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Is It Scripture or Not?

On Moments of Conceptual Tertium Datur

Ralph Weber

Focusing on examples related to the concept of scripture, I highlight certain moments of indecisiveness in the context of larger processes of possible conceptual change. In these moments, agents involved in the process frequently employ language that in one way or another expresses a conceptual tertium datur. This article sets out to distinguish some of those ways, such as analogy, assertions of resemblance, quasi-status or partial scripturality, oxymoronic adjectival qualification, and exclusivity by selection. The examples draw on four cases, the publication of the Sacred Books of the East series, Petrus Venerabilis's discussion of the Koran, a taxonomy by al-Shahrastānī with regard to the “People of the Book”, and the canonization of the Five Classics in ancient China. Finally, I issue a rallying cry for an entangled and transnational conceptual history. Such an approach is likely to foreground interlingual situations where conceptual indecisiveness is the rule rather than the exception.

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Texts in Dialogue


The International Jewish Christian Bible Week, which is dedicated mainly to the study of the Hebrew Scriptures, includes two sessions called ‘Texts in Dialogue’, usually devoted to reflection by a Jew and a Christian on a New Testament text, or

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The Midrash: A Model for God's Voice in a Secular Society

A Jewish Perspective

Moshe Lavee

which can be understood and can function in the world of the interpreter. As such, the Midrash is an emblem for a wider commitment towards scriptures, and is involved in a continuous effort to interpret them and make them relevant. We apply the principle

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The New Testament and the Qur'an as Depicted in Abraham Silveira's ‘Telling’ Mute Book

Davide Liberatoscioli

human reason is an adequate instrument to approach the Scriptures and consequently identify and follow the right faith. Confident in human reason's capability to interpret the Bible literally, he apparently decides to collect biblical passages and, in a

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Learning to Pray by Singing

Gregorian Chants with Texts Based on the Psalms

Stefan Klöckner

well known during the Carolingian period (because they were read during the Church service), gave an interpretation of the Psalm texts that was very close to life and existential. (3) The ‘Teaching of the fourfold meaning of Scripture’, described by

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When Men Become Orthodox in Israel


William F.S. Miles

impart the essence of their collective identity. (The minority who have been initiated are referred to as uqqal , or ‘the enlightened’.) A closely guarded set of scriptures supposedly constitutes the core of Druze teachings; not even Druze themselves

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From the Tradition an Analysis of the Relationship Between mSanhedrin 4

5, Four Traditions about Adam Attributed to Rav in bSanhedrin 38a-b and Psalm 139

Alexandra Wright

Midrash arises out of many different and often opposing readings of Scripture. The importance of the dialogue between texts from different historical periods is clearly important, but so too is the organic development of legends, themes or motifs which can be read back into scriptural texts. The association of the themes of creation and in particular, the legends connected with the first human being, are important in discussing the relationship between our three texts. As Irving Jacobs points out, though, there is also a third element in this conversation between texts and their ideas, 'the people for whom the text was intended'. How a congregation listens to a text, the way in which a generation brings its own concerns and perceptions to legal or aggadic texts and imbues them with new, multiple and complex meanings, is as important as the textual relationship itself.

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The Challenge of Living with Multiple Identities

'Does Monotheism Breed Monomania?'

Howard Cooper

My specific self-questioning title for this evening – 'Does Monotheism Breed Monomania?' – which I hope is both playful and provocative, has emerged from the conversation inside me between two of these identities, as it were. The dialogue within me between the analyst immersed in particular traditions of thinking about the human mind and its unconscious processes – and the rabbi who is one link in a chain of a millennia-old Judaic cultural heritage which can be thought of as a 'concentric tradition of reading' (the phrase is George Steiner's) centred on the Torah, but spreading ever outwards, and involving a 'fidelity to the written word' from the sacred scriptures of tradition to the definitive so-called 'secular' texts of our own times, like Kafka or Freud, texts which have their own luminosity, perhaps even, at times, numinosity.

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God's Delivery State

Taxes, Tithes, and a Rightful Return in Urban Ghana

Anna-Riikka Kauppinen


Middle-class Christians in Ghana's capital Accra voice ambivalence about paying taxes: some claim that the government wastes their hard-earned money, while others consider taxes a Christian duty enshrined in the scripture. By contrast, most Christians in Accra esteem tithes to churches as contributions that yield infrastructural ‘development’ and divine favor. Drawing on the explicit comparisons that Ghanaian Christians make between the benefits of paying taxes vis-à-vis paying tithes, this article argues that taxes exist as part of a wider conceptual universe of monetary transfers. The efficacy of such transfers is evaluated in relation to what I call a ‘rightful return’. The unveiling of tithes as the counterpoint to taxes ultimately elicits an emergent Ghanaian conception of the public good between the state and God's Kingdom.

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Changing Colors of Money

Tips, Commissions, and Ritual in Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Jackie Feldman

The movement of money in Christian pilgrimage is a profound mirror of cultural classifications. By examining tips, commissions, and souvenir purchases in Holy Land pilgrimages, I show how the transfer of monies activates a series of multiple, complex relationships between Jewish guides, Palestinian drivers, and Christian pilgrims. I identify the 'colors'—or moral values—of salaries, tips, and commissions that change hands as 'white', 'black', or 'gray' monies and correlate these colors with particular discourses and degrees of transparency. I then illustrate how prayer, rituals, and the citation of scripture may 'bleach' these monies, transforming tips into 'love offerings' and souvenir purchases into aids to spiritual development or charity to local communities, while fostering relationships and conveying messages across religious and cultural lines. Far from being a universal 'acid' that taints human relationships, pilgrimage monies demonstrate how, through the exchange of goods, people are able to create and maintain spiritual values.