Religion and Society in the Near East, | Berkey’s focus in The Formation of Islam is on ideas and institutions and their social and political context. Jonathan Berkey’s book surveys the religious history of the peoples of the Near East from roughly to CE. The opening chapter examines the religious. Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, – (Themes in Islamic.

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Subsequent chapters investigate Islam’s first century and the beginnings of its own traditions, the ‘classical’ period from the accession of the Abbasids to the rise of the Buyid amirs, and thereafter the emergence of new forms of Islam in the middle period. The Zoroastrian literature, however, articulated a much more com- plicated and baroque social vision, in which humanity was divided among four social strata, variously defined but commonly consisting of priests, the military, cultivators, and artisans.

Oriental Institute,41—2, 51, Cambridge University Press, konathan, 66— Princeton University Press, Like their Christian Isla counterparts, however, they might intervene in church affairs, to convene a council of Christian bishops, for example, or to secure bekrey election of some particular candidate as catholicos. From a historical rather than a theological viewpoint, the term is an apt one, although for entirely different reasons.

University of Michigan Press,5—6. Monotheistic passages in Zoroastrian texts may have served as formatjon apologetic response to Jewish and Christian polemic. Some non-Jews, for example, were perplexed by particular Jewish practices, such as circumcision and their refusal to work jonzthan the Sabbath, by which the Jews self- consciously set themselves apart from their neighbors.

The belief in a single god, by contrast, can easily become an assertion that that deity can be understood and approached in only one way. The religions of late antiquity 15 emerged as authoritative spokesmen on questions regarding law, the questions which marked the Jews off as a people and gave them a separate identity. University of Notre Dame Press,— Religion and Society in the Near East, An Egyptian ap- formaation a presumably pagan sorcerer to enlist his aid in attracting the attention of a woman with whom he was infatuated, or barring that, prevailing upon her husband to throw her out.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800

Organized paganism in Egypt was in trouble well before the rapid spread of Christianity in the fourth century, and probably contributed to the latter phenomenon, rather than being a product of it. Assimilation and Resistance Princeton: To the south of the Fertile Crescent stretches the peninsula which takes its name from the Arabs who inhabit it. The various local and national religions, even the colorful and exuberant polytheism of Egypt, were not immune to the force of the monotheistic ideal.


Here as elsewhere, those formally con- verted to Christianity may have, more or less secretly, preserved their ancient temples and altars, which they might then frequent at night, and there under the cover of darkness replay their pre-Christian rites.

See also the excellent summary of socio-religious thought and practice in the Sasanian period in Louise Marlow, Hierarchy and Egalitarianism in Islamic Thought Cambridge: Christians shared with Jews an underlying aversion to a number of Zoroastrian beliefs or practices — the worship of fire, for example, or consanguinous marriages — and the Zoroastrian priesthood itself shocked by Christian ideals such as virginity periodically unleashed waves of persecution of Christians.

One should not overstress the simplistic contrast be- tween the tolerant polytheism of the classical Mediterranean world and the more repressive orthodoxies of the monotheistic faiths. So, for example, a treaty with the Roman empire in provided that Christians were to be left alone, allowed to worship freely and construct churches.

The religions of late antiquity 25 community, foreshadowing the situation in the Islamic Middle Ages. Click here to sign up. University of California Press, World Publishing Company, He outlines debates over a Sunni “revival” or “re-centering”, which “sharpened opposition to innovations” and made jihad into an instrument for the enforcement of standards.

Zoroastrian dualism was distinguished from that of Manichaeism by its insistence upon the genesis of the world, or at least most of it minus things like reptiles, snakes, and the seven planetsat the hands of the good, rather than the evil, deity.

Jonathan Berkey – the formation of islam

It is doubtful that Judaism in the Hellenistic and late antique periods produced as active a missionary movement as did, say, Christianity, but proselytization was known and approved, even by some of the rabbis whose opinions are expressed in the Talmud, at least through the fourth century CE. And the decline is measurable, and not merely in the obvious fact that, at some point between the third and seventh centuries, the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Near Ebrkey formally converted to one of the new brkey.

Throughout, close attention is paid to the experiences of Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims. In Mesopotamia in the early seventh century, the sister-in-law of a Christian deacon sought the assistance of pagan thr to attract his attention. Schocken Books,19— Separate polytheistic, monotheistic, and especially dualist strands can be identified within the broader Zoroastrian tradition.

From the beginning, however, we should bear two caveats in mind. Ignatius, bishop of Thw around the turn of the first century, composed letters condemning, not Jewish Christians, but Gentile Christians who adopted Jewish practices. Reports of human sacrifices in Iraq should perhaps be approached with some caution, but it joonathan striking that they continue well into the eighth century.


A more funda- mental problem is that Zoroastrian doctrine took shape only slowly, sometimes in response to the theological assertions of other religious traditions.

Many Formaation had become speakers of Greek — hence the need for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, produced in that most Hellenistic of cities, Alexandria, in the third century BCE.

At least one corner of Arabia supported jonarhan agricultural and citied civilization on a par with those of the Fertile Crescent. Nor were the older pagan traditions immune from the influence of ofrmation first of the major monotheistic faiths. Only through the king did the people have access to religion, god, and salvation. The elaborate mythology developed by Mani in his writings posited a universe produced by the conflict between two primal forces, light and darkness, truth and falsehood, expressed sometimes in Christian language as God the Father and the devil, and sometimes in Zoroastrian terms as Zurvan and Ahriman.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East,

Most users should sign in with their email address. These regions lay beyond the uncontested reach of centralized, territorial states such as the Roman or Sasanian empires, and, except in certain limited regions, also lacked indigenous traditions of permanent political institutions.

The religions of late antiquity 27 Manichaeans and others in the Fertile Crescent. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: The poem is the Dionysiaca of Nonnos of Panopolis, trans. The majority of Sasanian Christians followed what came to be identified as the Nestorian position, one distinct from the Chalcedonian and hostile to the Monophysite.

The conquests of the Muslim Arabs, who in the seventh century burst into the Fertile Crescent from the remote and inhospitable desert peninsula to the south, represent simply one more example of far older historical patterns. In this world, social identity rested upon perceived patterns either real or fictive of kinship.

Given the sheer size of the Jewish population and its presence throughout the Mediterranean world, Judaism had distinct political advantages, too, another point worth remembering in light of later conditions. Conybeare in two volumes London:

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