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Other titles in the Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements series:
Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements #2: Light Against Darkness: Dualism in Ancient Mediterranean Religion and the Contemporary Worldby Armin Lange
Synopses & Reviews
Light Against Darkness is comprised of articles that put on display the power and pervasiveness of dualistic thought. Dualism has proved a potent cultural tool for clarifying and ordering reality. Particularly in times of social stress and psychological insecurity, it can offer a valuable conceptual grid that provides orientation to the world and a clear sense of identity. At the same time, though, there are important questions to be asked about the social effects of binary thinking. As history amply illustrates, dualistic notions can readily be deployed to legitimate cultural demonization and to rationalize violence. At a deeper level, a dualist worldview can also obscure the possibilities to be found in multiplicity. The articles in this volume treat Dualism across a wide historical spectrum and from multiple methodological perspectives. The studies are organized around the religious and cultural contexts of Ancient Judaism and they include contributions from leading voices on ancient Persia, Israel, Greece, and Egypt. Experts on modern religious and philosophical thought not only lend context to concepts applied to the ancient world, but engage recent European and American experiments in binary thought. All of the studies contribute to a richer and more complete portrait of dualism in ancient Judaism.
Book News Annotation:
A long time in the making (life sometimes interferes with book making), this volume stems from an eponymous 2003 conference organized by the departments of religion and religious studies at Duke U. and the U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The topic brought forth some provocative scholarship concerning dualism's history, its power, and its potential for providing clarity, particularly in times of social stress and psychological insecurity. Eighteen contributions discuss dualism in Alexandrian religious thought, Zoroastrianism, the Hebrew Bible, Greece, Jewish literature (the dualism of heaven and earth), and evangelical beliefs in America at the turn of the 21st century, among other topics. The final two essays discuss moves beyond dualism in contemporary continental thought, and recent naturalistic dualisms. The four editors are affiliated as follows: Armin Lange (ancient Judaism, U. of Vienna); Eric M. Meyers (religion, Jewish studies, Duke U.); Bennie H. Reynolds III (religious studies, Millsaps College); and Randall Styers (religious studies, U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). This volume will no doubt find an extensive readership among scholars of religion and philosophy. Distribution in North America is by The David Brown Book Co. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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