Lemire, “Jerusalem 1900”

In April, the University of Chicago Press will release Jerusalem 1900: The Holy City in the Age of Possibilities by Vincent Lemire (University of Marne-la-Vallée, Paris). The publisher’s description follows:

uni-chicago-pressPerhaps the most contested patch of earth in the world, Jerusalem’s Old City experiences consistent violent unrest between Israeli and Palestinian residents, with seemingly no end in sight. Today, Jerusalem’s endless cycle of riots and arrests appears intractable—even unavoidable—and it looks unlikely that harmony will ever be achieved in the city. But with Jerusalem 1900, historian Vincent Lemire shows us that it wasn’t always that way, undoing the familiar notion of Jerusalem as a lost cause and revealing a unique moment in history when a more peaceful future seemed possible.

In this masterly history, Lemire uses newly opened archives to explore how Jerusalem’s elite residents of differing faiths cooperated through an intercommunity municipal council they created in the mid-1860s to administer the affairs of all inhabitants and improve their shared city. These residents embraced a spirit of modern urbanism and cultivated a civic identity that transcended religion and reflected the relatively secular and cosmopolitan way of life of Jerusalem at the time. These few years would turn out to be a tipping point in the city’s history—a pivotal moment when the horizon of possibility was still open, before the council broke up in 1934, under British rule, into separate Jewish and Arab factions. Uncovering this often overlooked diplomatic period, Lemire reveals that the struggle over Jerusalem was not historically inevitable—and therefore is not necessarily intractable. Jerusalem 1900 sheds light on how the Holy City once functioned peacefully and illustrates how it might one day do so again.

Barnes, “Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic”

This month, Baylor University Press releases Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic: Tuskegee, Colonialism, and the Shaping of African Industrial Education by Andrew E. Barnes (Arizona State University). The publisher’s description follows:

global-chrisitianityMany Europeans saw Africa’s colonization as an exhibition of European racial ascendancy. African Christians saw Africa’s subjugation as a demonstration of European technological superiority. If the latter was the case, then the path to Africa’s liberation ran through the development of a competitive African technology.

In Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic, Andrew E. Barnes chronicles African Christians’ turn to American-style industrial education—particularly the model that had been developed by Booker T. Washington at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute—as a vehicle for Christian regeneration in Africa. Over the period 1880–1920, African Christians, motivated by Ethiopianism and its conviction that Africans should be saved by other Africans, proposed and founded schools based upon the Tuskegee model.

Barnes follows the tides of the Black Atlantic back to Africa when African Christians embraced the new education initiatives of African American Christians and Tuskegee as the most potent example of technological ingenuity. Building on previously unused African sources, the book traces the movements to establish industrial education institutes in cities along the West African coast and in South Africa, Cape Province, and Natal. As Tuskegee and African schools modeled in its image proved, peoples of African descent could—and did—develop competitive technology.

Though the attempts by African Christians to create industrial education schools ultimately failed, Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic demonstrates the ultimate success of transatlantic black identity and Christian resurgence in Africa at the turn of the twentieth century. Barnes’ study documents how African Christians sought to maintain indigenous identity and agency in the face of colonial domination by the state and even the European Christian missions of the church.

“Charity and Social Welfare” (Van Molle, ed.)

In March, Cornell University Press will release “Charity and Social Welfare: The Dynamics of Religious Reform in Northern Europe, 1780-1920,” edited by Leen Van Molle (KU Leuven).  The publisher’s description follows:

“Charity” is a word that fits well in the history of religion and churches, whereas the concept of social reform seems to belong more to the vocabulary of the modern 80140100179110lwelfare states. Christian charity found itself, during the long nineteenth century, within the maelstrom of social turmoil. In this context of social unrest, although charity managed to confirm its relevance, it was also subjected to fierce criticism, as well as to substitute state-run forms of social care and insurance. The history of the welfare states remained all too blind to religion. This book unravels how the churches in Britain and Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium shaped and adjusted their understanding of poverty. It reveals how they struggled with the “social question” and often also with the modern nation-states to which they belonged. Either in the periphery of public assistance or in a dynamic interplay with the state, political parties and society at large, the churches reinvented their tradition as providers of social relief.

 

Cosgel & Ergene, “The Economics of Ottoman Justice”

In November, Cambridge University Press released “The Economics of Ottoman Justice: Settlement and Trial in the Sharia Courts,” by Metin Coşgel (University of Connecticut) and Boğaç Ergene (University of Vermont).  The publisher’s description follows:

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international 9781107157637mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations. In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time.

Luther’s Endurance

This morning at the Library of Law and Liberty site, I review the Morgan Library’s recent exhibit on the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses, Martin Luther’s questions about Church teaching that sparked the Protestant Reformation. Although the exhibition doesn’t take sides, expressly, it’s pretty clear that Luther is the hero of their story — and I explain why:

Why does the Morgan favor Luther in his debate with the Church? It’s not because the management is Lutheran. It’s because, whatever the debate within Christianity on Faith versus Works—and both Lutheran and Catholic theology show more nuance than people typically understand—in the secular world, Luther has come to stand for the overthrow of traditional authority in favor of individual subjectivity. We typically mean something very different by “conscience” than he did in that statement at Worms, but his emphasis on individual conviction rather than received wisdom anticipates the preeminence of personal authenticity as a social and political value. That’s why Luther continues to appeal to our wider culture today.

You can read the whole post here.

Ellis, “Politics and Piety”

In March, Brill Publishers will release Politics and Piety: The Protestant ‘Awakening’ in Prussia, 1816-1856 by David L. Ellis (Augustana College). The publisher’s description follows:

politics-and-pietyIn Politics and Piety: The Protestant ‘Awakening’ in Prussia, 1816-1856, David L. Ellis analyzes the connections between political conservatism and Prussia’s neo-Pietist religious revival, especially in Brandenburg and Pomerania, in the years surrounding the revolution of 1848. Awakened conservatives waged a cultural struggle against political and religious liberalism, impacting the state church, the outcome of the revolution, and Prussia’s controversial neutrality in the Crimean War. Awakened leaders, in their effort to recover and adapt a pre-Napoleonic order, ironically modernized conservatism with individualistic rhetoric, widely circulated newspapers, and political organization.

Holtz, “Rabbi Akiva”

In March, Yale University Press will release Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud by Barry W. Holtz (Jewish Theological Seminary of America). The publisher’s description follows:

rabbi-akivaA compelling and lucid account of the life and teachings of a founder of rabbinic Judaism and one of the most beloved heroes of Jewish history

Born in the Land of Israel around the year 50 C.E., Rabbi Akiva was the greatest rabbi of his time and one of the most important influences on Judaism as we know it today. Traditional sources tell how he was raised in poverty and unschooled in religious tradition but began to learn the Torah as an adult. In the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., he helped shape a new direction for Judaism through his brilliance and his character. Mystic, legalist, theologian, and interpreter, he disputed with his colleagues in dramatic fashion yet was admired and beloved by his peers. Executed by Roman authorities for his insistence on teaching Torah in public, he became the exemplar of Jewish martyrdom.

Drawing on the latest historical and literary scholarship, this book goes beyond older biographies, untangling a complex assortment of ancient sources to present a clear and nuanced portrait of Talmudic hero Rabbi Akiva.

“Islamisation” (Peacock, ed.)

In March, Edinburgh University Press will release Islamisation: Comparative Perspectives from History edited by A. C. S. Peacock (University of St. Andrews). The publisher’s description follows:

islamisationThe spread of Islam and the process of Islamisation (meaning both conversion to Islam and the adoption of Muslim culture) is explored in the 25 chapters of this volume. Taking a comparative perspective, both the historical trajectory of Islamisation and the methodological problems in its study are addressed, with coverage moving from Africa to China and from the 7th century to the start of the colonial period in 1800.

Key questions are addressed including what is meant by Islamisation? How far was the spread of Islam as a religion bound up with the spread of Muslim culture? To what extent are Islamisation and conversion parallel processes? How is Islamisation connected to Arabisation? What role do vernacular Muslim languages play in the promotion of Muslim culture?

The broad, comparative perspective allows readers to develop a thorough understanding of the process of Islamisation over 11 centuries of its history.

Ambler, “Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272”

In March, Oxford University Press will release Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272 by S. T. Ambler (University of East Anglia). The publisher’s description follows:

bishops-in-englandThirteenth-century England was a special place and time to be a bishop. Like their predecessors, these bishops were key members of the regnal community: anointers of kings, tenants-in-chief, pastors, counsellors, scholars, diplomats, the brothers and friends of kings and barons, and the protectors of the weak. But now circumstance and personality converged to produce an uncommonly dedicated episcopate-dedicated not only to its pastoral mission but also to the defence of the kingdom and the oversight of royal government. This cohort was bound by corporate solidarity and a vigorous culture, and possessed an authority to reform the king, and so influence political events, unknown by the episcopates of other kingdoms.

These bishops were, then, to place themselves at the heart of the dramatic events of this era. Under King John and Henry III-throughout rebellion, civil war, and invasion from France, and the turbulent years of Minority government and Henry’s early personal rule-the bishops acted as peacemakers: they supported royal power when it was threatened, for the sake of regnal peace, but also used their unique authority to reform the king when his illegal actions threatened to provoke his barons to rebellion. This changed, however, between 1258 and 1265, when around half of England’s bishops set aside their loyalty to the king and joined a group of magnates, led by Simon de Montfort, in England’s first revolution, appropriating royal powers in order to establish conciliar rule.

Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272 examines the interaction between the bishops’ actions on the ground and their culture, identity, and political thought. In so doing it reveals how the Montfortian bishops were forced to construct a new philosophy of power in the crucible of political crisis, and thus presents a new ideal-type in the study of politics and political thought: spontaneous ideology.

Bowersock, “The Crucible of Islam”

In March, Harvard University Press will release The Crucible of Islam by G.W. Bowersock (Princeton). The publisher’s description follows:

crucible-of-islamLittle is known about Arabia in the sixth century CE. Yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from the Iberian peninsula to India. Today, Muslims account for nearly a quarter of the global population. G. W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this most obscure and yet most dynamic period in the history of Islam—from the mid-sixth to mid-seventh century—exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad’s prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world.

In Muhammad’s time Arabia stood at the crossroads of great empires, a place where Christianity, Judaism, and local polytheistic traditions vied for adherents. Mecca, Muhammad’s birthplace, belonged to the part of Arabia recently conquered by the Ethiopian Christian king Abraha. But Ethiopia lost western Arabia to Persia following Abraha’s death, while the death of the Byzantine emperor in 602 further destabilized the region. Within this chaotic environment, where lands and populations were traded frequently among competing powers and belief systems, Muhammad began winning converts to his revelations. In a troubled age, his followers coalesced into a powerful force, conquering Palestine, Syria, and Egypt and laying the groundwork of the Umayyad Caliphate.

The crucible of Islam remains an elusive vessel. Although we may never grasp it firmly, Bowersock offers the most detailed description of its contours and the most compelling explanation of how one of the world’s great religions took shape.

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