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During the first and second centuries of the Common Era the Christ cult spread from rural Palestine to the large cities of the Empire. This article draws insights from social network theory and from epidemiology, arguing that the Christ cult was not a simple contagion, spread by simple contact, but a ‘complex contagion’ that required persuasion, especially because adherence to the Christ cult entailed potential social costs and demanded high signalling costs.
At Environmental Studies at the University of Oslo, students began their semester by taking a weeklong hike over the scenic Hardangervidda mountain plateau. It was designed to take the students away from the capitalist and industrial setting of the city and deep into the periphery of a picturesque nature. Empowered by the mountains they could enter the valleys of industrialism and shallow ecological thinking with a do-gooding gaze of knowing what’s right from wrong. The institution was the intellectual think tank for the Deep Ecologists who were under attack from both Marxists, who saw them as counter-revolutionary, and supporters of the European Community, who thought they were unable to appreciate international cooperation empowered by capitalism. These tensions would energize and radicalize Environmental Studies scholars towards an ideological vision of a future world in ecological equilibrium. Environmental Studies was to point out an alternative direction for the nation other than communism and consumer capitalism. As the vanguard of social change, the scholars associated with Environmental Studies saw themselves as harboring an environmental vision for Norway that could inspire the world.
A common account of the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths is that while the former are true solely in virtue of meaning, the latter are true also in virtue of the way of the world. Quine famously disputed this characterization, and his skepticism over the analytic/synthetic distinction has cast a long shadow. Against this skepticism, it is argued that the common account comes close to the truth, and that truthmaker theory offers the resources for providing a compelling account of the distinction that preserves the basic ideas behind it, and avoids the standard criticisms (from Quine, Harman, and Boghossian) facing the distinction. The thesis is that we can formulate an analytic/synthetic distinction in terms of the distinction between truths that require no ontological accounting whatsoever versus those that do. The ontological accounting required for analytic truths is trivial – any set of books will suffice. What distinguishes the synthetic truths is that they require some form of substantive ontological accounting.
The New Testament Letter to the Ephesians hypostatizes the church’s qualities of unity into those of a bounded, ideal human body and building. As both a temple and a heavenly Colossus, the church has a vast architectural interior equal to divine grandeur reaching up to the same dominating heights of Christ’s own enthronement in heaven. This chapter examines how this architectural ekphrasis participated in aesthetics shared by many authors in Roman literary culture to turn buildings into stories in the final decades of the first century. In this period of cultural change, narratives about buildings shifted from an architecture of tyranny to encomiastic memorials of divine benefaction, unity and power associating grand architecture and the ideal human body. Attention to Roman architectural ekphrasis in Ephesians thus makes the mixed metaphor in Ephesians intelligible. It also offers a solution to an interpretative crux in the text previously considered insoluble. In these ways, therefore, this chapter rethinks the question of early Christian intertextuality as one of connectivity, examining the parallels as products of shared responses among discrete reading communities to Roman cityscapes.
J. M. Coetzee is often thought a solitary, reclusive figure, but he has long collaborated with other writers and artists. Correspondence and epistolary conventions also play an important role in Coetzee’s fictional work. This chapter argues that we must look beyond the apparent contradiction between Coetzee the private man and Coetzee the collaborator, to understand conflict as central to his pursuit of dialogue. The chapter explores the ways in which writing, reflection, and critique are at the heart of Coetzee’s collaborative work and suggests that these elements are not at odds with his rejection of the demand for immediate, unplanned speech. The chapter provides detailed readings of Coetzee’s works of correspondence, The Good Story and Here and Now, as well as examining his use of epistolary conventions and techniques in his fiction, particularly in Summertime and Age of Iron. The chapter concludes that Coetzee’s commitment to collaboration and correspondence is simultaneously a resistance to producing a single repeatable life-story or superficial exchange, and that just as mediation is necessary to move beyond the stock phrases of epistolary exchange, so errors and disagreements are essential in creating meaningful dialogue.
Christian writers, keen to interpret the apocalyptic scripture that had since become canonical, recognised the intrinsic importance of Nero’s role as first persecutor to the history of Christianity. According to tradition, Nero created the first martyrs, including the apostles Peter and Paul. Millennialists from the third century established the importance of a relationship between the first and last persecutors, affording Nero an apocalyptic role. To add detail to the paradigm, late-antique writers turned ted to non-biblical traditions – mostly classical historiography, but also the apocryphal Sibylline Oracles and Ascension of Isaiah. Here, they could find characteristics to populate their paradigm, be those the traits of the arch-destroyers of apocrypha, or those of the tyrannical Nero of classical texts.
Chapter 4 analyses recent writing by and about trans people with a twofold aim: to examine how they challenge binary thinking, and to explore their understanding of how gender identity interacts with and is circumscribed by heteropatriarchal capitalist institutions and norms. I examine how Juliet Jacques’ Trans: A Memoir (2015) and ‘Weekend in Brighton’ (2015), Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015), and Paul Preciado’s Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era (2013) abandon the tradition within earlier trans life-writing of focusing upon transition as the dramatic apex of the narrative. In different manners, all of these writers are arguing for an expansion of the term ‘trans’. In the case of Nelson and Preciado this extends, controversially, to name other states of flux, such as the pregnant female body or the flow of information and data. This chapter examines these audacious attempts to both naturalise and expand ‘trans’, as well as Jacques’s dedramatizing prose, arguing that these writers testify to a new twenty-first-century understanding of gender identity from which feminism, social behaviour, and societal organisation can be reappraised.
I took the opportunity to come at the problem from a different angle from that of the New Atheists’ anti-theism strategy of attacking religion directly, and argue instead for raising consciousness for religious skepticism through political freedom, namely protecting the rights of believers so that the rights of nonbelievers are equally protected.
This essay was commissioned by the Center for Inquiry and Prometheus Books to remember and celebrate the life and work of Paul Kurtz, one of the central figures in the birth of the modern skeptical and humanist movements, in conjunction with his passing on October 20, 2012. It was published as a Foreword for a new addition of Paul’s magnum opus, The Transcendental Temptation (Prometheus Books, 2013), which I read initially when it was originally published in 1987, and then re-read in the 1990s for inspiration during our inchoate efforts to contribute to the skeptical movement through the Skeptics Society and Skeptic magazine. Paul was a university professor (SUNY Buffalo), but he was also an entrepreneur of ideas and – unbeknownst to him – served as a mentor and role model to me. I was honored to be asked to pen this elegiac essay.
Chapter 18 discusses the fateful elections of 14 September 1930 from the perspective of the German Right and the various factions on the Right that were vying for power. It focuses first of all on the efforts of the young conservatives who reorganized themselves into the Conservative People’s Party in the hopes of uniting those who had left the DNVP into a single political front. But these efforts, which enjoyed strong support from Paul Reusch and the German industrial establishment, evoked little interest from the leaders of the CNBLP and CSVD, both of whom were determined not to compromise the uniqueness of their own political appeal by entering into close ties with other political parties. In the meantime, Hugenberg and the DNVP leadership tried to organize their campaign around the mantra of anti-Marxism but misread, as did most of the other parties in the middle and moderate Right, the threat that National Socialism posed to their party’s electoral prospects. As a result, the Nazis were able to capitalize upon the disunity of the non-Nazi Right to score a victory of epic proportions that gave the NSDAP fourteen percent of the popular vote and 107 Reichstag mandates.
In a commentary on Miller and Bartholomew, Zachar notes that the Research Domain Criteria initiative (RDoC) has always represented an incursion of cognitive neuroscience and factor analytic dimensional models from psychology into biological psychiatry, and that non-reductionist aspirations have been a part of RDoC from the beginning. Rather than reductionism, a more problematic tenet of the RDoC initiative is a contempt for the categories of the DSM, seen in a tendency to blame the lack of progress on adherence to a categorical model rather than on the intrinsic complexity of psychopathology. One aspect of this complexity is the open nature of psychological concepts. Turning to the “neural circuit” metaphor, Zachar suggests that the notion of a “circuit for” may reflect adopting too modular a theory of mind, which as a framework, may unnecessarily constrain a mechanistic science.
Chapter 13 examines the period from the campaign for the May 1928 Reichstag elections to Alfred Hugenberg’s election as DNVP party chairman in October 1928. The DNVP went down to stunning defeat in the May elections that stemmed in large part from the success of middle-class and agrarian splinter parties to cannibalize the Nationalist electorate. The defeat was followed by a bitter internal crisis in which Westarp found himself such heavy attack from Hugenberg that he resigned his seat as DNVP party chairman. This was followed by a bitter fight for the DNVP party chairmanship that found Hugenberg’s opponents so badly organized that they were unable to block his election as Westarp’s successor in October 1928. Hugenberg’s election to the DNVP chairmanship represented a critical turning point in the history of the Weimar Republic and signaled the complete collapse of Stresemann’s efforts to stabilize Germany’s republican system of government from the Right.
Chapter 8 examines the efforts of Stresemann to stabilize Germany’s republican system by coopting the support of influential special interest organizations like the National Federation of German Industry (RDI) and the National Rural League (RLB) in the hope that they can influence the DNVP to adopt a more responsible posture toward the existing system of government. The fact that the DNVP improved upon its performance in the May 1924 Reichstag elections in a new round of voting in December means that the DNVP can no longer be ignored as a potential coalition partner. The DNVP’s subsequent entry into the first Luther cabinet in January 1925 is to be seen as part of a larger stabilization strategy that also includes the election of retired war hero Paul von Hindenburg as Reich president in April 1925 and changes in the leadership of the RDI and RLB that reflect an increased willingness to work within the framework of the existing system of government.
This introduction explores what it means for Acts to be an ancient historical monograph, as well as its proposed date, authorship, audience, purposes, message, and narrative continuity with Luke’s Gospel.
Chapter 12 examines the DNVP’s record as a member of the Marx’s coalition government from its initial successes from the passage of the Work Hours Law and the Unemployment Insurance Act in the spring and summer of 1927 through its failure to develop an adequate legislative response to the increasingly desperate situation in which the German farmer found himself to its awkward embrace of The Law for the Protection of the Republic in May 1927. The DNVP’s situation in the Marx cabinet was further complicated by a virtual mutiny in the Stahlhelm against collaboration with the existing system of government and a revolt in the countryside spearheaded by regional RLB affiliates RLB that were no longer satisfied with the DNVP’s defense of agriculture’s economic welfare. Increasingly desperate to salvage something of its second experiment in governmental participation, the DNVP staked everything on the passage of a Reich School Law that encountered such strong opposition from the DVP that not only was the bill rejected but the governmental coalition collapsed.
Chapter 17 examines the repercussions of the December secession from the DNVP Reichstag delegation upon the fate of the Müller cabinet and the decision to appoint Heinrich Brüning as the head of a new government based upon the parties of the middle and moderate Right. The architect of the Brüning cabinet was military strategist Kurt von Schleicher, who hoped either to force Hugenberg’s resignation as DNVP party chairman or trigger a second secession on the party’s left wing that was more extensive than the one that had taken place the preceding December. But the support that Hugenberg enjoyed at the base of the DNVP organization was unassailable, with the result that the dissidents within the DNVP Reichstag delegation found themselves increasingly isolated within the party. Consequently, when Hugenberg decided to support Social Democratic efforts to force the dissolution of the Reichstag in July 1930, their only recourse was to leave the party in a second secession that was, to be sure, more extensive than the first but failed to shake Hugenberg’s control of the party.
This chapter includes a defense of Rolston’s thesis that Darwinian evolution is “cruciform” or “kenotic” in character, i.e., that the self-sacrificial role of animals in nature is strongly analogous to the part played by Jesus Christ in redeeming the world. With Southgate, the author rejects Rolston’s conclusion, however, that the moral goodness of this “cruciformity” outweighs and justifies evolutionary suffering. The Darwinian kenōsis (the author’s phrase) has partial God-justifying force, but for full justification an eschatological sequel is required. The comparison strengthens the position of theism in the controversy on both the evidential and justificatory levels of the Darwinian problem of animal suffering. The author also argues that Paul’s famous digression on divine election in Romans 8-11 provides unexpected help on all these levels. It supports the aesthetic analogue of God as Artist, and the imagery helps to sharpen the thesis taken from Job: God is creating the messianic Cosmos by extraordinary artistic-moral means. In the emergence of the Church from the cross, we can already begin to “see” the truth of this proclamation.
Shelley repeatedly described himself as an atheist, and yet in his poetry he frequently explored the possibility of god-like transcendent powers, divine inspiration, and prophecy. In many of his greatest poetic works (such as Mont Blanc, Ode to the West Wind, and Prometheus Unbound), Shelley frequently invokes biblical imagery to articulate essentially Christian values (hope, charity, love) while developing his own master themes of enlightened defiance, political liberty and the struggle toward self-control. In Prometheus Unbound, Shelley's Greek Titan is metaphorically “crucified” for his sacrifice to help humanity. His liberation follows a personal transformation that recalls aspects of St. Paul’s writing on self-mastery. It is unclear if Prometheus’ liberation is causally linked to his own imaginative renewal, or whether there are other forces (God, Necessity, inscrutable Powers) that are instrumental. The repeated inclination to invoke both classical and biblical writing while developing themes of personal autonomy and enlightenment is one of the most interesting aspects of Shelley's work, and one of the most representative qualities of Romantic writing more generally.
In the laws in the first five books of the Bible, each law is a response to a specific ethical or legal problem arising in a narrative incident recounted in Genesis through 2 Kings. The closest of links exist between law and literature. This argument differs significantly from the commonly held view that legal texts were inserted into narrative texts at different historical periods to reflect changing societal circumstances. Topics covered include the origin of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments); legal ideas of perennial interest such as individual and corporate responsibility, conflict of law with principle, and authoritative sanctioning of evil; sacred (ritual) law; the absence of certain rules; the role of the curse in controlling behavior; the contributions of Jesus and Paul to ethics and law.
In Chapter VI, “Between Jesus, the Jew and the Other”, I discuss the otherness of Jesus the Jew with regard to his Torah observance. The law-abiding Jesus has been presented also in the 2007 Muslim document “A Common Word”.