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Muslim Lands, Christian Heroes, Jewish Voices

The Judeo-Spanish Ballad Tradition of Morocco

Hillary Pomeroy

The Spanish Jews who fled to North Africa from the 1391 pogroms were joined a century later, in 1492, by a larger wave of exiles, the thousands of Jews who had chosen to leave Spain rather than convert to Christianity. These fellow Jews, the megorashim or expelled Jews, had been forbidden to take 'gold and silver or minted coins' out of Spain (Edwards 1994: 52). They did, however, take with them invisible assets: their Spanish language and culture. This Iberian presence in Morocco was further reinforced by the arrival of a third group of Spanish-speaking Jews fleeing the forced conversions imposed by Portugal in 1497.

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Pentecostal Networks and the Spirit of Globalization

On the Social Productivity of Ritual Forms

Joel Robbins

Pentecostal Christianity has in the last several decades demonstrated an ability to globalize with great speed and to flourish in social contexts of poverty and disorganization in which other social institutions have been unable to sustain themselves. This article asks why Pentecostalism should be so successful at institution building in harsh environments. I argue that this question is more fundamental than those scholars more often ask about the kinds of compensations that Pentecostalism provides for its adherents. I then draw on Collins's theory of interaction ritual chains to suggest that it is Pentecostalism's promotion of ritual to the center of social life that grounds its unusual institution-building capacity.

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Piroska Nagy

This essay focuses on a strange medieval phenomenon, the so-called gift of tears—religious weeping that brings beatitude. This internal purifying process, which was embedded in the specific conditions of historical Christianity, was described and understood as a procedure in which God himself acts and, therefore, as a process that human-kind cannot learn, formalize, or ritualize. However, the author analyzes religious weeping as a peculiar, `intimate ritual' in which the formalized process took place in the soul or spirituality of the weeping person. This essay aims to describe and analyze this practice while examining the historical conditions that enabled such a cultural elaboration to develop.

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From Boy to Man in Antiquity

Jesus in the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas

Reidar Aasgaard

This article presents a survey of research on childhood in antiquity and describes briefly the position of children in late antiquity and early Christianity. Special attention is given to the relationship between childhood and gender, with a focus on boyhood. The article analyses the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which tells the childhood story of Jesus from age five to twelve. This brief story, which consists of miracle stories and discourses, originated in Greek in the 2nd century CE and became widely popular. The article shows that its depiction of Jesus conforms to current ideas of gender, gender relations, and gender socialisation. A central claim in the article is that boys were not expected to show the same degree of self-restraint as were adult males, but that as children they were allowed to behave more emotionally and unpredictably. Rather than being literarily inferior or theologically aberrant, the Infancy of Gospel of Thomas in its depiction of Jesus gives a lively and credible glimpse into the world and development of a late antiquity or early Christianity male child on his way from boyhood to male adult life.

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The Book of Leviticus

An Important Book in Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Erich Zenger

We can characterize the different degrees of importance given to the Book of Leviticus in Judaism and Christianity with the words of G.J. Wenham: ‘Leviticus used to be the first book that Jewish children studied in the synagogue. In the modern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible anyone looks at seriously.’2 In the Encyclopaedia Judaica,3 J. Milgrom also highlights the great significance of the Book of Leviticus as the first object of instruction in school, which Midrash LevR VII.3 explains as follows: ‘Rabbi Assi: Why do the small children begin (to learn) with Leviticus (Torah Kohanim) and not with Genesis? Because the small children are pure and the sacrifices are pure; so the pure come and occupy themselves with the pure.’

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Hans Hermann Henrix

The 40-year long tradition of the International Jewish-Christian Bible Week – begun in the Hedwig-Dransfeld-Haus in Bendorf and since 2004 continued at Haus Ohrbeck – is a valid and real reason to express congratulations and thanksgiving. Thanks are due above all to the people who initiated the tradition, and representing them I want to name Anneliese Debray (1911–1985), who will always be remembered, and Rabbi Jonathan Magonet. They helped a vision to come to life and they showed a perseverance that has persisted until today. It is the vision that says: yes, there is a Bible that Jews and Christians have in common, Israel’s Bible. At the same time, this vision does not forget that along with closeness, the relationship of Judaism and Christianity to this shared Bible also includes considerable difference. For some, this difference is so great that they question whether Jews and Christians do have Israel’s Bible in common.

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Jonathan Magonet

It is with great sadness that we record the death after a long illness, on 3 May 2009, of Mme Colette Kessler, one of the leading figures of liberal Judaism in France. She was above all a teacher and educator, responsible for developing the educational programmes at the Union Libéral Israélite (ULI) and subsequently the Mouvement Juif Libéral de France (MJLF) in Paris. But she was also dedicated to developing Jewish-Christian dialogue, participating in innumerable conferences, encounters, studies and religious services. She addressed the World Union for Progressive Judaism Conference in Paris in 1995 on ‘The Urgency of a Jewish Response in the Inter-religious Dialogue’ anticipating by five years the appearance in the United States of ‘Dabru Emet, A Jewish Statement about Christianity’.

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Education within Our Faith Communities

What Do We Learn and What Do We Teach about Ourselves and about Others?

Laura Janner-Klausner

I do not think that I had the best introduction to interfaith dialogue. I studied Christianity at school and at university. I was overprotected at the first and overexposed at the second. At school, our wonderful Catholic teacher avoided the so called ‘difficult’ chapters in the Gospels so as to protect her five students (three of whom were Jewish) – or maybe herself. On the other hand, my university lecturers taught the ‘Old Testament’ with assertions such as ‘Judaism is morally invalid’. These experiences strengthened in me a destructive understanding of the religious world as consisting of only Christians (the Faculty was then a Protestant-only zone) and Jews (as Christ-killers). You will not be surprised to know that after receiving my Divinity degree, I did not go anywhere near Christian studies for another thirteen years!

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After the Exodus

Catholics and the Formation of Postcolonial Identity in Algeria

Darcie Fontaine

As French officials negotiated the terms of Algerian independence with the Provisional Government of the Republic of Algeria (GPRA) in 1961–62, among the issues discussed was the future of the Christian population. After colonial occupation and armed struggle, in which the defense of “Christian civilization” in Algeria had been a major ideological justification for French violence against the Algerian population, the future of Christianity in postcolonial Algeria was not self-evident. This article examines how European Catholics negotiated their position in post-independence Algeria. I demonstrate that Catholic attempts to “become Algerian” and decolonize the Church were intertwined with global religious politics, economic necessities, and colonial history. Yet their continued presence in Algeria demonstrates that the standard narratives of postcolonial rupture between the European and Algerian populations do not hold up, for, in the early years of post-independence Algeria, European Catholics played an active role in the construction of the postcolonial nation.

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Presenting Judaism

Jewish Museums in Britain

Rickie Burman

All religions are practised within a larger social context, but different religions may relate to that context in different ways, posing particular issues for the way that religion is communicated through museum display. Christianity, for example, when displayed within a Christian country, will tend to focus upon the specific arena of religiosity. The Jewish minority within the same country is more likely to employ an integrated approach that sets religion within the context of history and social life. This is partly because Judaism is not only a set of beliefs and practices – it is also a way of life. The representation of Judaism therefore presents particular challenges and opportunities within a museum context. This article will provide a case study, focusing on Jewish museums within Britain.