The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)

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Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies Michael Legaspi Abstract During the Enlightenment, scholars guided by a new vision of a post-theological age did not simply investigate the Bible, they remade it. More During the Enlightenment, scholars guided by a new vision of a post-theological age did not simply investigate the Bible, they remade it. Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Print Save Cite Email Share. Show Summary Details. Subscriber Login Email Address. Library Card. Gradually, however, the two communities became completely segregated, and a rising tide of anti-Semitism had consequences for both Muslims and Jews. By the turn of the 15th century Muslims in Spain had to choose between conversion, emigration, or death. Yet, another shift in relations soon set in. The rise of rationalism, a fascination on the part of the West with the cultural trappings of the East, and the necessities of international political and economic exchange soon drew the worlds of Islam and Christendom closer together.

At the same time, under the influence of Western missionary agencies, a very negative perception of Islam continued to develop in Europe. For a long period Western scholarly research on Islam was dominated by the desire to convert Muslims to Christianity, resulting in analyses of Islam that were apologetic and highly polemical. Before leaving the historical context it is important to note some of the nonmilitary, cultural, and intellectual ways in which East and West encountered each other. Much has been made of the interchange between the Crusaders and the Arabs.

In some cases each side found in the other chivalry and respect worthy of admiration and even emulation. For the most part, however, European thinking had little influence on Arab culture. Conversely, the West found great benefit from early Islamic thought in the fields of culture and science.

Westerners learned from their encounters with Islamic civilizations in all major scholarly and scientific fields, including philosophy, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics as well as the arts and music. It is well known that ancient Greek philosophy and science came to the West through the medium of Arab translation.


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Arab-Islamic medical science had a great influence on the development of the disciplines of medicine in Europe. Unfortunately, since the Middle Ages it has been politics that has dominated thinking on both sides, and a legacy of confrontation, distrust, and misunderstanding has prevailed until the present day. Anti-Islamic stereotypes in both Europe and America today reflect early vitriolic sentiments expressed by ignorant and uninformed Christians aghast at the rise of Islam and by their descendants who suffered defeat by Muslims in the Crusades and beyond.

The Ottoman Empire, at its height during the 16th and 17th centuries under Suleiman the Magnificent, suffered gradual decline in succeeding centuries, culminating in its defeat as an ally of Imperial Germany during World War I. Having already lost most of its European territories before the war, the empire suffered a breakup into what is now Turkey and the countries of the Middle East, whose boundaries were drawn by the victorious Western allies. It was also at this time that the seeds were sown for the establishment of the state of Israel in the heart of the Middle East, with statehood emerging in These events of the first half of the 20th century were pivotal for determining the subsequent relations between Muslims and the West Christians and Jews, and now secularists.

Meanwhile in other parts of the Muslim world, especially Africa and South Asia, colonialists wreaked havoc, supplanting Islamic educational systems with secular or Christianity-based systems.

The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

By more than 90 percent of sub-Saharan Africa was already under European control. Inhumane behavior has never been limited to either Christians or Muslims. Turkey during and after World War I carried out one of the worst genocides in history with the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians. Muslim-Christian relations in Europe today are inevitably affected by centuries-old fears of Islamic violence. These fears, of course, are exacerbated by the terrorist events that have occurred in various parts of the world since the turn of the 21st century.

Concern over the rising tide of immigrants coming into Europe from various parts of the Muslim world also has served to raise European nervousness about the presence of Islam. Today some 70 percent of all refugees in the world are Muslim. On the psychological level fear and mistrust tap into a long history of mutual aggression.

On the practical level, Europeans fear that they will lose jobs, a fair cut of social services, and the cultural integrity of their respective countries. For their part many Muslims are experiencing what they see as a new form of international colonialism.

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Reviews

The West has long been known for supporting corrupt dictators so as to foster its own economic needs. Muslims, not surprisingly, question the sincerity of Western belief in justice and democracy. Selected areas of the world are highlighted in the following subsections as examples of the problems that bear on Christian-Muslim relations. Many areas of Africa, of course, are suffering greatly today as a result of deteriorating conditions and relations between Muslim and Christian groups. One obvious example is Nigeria.

Since conflicts between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria have become violent and often deadly. The full picture is complex and related directly to the British colonialist venture in Nigeria. Thus, relations between the two communities are based not only on religion, but also more specifically are a combination of economic, political, and religious factors.

The British captured the Sokoto Caliphate in , after which it became known as the Northern Protectorate, which, in , became part of the independent Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Hausa-Fulani, the dominant leadership, were Muslim, and the ethnic minorities were primarily Christian.


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  5. This racial-ethnic divide remains as the major identifier of groups today, even though issues of conflict may have nothing specifically to do with religion. Interfaith conflict in Nigeria in the contemporary period took a more serious turn when, in , some Muslims objected to Christian evangelization efforts and fighting broke out. These troubles have continued regularly, often with orgies of killing and looting, much of it unrelated to religion or ethnicity.

    For Muslims themselves, violence among members of the faith may be of greater consequence than struggles between groups representing Islam and Christianity. Today a major player in exacerbating Nigerian sectarian violence is the Muslim sect called Boko Haram, which is strongly opposed to Western values and forms of education and generally shares a Taliban ideology.

    In recent years, members of Boko Haram have raided schools, churches, and government offices in their fight to carve out an Islamic enclave in northeastern Nigeria. In April , Boko Haram abducted more than schoolgirls, who as of this writing have not been returned.

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    Those familiar with the situation in northern Nigeria believe that Christian and Muslim organizations could greatly assist in ending conflicts said to be carried out in the name of religion. Many observers believe that the key lies with renewed efforts at interreligious dialogue. Conservative Muslims often think that Christians seek to convert them, and Christians worry that Muslims want to make Indonesia into an Islamic state.

    Christians have always harbored a deep fear of Islamization. Under President Suharto Christians began to lose their influence with the regime and felt increasingly marginalized. In after the fall of the Suharto regime, an upsurge in violent Muslim-Christian conflicts took place throughout the country.

    Since Indonesia became an independent state in , pancasila has served as its guiding philosophy, including among other principals freedom of religion within the framework of monotheism. The cause of violence has been attributed by many people to nonreligious factors such as politics and control of state power. Still, religious rhetoric has been used to mobilize groups and forces. The possibility of interreligious conflict has increased dramatically in recent years.

    In exchange for a kind of religious equilibrium, the church tries to cooperate with secular authorities. New forms of conflict transformation, specifically efforts toward peace-building, are gaining ground across communities that have experienced some of the worst conflicts.

    A group called Peace Provocateurs, for example, has worked to advance brotherhood and peace in Ambon, as a result of which Ambon has achieved relative calm. One of the largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, the Muhammadiyah, is also working for peace and accepts Christians in its schools. In , a large interfaith conference was co-sponsored by several Christian and Muslim organizations, leading to meetings across the country to air tensions, prevent violence, and promote harmony. Despite peaceful efforts in Southeast Asia in general violence has not fully abated.

    Since , several countries have seen the emergence of armed Islamist groups, such as Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines and Laskar Jihad in Indonesia. The world was shocked at the Bali bombings in , carried out by an al-Qaida affiliate. Some observers argue that violence in Southeast Asia represents a defense response on the part of Muslims rather than aggressive fanaticism. Often it represents a response to efforts of local governments to extend their control over areas where Muslims are in the minority.