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Medieval Exegesis and Religious Difference

Commentary, Conflict, and Community in the Premodern Mediterranean

Edited by Ryan Szpiech

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have a common belief in the sanctity of a core holy scripture, and commentary on scripture (exegesis) was at the heart of all three traditions in the Middle Ages. At the same time, because it dealt with issues such as the nature of the canon, the limits of acceptable interpretation, and the meaning of salvation history from the perspective of faith, exegesis was elaborated in the Middle Ages along the faultlines of interconfessional disputation and polemical conflict. This collection of thirteen essays by world-renowned scholars of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explores the nature of exegesis during the High and especially the Late Middle Ages as a discourse of cross-cultural and interreligious conflict, paying particular attention to the commentaries of scholars in the western and southern Mediterranean from Iberia and Italy to Morocco and Egypt. Unlike other comparative studies of religion, this collection is not a chronological history or an encyclopedic guide. Instead, it presents essays in four conceptual clusters (“Writing on the Borders of Islam,” “Jewish-Christian Conflict,” “The Intellectual Activity of the Dominican Order,” and “Gender”) that explore medieval exegesis as a vehicle for the expression of communal or religious identity, one that reflects shared or competing notions of sacred history and sacred text. This timely book will appeal to scholars and lay readers alike and will be essential reading for students of comparative religion, historians charting the history of religious conflict in the medieval Mediterranean, and all those interested in the intersection of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim beliefs and practices.

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Miracles

Wonder and Meaning in World Religions

David Weddle, 0, 0

“In a pluralistic world, Weddle presents an engaging study of what millions of religious people in the world believe about miracles even while others do not. This comprehensive history of miracles for both believers and skeptics should appeal not only to academics but also to anyone interested in the enigmas of faith.”

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The Mosque

The Heart of Submission

Rusmir Mahmutcehajic

The Mosque is an extended meditation on a dimension of Islam unfamiliar to most Western readers. The mosque, Rusmir Mahmuticehajiic argues, is not an analogue of the Christian church, not least because in Islam there is no priesthood and no institutionalized hierarchy. Rather, every Muslim is his or her own priest, andmost religious obligations are performed in the home. The function of the mosque is thus dispersed throughout society and, indeed, throughout the natural world as well. The Arabic word from which English mosque derives means literally place of prostration-the place one performs the daily ritual prayer of submission to God, so as to become a guest at the table God has sent down to manifest himself. That table is also the world's mosque, the world as mosque. Among the many tragic victims of the Bosnian genocide are its mosques; more than a thousand were destroyed. A part of the essential fabric of Bosnian life was changed. With this book, Rusmir Mahmuticehajiic seeks to rebuild the spirit and majesty of each mosque that was destroyed, the spiritual grace it lent the Bosnian landscape.Beautifully composed, elegantly written and constructed, this is a primary text of Islamic spirituality, by one of the most significant Muslim European voices of our age . . . . A book to be returned to again and again.-Adam B. Seligman, Boston UniversityThis work by one of the leading intellectual figures of Bosnia is one of the finest written in the English language on the spiritual significance of the mosque. It speaks the language of universal spirituality and is able to open a door for Western readers to the relationship between the mosque, as understood outwardly, and the inner mosque, which is the heart. The book also reflects in most elegant language the reality of a land where mosques, churches, and synagogues have stood side by side over the centuries, each bearing witness in its own way to the Presence of the One.-Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University

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Mount Fuji

Icon of Japan

H. Byron Earhart

Illustrated with color and black-and-white images of the mountain and its associated religious practices, H. Byron Earhart's study utilizes his decades of fieldwork—including climbing Fuji with three pilgrimage groups—and his research into Japanese and Western sources to offer a comprehensive overview of the evolving imagery of Mount Fuji from ancient times to the present day. Included in the book is a link to his twenty-eight–minute streaming video documentary of Fuji pilgrimage and practice, Fuji: Sacred Mountain of Japan. Beginning with early reflections on the beauty and power associated with the mountain in medieval Japanese literature, Earhart examines how these qualities fostered spiritual practices such as Shugendo, which established rituals and a temple complex at the mountain as a portal to an ascetic otherworld. As a focus of worship, the mountain became a source of spiritual insight, rebirth, and prophecy through the practitioners Kakugyo and Jikigyo, whose teachings led to social movements such as Fujido (the way of Fuji) and to a variety of pilgrimage confraternities making images and replicas of the mountain for use in local rituals. Earhart shows how the seventeenth-century commodification of Mount Fuji inspired powerful interpretive renderings of the "peerless" mountain of Japan, such as those of the nineteenth-century print masters Hiroshige and Hokusai, which were largely responsible for creating the international reputation of Mount Fuji. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, images of Fuji served as an expression of a unique and superior Japanese culture. With its distinctive shape firmly embedded in Japanese culture but its ethical, ritual, and spiritual associations made malleable over time, Mount Fuji came to symbolize ultranationalistic ambitions in the 1930s and early 1940s, peacetime democracy as early as 1946, and a host of artistic, naturalistic, and commercial causes, even the exotic and erotic, in the decades since.

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Mythical Trickster Figures

Edited by William J. Hynes and William G. Doty

Mythical Trickster Figures, is the first substantial collection of essays about the trickster to appear since Radin's 1955 The Trickster. Contributions by leading scholars treat a wide range of manifestations of this mischievous character, ranging from the Coyote of the American Southwest to such African figures as Eshu-Elegba and Ananse, the Japanese Susa-no-o, the Greek Hermes, Christian adaptations of Saint Peter, and examples found in contemporary American fiction and drama. The many humorous trickster stories included are fascinating in themselves, but Hynes and Doty also highlight the wide range of features of the trickster--the figure whose comic appearance often signifies that the most serious cultural values are being both challenged and enforced. William J. Hynes is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Mary's College of California. William G. Doty is Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Alabama and the author of Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals also published by The University of Alabama Press.

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Mythography

The Study of Myths and Rituals

This new edition of William Doty's critically acclaimed study provides a comprehensive guidebook to the many schools of interpretation in this burgeoning field. William Doty's popular text has been hailed as the most comprehensive work of its kind. Extensively rewritten and completely restructured, the new edition provides further depth and perspective and is even more accessible to students of myth. It includes expanded coverage of postmodern and poststructuralist perspectives, the Gernet Center, mythic iconography, neo-Jungian approaches, and cultural studies, and it summarizes what is new in the study of Greek myth, iconography, French classical scholarship, and ritual studies. It also features a comprehensive index of names and topics, a glossary, an up-to-date annotated bibliography, and a guide to myth on the Internet. Presenting all major myth theorists from antiquity to the present, Mythography is an encyclopedic work that offers a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of myth. By reflecting the dramatic increase in interest in myth among both scholars and general readers since publication of the first edition, it remains a key study of modern approaches to myth and an essential guide to the wealth of mythographic research available today. William G. Doty is Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at The University of Alabama and editor of Mythosphere: A Journal for Image, Myth, and Symbol.

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On Our Way

The Final Passage through Life and Death

Robert Kastenbaum

How do our ideas about dying influence the way we live? Life has often been envisioned as a journey, the river of time carrying us inexorably toward the unknown country—and in our day we increasingly turn to myth and magic, ritual and virtual reality, cloning and cryostasis in the hope of eluding the reality of the inevitable end. In this book a preeminent and eminently wise writer on death and dying proposes a new way of understanding our last transition. A fresh exploration of the final passage through life and perhaps through death, his work deftly interweaves historical and contemporary experiences and reflections to demonstrate that we are always on our way.

Drawing on a remarkable range of observations—from psychology, anthropology, religion, biology, and personal experience—Robert Kastenbaum re-envisions life's forward-looking progress, from early-childhood bedtime rituals to the many small rehearsals we stage for our final separation. Along the way he illuminates such moments and ideas as becoming a "corpsed person," going down to earth or up in flames, respecting or abusing (and eating) the dead, coping with "too many dead," conceiving and achieving a "good death," undertaking the journey of the dead, and learning to live through the scrimmage of daily life fully knowing that Eternity does not really come in a designer flask. Profound, insightful, often moving, this look at death as many cultures await it or approach it enriches our understanding of life as a never-ending passage.

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The Only True God

Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context

James F. McGrath

Monotheism, the idea that there is only one true God, is a powerful religious concept that was shaped by competing ideas and the problems they raised. Surveying New Testament writings and Jewish sources from before and after the rise of Christianity, James F. McGrath argues that even the most developed Christologies in the New Testament fit within the context of first century Jewish "monotheism." In doing so, he pinpoints more precisely when the parting of ways took place over the issue of God's oneness, and he explores philosophical ideas such as "creation out of nothing," which caused Jews and Christians to develop differing concepts and definitions about God.

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Open Secret

Wu-wei Wei

The old Masters were fond of a little joke. For instance one of them might say that the Buddha had a secret, but that Mahākāshyapa let it out. Mahākāshyapa, you may remember, was the bodhisattva to whom the Supreme Vehicle, chiefly represented by Ch'an and Zen to-day, is attributed.

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Opening the Doors of Wonder

Reflections on Religious Rites of Passage

Arthur Magida

This bold, pioneering book explores rites of passage in America by sifting through the accounts of influential thinkers who experienced them. Arthur J. Magida explains the underlying theologies, evolution, and actual practice of Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs, Christian confirmations, Hindu sacred thread ceremonies, Muslim shahadas and Zen jukai ceremonies. In rare interviews, renowned artists and intellectuals such as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, holistic guru Deepak Chopra, singer Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), actress/comedienne Julia Sweeney, cartoonist Roz Chast, interfaith maven Huston Smith, and many more talk intimately about their religious backgrounds, the rites of passage they went through, and how these events shaped who they are today.

Magida compares these coming of age ceremonies' origins and evolution, considers their ultimate meaning and purpose, and gauges how their meaning changes with individuals over time. He also examines innovative rites of passage that are now being "invented" in the United States. Passionate and lyrical, this absorbing book reveals our deep, ultimate need for coming-of-age events, especially in a society as fluid as ours.

Conversations with: Bob Abernethy, Huston Smith, Julia Sweeney, Roz Chast, Harold Kushner, Ram Dass, Elie Wiesel, Deepak Chopra, Robert Thurman, Coleman Barks, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), And others

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