The Genesis story of Cain’s murder of Abel is often told as a simplistic contrast between the innocence of Abel and the evil of Cain. This book subverts that reading of the Biblical text by utilising Giorgio Agamben’s concepts of homo sacer, the state of exception and the idea of sovereignty to re-examine this well-known tale of fratricide and bring to the fore its political implications. Drawing from political theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, this book creates a theoretical framework from which to do two things: firstly, to describe and analyse the history of interpretation of Genesis 4:1-16, and secondly to propose an alternative reading of the Biblical text that incorporates other texts inside and outside of the Biblical canon. This intertextual analysis will highlight the motives of violence, law, divine rule, and the rejected as they emerge in different contexts and will evaluate them in an Agambenian framework. The unique approach of this book makes it vital reading for any academic with interests in Biblical Studies and Theology and their interactions with politics and ethics.
This book tells the story of how Shari'ati developed a language of political Islam, speaking in an idiom intelligible to the Iranian public and subverting the Shah's regime and its claim to legitimacy.
Is there a place for religion in politics? In this insightfully written book, Paul Marshall argues that Christians can and should approach politics in a way informed by faith. Drawing on traditions of both Catholic and Protestant political thought, Marshall analyzes the ways in which religion influences our understanding of power, justice, and democracy. In an age when the relationship between politics and religion is becoming ever more important--and ever more blurred--both in America and beyond, God and the Constitution is an indispensable guide for Christians interested in exploring how they can interject their religious convictions into their political actions.
The Curse of Cain confronts the inherent ambiguities of biblical stories on many levels and, in the end, offers an alternative, inspiring reading of the Bible that is attentive to visions of plenitude rather than scarcity, and to an ethics based on generosity rather than violence. "[A] provocative and timely examination of the interrelationship of monotheism and violence. . . . This is a refreshing alternative to criticism-biblical and otherwise-that so often confuses interpretation with closure; it is an invitation to an ethic of possibility, plenitude, and generosity, a welcome antidote to violence, as important for its insights into memory, identity, and place as for its criticism of monotheism's violent legacy."—Booklist "Brilliant and provocative, this is a work demanding close attention from critics, theologians, and all those interested in the imaginative roots of common life."—Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth "A stunningly important book."—Walter Brueggemann, Theology Today "Artfully rendered, endlessly provocative."—Lawrence Weschler, New Yorker
The Bible is fundamental to Western culture. Political philosophers from Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau to modern political theorists such as George H. Sabine, Leo Strauss, and Sheldon S. Wolin have drawn upon biblical examples. American political leaders, such as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and William Jennings Bryan all drew heavily upon the Bible. Today, most contemporary politicians display less familiarity with Scripture although many proudly proclaim themselves to be born-again Christians. Politics in the Bible has a simple goal: to help readers to think critically about how the Bible illuminates understanding of justice, leadership, and politics. For a political scientist, there are great advantages to studying the Bible. Students of the Bible have short texts to analyze, but they have a history of two thousand years of Jewish and Christian scholarly discussion. In that tradition, Paul R. Abramson analyzes stories drawn from eighteen of the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Bible and fifteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Abramson argues that the Bible is a book that should be read even by those who do not believe it has any transcendent significance. One can choose to read it as the revealed word of God, as a source of Western morality, as a compilation of interesting stories, poetry, and history, or as a work of great literature. Although this book discusses selected stories that have political implications, it also considers parts that have literary merit. This unusual volume may stimulate new thinking about the Bible as a source of insight into political ideas.
I. A Dangerous and/or Useful Kingdom? ............ 5 II. Is There a Concept of the Kingdom of God? . . . . .. . 9 III. The Development of the Concept of a Kingdom of God in the Old Testament ................... 15 IV. Is an Apolitical Kingdom of God Possible? ....... 21 V. The Vicissitudes of Theocracy in Israel ........... 27 VI. New Testament Conceptualization of Messianic Fulfillment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 37 . . . . . . . . VII. Is an Alternative Messianic Scenario Conceivable? ................... . . . . . . .. . . 43 . VIII. Did Jesus make a Major Mistake? ............. 51 IX. The Dialectics of Christian Interpretation . . . . . .. . . 59 X. Hermeneutical Circle, or circulus vitiosus? ........ 67 XI. Political Milestones: Three Romes, Three Reichs, Three Kingdoms, and a "Holy Roman ." 73 E mplre ................................. . viii XII. Catholic Political Theology: The "Two Cities" and "Two Swords," and Beyond. . . . . . . . . .. . . 83 . XIII. How Visible can a "City of God" be? ......... 101 XIV. Protestant Political Theology: Beyond the "Two Kingdoms" and the "Two Regiments" . . . . .. . . 109 XV. Does Hegelian Political Theology have a Future? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 119 . . . . . . . . . XVI. The Emergence of the Secular Kingdom of God ..................................... 125 XVII. Secularization-a Boon to Mankind? ......... 137 XVIII. Religious Experience, Chosenness, and Political Expression ....................... 145 XIX. Does Democracy need Redefinition? .......... 157 XX. The Dialectics of Democracy ................. 169 XXI. Democracy and the Kingdom of God . . . . . . .. . . 183 XXII. Are Church and State "Mutually Conducive"? .. 195 XXIII. World Federalism and Ecumenical Christianity 205 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 221 . . . . . . . . . . BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 225 . . . . . . .
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted to take a bite out of an apple that promised them the "knowledge of good and evil." Today, a shiny apple with a bite out of it is the symbol of Apple Computers. The age of the Internet has speeded up human knowledge, and it also provides even more temptation to know more than may be good for us. Americans have been right at the forefront of the digital revolution, and we have felt its unsettling effects in both our religions and our politics. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argues that we long to return to the innocence of the Garden of Eden and not be faced with countless digital choices. But returning to the innocence of Eden is dangerous in this modern age and, instead, we can become wiser about the wired world.
Ancient kings who did not honor the gods overlooked an indispensable means for ruling effectively in their communities. In many traditional societies royal authority was regarded as a divine gift bestowed according to the quality of the relationship of the king both to God or the gods and to the people. The tension and the harmony within these human and divine relationships demanded that the king repeatedly strive to integrate the community's piety with his political strategies. This fascinating study explores the relationship between religion and royal authority in three of history's most influential civilizations: Homeric Greece, biblical Israel, and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia. Dale Launderville identifies similar, contrasting, and analogous ways that piety functioned in these distinct cultures to legitimate the rule of particular kings and promote community well-being. Key to this religiopolitical dynamic was the use of royal rhetoric, which necessarily took the form of political theology. By examining a host of ancient texts and drawing on the insights of philosophers, poets, historians, anthropologists, social theorists, and theologians, Launderville shows how kings increased their status the more they demonstrated through their speech and actions that they ruled on behalf of God or the gods. Launderville's work also sheds light on a number of perennial questions about ancient political life. How could the people call the king to account? Did the people forfeit too much of their freedom and initiative by giving obedience to a king who symbolized their unity as a community? How did the religious traditions serve as a check on the king's power and keep alive the voice of the people? This study in comparative political theology elucidates these engaging concerns from multiple perspectives, making "Piety and Politics" of interest to readers in fields ranging from biblical studies and theology to ancient history and political science.
Geoffrey P. Miller argues that the narratives from Genesis to Second Kings present a sophisticated argument for political obligation and for limited monarchy as the best form of government. The Hebrew Bible, in this sense, can be considered as one of the earliest political philosopies of the western world. The Garden of Eden story identifies revelation, consent, utopia, natural law, ownership, power, patriarchy, and justice as bases for political obligation. The stories of life after the expulsion from Eden argue that government and law are essential for a decent life. The Genesis narratives recognize patriarchal authority but also identifies limits based on kinship, higher authority and power. The book of Exodus introduces the topic of political authority, arguing that nationhood strictly dominates over other forms of political organization. The Sinai narratives explore two important sources of authority: revelation and consent of the governed. The book of Joshua presents a theory of sovereignty conceived of as the exclusive and absolute control over territory. The book of Judges examines two types of national government: military rule and confederacy. It argues that military rule is inappropriate for peacetime conditions and that the confederate form is not strong enough to deliver the benefits of nationhood. The books of Samuel and Kings consider theocracy and monarchy. The bible endorses monarchy as the best available form of government provided that the king is constrained by appropriate checks and balances. Contrary to the view of some scholars, no text from Genesis to Second Kings disapproves of monarchy as a form of government.
Early literary man learned that free speech and free labor were frequently suppressed or obliterated by powerful governments in the Near Eastern world. This is the source of the Bible's passionate interest in liberation from political and economic repression. Moses and his people in Egypt, for example, experienced the rapid disintegration of their traditional right to religious liberty and self-directed labor. They attempted to rectify the situation at Sinai and in Canaan. Mesopotamians and Egyptians, Greeks, Sicilians, and Romans labored against tyranny as well. Robert Kimball Shinkoskey focuses on stories, laws, and movements dealing with the problem of political idolatry in the ancient world. His purpose is to show that the Bible is a civic narrative as much as a religious one, and that the Ten Commandments are articles in a constitutional law system that promotes the steady rule of law rather than the capricious rule of man.
Updated and expanded insights into Islamic banking and finance From Yahia Abdul-Rahman-the father of Riba-Free (RF) banking-comes the expanded edition of the definitive resource that offers an understanding for applying Islamic banking and financial practices. No matter what your faith or religious beliefs, the book shows how to take a modern American approach to incorporating Islamic financial principles into banking and investment techniques. The Art of RF (Riba-Free) Islamic Banking and Finance describes the emergence of a culture of Islamic banking and finance today, which is based on the real Judeo-Christian-Islamic spirit and has proven very effective when compared to 20th century models that use financial engineering and structural techniques to circumvent the Shari'aa Law. The author also reveals information about how fiat money is created, the role of the Federal Reserve, and the US banking system. Abdul-Rahman includes a wealth of real-life examples and offers an analysis of how this new brand of banking and financing yields superior results. Offers the fundamentals on Riba-Free (RF) banking Shows how to apply RF to everything from joint ventures and portfolio management to home mortgages and personal finance Reveals what it takes to incorporate Shariah Law into US financial systems Includes information on why RF banking is a socially responsible way to invest Thoroughly revised and updated, this resource offers a handbook for applying Shari'aa law to American banking and finance.
Mormonism is one of the few homegrown religions in the United States, one that emerged out of the religious fervor of the early nineteenth century. Yet, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have struggled for status and recognition. In this book, W. Paul Reeve explores the ways in which nineteenth century Protestant white America made outsiders out of an inside religious group. Much of what has been written on Mormon otherness centers upon economic, cultural, doctrinal, marital, and political differences that set Mormons apart from mainstream America. Reeve instead looks at how Protestants racialized Mormons, using physical differences in order to define Mormons as non-White to help justify their expulsion from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. He analyzes and contextualizes the rhetoric on Mormons as a race with period discussions of the Native American, African American, Oriental, Turk/Islam, and European immigrant races. He also examines how Mormon male, female, and child bodies were characterized in these racialized debates. For instance, while Mormons argued that polygamy was ordained by God, and so created angelic, celestial, and elevated offspring, their opponents suggested that the children were degenerate and deformed. The Protestant white majority was convinced that Mormonism represented a racial-not merely religious-departure from the mainstream and spent considerable effort attempting to deny Mormon whiteness. Being white brought access to political, social, and economic power, all aspects of citizenship in which outsiders sought to limit or prevent Mormon participation. At least a part of those efforts came through persistent attacks on the collective Mormon body, ways in which outsiders suggested that Mormons were physically different, racially more similar to marginalized groups than they were white. Medical doctors went so far as to suggest that Mormon polygamy was spawning a new race. Mormons responded with aspirations toward whiteness. It was a back and forth struggle between what outsiders imagined and what Mormons believed. Mormons ultimately emerged triumphant, but not unscathed. Mormon leaders moved away from universalistic ideals toward segregated priesthood and temples, policies firmly in place by the early twentieth century. So successful were Mormons at claiming whiteness for themselves that by the time Mormon Mitt Romney sought the White House in 2012, he was labeled "the whitest white man to run for office in recent memory." Ending with reflections on ongoing views of the Mormon body, this groundbreaking book brings together literatures on religion, whiteness studies, and nineteenth century racial history with the history of politics and migration.
Here in one concise volume is St. Augustine's brilliant analysis of where faith and politics meet - casting a penetrating light on Roman civilization, the coming Middle Ages, ecclesiastical politics, and some of the most powerful ideas in the Western tradition, including Augustine's famous "just war theory" and his timeless ideas of how men should live in society.
"Lords of the Scrolls" analyzes ancient literary sources to show how biblical and gospel scribes borrowed and imitated themes from earlier literature to create heroic legends around Hebrew figures and Jesus. Comparisons between the "Epic of Gilgamesh; Enuma Elish;" Canaanite, Egyptian, and Greek legends; Homeric epics; the histories of Herodotus; and selected biblical and gospel passages reveal thematic and literary similarities. Tracing literary classics from the birth of writing to the first millennium of the modern era, this book demonstrates that Hebrew scribes used previous literature to establish a national identity, and that gospel scribes borrowed heavily from Homer to create epic legends around the person of Jesus.
It is not simply for rhetorical flourish that politicians so regularly invoke God's blessings on the country. It is because the relatively new form of power we call the nation-state arose out of a Western political imagination steeped in Christianity. In this brief guide to the history of Christianity and politics, Pecknold shows how early Christianity reshaped the Western political imagination with its new theological claims about eschatological time, participation, and communion with God and neighbor. The ancient view of the Church as the mystical body of Christ is singled out in particular as the author traces shifts in its use and meaning throughout the early, medieval, and modern periods-shifts in how we understand the nature of the person, community and the moral conscience that would give birth to a new relationship between Christianity and politics. While we have many accounts of this narrative from either political or ecclesiastical history, we have few that avoid the artificial separation of the two. This book fills that gap and presents a readable, concise, and thought-provoking introduction to what is at stake in the contentious relationship between Christianity and politics.
The idea of the long eighteenth century (1660–1832) as a period in which religious and political dissent were regarded as antecedents of the Enlightenment has recently been advanced by several scholars. The purpose of this collection is further to explore these connections between religious and political dissent in Enlightenment Britain. Addressing the many and rich connections between political and religious dissent in the long eighteenth century, the volume also acknowledges the work of Professor James E. Bradley in stimulating interest in these issues among scholars. Contributors engage directly with ideas of secularism, radicalism, religious and political dissent and their connections with the Enlightenment, or Enlightenments, together with other important themes including the connections between religious toleration and the rise of the 'enlightenments'. Contributors also address issues of modernity and the ways in which a 'modern' society can draw its inspiration from both religion and secularity, as well as engaging with the seventeenth-century idea of the synthesis of religion and politics and its evolution into a system in which religion and politics were interdependent but separate. Offering a broadly-conceived interpretation of current research from a more comprehensive perspective than is often the case, the historiographical implications of this collection are significant for the development of ideas of the nature of the Enlightenment and for the nature of religion, society and politics in the eighteenth century. By bringing together historians of politics, religion, ideas and society to engage with the central theme of the volume, the collection provides a forum for leading scholars to engage with a significant theme in British history in the 'long eighteenth century'.