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. Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, – (Themes in Islamic. Berkey is an Associate Professor of History at Davidson College. He describes Islam as having developed across generations, and he writes of various religious .

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World Publishing Company, Above all, the process grew out of a dialectic involving the various faith traditions, as each attempted to define itself more sharply against the others. The experience of Mesopotamian Jews in the centuries before Islam was in kf critical, both for the formaion of Judaism as it has been known since as it was largely in the rabbinical academies of Iraq that Jewish law took shapeand also in defining the social and political structures which characterized formatio Near Eastern Jewish experience into the modern period.

Its appeal may be measured by the varied languages in which translations of Manichaean texts have survived, including Coptic, Turkish, and Chinese. Jerusalem, he declared, is the mother city, not of one country Judaea but of most of the others in virtue of the colonies sent foormation at divers times to the neighbouring lands of Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, the part of Syria called the Hollow and the rest as well and the lands lying far apart, Pamphylia, Cilicia, most of Asia up to Bithynia and the corners of Pontus, similarly also into Europe, Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, Aetolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, and most of the best parts of Peloponnese.

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

This knowledge was embedded in the rich and inter-related body of texts — principally the Koran, collections of hadith, legal treaties and textbooks and commentaries on them — which formed the substantive basis for the training of those scholars who were known as the ulama. By the fourth and fifth centuries, the rabbis had created an institutional structure for instruction and learning through which their interpretation of Jewish law came to be dominant, not just in Iraq, but among Jews throughout the diaspora.

Christians raised more insistently than others the question of religious identity.

At Edessa in Syria, one of the earliest and most important centers of eastern Christianity, a city which the pagan emperor Julian had shunned for its commitment to the Christian faith, pagan rituals and sacrifices were still practiced in the late sixth century. Don’t have an account? Berkey states that Islam was originally a monotheism for Arabs and that later, following Arab conquests outside of Arabia, Islam became a faith for others — as it was for Christianity, which was a movement of Jews and developed into a faith that included others.


Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 29 formatoin, 21— University of Notre Dame Press,although this work is somewhat sentimental and uncritical. Brill,—, esp. The adherents of the religions of late antiquity — or at least those adherents who took their religion seriously — increasingly associated their faith with a truth which applied to all the world, and not just to a particular people or place.

Formatiom state began to interfere in the practice of Jewish law, subjecting Jews to Roman law in matters such as marriage and inheritance, thereby undermining the juridical foundations of Jewish identity and the autonomy which the Jews had enjoyed under pagan Rome. By the third century it was well established and organized, and began to attract the attention of the Zoroastrian priesthood which was growing closer to the Sasanian state.

Brown, Religion and Society, According to Nestorius, the patri- arch of Constantinople who gave his name to the sect, Christ was the locus of two entirely independent natures, the divine and the human: This leaves open, furthermore, the analytically separate issue of religious syncretism.

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

Cambridge University Press,—; R. Only through the king did the people have access to religion, god, and salvation.

The Sasanian emperors were not, of course, Christian. The example of Judaism in this regard is somewhat problematic, since Jewish monotheism was coupled with the association of Judaism with a particular ethnic group.

His doctrine bore a superficial resemblance to Christianity — Jesus, for example, plays a prominent role in the Manichaean myth — but Mani also drew upon certain Indian ideas such as metempsychosis and especially Iranian dualism. An important marker of the decline of paganism berkeh lies in the decay of the active life of the temples and other cultic sites and occasions.

In the first fogmation, the question of paganism is a reminder that religion and religious identities can be experienced on a variety of levels. So Manichaeism developed a gnostic doctrine through which knowledge of the true human con- dition, and a consequent avoidance of procreation, paved the path to final redemption.

Reports of human sacrifices in Iraq should perhaps be approached with some caution, but it is striking that they continue well into the eighth century.

The Formation of Islam (Jonathan Berkey) – book review

More importantly, from our perspective, the challenge had a lasting legacy on religious developments in the medieval Near East, since much of the doctrine of Mazdak reappeared among certain sectarian groups in Iran during the first several centuries of the Muslim era.

The tensions were in part theological. The dialogue was not always a friendly one — quite the contrary. It was to such problems, made worse by the per- manently shifting character of urban life, that many of the new religions addressed themselves. Crossroads,—92, esp.

His treatment is heavily weighted towards the earlier history, with two thirds of it on the first four oc, on Most users should sign in with their email address. The Jewish community there was old, dating back to the Achaemenid empire, but it grew substantially islma late antiquity, in part because the Sasanian emperors encouraged Jewish immigration from the rival and con- siderably more hostile Fodmation Empire, and in part through a process of conversion among the native Aramaean population with whom the Jews shared a common vernacular.


Rather than consult with recognized authority figures, Muslim individuals were inclined to speak with persons deemed holy by their asceticism about their worldly concerns, such as slaves that had fled, or the complaint that a master was unjust, forcing the holy men, “who had quit the world,” back to worldly concerns.

It comes as no surprise that the missionary activities of several of the religions of late antiquity — Manichaeism, for example, and later Islam — were closely associated with merchants. Judaism and Christianity, as we have already seen, staked out a significant presence in the Formxtion realm, largely but not exclusively in its Mesopotamian provinces.

Fotmation developments were the social manifestations of a changing theological climate, in which religions claimed berkfy themselves authority to define the parameters of truth, parameters which applied to and circumscribed the lives of all. The religious identity of a pagan in, say, an Egyptian village may fornation been related to, and informed by, the dominant myths which have survived in ancient Egyptian literature and the cults of the temples whose finances were increasingly in disarray.

There was a long period of maturation and the formation of a distinct religious identity was “the culmination of the longer-term process by which the Arabs of the peninsula were incorporated into the dominant social and cultural patterns of the Near East”. In Egypt, the situation was made worse by the fact berket the priests apparently lost their ability to read and write the Egyptian language in its ancient scripts, and so found themselves partially cut off from their pagan religious traditions: Others have credited competition with Islam for encouraging the compilation of definitive Zoroastrian texts.

On the other hand, Mani and his followers aimed from the beginning at an even larger target.

His authority was shared, however, with the rabbis, who first came to Mesopotamia from Palestine in the wake of the Bar Kochba revolt. On the contrary, after the early fourth century, it was Christians who persecuted pagans.

Madrasasor schools offering instruction in jurisprudence, came as late as the 12th century and originated in Khurasan.

Despite some Koranic verses which seemed to reject the possibility for example, 2. In Egypt, for example, thaumaturgy and oracular functions had always played an important role in local manifestations of paganism. Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian Princeton: