The Bible Unearthed in the Context of the Tenth Century (BCE) Debate. A Review of Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts
In the last decade a number of scholarly works investigating the phenomenon of ethnicity in the Hebrew Bible have appeared. This essay will address critically the question of whether a focus on ethnicity contributes to a deeper understanding of the Hebrew Bible both in its original setting and in its use and transmission to the present. The Pentateuch arguably is deeply concerned with establishing the true identity of Israel vis-à-vis other nations, peoples, or ethnic groups. The first task will be to address how ethnicity is to be defined, and its usefulness as a conceptual framework for investigating the Pentateuch. Since the greatest concern in the Pentateuch is expressed about Israel’s identity in relation to Egypt, the second task will be to address how recent works on ethnicity in the Pentateuch deal with the question of Egypt. This essay will argue that only a reading strategy that goes "against the grain" and attempts to reconstruct that which the text seeks to silence will be able to access the dynamics of ethnic identity formation that lie submerged under the surface of the Pentateuch and the Hebrew Bible.
The post-civil war period in America - the same era that witnessed an unprecedented growth in industry, science, technology and urbanization - was also the golden age of secret brotherhoods, and above all, the more elaborate orders such as Scottish Rite Freemasonry. While a variety of historians have discussed the importance of Masonry and other fraternal organizations in Victorian America, few have explored the central role of secrecy, esoteric ritual and occult symbolism in these traditions. This article suggests a fresh interpretation of the phenomenon of American Freemasonry, and a new approach to religious secrecy in general, by examining the deep connections between secrecy and social power in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Using some insights from Georg Simmel and Pierre Bourdieu, this article argues that secrecy operates as kind of "adornment," which, like fine clothing, enhances one's status even as it conceals one's person. In Bourdieu's terms, secret information thus serves as powerful form of "symbolic capital" - that is, a rare and precious resource that enhances one's prestige within a particular social hierarchy.
"Political Spirituality" sounds like an oxymoron because in the media "politics" and its derivatives are always used pejoratively and "spirituality" is always used honorifically, and also because "spirituality" is generally understood to be a matter only of the interior and private life as distinct from the public life of work and citizenship. I argue that these interpretations are seriously mistaken, that the current spirituality boom is largely a recrudescence of the Gnosticism of the early centuries of the first millenium, that involvement in the political process is essential in the Christian life, and that therefore "political spirituality" should be understood as a redundancy rather than an oxymoron.
Philosophy and religion have preserved the uniqueness of humanity, but primate studies increasingly show that the criteria separating humans and nature, such as culture and learning, language and abstraction, genetics and behavior, and ethics and morality, are quickly eroding. Primatology supports John Haughts contention, inGod after Darwin: A Theology of Evolution,that there is subjectivity in nature, so perhaps it is not unimaginable that God works in the lives of animals in ways analogous to Gods influence in the lives of humans. As Haught claims, this means that God is far more complex and interesting than humans have every imagined. A panentheistic model of Gods relationship to the world accommodates both the subjectivity of animals and the divine influence of God in the lives of non-human animals. When human experience is decentered from sole importance, panentheism allows diverse animal experiences to affect Gods experience and influence in the world.
María Atkinson is one of the most important women in the history of Pentecostalism in Mexico. She helped to establish the Mexican branch of the Church of God as well as Spanish-speaking churches in the American southwest. Yet, she remains a neglected figure among American historians of Pentecostalism. Some of this neglect is due to the fact that the study of Pentecostalism among Latinos is still in its infancy. Our study aims to correct this neglect, by providing a study of the life and work of María Atkinson within the socio-historical context of northern Mexico. Atkinson may be seen as an agent of an Americanization program encouraged by the Church of God and paralleled by American corporations. In particular, she became a conduit of Appalachian religious practices. In addition, this study explores the sociology behind Atkinson's meteoric rise and eventual eclipse in the Mexican branch of the Church of God.
Desmond Tutu's suggestion that U. S. society should have a truth and reconciliation process about its racist past prompts this investigation into historical scholarship on racial violence. The lynchings of Zachariah Walker (1911) and of Willie Earle (1947) reveal different regional memories which deny or acknowledge the past. By contrast Wilmington, NC in 1998 re-collected a white supremacist coup (1898) in ways that were transformational for the present. The essay points to legacies of racial violence in hate crimes, in backlash against affirmative action and in continued racialization of citizenship and the census.
The Holocaust occupies an important place in Christian evangelical literature. The murder of millions of Jews in Europe during World War II has been a topic evangelicals have needed to deal with, and books relating to the Holocaust have been popular in evangelical circles since the 1970s. The central issue such books confront is how Christian believers behaved during that unprecedented time of trial. The books have come to reassure evangelical Christians that true Christian believers had nothing to do with the persecution and annihilation of Jews, and that in fact their behavior had been exemplary. Evangelical writers have further pointed to the horrors of the Holocaust, as a proof that human beings are in need of accepting Jesus as their Savior and following in his footsteps. Evangelical Holocaust literature also has come to promote the evangelical opinion on the special role of Jews in history and the need to evangelize that nation.
This essay will examine the thesis that film has become the medium of changes in the American civil religion by comparing how the traditional comparison of America to biblical Israel has played itself out in two Hollywood films: Cecil B. DeMille’sThe Ten Commandments,and Dreamworks’The Prince of Egypt.These films have preserved many of the historically important themes of American civil religion, including the close relation of freedom to justice and of individualism to social commitment, but also have "hollywoodized" these themes, contributing to a civil religion that is both more individualistic and more fideistic than in the past.
In this paper I revisit Nancy Howell's essay on the need for a new theology that speaks to the continuity between humans and primates. I interrogate the assumptions and arguments that Howell employs to ground this new theology and unpack the theoretical, theological, and political implications of these assumptions and arguments. I contend that this new theology poses no threat to the status quo as it gives us no new ways of being in the world with others. That is, it gives us no new possibilities. I argue for a new set of assumptions that makes for a new and different understanding of what being human means and, in turn, makes for the beginnings of a new theology.
This study examines both the content of and mediums used to convey religious meaning to children about the American Civil War. It is particularly concerned with the "lessons" taught in popular literature, children's books, and art during the latter-half of the nineteenth century. While these proscriptive expressions of children's religion illustrate a number of themes, descriptive works, such as diaries and letters from both young and old, convey the ways in which children and youth attempted to reconcile those expressions of religion with what they encountered during the Civil War and Reconstruction. In particular, the research focuses on how concepts of loss and sacrifice were imbued with religious symbolism and ritualized in the lives of children in both private and public settings. Finally, the treatment is also concerned with the relationship between what one historian has called the "politicized" experiences of children from the Civil War era and ideas about reconciliation within America's religious communities in the aftermath of war. It examines the different genres in which these themes were articulated and suggests the problematic nature a civil war posed to the Redeemer Nation.
The successful "invasion" of ancient Mesopotamia by explorers in the pay of the British Museum Trustees resulted in best-selling publications, a treasure-trove of Assyrian antiquities for display purposes and scholarly excavation, and a remarkable boost to the quest for confirmation of the literal truth of the Bible. The public registered its delight with the findings through the turnstyle-twirling appeal of the British Museum exhibits, and a series of appropriations of Assyrian art motifs and narratives in popular culture - jewelry, bookends, clocks, fine arts, theater productions, and a walk-through Assyrian palace among other period mansions at the Sydenham Crystal Palace. Unfortunately for the evangelically-inclined, "the monuments" did not confirm the received narrative of the Bible with uniform transparency. King Pul of biblical fame failed to appear in the cuneiform texts, thus sparking an international twenty-year hunt that illuminates deeper anxieties in British imperial civilization.