The role of law in Hinduism and the value of law as a category of Hindu studies have been underestimated. After making an initial case for the connection of dharma and law in the treatises on religious and legal duty known as Dharmaśāstra, this essay examines the role of dharma as law in other Hindu texts in order to show the possible horizons of understanding yielded by an incorporation of law into Hindu studies. Dharmaśāstra, it is argued, should be viewed as a form of legal rhetoric and its formulations of dharma understood as paradigmatic for the Hindu tradition as a whole. Finally, through a comparison with Islam and Islamic studies, the mutual modulations of law and Hinduism are examined in order to see the consequences of juxtaposing these two categories.
W. E. B. Du Bois: Interpreting Religion and the Problem of the Negro Church [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963.
African Americans -- Religion.
W. E. B. Du Bois's contribution to the study of the Negro Church was his historical argument about the viability and influence of African culture. Du Bois asserted the partial autonomy and creativity of black culture. This was a crucial achievement in his day when normative theories of African cultural "backwardness" prevailed. Du Bois's detailed analyses of particular local black communities also enriched his theories on black culture and made possible more accurate generalizations about social change in black communities, an important task in a time when measurements of black progress or decline consumed observers of the "Negro Problem." Du Bois anticipated postmodernist debates about Western religious claims to universality, and in his work among African Americans, he wrestled with many issues that we currently engage with in the contemporary self-reflective mode of our discipline. His work challenged the theoretical boundaries of the newly emerging disciplines of religion, sociology, and anthropology.
The quest to balance the material and the spiritual has a long history in the Hindu tradition, as it does in the West. While Hindus recognize desire to be a central human value, they also see it as a cause of human suffering. This tension persists within contemporary Hinduism, especially among an emergent middle class that seeks to balance spiritual fulfillment and worldly success. If we are to understand recent manifestations of Hinduism, we would do well to explore their roots in the colonial period. That is the goal of this essay, which explores the affinity between one early colonial version of Vedānta and the socio-economic activities of its bourgeois promoters. Working from a rare set of Bengali discourses delivered at meetings of the Tattvabodhinī Sabhā during its inaugural year (1839–40), this essay demonstrates how a rescripted Vedānta provided members with a worldview that legitimated both their spiritual concerns and their worldly activities.
Bible -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- History -- Early church, ca. 30-600.
Although Augustine's posthumous influence on Christianity is immense and wide ranging, the authority he exercises among his contemporaries is far more modest and contextual. Subsequent generations overestimate Augustine's actual authority largely because we approach him as readers of a written, monological corpus that has consolidated his power. In his own context, however, Augustine's authority as preacher and bishop lay in complex social dynamics that are dialogical, mutually responsive, and limiting. Although we can no longer hear Augustine as those in his congregation did, we can work to develop hermeneutical practices that retrieve differences in the way written and spoken words generate distinct patterns of authority. Not only is Augustine aware of such differences, but in his practice of exegesis and preaching, the authority of scripture itself functions variously within a range of written and verbal registers. His treatment of the psalms especially emphasizes their status as a living voice inviting the hearer into dialogue with the divine other. An amplified sense of how authority operates in Augustine's work: (1) contributes to historical studies that argue the exercise of episcopal power in the late fourth, early fifth centuries was in fact quite restricted; (2) coheres with theoretical studies that insist the nature of religious power is constituted by multidirectional social and symbolic relations; and (3) comports with theological studies that regard divine revelation as lying not solely in the biblical text but also in the very communicative processes where that text comes to life.
Walsh, Michael J.
The Economics of Salvation: Toward a Theory of Exchange in Chinese Buddhism [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Buddhism -- Economic aspects -- China -- History -- To 1500.
Exchange -- China -- History -- To 1500.
This essay theorizes the material implications of Chinese Buddhist merit as a transaction exchange mechanism. Over the last two and a half millennia, merit has necessitated an institutionalized paradigm: from the position of both the donor and recipient, you must expend that which you have (land, harvest, money, labor, and time) in order to gain that which you feel you need (a more lucrative lifestyle, a more desirable existence, social recognition, and salvation after death). To gain one must give; or more accurately, to receive one must first bestow. Without this exchange process, it is unlikely that Buddhism would have survived. This exchange formed the foundation of the Buddhist monastic economy in China. I further lay out some key terms for studying the history of Buddhist merit as a transaction of religious exchange and offer them as potentially useful categories of exploration in other fields. Although I take Song dynasty (960–1276 CE) Chinese Buddhist monastic culture as my point of departure, the discussion extends its focus toward the broader impact of merit exchange arguing that the exchange of goods for merit was (and is) the defining social mechanism of Chinese Buddhism.
Wedemeyer, Christian K.
Beef, Dog, and Other Mythologies: Connotative Semiotics in Mahāyoga Tantra Ritual and Scripture [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Semiotics -- Religious aspects -- Tantric Buddhism.
Scholars have long debated how the antinomian elements in the Buddhist Tantras are to be interpreted. Some maintain that they are to be taken literally; others that they are figurative or "symbolic." Both, however—in approaching these statements as examples of directly denotative natural language—miss the most essential aspect of the semiology of these traditions. This paper demonstrates that the Buddhist Mahāyoga Tantras employ a form of signification (theorized by Roland Barthes) called "connotative semiotics," in which signs (a signifier–signified union) from natural language function as signifiers in a higher-order discourse. Employing these semiological tools enables criticism to recognize that what is fundamentally operative—in both ritual performance and scriptural narrative—is a grammar of purity and pollution in significant dialog with both earlier Buddhist Tantras and broader Indian religious norms. This suggests that such antinomianism—far from representing either "tribal" practices or rarified yogic codes—reflects concerns native to mainstream Indian religion.
Ascough, Richard S.
Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Elsner, Jaś, ed. Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman & early Christian antiquity: seeing the gods.
Rutherford, Ian, 1959-, ed.
Pilgrims and pilgrimages -- Greece -- History.
Avery-Peck, Alan J. (Alan Jeffery), 1953-
The Commerce of the Sacred: Mediation of the Divine Among Jews in the Greco-Roman World (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Lightstone, Jack N. Commerce of the sacred: mediation of the divine among Jews in the Greco-Roman world.
Basser, Herbert W.
Mediation between God and man -- Judaism.
Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Levenson, Jon Douglas. Resurrection and the restoration of Israel: the ultimate victory of the God of life.
Resurrection (Jewish theology)
Callan, Terrance, 1947-
Jews, Gentiles, and Ethnic Reconciliation: Paul's Jewish Identity and Ephesians (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Yee, Tet-Lim N. Jews, Gentiles, and ethnic reconciliation: Paul's Jewish identity and Ephesians.
Bible. N.T. Ephesians II -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Coakley, Sarah, 1951-
After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology from Resources Outside the Modern West (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Rogers, Eugene F. After the Spirit: a constructive pneumatology from resources outside the modern West.