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Becking, B., A. Cannegieter & W. van der Poll:

From Babylon to Eternity: The Exile Remembered and Constructed in Text and Tradition

 Bibleworld Series, Equinox, 2009, pap, 112 pp, € 24.50, ISBN: 9781845533069.

Generally, readers have a negative idea of the Exile. Psalm 137 has fuelled the idea that this was a time of sorrow and despair. This image of the Exile influenced, for instance, Luther's ideas on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. The four essays in this volume deconstruct and reconstruct this image. Bob Becking tries to recreate a history of the exile. On the basis of the available evidence, this could be no more than a fragmented history, nevertheless showing that the fate of the exiles was not as bad as often supposed. Anne Mareike Wetter reveals that the biblical image of exile is multi-facetted. She shows how a tradition of a people tied to their God-given land was challenged by the reality of foreign occupation. And how that people eventually succeeded in translating this experience, appropriating them through a transformation into a counter-tradition that enabled them to cope with the new situation, without breaking entirely with their cultural and religious heritage. Jewish ideas on Exile are discussed by Wilfred van der Poll. He concentrates on the use of the concept of galut, which refers to the paradigmatic and identity-shaping function of the dispersion of the people of Israel and showed that the exile in Jewish thinking had become a permanent reality up until the present day. From the perspective of intertextual reading, Alex Cannegieter discusses four texts of varying ages and background - Augustine, Petrarch, Luther, and a Dutch sermon held after the end of the Second World War. She explores the ways authors chose biblical texts to appropriate them a new context, thereby changing the meaning of the new, as well as the source texts.

Carmichael, C.:

Sex & Religion in the Bible

Yale UP, 2010, geb, 210 pp, € 44.90, ISBN: 9780300153774.

If we look to the Bible for historical accounts of ancient life, we make a profound error. So contends Calum Carmichael in this original and incisive reading of some of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament's most famous narratives. Sifting through the imaginative layers of these texts with an uncanny sensitivity and a panoptic critical eye, he unearths patterns connecting disparate passages, providing fascinating insights into how ideas were expressed, received, and transformed in the ancient Near East. Rather than attempting a historical reconstruction, Carmichael brilliantly reveals the profound creativity of the biblical authors. Ranging from Jacob's encounter with Leah to the marriage at Cana to Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well, these readings demonstrate the remarkable subtlety and sophistication of the biblical views on marriage, sexuality, fertility, impurity, creation, and love. In doing so, they also make a compelling case for the integral link between sexual morality and Israelite identity.

Charlesworth, J.H.:

The Good & Evil Serpent : How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized

The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, Yale UP, 2010, geb, 719pp, € 36.50, ISBN: 9780300140828.

In a perplexing passage from the "Gospel of John", Jesus is likened to the most reviled creature in Christian symbology: the snake. Attempting to understand how the Fourth Evangelist could have made such a surprising analogy, James H. Charlesworth has spent nearly a decade combing through the vast array of references to serpents in the ancient world - from the Bible and other religious texts to ancient statuary and jewelry. Charlesworth has arrived at a surprising conclusion: not only was the serpent a widespread symbol throughout the world, but its meanings were both subtle and varied. In fact, the serpent of ancient times was more often associated with positive attributes like healing and eternal life than it was with negative meanings.This pathbreaking book explores in plentiful detail the symbol of the serpent from 40,000 BCE to the present, and from diverse regions in the world. In doing so it emphasizes the creativity of the biblical authors' use of symbols and argues that we must today reexamine our own archetypal conceptions with comparable creativity.

Tawil, H., B. Schneider:

Crown of Aleppo. The Mystery of the Oldest Hebrew Bible Codex

The Jewish Publication Society, 2010, geb, 199 pp, € 57.95, ISBN: 9780827608955.

In "Crown of Aleppo", Hayim Tawil and Bernard Schneider tell the incredible story of the survival, against all odds, of the Aleppo Codex - one of the most authoritative and accurate traditional Masoretic texts of the Bible. Completed circa 939 in Tiberias, the "Crown" was created by exacting Tiberian scribes who copied the entire Bible into book form, adding annotations, vowel and cantillation marks, and precise commentary. Praised by Torah scholars for centuries after its writing, the "Crown" passed through history until the 15th century when it was housed in the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, Syria. When the synagogue was burned in the 1947 pogrom, the codex was thought to be destroyed, lost forever. That is where its great mystery begins. Miraculously, a significant portion of the Crown of Aleppo survived the fire and was smuggled from the synagogue ruins to an unknown location-presumably within the Aleppan Jewish community. Ten years later, the surviving pages of the codex were secretly brought to Israel and finally moved to their current location in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This wonderfully rich book contains over 50 rare photographs and maps, some in full color, including those of the Aleppo Codex, the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, and of the people who played a part in its rescue. The history and dramatic rescue of the oldest Hebrew Bible in book form.

Wyatt, N.:

The Archaeology of Myth: Papers on Old Testament Tradition

 Bibleworld Series, Equinox, 2010, pap, 111 pp, € 33.50,  ISBN: 9781845533588.

Israelite religion is studied overwhelmingly in historical categories, on the basis of its so-called 'historical faith'. Myth as a category is often explicitly denied as being present in the Bible. This volume resumes the author's concern (already addressed in "The Mythic Mind") to recognize the importance of mythological categories in discussing any religion, and especially Israelite religion, as a means of redressing this perceived imbalance in this field. Having said this, myths themselves have histories, and the first five chapters in the present collection explore the shaping of various key biblical narratives and themes, with a view to showing how they developed from primitive forms into the distinctive final forms of the text. The last chapter resumes the author's discussion of the general theoretical issues involved in the treatment of myth in the biblical context, arguing that the concept shares many features with history, not least in the concern for both categories to reinforce and even shape social memories and values.

Arbel, D., J.R.C. Cosland & D. Neufeld

... And So They Went Out : The Lives of Adam and Eve as Cultural Transformative Story

T&T Clark, 2010, geb, 189pp, € 82.50, ISBN: 9780567026798.

The process of the reshaping and transformation of the Adam and Eve stories within the "Books of Adam and Eve" has not yet been studied as thoroughly as it warrants. This book sets out to help redress this imbalance. The phrase 'and so they went out' is often used to describe the departure of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Yet it also aptly describes the many versions of the stories of Adam and Eve as they began to circulate about the turn of the Common Era: they too 'went out', and the appearance of these stories in multiple versions and languages attests both to their widespread popularity and to their ongoing appeal in the ancient world. Nor is their appeal confined to antiquity-these stories continue to fascinate, and the various versions of the apocryphal "Books of Adam and Eve" have begun to command considerable attention in the academic world. Thus far, the scholarly community has concentrated principally on the complex tradition-history of these texts, their date, provenance and language. But the process of the reshaping and transformation of the stories within the "Books of Adam and Eve" has not yet been thoroughly studied. This book sets out to redress this imbalance by focusing primarily upon conceptual, literary, and thematic issues. By making use contemporary critical methods such as literary-critical analysis, ritual theory, and social-scientific taxonomy, the book explores how these stories represent a profound transformation and reshaping of ancient attitudes to gender, body, sexuality, sin, social hierarchies, and human aspirations.

Ausloos, H., Bossuyt, I. (red.)

Job tussen leven en lijden. In beeld, woord en klank

VBS / Acco, 2010, pap, 204 pp, € 20.50, ISBN: 9789033476310.

In deze verzameling van vier bijdragen wordt de oudtestamentische figuur van Job en de receptie ervan in de Westerse cultuur besproken. Binnen de joods-christelijke traditie geldt deze mythische fi guur als het prototype van de lijdende mens, die ondanks een goed leven toch door onmetelijk lijden wordt getroffen. Waarom toch in godsnaam?

De eerste bijdrage is bedoeld als een kennismaking met het boek Job en de diverse interpretaties ervan doorheen de geschiedenis (H. Ausloos). Vervolgens wordt de doorwerking van Job in de beeldende kunsten (B. Baert), de literatuur (H. Bloemen) en de muziek (I. Bossuyt) belicht.

Brenner, A., A.C.C. Lee & G.A. Yee


Texts and Contexts Series, Augsburg Fortress, 2010, pap, 344p, € 36.90, ISBN: 9780800659998.

Levine, A. (red.)

A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John

A Feminist Companion Series, T&T Clark, 2009/2010, pap, 262 pp, € 40.00, ISBN: 9780826466518.

The thirteenth volume in the series examines New Testament Apocalypitc literature through the categories of post-colonial thought, deconstruction, ethics, Roman social discourse, masculinization, virginity, and violence.The volume includes contributions by David L. Barr, Mary Ann Beavis, Greg Carey, Adela Yarbro Collins, Lynn R. Huber, Catherine Keller, John Marshall, Stephen Moore, Jorunn Okland, Hanna Stenstrom, Pamela Thimmes, and Carolyn Vander Stichele. There is an introduction by the editor and a comprehensive bibliography.

Rossano, B.

Maria Magdalena. Een vrouw met vele gezichten

Davidsfonds, 2010, pap, 168p, € 27.50, ISBN: 9789058266835.


(Kerk-) Geschiedenis


Aldhouse-Green, M.

Caesars Druids. Story of an Ancient Priesthood

Yale UP, 2010, geb, 338 pp, € 32.50,  ISBN: 9780300124422.

Ancient chroniclers, including Julius Caesar himself, made the Druids and their sacred rituals infamous throughout the Western world. But in fact, as Miranda Aldhouse-Green shows in this fascinating book, the Druids' day-to-day lives were far less lurid and much more significant. Exploring the various roles that Druids played in British and Gallic society during the first centuries B.C. and A.D. - not just as priests but as judges, healers, scientists, and power brokers - Aldhouse-Green argues that they were a highly complex, intellectual, and sophisticated group whose influence transcended religion and reached into the realms of secular power and politics. With deep analysis, fresh interpretations, and critical discussions, she gives the Druids a voice that resonates in our own time.

Budin, S.L.

The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity

Cambridge, 2010, pap, 366pp, € 26.90,  ISBN: 9780521178044.

Stephanie Budin demonstrates that sacred prostitution, the sale of a person's body for sex in which some or all of the money earned was devoted to a deity or a temple, did not exist in the ancient world. Reconsidering the evidence from the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman texts, and the early Christian authors, Budin shows that the majority of sources that have traditionally been understood as pertaining to sacred prostitution actually have nothing to do with this institution. The few texts that are usually invoked on this subject are, moreover, terribly misunderstood. Contrary to many current hypotheses, the creation of the myth of sacred prostitution has nothing to do with notions of accusation or the construction of a decadent, Oriental 'Other'. Instead, the myth has come into being as a result of more than 2,000 years of misinterpretations, false assumptions, and faulty methodology.

Evans, C. (ed.)

Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus

Routledge, 2008/2010, pap, 732 pp, € 53.00, ISBN: 9780415880886.

This Encyclopedia brings together the vast array of historical research into the reality of the man, the teachings, the acts, and the events ascribed to him that have served as the foundational story of one of the world's central religions. This kind of historiography is not biography. The historical study of the Jesus stories and the transmission of these stories through time have been of seminal importance to historians of religion. Critical historical examination has provided a way for scholars of Christianity for centuries to analyze the roots of legend and religion in a way that allows scholars an escape from the confines of dogma, belief, and theological interpretation. In recent years, historical Jesus studies have opened up important discussions concerning anti-Semitism and early Christianity and the political and ideological filtering of the Jesus story of early Christianity through the Roman empire and beyond. Entries will cover the classical studies that initiated the new historiography, the theoretical discussions about authenticating the historical record, the examination of sources that have led to the western understanding of Jesus' teachings and disseminated myth of the events concerning Jesus' birth and death. Subject areas covered in this title include: the history of the historical study of the New Testament - major contributors and their works; theoretical issues and concepts; methodologies and criteria; historical genres and rhetorical styles in the story of Jesus; historical and rhetorical context of martyrdom and messianism; historical teachings of Jesus; teachings within historical context of ethics; titles of Jesus; historical events in the life of Jesus; historical figures in the life of Jesus; historical use of Biblical figures referenced in the Gospels; places and regions; institutions; and, the history of the New Testament within the culture, politics, and law of the Roman Empire.

Hooff, A. van

Nero en Seneca. De despoot en de denker

Ambo, 2010, geb, 263 pp, € 24.95, ISBN: 9789026322839.


Broek, R. van den

Gnosis in de Oudheid. Een inleiding 

De oude gnosis I, Pimander Reeks, In de Pelikaan, 2010, geb, 250 pp, € 49.50, ISBN: 9789071608278.

Dit boek presenteert allereerst in een helder overzicht de gnostische beweging in de eerste eeuwen van onze jaartelling als een specifieke expressie van een brede onderstroom in de westerse cultuur, die vanaf de Oudheid tot New Age grote invloed heeft uitgeoefend. In alle vormen van gnosis ging het – en gaat het nog steeds – om inzicht in de samenhang der dingen, als persoonlijke bevrijding en godskennis in ้้n.
Aan de orde komen de overlevering en de inhoud van de gnostische literatuur, met aandacht voor alle authentieke gnostische teksten. De (veelal negatieve) respons van de kant van kerkvaders en filosofen wordt eveneens toegelicht. Een dergelijk overzicht bestond tot nu toe in Nederland nog niet en is ook daarbuiten uiterst zeldzaam. In het voorlaatste hoofdstuk wordt uitgebreid ingegaan op het wezen en de (mythologische) uitdrukkingsvormen van de antieke gnosis. Ook de gnostische opvattingen over Jezus komen ter sprake. Na het inleidende deel biedt de auteur een vertaling van vijf authentieke gnostische teksten uit de handschriftenvondst van Nag Hammadi, voorzien van uitvoerige inleidingen en toelichtingen. De geselecteerde teksten zijn: Het Apocryphon of Geheime Boek van Johannes (in de lange recensie), Het Wezen van de wereldheersers, De Oorsprong van de wereld, Eugnostus de Gelukzalige en De Donder – Volmaakte Geest. Deze vijf teksten geven een duidelijk beeld van de wijze waarop gnostische mythen geconstrueerd en verder ontwikkeld werden. Ze zijn rechtstreeks uit het Koptisch vertaald; in vertaling en commentaar zijn de nieuwste wetenschappelijke inzichten verwerkt.

Aurelius Augustinus:

De goede geur van Christus. Preken over heiligen (Sermones de sanctis 273-299C)

Damon, 2010, geb, 384 pp, € 44.90. Ingeleid, vertaald en van aantekeningen voorzien door Arie Akkermans, Elisabeth van Ketwich Verschuur en Hans van Reisen, ISBN: 9789055739844.

Dit boek bevat de vertaling van 36 preken over heiligen, van wie - op een enkele uitzondering na - de gedachtenis werd gevierd tussen 1 januari en 30 juni. Het zijn bijna allemaal parels van redenaarskunst. Augustinus was blijkbaar goed gemotiveerd  voor een feestelijke preek op dagen, waarop gelovigen bijeenkwamen ter gedachtenis van een bijzondere heilige. Van sommigen van hen wordt tegenwoordig nog steeds op dezelfde dag van het jaar als toen de naam in ere gehouden.
Van verreweg de meeste preken verschijnt in dit boek de eerste Nederlandse vertaling; van drie preken werden de Latijnse teksten zelfs pas in de afgelopen twee decennia teruggevonden in Mainz en Erfurt.
De meeste heiligen in deze bundel stierven als martelaar een gewelddadige dood. Augustinus verbindt de glans van hun leven met de goede geur van Christus (2 Kor 2,14-15). 



Kok Ten Have, 2010, pap, 144 pp, € 17.50, ISBN: 9789043517669.

De kerkvader Athanasius (ca. 295-373) leefde in een tijd dat de kerk in een grote crisis was geraakt rond het geloof in de persoon van Christus. Dit boek geeft een schets van zijn intrigerende leven.

Aan de orde komen thema’s als: de persoon van Christus, de Heilige Geest, schepping en verlossing, zijn gebruik van de Psalmen, zijn visie op seksualiteit. Met tekstfragmenten.

Burrus, V., M.D. Jordan & K. Mackendrick

Seducing Augustinus : Bodies, Desires,Confessions

Fordham UP, 2010, pap, 174pp, € 28.75, B2348, ISBN: 9780823231942.

"Augustine's Confessions" is a text that seduces. But how often do its readers respond in kind? Here three scholars who share a long-standing fascination with sexuality and Christian discourse attempt just that. Where prior interpreters have been inclined either to defend or to criticize Augustine's views, Virginia Burrus, Mark Jordan, and Karmen MacKendrick set out both to seduce and to be seduced by his text. Often ambivalent but always passionately engaged, their readings of the Confessions center on four sets of intertwined themes - secrecy and confession, asceticism and eroticism, constraint and freedom, and time and eternity. 

Moschos, J.

De weide. Een verhalenboek over het laatantieke monnikenleven

Reeks Grieks Proza nr. 22, Ta Grammata, 2010, pap, 194 pp, € 19.50, ISBN: 9789080894266.

In De Weide reizen we omstreeks 600 rond in het Byzantijnse Midden-Oosten, kort voor de Arabische veroveringen. Talloze asceten hebben zich daar uit de wereld teruggetrokken, in groepsverband in kloosters of als kluizenaars in de verlatenheid. Een leven van absolute onthechting en versterving, lichamelijk en intellectueel. Algemeen bekend zijn de pilaarheiligen, maar de verscheidenheid aan monniken en asceten is veel groter.

Uit al die monnikenlevens heeft Moschos een armvol 'bloemen' geplukt en tot een krans gevlochten. De Weide is een reeks van anekdotes, reis- en levensverhalen, moralistische boodschappen, stichtelijke spreuken, fabels, parabels en 'short stories'. Nu eens charmant en amusant, dan weer bizar of aanstootgevend. Naastenliefde staat er naast straffende gestrengheid, nederigheid naast ascetische competitie.

Johannes Moschos (ca. 550 – 619/634) was zonder het te weten een tijdgenoot van Mohammed. Zelf monnik-asceet-kluizenaar, reisde hij tussen 580 en 615 langs kloosters en kluizenaars in het gebied van Syri๋, Palestina en Egypte. Onderweg heeft hij de verhalen verzameld voor zijn 'geestelijke weide'.

Vertaling, verklarende woordenlijst en nawoord zijn van de hand van Michiel Op de Coul en Vincent Hunink, de inleiding is verzorgd door Kristoffel Demoen


Cordfunke, E. (red.)

De Abdij van Egmond. Duizend jaar geschiedenis en archeologie

Walburg Pers, 2010, geb, 208p, € 39.95, ISBN: 9789057306662

De middeleeuwse abdij van Egmond was het oudste en lange tijd enige religieuze en culturele centrum van het graafschap Holland. Rond 925 stichtte graaf Dirk I in Egmond een klooster voor nonnen. Zijn zoon Dirk II verving dit houten klooster door een benedictijner mannenklooster. In de eerste eeuwen van haar bestaan was de band tussen de abdij en de graven van Holland zeer nauw. De opeenvolgende graven deden rijke schenkingen aan de abdij, onder meer in de vorm van landerijen. Er was een scriptorium, waar handschriften werden gekopieerd en waar rond 1100 de Egmondse annalen werden samengesteld: een belangrijke geschiedenisbron over Nederland in de middeleeuwen. In 1573 ging de abdij in vlammen op. Eeuwenlang herinnerden alleen nog de torens aan het eens enorme complex, totdat ook deze in 1800 werden afgebroken.
De opgravingen van 1938–1948 maakten het mogelijk de plattegronden van de beide abdijkerken en zelfs van het oorspronkelijke, houten nonnenklooster te reconstrueren. De aangetroffen skeletten – waaronder dat van graaf  Floris I – werden recentelijk met moderne methoden onderzocht. Nieuw onderzoek naar de bodemvondsten leverde een schat aan informatie op over de bewoning van het terrein vanaf de Romeinse tijd tot aan de verwoesting van de abdij door de Geuzen.

Cohen, E.

The Modulated Scream. Pain in Late Medieval Culture

University of Chicago Press, 2010, geb, 393 pp, € 43.00, ISBN: 9780226112671.

In the late medieval era, pain could be a symbol of holiness, disease, sin, or truth. It could be encouragement to lead a moral life, a punishment for wrongdoing, or a method of healing. Exploring the varied depictions and descriptions of pain - from martyrdom narratives to practices of torture and surgery - "The Modulated Scream" attempts to decode this culture of suffering in the Middle Ages. Esther Cohen brings to life the cacophony of howls emerging from the written record of physicians, torturers, theologians, and mystics. In considering how people understood suffering, explained it, and meted it out, Cohen discovers that pain was imbued with multiple meanings. While interpreting pain was the province only of the rarified elite, harnessing pain for religious, moral, legal, and social purposes was a practice that pervaded all classes of medieval life. In the overlap of these contradictory attitudes about what pain was for - how it was to be understood and who should use it - Cohen reveals the distinct and often conflicting cultural traditions and practices of late medieval Europeans. Ambitious and wide-ranging, "The Modulated Scream" is intellectual history at its most acute.



Atheneum-Polak & Van Gennep, 2010, geb, 155 pp, € 19.95, vertaald door Jan Kuijper, ISBN: 9789025367305.

Pettegree, A.:

The Book in the Renaissance

Yale UP, 2010, geb, 421 pp, € 39.50, ISBN: 9780300110098.

The dawn of print was a major turning point in the early modern world. It rescued ancient learning from obscurity, transformed knowledge of the natural and physical world, and brought the thrill of book ownership to the masses. But, as Andrew Pettegree reveals, the story of the post-Gutenberg world was rather more complicated than we have often come to believe. "The Book in the Renaissance" reconstructs the first 150 years of the world of print, exploring the complex web of religious, economic and cultural concerns surrounding the printed word. From its very beginnings, the printed book had to straddle financial and religious imperatives, as well as the very different requirements and constraints of the many countries who embraced it, and, as Pettegree argues, the process was far from a runaway success. More than ideas, the success or failure of books depended upon patrons and markets, precarious strategies and the thwarting of piracy, and the ebb and flow of popular demand. Pettegree crafts an authoritative, lucid, and truly pioneering work of cultural history about a major development in the evolution of European society.

Derkse, W.:

Thomas More groet zijn hele school. Een schets van een veelzijdig man

Stichting Thomas More / Damon, 2010, pap, 70 pp, € 14.90, ISBN: 9789055739875.

Spinks, J.:

Monstrous Births and Visual Culture in Sixteenth-Century Germany

Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World, 5, Pickering & Chatto, 2009, geb, 207 pp, € 77.00, ISBN: 9781851966301.

Dramatically physically deformed children and animals were a source of fascination and fear - though seldom pity - in early modern Europe. Notorious cases include the 1495 conjoined twins of Worms, the Monk Calf of 1523, and a seven-headed baby born in Eusrisgo in 1573. This study is an examination of printed representations of monstrous births in German-speaking Europe from the end of the fifteenth century and through the sixteenth century, beginning with a seminal series of broadsheets from the late 1490s by humanist Sebastian Brant, and including prints by Albrecht Durer and Hans Burgkmair.In the sixteenth century these births were of particular importance in German-speaking areas that were caught up in the religious conflicts of the Reformation and early Counter-Reformation. While interest flared periodically in France, the Netherlands, and Italy, the most sustained and voluminous publications emerged from German regions. During this period intellectual and theological debates, popular belief and visual culture reflected a preoccupation with phenomena that were simultaneously natural and unnatural, including showers of blood, comets and other strange apparitions in the sky, and - the topic of this study - monstrous births.

Wiesner-Hanks, M.

Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World. Regulating Desire, Reforming Practice

Routledge, 2000/10, pap, 352p, € 29.90, ISBN: 9780415491891.

This book surveys the ways in which Christian ideas and institutions shaped sexual norms and conduct from the time of Luther and Columbus to that of Thomas Jefferson. This second edition has been fully updated to reflect new scholarship, with expanded coverage of many of the key issues, particularly in areas outside of Europe.

Buchwald, J.Z. & D.G. Josefowicz:

The Zodiac of Paris. How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate between Religion and Science

Princeton UP, 2010, geb, 428 pp, € 34.50, ISBN: 9780691145761.

The Dendera zodiac - an ancient bas-relief temple ceiling adorned with mysterious symbols of the stars and planets - was first discovered by the French during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, and quickly provoked a controversy between scientists and theologians. Brought to Paris in 1821 and ultimately installed in the Louvre, where it can still be seen today, the zodiac appeared to depict the nighttime sky from a time predating the Biblical creation, and therefore cast doubt on religious truth. "The Zodiac of Paris" tells the story of this incredible archeological find and its unlikely role in the fierce disputes over science and faith in Napoleonic and Restoration France. The book unfolds against the turbulence of the French Revolution, Napoleon's breathtaking rise and fall, and the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne. Drawing on newspapers, journals, diaries, pamphlets, and other documentary evidence, Jed Buchwald and Diane Greco Josefowicz show how scientists and intellectuals seized upon the zodiac to discredit Christianity, and how this drew furious responses from conservatives and sparked debates about the merits of scientific calculation as a source of knowledge about the past. The ideological battles would rage until the thoroughly antireligious Jean-Francois Champollion unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs - and of the zodiac itself. Champollion would prove the religious reactionaries right, but for all the wrong reasons. "The Zodiac of Paris" brings Napoleonic and Restoration France vividly to life, revealing the lengths to which scientists, intellectuals, theologians, and conservatives went to use the ancient past for modern purposes.

Hunt, L. , M.C. Jacob & W. Mijnhardt

The Book that Changed Europe : Picart & Bernards Religious Ceremonies of the World

Belknap Press Harvard UP, 2010, geb, 383pp, € 32.90, ISBN: 9780674049284.

Two French Protestant refugees in eighteenth-century Amsterdam gave the world an extraordinary work that intrigued and outraged readers across Europe. In this captivating account, Lynn Hunt, Margaret Jacob, and Wijnand Mijnhardt take us to the vibrant Dutch Republic and its flourishing book trade to explore the work that sowed the radical idea that religions could be considered on equal terms. Famed engraver Bernard Picart and author and publisher Jean Frederic Bernard produced "The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All the Peoples of the World", which appeared in the first of seven folio volumes in 1723. They put religion in comparative perspective, offering images and analysis of Jews, Catholics, Muslims, the peoples of the Orient and the Americas, Protestants, deists, freemasons, and assorted sects. Despite condemnation by the Catholic Church, the work was a resounding success. For the next century it was copied or adapted, but without the context of its original radicalism and its debt to clandestine literature, English deists, and the philosophy of Spinoza. Ceremonies and Customs prepared the ground for religious toleration amid seemingly unending religious conflict, and demonstrated the impact of the global on Western consciousness. In this beautifully illustrated book, Hunt, Jacob, and Mijnhardt cast new light on the profound insight found in one book as it shaped the development of a modern, secular understanding of religion.

Nelson, E.:

The Hebrew Republic. Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought

Belknap Press, 2010, geb, 229 pp, € 27.50, ISBN: 9780674050587.

According to a commonplace narrative, the rise of modern political thought in the West resulted from secularization—the exclusion of religious arguments from political discourse. But in this pathbreaking work, Eric Nelson argues that this familiar story is wrong. Instead, he contends, political thought in early-modern Europe became less, not more, secular with time, and it was the Christian encounter with Hebrew sources that provoked this radical transformation.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christian scholars began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God for the children of Israel. Newly available rabbinic materials became authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of the perfect republic. This thinking resulted in a sweeping reorientation of political commitments. In the book’s central chapters, Nelson identifies three transformative claims introduced into European political theory by the Hebrew revival: the argument that republics are the only legitimate regimes; the idea that the state should coercively maintain an egalitarian distribution of property; and the belief that a godly republic would tolerate religious diversity. One major consequence of Nelson’s work is that the revolutionary politics of John Milton, James Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes appear in a brand-new light.


Dros, N.:

De Sprekende slang: Een kleine geschiedenis van laaglands fundamentalisme

Van Oorschot, 2010, pap, 178 pp, € 15.00, ISBN: 9789028241329.

De gereformeerde synode van Assen sprak in 1926 het laatste woord over de uitleg van een passage in het bijbelboek Genesis. Was de slang die Eva tot de erfzonde verleidde een reptiel met een vleiend spraakvermogen? Of moest men het dier opvatten als een zinnebeeld van de duivel? Het ging hier om een heuse slang, oordeelde de synode, en wie een andere uitleg voorstond maakte zich schuldig aan Schriftaanranding. Deze uitspraak zou de bron worden van een kerkelijk conflict dat links en rechts in ons land oplaaide en jarenlang de gemoederen beheerste. Dit boek gaat over de ingrijpende gevolgen van Assen voor het Texelse vissersdorp Oosterend, ook wel bekend als het kleine Jeruzalem van het noorden. De later beroemd geworden dominee, J. J. Buskes, werd er ongewild het middelpunt van een felle geloofstwist. Een kerkscheuring was het gevolg en een kwart eeuw lang zouden twee gereformeerde kampen in vijandschap leven.

Schrijver en historicus Nico Dros (1956) schildert dit dorpsdrama in al zijn facetten aan de hand van verklaringen die betrokkenen eerder aflegden. Maar hij doet meer. Hij reconstrueert de geschiedenis van Oosterend sinds de Reformatie en laat zien dat er door de eeuwen heen, onder uiteenlopende noemers, een terugkerende strijd oplaaide tussen absolute en verlichte calvinisten, tussen rekkelijken en preciezen. De sprekende slang is een levendig boek over bijbeldrift, geloofsijver en andere protestantse hartstochten in een dorp. En het is een verhaal over het leed dat ontstaat wanneer gelovigen in zwijmelwijn gedrenkt raken.



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