Two Sides of One Coin? Mapping Buddhist and Christian Decline

Although it’s a world religion, in a sense it is multiply cut off from its roots. While its key early figures used one language, its scriptures are translations of those early words. And although it was once very strong in the land of its birth, it subsequently became much more numerous in lands far afield, [Read More…]

This Orient Isle

Back in February, I posted about the tight alliance that bound (Protestant) Elizabethan England with Muslim Morocco, and what that suggested about the limitations of religious or confessional politics in that era. A very good book on that theme is Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World (London: Allen Lane, 2016), and [Read More…]

The Enoch Seminar

One of the most exciting areas today in Biblical scholarship (broadly defined) is the Enoch Seminar. Founded in 2001, it originally focused on the literature associated with the patriarch Enoch, but has since branched out massively, almost to become a field in its own right. The changing limits of that field are fascinating, both for [Read More…]

The Hadith and the Jews

I have been discussing the Islamic Hadith, and the apocalyptic traditions found in the section on “Turmoil and Portents” in the collection Sahih Muslim, “Pertaining To Turmoil And Portents Of The Last Hour” (Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-Sa’Ah). Specifically, I have suggested that many of these ideas stem from Christian sources, from the late seventh [Read More…]

Dueling Apocalypses

I have been posting about some apocalyptic sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which are found in the collections known as the Hadith. Such sayings are numerous, and at so many points, they echo the lore found among contemporary Christians. Taken with those Christian documents, in fact, they suggest the depth of the apocalyptic fascination [Read More…]

Jesus at Dabiq

The Hadith are sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, and some address apocalyptic themes. One in particular has attracted a lot of attention recently because it refers to the North Syrian city of Dabiq, and that name and the associated story have inspired the murderous sect known as ISIS/Daesh. Despite that connection, though, the passage [Read More…]

Apocalypse at Dabiq

Over the past year, the word Dabiq has come to be associated with some horrendous deeds. That is the name of the emetic publication of the group ISIS/Daesh, in which it presents its propaganda and advocates acts of terror worldwide. Here, though, in a series of posts, I want to describe where the name comes [Read More…]

Islam: Inherently Violent?

The jihadist attacks in Paris have grieved and frightened the world again with the reality of Muslims committing violence in the name of Islam. Again we face the question – is Islam inherently violent? Are Muslims required to commit violence as a religious obligation?  There is no doubt that unsettling numbers of Muslims would not [Read More…]

Permanent Jihad, Continued

I dearly wish I had not been right. Back in early September, I did a post at this blog about potential terrorism in France and other European countries, under the title of The Age of Permanent Jihad. I wrote that The point is not just that many younger French Muslims are increasingly radicalized, but that [Read More…]

Other Reformations

We usually refer to “the Reformation” as if the European movement of the sixteenth century was a unique phenomenon. As I have suggested, though, events fitting this model quite well have occurred repeatedly through history, both within Judaism and Christianity. What other examples might we cite? Looking globally, a Western reader might be surprised how [Read More…]


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