The Annotated Passover Haggadah
Editors: Zev Garber and Kenneth Hanson
The Annotated Passover Haggadah presented here is unique, both in substance and appeal. The story is well-known and often repeated, having been translated, elaborated, neutered, abbreviated, truncated, and all but exfoliated over the many centuries. Nevertheless, the current volume makes an important contribution since, while preserving both the traditional Hebrew text along with an equally traditional English translation, it provides important analytical, philosophical, and theological perspectives on the seminal event of Jewish consciousness and self-awareness. This Haggadah is intended, notwithstanding its scholarly rigor, for practical use in family and congregational settings for those who wish, during this all-important night, to delve ever deeply into the Passover narrative, to go beyond the mere repetition of an annual ritual into a more richly rewarding and profound experience. Its overall theme is a celebration, not only of the deliverance from Egypt but of the widely disparate ways in which the Passover is observed by sundry traditions worldwide. Going beyond the “normative” observance of the Passover Seder, this Haggadah breaks new ground in referencing the increasing interest among Christians and Messianic Jews in observing the Exodus from Egypt. It underscores, via a small cadre of the world’s most renowned Jewish scholars, the sanctified memory of this mighty deliverance, which remains forever emblazoned in the Jewish soul.
Reading Sacred Texts
Drawing significantly on the work of Emile Durkheim and Claude Lévi-Strauss, this book proposes a way to navigate between two pitfalls that undermine comprehension of alien cultures and their sacred literature. First, it offers a vigorous defense of the principle of charity when interpreting religious texts. But this, then, must confront the oddity, even deep implausibility, of many religious claims. The "way out" of this dilemma takes seriously Durkheim's seminal hypothesis that religious belief systems reflect native efforts to understand the social realities of their society. It brings to bear Lévi-Strauss's claim that the structure of religious narratives reflects attempts to bring intellectual order to those realities in a way we can decipher through the use of certain analytic techniques.
The next major element to this book is philosophical. What are such things as social roles, institutions, and conventions? Finding possible answers to that question enables the discovery of match-ups between religious concepts-of souls, gods, demons, and the like-and social realities, giving substance to Durkheim's general thesis. But what about the Bible? The second half of this book is devoted to exploring what the implications might be for an understanding of the origins of Judaism and Christianity. It does so by applying anthropological analyses to puzzles posed by stories found in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, especially the Gospel of Matthew. The upshot is both a political reading of the texts and a conceptual re-framing of such baffling claims as the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Transubstantiation.
The Date of the Muratorian Fragment
John F. Lingelbach
Three hundred years after its discovery, scholars find themselves unable to determine the more likely of the two hypotheses regarding the date of the Muratorian Fragment, which consists of a catalog of New Testament texts. Is the Fragment a late second- to early third-century composition or a fourth-century composition? This present work seeks to break the impasse. The study found that, by making an inference to the best explanation, a second-century date for the Fragment is preferred. This methodology consists of weighing the two hypotheses against five criteria: plausibility, explanatory scope, explanatory power, credibility, and simplicity. What makes this current work unique in its contribution to church history and historical theology is that it marks the first time the rigorous application of an objective methodology, known as “inference to the best explanation” (or IBE), has been formally applied to the problem of the Fragment’s date.
Trump and Political Theology
Jack David Eller
For millennia, a fundamental question of culture and law has been the relationship between religion and ruler, or more recently between church and state. Although the term “political theology” was not always known, the question remained and was answered in various ways: theocracy, the divine right of kings, the mandate of heaven, the rule of jurists, and so forth. Almost a century ago, Carl Schmitt revived political theology and reshaped it into a less theological and more political subject with his famous notions of sovereignty and the exception. Schmitt highlighted the eternal struggle between power or authority on the one hand and positive law and political institutions on the other, arguing that law can never entirely legitimize or constrain power or authority and that the real site and source of law is the moment of exception and of “the decision.”
Trump and Political Theology applies this Schmittian lens to Donald Trump, an exceptional president who seems to use his executive and decision-making power to flaunt law and truth, to cripple and discredit institutions, and to bend reality to his will. The book considers first whether Trump is an aspiring Schmittian sovereign and therefore a threat to democracy. But it goes beyond Trump and Trumpism to critique and rethink political theology in the light of contemporary, especially populist and authoritarian, politics. Finally, it compels us to critique and rethink theology itself as a tool for understanding and organizing politics and society, restoring the relevance of myth and ritual and of pre-Christian and non-Christian characters like the shaman and the trickster for modern politics and social theory.
Early Creedal Formulations and Theological Discourse
Mark A. Moore
Theology is a grand conversation, comprised of a myriad of voices and viewpoints. A great temptation exists within theology today, however, which could signal the loss of a unique Christian identity. The creedal formulations of the early church were never meant to serve as shackles constricting further theological exploration. They were, and still are, relevant guides in assessing the crowded conversation of theology. Early creedal formulations identified and articulated primary affirmations of the biblical narrative not to put an end to the conversation but rather to focus the conversation on the unique Christian identity of God as presented in Scripture. This book examines the function of early creedal formulations as essential identity markers in theological discourse with the goal of constructing an approach to the various subcategories of systematic theology that mirrors the creedal process. This approach, termed here as "Essential Identity Markers" (or simply EIM), seeks to identify and articulate the essential identity markers of a given theological subcategory, in order to define the proper parameters for theological discourse while still allowing such discourse to develop and expand within the articulated identity markers. The EIM model constructed and proposed in this book offers an approach to theology that mirrors the creedal process and seeks to guide modern theological conversations as the community of faith continues to explore the space framed by these markers.