Religion

Inevitably the Qur’an is rooted in its time, just as the brutal parts of the Hebrew Bible are. Even so, much of what the Qur’an proclaims is more benevolent and less barbarous than many of the fundamentalist doctrines that emerged in later...

The emergence of Judaism is closely intertwined with the emergence of Samaritanism. Both are heirs of ancient Israelite traditions, and the predecessors of both shared the same religious and literary culture. Until...

Sabine Schmidtke

The Qurʾān defines itself as the last, perfect link in a chain of progressive divine revelations. This determines the ambivalent attitude of the Qurʾān and the Muslim tradition towards the two earlier monotheistic religions: Judaism and...

The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism (Cambridge University Press, 2012) by Patricia Crone, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies, has received...

Human beings have waged war or engaged in violent conflict with each other since ancient times, an observation that prompted a Member at the Institute to suggest in the course of a casual conversation that surely it was a waste of time and...

Religious art of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe was marked by the creeping presence of the prosaic, the concrete, the familiar, the everyday. Vivid descriptions of furniture and clothes, local flora and landscapes, hometown...

A natural starting point for any attempt to know a past society is its histories—the texts with which its members recorded what had happened and was happening in their world. Many precious witnesses of this kind have survived from medieval Europe...

Karl Marx linked the structure of production to the formation of institutions. According to Marx, religion is like any other social institution in that it is dependent upon the economic realities of a given society, i.e., it is an outcome of its...

“Who are you?” A simple question sometimes requires a complex answer. When a Homeric hero is asked who he is (e.g. Iliad 7.123 ff.), his answer consists of more than just his name; he provides a list of his ancestors. The history of his...

Material objects play a role in all religions. Jewish women light candles for the Sabbath; Christians sprinkle or douse bodies with water to baptize; Hindus offer coconuts and clarified butter to images of the gods and goddesses; the ancient...