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Religion Archives | OUPblog

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Black Israelites and the meaning of Chanukah

The story that most Jewish children learn about the holiday of Chanukah is that it commemorates the Jews’ victory over foreign invaders and their sullying cultural influences. Around 200 B.C.E., Judea was the rope in a tug of war between two stronger powers: the Ptolemic dynasty of Egypt and the Seleucid Empire of Syria. The Seleucids, led by the kings Antiochus III & IV, won when Antiochus invaded Judea in 175 B.C.E.

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The longest night of the year

The winter solstice settles on 21 December this year, which means it’s the day with the least amount of sunlight. It’s the official first day of winter, although people have been braving the cold for weeks, huddled in coats and scarves and probably wool socks.

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Garrett - Entertaining Judgement

Almost paradise: heaven in imaginative literature

Paradise, a 1982 knock-off of the movie Blue Lagoon, stars Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames as teenagers who find themselves alone in a place of natural beauty and experiencing the ultimate joy together. Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy can see forever in each other’s eyes in “Almost Paradise,” their Top Ten hit from the Footloose soundtrack (“Almost paradise / We’re knocking on Heaven’s door”). Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) references the Elysian Fields, a paradise beyond this one where the blessed go when they die.

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Druids and nature

How far back in time European communities began to recognize and chart the movements of the sun, moon, and stars it is impossible to say, but for the mobile hunting bands of the Palaeolithic period, following large herds through the forests of Europe and returning to base camps when the hunt was over, the ability to navigate using the stars would have been vital to existence.

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Lifetime’s Women of the Bible and conservative Christian theology

On the surface, the Lifetime channel’s special Women of the Bible tells a very different story than The Red Tent. The two-hour program which aired just prior to the miniseries premiere claims to read with the Bible rather than against it, suggesting that the text itself depicts strong and faithful women—no retelling necessary.

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Biblical women and Lifetime’s The Red Tent

The Red Tent was perfect for the Lifetime channel. The network’s four-hour miniseries closely followed Anita Diamont’s 1997 novel, which gave voice—and agency—to the biblical character of Dinah.

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Carols and Catholicism

Carols bring Christians together around the Christ Child lying in the manger. During Advent and at Christmas, Christians everywhere sing more or less the same repertoire. Through our carols we share the same deep delight at the birth of a poor child who was to become the Saviour of all human beings.

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AAR/SBL 2014 annual meeting wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who visited our booth at the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting this year! We had a great time in San Diego. One of our favorite parts of the meeting was seeing many of our authors (and for many of us, meeting them for the first time!).

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Bullivant - OH Atheism

Christmas for a nonbeliever

As a small boy in the 1920s, my father sang in the choir of the parish church, St Matthews, in Walsall in the British Midlands. Twenty years later, he was married with a couple of children and our small, tight family belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Friends do not have church services. There is no hymn singing. But every Christmas Eve, religiously as one might say, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the family gathered around the radio to listen to the broadcast of carols and lessons from King’s College, Cambridge.

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Wilderness and redemption in Cheryl Strayed’s Wild

Walking It Off was the title Doug Peacock gave to his 2005 book about returning home from the trauma of the Vietnam War. The only solace the broken Army medic could find was hiking the Montana wilderness in the company of grizzly bears. Wild places proved strangely healing — echoing a wounded wilderness within.

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Joseph Smith and polygamous marriage

A number of historians of Mormon history have tried to explain the rationale and motivation behind Joseph Smith’s teachings about “plural marriage.” Although it’s not unreasonable to assume a sexual motivation, Smith’s primary motivation may have been his expansive theology–a theology, in this specific case, that his wife would not accept.

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Religion and the paranormal

OUP author Diana Walsh Pasulka recently caught up with fellow scholar of religion and fellow OUP author, Jeffrey J. Kripal, to discuss the study of the supernatural and the paranormal within the university.

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Leaving Orthodox Judaism: A Q&A with Lynn Davidman

Lynn Davidman, author of Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews, not only interviewed former Orthodox Jews for her book; she was a former Modern Orthodox herself. Davidman answered some questions for us about her experience leaving Orthodox Judaism and how it informed her research.

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