In March, Penguin Random House Press will release Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper (Oxford University). The publisher’s description follows:
This definitive biography reveals the complicated inner life of the founding father of the Protestant Reformation, whose intellectual assault on Catholicism ushered in a century of upheaval that transformed Christianity and changed the course of world history.
On October 31, 1517, so the story goes, a shy monk named Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to the door of the Castle Church in the university town of Wittenberg. The ideas contained in these Ninety-five Theses, which boldly challenged the Catholic Church, spread like wildfire. Within two months, they were known all over Germany. So powerful were Martin Luther’s broadsides against papal authority that they polarized a continent and tore apart the very foundation of Western Christendom. Luther’s ideas inspired upheavals whose consequences we live with today.
But who was the man behind the Ninety-five Theses? Lyndal Roper’s magisterial new biography goes beyond Luther’s theology to investigate the inner life of the religious reformer who has been called “the last medieval man and the first modern one.” Here is a full-blooded portrait of a revolutionary thinker who was, at his core, deeply flawed and full of contradictions. Luther was a brilliant writer whose biblical translations had a lasting impact on the German language. Yet he was also a strident fundamentalist whose scathing rhetorical attacks threatened to alienate those he might persuade. He had a colorful, even impish personality, and when he left the monastery to get married (“to spite the Devil,” he explained), he wooed and wed an ex-nun. But he had an ugly side too. When German peasants rose up against the nobility, Luther urged the aristocracy to slaughter them. He was a ferocious anti-Semite and a virulent misogynist, even as he argued for liberated human sexuality within marriage.
A distinguished historian of early modern Europe, Lyndal Roper looks deep inside the heart of this singularly complex figure. The force of Luther’s personality, she argues, had enormous historical effects—both good and ill. By bringing us closer than ever to the man himself, she opens up a new vision of the Reformation and the world it created and draws a fully three-dimensional portrait of its founder.
In February, Oxford University Press will release Politicizing Islam: The Islamic Revival in France and India by Z. Fareen Parvez (University of Massachusetts). The publisher’s description follows:
Home to the largest Muslim minorities in Western Europe and Asia, France and India are both grappling with crises of secularism. In Politicizing Islam, Fareen Parvez offers an in-depth look at how Muslims have responded to these crises, focusing on Islamic revival movements in the French city of Lyon and the Indian city of Hyderabad. Presenting a novel comparative view of middle-class and poor Muslims in both cities, Parvez illuminates how Muslims from every social class are denigrated but struggle in different ways to improve their lives and make claims on the state. In Hyderabad’s slums, Muslims have created vibrant political communities, while in Lyon’s banlieues they have retreated into the private sphere. Politicizing Islam elegantly explains how these divergent reactions originated in India’s flexible secularism and France’s militant secularism and in specific patterns of Muslim class relations in both cities. This fine-grained ethnography pushes beyond stereotypes and has consequences for burning public debates over Islam, feminism, and secular democracy.
In February, Yale University Press will release Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia by John P. Burgess (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:
A fascinating, vivid, and on-the-ground account of Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence
A bold experiment is taking place in Russia. After a century of being scarred by militant, atheistic communism, the Orthodox Church has become Russia’s largest and most significant nongovernmental organization. As it has returned to life, it has pursued a vision of reclaiming Holy Rus’: that historical yet mythical homeland of the eastern Slavic peoples; a foretaste of the perfect justice, peace, harmony, and beauty for which religious believers long; and the glimpse of heaven on earth that persuaded Prince Vladimir to accept Orthodox baptism in Crimea in A.D. 988.
Through groundbreaking initiatives in religious education, social ministry, historical commemoration, and parish life, the Orthodox Church is seeking to shape a new, post-communist national identity for Russia. In this eye-opening and evocative book, John Burgess examines Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence from a grassroots level, providing Western readers with an enlightening, inside look at the new Russia.
This month, Lexington Books released Merchants and Ministers: A History of Businesspeople and Clergy in the United States by Kevin Schmiesing (Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty). The publisher’s description follows:
Two of the most influential forces in American history are business and religion. Merchants and Ministers weaves the two together in a history of the relationship between businesspeople and Christian clergy. From fur traders and missionaries who explored the interior of the continent to Gilded-Age corporate titans and their clerical confidants to black businessmen and their ministerial collaborators in the Civil Rights movement, Merchants and Ministers tells stories of interactions between businesspeople and clergy from the colonial period to the present. It presents a complex picture of this relationship, highlighting both conflict and cooperation between the two groups. By placing anecdotal detail in the context of general developments in commerce and Christianity, Merchants and Ministers traces the contours of American history and illuminates those contours with the personal stories of businesspeople and clergy.
In February, New York University Press will release New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration by Judith Weisenfeld (Princeton University). The publisher’s description follows:
When Joseph Nathaniel Beckles registered for the draft in the 1942, he rejected the racial categories presented to him and persuaded the registrar to cross out the check mark she had placed next to Negro and substitute “Ethiopian Hebrew.” “God did not make us Negroes,” declared religious leaders in black communities of the early twentieth-century urban North. They insisted that so-called Negroes are, in reality, Ethiopian Hebrews, Asiatic Muslims, or raceless children of God. Rejecting conventional American racial classification, many black southern migrants and immigrants from the Caribbean embraced these alternative visions of black history, racial identity, and collective future, thereby reshaping the black religious and racial landscape.
Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities.
Weisenfeld draws on extensive archival research and incorporates a rich array of sources to highlight the experiences of average members. The book demonstrates that the efforts by members of these movements to contest conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America about the nature of racial identity and the collective future of black people that still resonate today.
In February, Routledge will release Prayer and Politics edited by Peter van der Veer (Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen and Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University). The publisher’s description follows:
Prayer and politics: unlikely, but intimate bedfellows. This publication explores everything from the Pentecostal religious battle – where prayer is both sword and shield against the Satanic Other – to the exchange between Islam and Christianity, demonstrating the relationship between prayer and politics in a wide spectrum of religious traditions, from all across the globe. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Religious and Political Practice.
In February, the University of Toronto Press will release This Happened in My Presence: Moriscos, Old Christians, and the Spanish Inquisition in the Town of Deza, 1569-1611 edited by Patrick J. O’Banion (Lindenwood University). The publisher’s description follows:
Using the records of the Spanish Inquisition, Patrick J. O’Banion reveals the life of the small Spanish town of Deza during a period that was complex and tumultuous—not just for Deza, but for Spain, Europe, and the entire world.
The introduction explains the medieval origins of Deza’s Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations and the changing policies toward religious minorities under the Catholic Monarchs and the Habsburgs. The workings of the Spanish Inquisition and of Deza’s local religious and political institutions are clearly described. Helpful pedagogical materials enhance the primary sources: a timeline that interweaves local with national and international events; short biographies of major and minor protagonists; four modern images of Deza; maps; a glossary of Spanish and Arabic terms; discussion questions; and a bibliography. Each set of documents begins with a brief introduction followed by focus questions. Documents are also grouped by theme in an appendix for easy referencing.
In March, Stanford University Press will release In Rome We Trust: The Rise of Catholics in American Political Life by Manlio Graziano (American Graduate School, Paris). The publisher’s description follows:
On the heels of an extremely lively U.S. presidential election campaign, this book examines the unusually serene relationship between the chief global superpower and the world’s most ancient and renowned institution. The “Catholicization” of the United States is a recent phenomenon: some believe it began during the Reagan administration; others feel it emerged under George W. Bush’s presidency. What is certain is that the Catholic presence in the American political ruling class was particularly prominent in the Obama administration: over one-third of cabinet members, the Vice President, the White House Chief of Staff, the heads of Homeland Security and the CIA, the director and deputy director of the FBI, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military officers were all Roman Catholic. Challenging received wisdom that the American Catholic Church is in crisis and that the political religion in the United States is Evangelicalism, Manlio Graziano provides an engaging account of the tendency of Catholics to play an increasingly significant role in American politics, as well as the rising role of American prelates in the Roman Catholic Church.
In February, Brill Publishers will release From Jesus to his First Followers: Continuity and Discontinuity: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives by Adriana Destro (University of Bologna) and Mauro Pesce (University of Bologna). The publisher’s description follows:
From Jesus to His First Followers examines to what extent early Christian groups were in continuity or discontinuity with respect to Jesus. Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce concentrate on the transformation of religious practices. Their anthropological-historical analysis focuses on the relations between discipleship and households, on the models of contact with the supernatural world, and on cohabitation among distinct religious groups. The book highlights how Matthew uses non-Jewish instruments of legitimation, John reformulates religious experiences through symbolized domestic slavery, Paul adopts a religious practice diffused in Roman-Hellenistic environments. The book reconstructs the map of early Christian groups in the Land of Israel and explains their divergences on the basis of an original theory of the local origin of Gospels’ information.