiar as a crucial component in a spiritual life, reminding us of the central role of pilgrimage in religion.
In addition to his own revealing experiences as a traveler, Ruf presents the reader with the journeys of a large and diverse assortment of notable Americans, including Henry Miller, Paul Bowles, Mark Twain, Mary Oliver, and Walt Whitman. These accounts take us from the Middle East to the Philippines, India to Nicaragua, Mexico to Morocco--and, in one threatening instance, simply to the edge of the author’s own neighborhood. "What gives value to travel is fear," wrote Camus. This book illustrates the truth of that statement.
Religious Sources of Social Transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
In an age of terrorism and other forms of violence committed in the name of religion, how can religion become a vehicle for peace, justice, and reconciliation? And in a world of bitter conflicts-many rooted in religious difference-how can communities of faith understand one another?The essays in this important book take bold steps forward to answering these questions. The fruit of a historic conference of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars and community leaders, the essays address a fundamental question: how the three monotheistic traditions can provide the resources needed in the work of justice and reconciliation.Two distinguished scholars represent each tradition. Rabbis Irving Greenberg and Reuven Firestone each examine the relationship of Judaism to violence, exploring key sources and the history of power, repentance, and reconciliation. From Christianity, philosopher Charles Taylor explores the religious dimensions of categoricalviolence against other faiths, other groups, while Scott Appleby traces the emergence since Vatican II of nonviolence as a foundation of Catholic theology and practice. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, discusses Muslim support of pluralism and human rights, and Mohamed Fathi Osman examines the relationship between political violence and sacred sources in contemporary Islam.By focusing on transformative powers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the essays in this book provide new beginnings for people of faith committed to restoring peace among nations through peace among religions.
John Locke is often thought of as one of the founders of the Enlightenment, a movement that sought to do away with the Bible and religion and replace them with scientific realism. But Locke was extremely interested in the Bible, and he was engaged by biblical theology and religion throughout his life. In this new book, K.I. Parker considers Locke’s interest in Scripture and how that interest is articulated in the development of his political philosophy.
Parker shows that Locke’s liberalism is inspired by his religious vision and, particularly, his distinctive understanding of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Unlike Sir Robert Filmer, who understood the Bible to justify social hierarchies (i.e., the divine right of the king, the first-born son’s rights over other siblings, and the “natural” subservience of women to men), Locke understood from the Bible that humans are in a natural state of freedom and equality to each other. The biblical debate between Filmer and Locke furnishes scholars with a better understanding of Lockes political views as presented in his Two Treatises.
The Biblical Politics of John Locke demonstrates the impact of the Bible on one of the most influential thinkers of the seventeenth century, and provides an original context in which to situate the debate concerning the origins of early modern political thought.
An Introduction for African Universities
This book introduces the study of Biblical studies, theology, religion and philosophy from an African perspective. The book comprises twenty six chapters divided into four sections. The first section deals with Biblical studies, the second with theology, the third with religion and the fourth with philosophy. The contributions are from 20 eminent scholars from African and Caribbean universities.
Toward an African American Religious Naturalism
Identifying African American religiosity as the ingenuity of a people constantly striving to inhabit their humanity and eke out a meaningful existence for themselves amid harrowing circumstances, Black Lives and Sacred Humanity constructs a concept of sacred humanity and grounds it in the writings of Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and James Baldwin. Supported by current theories in science studies, critical theory, and religious naturalism, this concept, as Carol Wayne White demonstrates, offers a capacious view of humans as interconnected, social, value-laden organisms with the capacity to transform themselves and create nobler worlds wherein all sentient creatures flourish. Acknowledging the great harm wrought by divisive and problematic racial constructions in the United States, this book offers an alternative to theistic models of African American religiosity to inspire newer, conceptually compelling views of spirituality that address a classic, perennial religious question: What does it mean to be fully human and fully alive?
Recent philosophical reexaminations of sacred texts have focused almost exclusively on the Christian New Testament, and Paul in particular. The Book of Job and the Immanent Genesis of Transcendence revives the enduring philosophical relevance and political urgency of the book of Job and thus contributes to the recent “turn toward religion” among philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou. Job is often understood to be a trite folktale about human limitation in the face of confounding and absolute transcendence; on the contrary, Hankins demonstrates that Job is a drama about the struggle to create a just and viable life in a material world that is ontologically incomplete and consequently open to radical, unpredictable transformation. Job’s abiding legacy for any future materialist theology becomes clear as Hankins analyzes Job’s dramatizations of a transcendence that is not externally opposed to but that emerges from an ontologically incomplete material world.