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A Critical Study of Classical Religious Texts in Global Contexts

Challenges of a Changing World

by Beth E. Elness-Hanson (Volume editor) Jon Skarpeid (Volume editor)
Monographs XIV, 168 Pages

Summary

A Critical Study of Classical Religious Texts in Global Contexts: Challenges of a Changing World challenges toxic stereotypes of world religions by providing scholarly investigations into classic sacred texts in global contexts. By engaging more perspectives, important connections, and more, complex and humanizing "stories" are developed, inviting the reader to see the face of the "Other" and, perhaps, to see a bit of oneself in that face. In today’s world of increasing polarization and the rise of nationalism, the contributors to this volume welcome the reader to join them in a shared humanity that seeks understanding. A red thread that runs through each chapter relates to the challenges that globalization brings to the sacred texts in various contextual settings. The contributors describe various circumstances related to reading and interpreting sacred writings—whether historical or more recent—which continue to have an influence today. The essays in this volume view these religious texts in relation to four dichotomies: minority-majority, diaspora-homeland, center-periphery of the globalized world, and secular-religious. These elements by no means exhaust the issues, but they serve as a starting point for a discussion of relevant contexts in which sacred texts are read. The breadth of research represented stimulates a deeper understanding that is vital if we are to move beyond stereotypes and religious illiteracy to meaningfully engage the "Other" with wisdom and empathy—important virtues in today’s world. A Critical Study of Classical Religious Texts in Global Contexts will appeal to scholars and graduate students of religious studies, sacred scriptures, and post-colonial studies, as well as informed and inquisitive general readers interested in exploring interfaith dialogue and broadening their religious literacy.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise For A Critical Study of Classical Religious Texts in Global Contexts
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part One: Introduction for Classic Religious Texts in Global Contexts
  • 1. Introduction for Classic Religious Texts in Global Contexts (Beth E. Elness-Hanson / Jon Skarpeid)
  • Part Two: Defining the Contexts
  • 2. Globalization and Religion: Defining the Contexts (Jon Skarpeid)
  • Part Three: Secular Contexts at the National Level
  • 3. “The Great Binding Law of Peace”: International Judicial-Political-Economic Impacts of the Revered Story of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Lars Kirkhusmo Pharo)
  • 4. Religious Education and Pluralism in Norwegian Kindergartens (Gunnar Magnus Eidsvåg)
  • 5. “I bring it with me everywhere”: The Materiality of the Bible in Critical Illness (Marta Høyland Lavik)
  • Part Four: Diaspora: Group and Individual
  • 6. Sacred Texts and Muslim Youth in Turkish-Norwegian Diaspora Communities (Gerd Marie Ådna)
  • 7. The Multifaceted Scripture: Patterns, Conflicts, and Ambiguities in Muslim Ways of Relating to the Qur’an (Jonas Svensson)
  • Part Five: Intercultural Bible Reading and Hermeneutics
  • 8. Multi-Epistemological Exegesis: The Strength of Hybridity With a Case Study Analysis of Exod 20:4–6 (Beth E. Elness-Hanson)
  • 9. Malagasy, Thai, and Norwegian Youths Reading Luke 15 Together (Knut Holter)
  • 10. Occult Scriptural Exegesis: Theosophical Readings of the Bible (Olav Hammer)
  • Contributor Biographies

← viii | ix →

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Foreword

Five years ago, Knut Holter and Jon Skarpeid started the cluster group “Classical Sacred Texts in Global Contexts.” This was part of the research area Religion, Culture, and Globalization, a collaboration between the University of Stavanger and VID Specialized University, Stavanger, Norway. “Classics,” as we like to call it, started with only a handful of people, and we presented papers to each other and discussed issues related to the challenges of engaging religious texts in a globalized world.

When Knut received funding for his Maasai project, PhD and post-doc students became part of the research cluster. The globalized world started to be reflected in the members of the group. One of the PhD students that became part of the Maasai project was Beth Elness-Hanson, and other scholars, as well, became affiliated with Classics.

The question arose as to whether the group should pursue a publication, and we decided to develop an anthology. Since there was quite a broad span in the research fields among them members of Classics, we decided to send an invitation to everybody affiliated. For the preparation of the anthology, we arranged a couple of seminars in Stavanger. We ended up with nine chapters, which, in various ways, discuss sacred texts in global contexts. These include sacred texts among diaspora community, in secular state institutions like hospitals and educational contexts, and cross-cultural readings. Sacred texts seems to weave their way into nearly all aspects of life, in one form or another.

—Jon Skarpeid ← ix | x →

← x | xi →

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Acknowledgments

As we have come to the materialization of our publication project, we would like to thank our colleagues who contributed in many ways. We benefited from being part of the larger research area, Religion, Culture, and Globalization. Stavanger University and VID Specialized University provided us with funding and provided necessary facilities. A special thank goes to University of Stavanger, represented by the Dean Elaine Munthe, who provided the financial resources needed to print this volume.

—Jon Skarpeid and Beth E. Elness-Hanson ← xi | xii →

← xii | 1 →

Part One:
Introduction for Classic Religious Texts in Global Contexts

← 1 | 2 →

← 2 | 3 →

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1.  Introduction for Classic Religious Texts in Global Contexts

BETH E. ELNESS-HANSON AND JON SKARPEID

Beyond Stereotypes and Religious Illiteracy Toward the Other

Storyteller Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story” was viewed over 17.3 million times in almost a decade as of the time of this writing.1 Adichie warns that stereotypes—or a single story—are dangerous because they inadequately represent the complexity of human stories and prevent us from understanding what connects us with other people as equals. Instead, we need many stories in order to avoid flattening experiences and robbing people of dignity. Adichie encourages, “When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

In a similar concern, Diane Moore, director of Harvard Divinity School’s Religious Literacy Project, identified that “widespread illiteracy about religion…spans the globe.” In an interview with the Huffington Post, Moore stated that religious illiteracy “fuels bigotry and prejudice and hinders capacities for cooperative endeavors in local, national, and global arenas.”2 In an effort to develop religious literacy, Harvard University is now providing free online courses to learn about world religions through their scriptures.3

This collection of essays joins these important efforts to challenge toxic stereotypes by providing scholarly investigations into classic religious texts in global contexts. By engaging more perspectives, important connections and more complex “stories” are developed, which enable a humanizing as one begins to see the “face” of the other, and perhaps to see a bit of oneself in the other.

Seeing the face of the other is elucidated in the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, who describes the reality that we understand the world on the basis ← 3 | 4 → of the Other.4 Writing in a time when masculine pronouns were standard, Levinas writes regarding the Other in a way that is inclusive, stating:

To approach the Other in conversation is to welcome his expression, in which at each instant he overflows the idea a thought would carry away from it. It is therefore to receive from the Other beyond the capacity of the I, which means exactly: to have the idea of infinity. But it also means: to be taught.5

While we readers are not able to engage face-to-face encounters with all of the authors as Levinas would encourage, we are able to access a breath of knowledge as we receive from the Other in order to be taught. As we open ourselves to be confronted by the Otherness within these covers, we have the privilege of deepening our understandings in order to be better equipped in our responsibility as a global citizen for our next face-to-face encounters. In today’s world of increasing polarization and rise of nationalism, we welcome you to join our authors in a shared humanity that seeks understanding of the Other with their sacred writings that can then foster empathy.

Defining the Contexts

A red thread that runs through each chapter relates to the challenges of globalization upon the sacred texts in various contextual settings. Thus, co-editor Jon Skarpeid (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Stavanger, Norway), wrestles with “Defining the Contexts.” His starting point is James V. Spickard and others who claim that Globalization has to do with communal matters. On the basis of this, he operates with four dichotomies: minority- majority, diaspora-homeland, center-periphery of the globalized world, and secular-religious. These elements by no means exhaust the issue, but they serve as a starting point for a discussion of relevant contexts in which sacred text are read. Some of the question that Skarpeid addresses are how the majority should approach minorities; what are the rights of the individual in a society; and are historic critical reading of sacred texts Eurocentric? Each of the four section in Skarpeid’s paper starts with a presentation and discussion of the scholarly debate and ends giving examples on how they may relate to sacred scripture.

Details

Pages
XIV, 168
ISBN (PDF)
9781433154423
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433154430
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433154447
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433154416
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (October)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XIV, 168 pp., 2 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Beth E. Elness-Hanson (Volume editor) Jon Skarpeid (Volume editor)

Beth E. Elness-Hanson is Lecturer in the Old Testament at Johannelund School of Theology in Uppsala, Sweden. She received her PhD in the Old Testament at VID Specialized University in Stavanger, Norway. Jon Skarpeid is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Stavanger in Stavanger, Norway. He received his PhD in religious studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

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Title: A Critical Study of Classical Religious Texts in Global Contexts