Around the Web this Week

Here is a look at some law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

Turlej, “Justiniana Prima”

In June, Columbia University Press will release Justiniana Prima: An Underestimated Aspect of Justinian’s Church Policy by Stanislaw Turlej (Jagiellonian University). The publisher’s description follows:

Justiniana PrimaThe book explores the history of Justiniana Prima, a city built by Emperor Justinian I (527-565) in his birthplace near Niš in present-day Serbia. Previous studies focused on determining the city’s location, underestimating the significance of analyzing written sources for the reconstruction of this city’s genesis and importance. Using information from Emperor Justinian’s Novels XI and CXXXI, as well as Book IV of Procopius of Caesarea’s De aedificiis, Stanislaw Turlej endeavors to show that Justiniana Prima’s historic significance resulted from granting its Church the status of an archbishopric with its own province in 535, which was independent of Rome. Justinian wanted to introduce profound changes to the ecclesiastical organization based on state law.

de Wet, “The Unbound God”

In June, Routledge will release The Unbound God: Slavery and the Formation of Early Christian Thought by Chris L. de Wet (University of South Africa). The publisher’s description follows:

The Unbound GodThis volume examines the prevalence, function, and socio-political effects of slavery discourse in the major theological formulations of the late third to early fifth centuries AD, arguably the most formative period of early Christian doctrine. The question the book poses is this: in what way did the Christian theologians of the third, fourth, and early fifth centuries appropriate the discourse of slavery in their theological formulations, and what could the effect of this appropriation have been for actual physical slaves? This fascinating study is crucial reading for anyone with an interest in early Christianity or Late Antiquity, and slavery more generally.

“Victorian Muslim” (Gilham & Geaves, eds.)

In June, Oxford University Press will release Victorian Muslim: Abdullah Quilliam and Islam in the West edited by Jamie Gilham (University of London) and Ron Geaves (Cardiff University). The publisher’s description follows:

Victorian MuslimAfter formally announcing his conversion to Islam in the late 1880s, the Liverpool lawyer William Henry Abdullah Quilliam publicly propagated his new faith and established the first community of Muslim converts in Victorian Britain. Despite decades of relative obscurity following his death, with the resurgence of interest in Muslim heritage in the West since 9/11 Quilliam has achieved iconic status in Britain and beyond as a pivotal figure in the history of Western Islam and Muslim-Christian relations.

In this timely book, leading experts of the religion, history and politics of Islam offer new perspectives and shed fresh light on Quilliam’s life and work. Through a series of original essays, the authors critically examine Quilliam’s influences, philosophy and outlook, the significance of his work for Islam, his position in the Muslim world and his legacy. Collectively, the authors ask pertinent questions about how conversion to Islam was viewed and received historically, and how a zealous convert like Quilliam negotiated his religious and national identities and sought to indigenise Islam in a non- Muslim country.

Ciszek and Flaherty, “With God in Russia”

In June, Harper Collins Publishers will release With God in Russia: The Inspiring Classic Account of a Catholic Priest’s Twenty-three Years in Soviet Prisons and Labor Camps by Walter J. Ciszek S.J. and Daniel L. Flaherty S.J. The publisher’s description follows:

With God in Russia.pngRepublished for a new century and featuring an afterword by Father James Martin, SJ, the classic memoir of an American-born Jesuit priest imprisoned for fifteen years in a Soviet gulag during the height of the Cold War—a poignant and spiritually uplifting story of extraordinary faith and fortitude as indelible as Unbroken. Foreword by Daniel L. Flaherty.

While ministering in Eastern Europe during World War II, Polish-American priest Walter Ciszek, S.J., was arrested by the NKVD, the Russian secret police, shortly after the war ended. Accused of being an American spy and charged with “agitation with intent to subvert,” he was held in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison for five years. The Catholic priest was then sentenced without trial to ten more years of hard labor and transported to Siberia, where he would become a prisoner within the forced labor camp system made famous in Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize—winning book The Gulag Archipelago.

In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.

Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him.

Lassner, “Medieval Jerusalem”

Next month, the University of Michigan Press will release Medieval Jerusalem: Forging an Islamic City in Spaces Sacred to Christians and Jews by Jacob Lassner (Northwestern University). The publisher’s description follows:

Medieval JerusalemMedieval Jerusalem examines an old question that has recently surfaced and given rise to spirited discussion among Islamic historians and archeologists: what role did a city revered for its holiness play in the unfolding politics of the early Islamic period? Was there an historic moment when the city, holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, may have been considered as the administrative center of a vast Islamic world, as some scholars on early Islam have recently claimed? Medieval Jerusalem also emphasizes the city’s evolution as a revered Islamic religious site comparable to the holy cities Mecca and Medina.

Examining Muslim historiography and religious lore in light of Jewish traditions about the city, Jacob Lassner points out how these reworked Jewish traditions and the imposing monumental Islamic architecture of the city were meant to demonstrate that Islam had superseded Judaism and Christianity as the religion for all monotheists. He interrogates the literary sources of medieval Islamic historiography and their modern interpreters as if they were witnesses in a court of law, and applies the same method for the arguments about the monuments of the city’s material culture, including the great archaeological discoveries along the south wall of the ancient Temple Mount.

This book will be of interest to a broad range of readers given the significance of the city in the current politics of the Near East. It will in part serve as a corrective to narratives of Jerusalem’s past that are currently popular for scholarly and political reasons.

Marshall, “Heretics and Believers”

In June, Yale University Press will release Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation by Peter Marshall (University of Warwick). The publisher’s description follows:

Heretics and BelievesA sumptuously written people’s history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall’s sweeping new history—the first major overview for general readers in a generation—argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of “reform” in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora’s Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.

With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of “religion” itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.

Lecture: “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today” (Apr. 19)

On April 19, the King’s College McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the King’s Public Policy and Research Institute, and the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council are co-sponsoring a lecture titled “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today” given by Catherine Cosman (retired senior policy analyst for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) at the William G. McGowan School of Business. A brief description of the event follows:

King's CollegeCatherine Cosman, recently retired senior policy analyst for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, will discuss religious liberty in Russian and its impact on foreign policy at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Burke Auditorium at King’s College.

The free public lecture, titled “An (Un)Orthodox View: Religions and Politics in Russia Today,” is co-sponsored by the KING’S McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the King’s Public Policy and Research Institute, and the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council.

After 70 years of official Soviet atheism, Russia is now home to a great variety of religions. While the Russian Constitution says that the country is a secular state, the religion law preface claims four religions as “traditional”: Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. The Russian government, particularly the Kremlin, relies almost solely on the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (MPROC) as its official religious bulwark. Cosman’s talk will examine some of the reasons for the Kremlin’s focus on the Moscow Patriarchate and how this focus both affects other religious communities and plays out in Russian international politics.

Cosman joined the staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2003. Her areas of responsibility include the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Organization on Security and Cooperation (OSCE). She previously served on the staff of the U.S. Helsinki Commission as senior analyst on Soviet dissent.

She also worked with emerging independent labor unions for the Free Trade Union Institute, especially in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In Estonia, she was the Senior Expert of the OSCE Mission, focusing on the integration of the Russian minority. She managed the Central Asian and Caucasus grants program at the National Endowment for Democracy and edited “Media Matters” and “(Un)Civil Societies.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College, Cosman earned a master’s degree and an ABD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Brown University. She also studied at the Free University of Berlin and the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

The Burke Auditorium is located in the William G. McGowan School of Business on North River Street. Parking will be available in on-campus lots. For more information, please contact Dr. Bernard Prusak, director, McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, at (570) 208-5900, ext. 5689.

More information on the lecture can be found here.

Perin, “The Many Rooms of This House”

Next month, the University of Toronto Press will release The Many Rooms of This House: Diversity in Toronto’s Places of Worship Since 1840 by Roberto Perin (Glendon College, York University). The publisher’s description follows:

In the House.jpgPlaces of worship are the true building blocks of communities where people of various genders, age, and class interact with each other on a regular basis. These places are also rallying points for immigrants, helping them make the transition to a new, and often hostile environment.

The Many Rooms of this House is a story about the rise and decline of religion in Toronto over the past 160 years. Unlike other studies that concentrate on specific denominations, or ecclesiastical politics, Roberto Perin’s ecumenical approach focuses on the physical places of worship and the local clergy and congregants that gather there. Perin’s timely and nuanced analysis reveals how the growing wealth of the city stimulated congregations to compete with one another over the size, style, materials, and decoration of their places of worship. However, the rise of individualism has negatively affected these same congregations leading to multiple church closings, communal breakdown, and redevelopments. Perin’s fascinating work is a lens to understanding how this once overwhelmingly Protestant city became a symbol of diversity.

Stopka, “Armenia Christiana”

In June, Columbia University Press will release Armenia Christiana: Armenian Religious Identity and the Churches of Constantinople and Rome (4th – 15th century) by Krzysztof Stopka (Jagiellonian University). The publisher’s description follows;

Armenia ChristianaThis book presents the dramatic and complex story of Armenia’s ecclesiastical relations with Byzantine and subsequently Roman Christendom in the Middle Ages. It is built on a broad foundation of sources – Armenian, Greek, Latin, and Syrian chronicles and documents, especially the abundant correspondence between the Holy See and the Armenian Church. Krzysztof Stopka examines problems straddling the disciplines of history and theology and pertinent to a critical, though not widely known, episode in the story of the struggle for Christian unity.

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