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Religion and Beliefs


Welcome to the World Religions and Beliefs Research Guide! This guide is created to help you find resources on major religions and beliefs in the RCBC and BCLS libraries that are accessible to RCBC Students.

New Books!

Naming God

A fresh look at how Christians and Muslims speak of God Naming God entails labeling the ineffable. And yet the Bible itself oscillates between denying that God can be named and describing how God shows Godself anyway. In Naming God, the result of the 2021 Building Bridges Seminar?an international dialogue of Christian and Muslim scholars?the contributors examine the many ways Christians and Muslims refer to and describe God and the significance of naming God differently. This book provides guidance and materials that will benefit faith leaders as well as students and scholars of theology, dialogue theory, and conflict resolution. Nonspecialists will benefit from an entry-point into the theme of naming God, while specialists will be challenged to develop and deepen their thought on this important topic.

Islam and Women

In a field where most publications on Islam are by men and about men's experience of Islam, this book offers a new perspective on Islam through the world of women. Drawing on rich personal experience, Islamic texts, culture, and history, the author explores faith, cultural themes, and everyday life for Muslim women.

I Judge No One

Why was Jesus, who said "I judge no one," put to death for a political crime? Of course, this is a historical question--but it is not only historical. Jesus's life became a philosophical theme in the first centuries of our era, when "pagan" and Christian philosophers clashed over the meaning of his sayings and the significance of his death. Modern philosophers, too, such as Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, have tried to retrace the arc of Jesus's life and death. I Judge No One is a philosophical reading of the four memoirs, or "gospels," that were fashioned by early Christ-believers and collected in the New Testament. It offers original ways of seeing a deeply enigmatic figure who calls himself the Son of Man. David Lloyd Dusenbury suggests that Jesus offered his contemporaries a scandalous double claim. First, that human judgements are pervasive and deceptive; and second, that even divine laws can only be fulfilled in the human experience of love. Though his life led inexorably to a grim political death, what Jesus's sayings revealed--and still reveal--is that our highest desires lie beyond the political.

Qumran Wisdom and the New Testament

In this book, Benjamin Wold builds on recent developments in the study of early Jewish wisdom literature and brings it to bear on the New Testament. This scholarship has been transformed by the discovery at Qumran of more than 900 manuscripts, including Hebrew wisdom compositions,  many of which were published in critical editions beginning in the mid-1990s. Wold systematically explores the salient themes in the Jewish wisdom worldview found in these scrolls. He also presents detailed commentaries on translations and articulates the key debates regarding Qumran wisdom literature, highlighting the significance of wisdom within the context of Jewish textual culture. Wold's treatment of themes within the early Jewish and Christian textual cultures demonstrates that wisdom transcended literary form and genre. He shows how and why the publication of these ancient texts has engendered profound shifts in the study of early Jewish wisdom, and their relevance to current controversies regarding the interpretation of specific New Testament texts.

Night of Beginnings

Night of Beginnings is a groundbreaking new haggadah for the Passover seder from acclaimed poet, translator, and liturgist Marcia Falk, beautifully designed and illustrated with original color drawings by the author.                Unlike both traditional and new haggadahs, which do not contain a full recounting of the biblical story, Night of Beginnings presents the Exodus narrative in its entirety, providing a direct connection to the ancient origins of the holiday. This retelling highlights the actions of its female characters, including Moshe's sister, Miriam; Pharaoh's daughter, who adopts the baby Moshe; and the midwives Shifrah and Pu'ah, who save the Hebrew male infants. Falk's revolutionary new blessings, in Hebrew and English, replace the traditional, patriarchal seder blessings, and her kavanot--meditative directions for prayer--introduce a genre new to the seder ritual. Poems, psalms, and songs are arranged to give structural coherence to the haggadah. A new commentary raises interpretive questions and invites us to bring personal reflections into the discussion. Like the author's widely acclaimed previous prayer books, The Book of Blessings and The Days Between, Falk's poetic blessings for the seder envision the divine as a Greater Whole of which we are an inseparable part. The inclusive language of Falk's blessings makes room for women to find and use their voices more full-throatedly than they were able to do with the male-centered prayers inherited from the early rabbis. Men, too, will encounter here a spiritually moving and thought-provoking experience.  

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Hinduism

An accessible and up-to-date survey of scholarly thinking about Hinduism, perfect for courses on Hinduism or world religions The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Hinduism examines the historical trajectories that have led to the modern religion of Hinduism. Covering main themes such as philosophy, practice, society, and science, this comprehensive volume brings together a variety of approaches and perspectives in Hindu Studies to help readers better appreciate the richness, complexity, and diversity of Hinduism. Essays by acknowledged experts in the field present historical accounts of all major traditions, analyze key texts, engage with Hindu theology and philosophy, address contemporary questions of colonialism and identity, and more. Throughout the text, the authors highlight the links, common threads, and issues that reoccur in the history of Hinduism. Fully revised and updated, the second edition of the Companion incorporates the most recent scholarship and reflects the trend away from essentialist understandings of Hinduism. New chapters examine the Goddess tradition, Hindu diaspora, Hinduism and inter-religious comparison, Hindu philosophy, and Indian astronomy, medicine, language, and mathematics. This edition places further emphasis on the importance of region-specific studies in analyzing Hinduism, discusses important theoretical issues, and offers fresh perspectives on current discourse in Hindu society and politics. Provides a thorough overview of major texts, their histories, and the traditions that preserve them Describes the major textual traditions in Sanskrit with examples in different Indian vernacular languages Addresses major issues and contemporary debates about the nature and study of Hinduism Discusses the importance of systematic, rational thinking in Indian sciences, philosophy, and theology Examines key socio-political themes in Hinduism that are of particular relevance to the modern world The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, Second Edition is an excellent text for undergraduate courses on Hinduism in Religious Studies and Philosophy departments, and an invaluable resource for scholars and researchers in Hindu Studies.

An introduction to the study of mysticism

2022 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title The purpose of this book is to fill a gap in contemporary mystical studies: an overview of the basic ways to approach mystical experiences and mysticism. It discusses the problem of definitions of "mystical experiences" and "mysticism" and advances characterizations of "mystical experiences" in terms of certain altered states of consciousness and "mysticism" in terms of encompassing ways of life centered on such experiences and states. Types of mystical experiences, enlightened states, paths, and doctrines are discussed, as is the relation of mystical experiences and mysticism to religions and cultures. The approaches of constructivism, contextualism, essentialism, and perennialism are presented. Themes in the history of the world's major mystical traditions are set forth. Approaches to mystical phenomena in sociology, psychology, gender studies, and neuroscience are introduced. Basic philosophical issues related to whether mystical experiences are veridical and mystical claims valid, mystics' problems of language, art, and morality are laid out. Older and newer comparative approaches in religious studies and in Christian theology are discussed, along with postmodernist objections. The intended audience is undergraduates and the general public interested in the general issues related to mysticism.

The Word

From a distinguished Oxford scholar and the author of A History of the Bible, an examination of how biblical translation works and why it matters  Throughout history, most Jewish and Christian believers have understood scripture not in the languages in which it was first written but rather in their own--in translation. In The Word, acclaimed Bible scholar John Barton explores how saints and scholars have negotiated the profound challenges of translating the Bible while remaining faithful to the original. In addition to considering questions of literal versus free translation, literary style, inclusive language, and more, Barton draws out scriptural translation's role at critical junctures in religious history. Far from a mere academic exercise, biblical translation has shaped how we answer faith's most enduring questions about the nature of God, the existence of the soul, and the possibility of salvation. 

The Death of Christ

What was the world like, and what was going on in it, around the time of Jesus' death? This study examines this very question, and also seeks to place Jesus in his larger historical context, as a non-citizen resident of the Roman Empire living in Judaea and Galilee in the 20s and 30s AD. The book explores the larger background and context to some of the major power-brokers of the Roman Empire in Jesus' day, including the emperor Tiberius, his ambitious Praetorian Prefect Sejanus, Judaea's governor Pontius Pilate, and the client king who governed Galilee, Herod Antipas. It further explores some of the larger historical and cultural context and background of some of the characters who parade through the gospel accounts, including the treacherous informant Judas Iscariot, the tax collector turned apostle, Matthew, and the gruff centurion whose servant Jesus was said to have healed. The study also considers the nature of Jesus' radical resistance to the Roman Empire, and seeks to contextualize it through comparison with other resistance movements. Attempts to recover the historical Jesus have sought to put him in his immediate context of ancient Galilee, Judaea, and the Jewish community to which he belonged. Instead this book gives the Roman historical background to the time and place of his ministry and death. Cast into relief against the much larger picture of the greater Roman world of which he was a part, the ministry of Jesus is quite radical indeed.

Reformed and Evangelical Across Four Centuries

Choice Outstanding Academic Title (2022) A definitive history of evangelical Presbyterianism in America  Reformed and Evangelical across Four Centuries tells the story of the Presbyterian church in the United States, beginning with its British foundations and extending to its present-day expression in multiple American Presbyterian denominations. This account emphasizes the role of the evangelical movement in shaping various Presbyterian bodies in America, especially in the twentieth century amid increasing departures from traditional Calvinism, historic orthodoxy, and a focus on biblical authority. Particular attention is also given to crucial elements of diversity in the Presbyterian story, with increasing numbers of African American, Latino/a, and Korean American Presbyterians--among others--in the twenty-first century. Overall, this book will be a bountiful resource to anyone curious about what it means to be Presbyterian in the multidimensional American context, as well as to anyone looking to understand this piece of the larger history of Christianity in the United States.

Siddur Hatefillah

Hebrew University Professor Emeritus and Israel Prize recipient Eliezer Schweid (1929-2022) is widely regarded as one of the greatest historians of Jewish thought of our era. In Siddur Hatefillah, he probes the Jewish prayer book as a reflection of Judaism's unity and continuity as a unique spiritual entity; and as the most popular, most uttered, and internalized text of the Jewish people. Schweid explores texts which process religious philosophical teaching into the language of prayer, and/or express philosophical ideas in prayer's special language - which the worshipper reflects upon in order to direct prayer, and through which flows hoped-for feedback. With the addition of historical, philological, and literary contexts, the study provides the reader with first-time access to the comprehensive meaning of Jewish prayer--filling a vacuum in both the experience and scholarship of Jewish worship.

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