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The Multicentering of American Religion
This study of the religious landscape of Indianapolis -- the summative volume of the Lilly Endowment's Project on Religion and Urban Culture conducted by the Polis Center at IUPUI -- aims to understand religion's changing role in public life. The book examines the shaping of religious traditions by the changing city. It sheds light on issues such as social capital and faith-based welfare reform and explores the countervailing pressures of "decentering" -- the creation of multiple (sub)urban centers -- and civil religion's role in binding these centers into one metropolis.
Polis Center Series on Religion and Urban Culture -- David J. Bodenhamer and Arthur E. Farnsley II, editors
Augustine, Langland, and Fourteenth-Century Theology
In Salvation and Sin, David Aers continues his study of Christian theology in the later Middle Ages. Working at the nexus of theology and literature, he combines formidable theological learning with finely detailed and insightful close readings to explore a cluster of central issues in Christianity as addressed by Saint Augustine and by four fourteenth-century writers of exceptional power. Salvation and Sin explores various modes of displaying the mysterious relations between divine and human agency, together with different accounts of sin and its consequences. Theologies of grace and versions of Christian identity and community are its pervasive concerns. Augustine becomes a major interlocutor in this book: his vocabulary and grammar of divine and human agency are central to Aers' exploration of later writers and their works. After the opening chapter on Augustine, Aers turns to the exploration of these concerns in the work of two major theologians of fourteenth-century England, William of Ockham and Thomas Bradwardine. From their work, Aers moves to his central text, William Langland's Piers Plowman, a long multigeneric poem contributing profoundly to late medieval conversations concerning theology and ecclesiology. In Langland's poem, Aers finds a theology and ethics shaped by Christology where the poem's modes of writing are intrinsic to its doctrine. His thesis will revise the way in which this canonical text is read. Salvation and Sin concludes with a reading of Julian of Norwich's profound, compassionate, and widely admired theology, a reading which brings her Showings into conversation both with Langland and Augustine.
Origins of the Christian Film Industry
Winner of the Religious Communication Association Book of the Year Award for 2008
Sanctuary Cinema provides the first history of the origins of the Christian film industry. Focusing on the early days of film during the silent era, it traces the ways in which the Church came to adopt film making as a way of conveying the Christian message to adherents. Surprisingly, rather than separating themselves from Hollywood or the American entertainment culture, early Christian film makers embraced Hollywood cinematic techniques and often populated their films with attractive actors and actresses. But they communicated their sectarian message effectively to believers, and helped to shape subsequent understandings of the Gospel message, which had historically been almost exclusively verbal, not communicated through visual media.
Despite early successes in attracting new adherents with the lure of the film, the early Christian film industry ultimately failed, in large part due to growing fears that film would corrupt the church by substituting an American “civil religion” in place of solid Christian values and amidst continuing Christian unease about the potential for the glorification of images to revert to idolatry. While radio eclipsed the motion picture as the Christian communication media of choice by the 1920, the early film makers had laid the foundations for the current re-emergence of Christian film and entertainment, from Veggie Tales to The Passion of the Christ.
Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice
Saving Women is a much-needed study of women's contributions to the theology of evangelism. Through a careful consideration of the primary sources of six Protestant women ministering in America from 1800-1950, this historical and theological study demonstrates that these women combined verbal proclamation with other historic Christian practices in their roles as preacher, visitor, missionary, educator, activist, and reformer.
Intellectual History and the Return of Religion
While religious history and intellectual history are both active, dynamic fields of contemporary historical inquiry, historians of ideas and historians of religion have too often paid little attention to one another’s work. The intellectual historian Quentin Skinner urged scholars to attend to the contexts as well as the texts of authors, in order to “see things their way.” Where religion is concerned, however, historians have often failed to heed this good advice; this book helps to remedy that failure. The editors and contributors urge intellectual historians to explore the religious dimensions of ideas and at the same time commend the methods of intellectual history to historians of religion.
Biblical and Early Christianity Studies from Malawi
Jonathan Nkhoma, in this scholarly collection of essays, enriches the reader with different interesting windows on how one can unearth the riches contained in some of the New Testament writings. The first two essays underscore the importance of placing the New Testament in a proper context and attempt to construct this context by discussing the historical background and the theological understanding of the Qumran Covenanters as derived from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jonathan Nkhoma treats many aspects touching the proper interpretation of the New Testament writings. For example, he shows how the sacramental rituals of washing and eating together in the Qumran Community add meaning to the same rituals carried over to the New Testament. The significance of table fellowship is treated in greater depth in a subsequent essay. Throughout the various essays the question of the historicity of the various texts is treated in a succinct way and the author is able to come to some helpful conclusions drawing on the previous work of many well know scholars. The later essays tackle the very difficult question of martyrdom and Jonathan Nkhoma delves into the history of two particular cases in order to shed light on this difficult subject. All essays are written in impeccable English which flows in an easy style. This collection of essays would be invaluable to anyone who would wish to make a serious study of the New Testament writings.
Sexuality and Difference in Early Christian Texts
As Christian leaders in the first through fifth centuries embraced ascetic interpretations of the Bible and practices of sexual renunciation, sexual slander--such as the accusations Paul leveled against wayward Gentiles in the New Testament--played a pivotal role in the formation of early Christian identity. In particular, the imagined construct of the lascivious, literal-minded Jew served as a convenient foil for the chaste Christian ideal. Susanna Drake examines representations of Jewish sexuality in early Christian writings that use accusations of carnality, fleshliness, bestiality, and licentiousness as strategies to differentiate the "spiritual" Christian from the "carnal" Jew. Church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Hippolytus of Rome, Origen of Alexandria, and John Chrysostom portrayed Jewish men variously as dangerously hypersexual, at times literally seducing virtuous Christians into heresy, or weak and effeminate, unable to control bodily impulses or govern their wives. As Drake shows, these carnal caricatures served not only to emphasize religious difference between Christians and Jews but also to justify increased legal constraints and violent acts against Jews as the interests of Christian leaders began to dovetail with the interests of the empire. Placing Christian representations of Jews at the root of the destructions of synagogues and mobbing of Jewish communities in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, Slandering the Jew casts new light on the intersections of sexuality, violence, representation, and religious identity.
Disputing Peace and Violence in Medieval Europe, 1000–1200
In The Sleep of Behemoth, Jehangir Yezdi Malegam explores the emergence of conflicting concepts of peace in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. Ever since the Early Church, Christian thinkers had conceived of their peace separate from the peace of the world, guarded by the sacraments and shared only grudgingly with powers and principalities. To kingdoms and communities they had allowed attenuated versions of this peace, modes of accommodation and domination that had tranquility as the goal. After 1000, reformers in the papal curia and monks and canons in the intellectual circles of northern France began to reimagine the Church as an engine of true peace, whose task it was eventually to absorb all peoples through progressive acts of revolutionary peacemaking. Peace as they envisioned it became a mandate for reform through conflict, coercion, and insurrection. And the pursuit of mere tranquility appeared dangerous, and even diabolical.
As Malegam shows, within western Christendom's major centers of intellectual activity and political thought, the clergy competed over the meaning and monopolization of the term "peace." contrasting it with what one canon lawyer called the "sleep of Behemoth," a diabolical "false" peace of lassitude and complacency, one that produced unsuitable forms of community and friendship that must be overturned at all costs. Out of this contest over the meaning and ownership of true peace, Malegam concludes, medieval thinkers developed theologies that shaped secular political theory in the later Middle Ages. The Sleep of Behemoth traces this radical experiment in redefining the meaning of peace from the papal courts of Rome and the schools of Laon, Liege, and Paris to its gradual spread across the continent and its impact on such developments as the rise of papal monarchism; the growth of urban, communal self-government; and the emergence of secular and mystical scholasticism.
Sexual Difference in Early Christian Thought
The first Christians operated with a hierarchical model of sexual difference common to the ancient Mediterranean, with women considered to be lesser versions of men. Yet sexual difference was not completely stable as a conceptual category across the spectrum of formative Christian thinking. Rather, early Christians found ways to exercise theological creativity and to think differently from one another as they probed the enigma of sexually differentiated bodies.
In Specters of Paul, Benjamin H. Dunning explores this variety in second- and third-century Christian thought with particular attention to the ways the legacy of the apostle Paul fueled, shaped, and also constrained approaches to the issue. Paul articulates his vision of what it means to be human primarily by situating human beings between two poles: creation (Adam) and resurrection (Christ). But within this framework, where does one place the figure of Eve—and the difference that her female body represents?
Dunning demonstrates that this dilemma impacted a range of Christian thinkers in the centuries immediately following the apostle, including Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian of Carthage, and authors from the Nag Hammadi corpus. While each of these thinkers attempts to give the difference of the feminine a coherent place within a Pauline typological framework, Dunning shows that they all fail to deliver fully on the coherence that they promise. Instead, sexual difference haunts the Pauline discourse of identity and sameness as the difference that can be neither fully assimilated nor fully ejected—a conclusion with important implications not only for early Christian history but also for feminist and queer philosophy and theology.