Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Melville's Wisdom: Religion, Skepticism, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America by Damien B. Schlarb, published by Oxford University Press

Melville’s wisdom: making the past speak to the present

Damien B. Schlarb discusses how “Melville’s wisdom,” the version of moral philosophy Herman Melville crafts in his fiction through his engagement with biblical wisdom literature, may help us confront our own moment of informational inundation and uncertainty.

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A Long Reconstruction: Racial Caste and Reconciliation in the Methodist Episcopal Church by Paul William Harris, published by Oxford University Press

Black Methodists, white church

Paul William Harris explores how different the experience of Black Methodists was in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and what the trade-offs were in seeking the support of white allies.

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Eight fun facts about Bibles at OUP

Bibles have had a long history at our Press; in fact, Oxford’s Bible business made OUP a cornerstone of the British book trade, and, ultimately, the world’s largest university press. When you’ve been in the Bibles business for this long, you’re bound to have some interesting anecdotes. Read on for some fun facts in the history of Bibles at OUP.

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Archaeology of Jesus' Nazareth by Ken Dark, published by Oxford University Press

How long can the historical associations of places be remembered?

Can local memory of an association between a place and the people who lived there be preserved for more than three centuries? Ken Dark looks at this question in reference to the “House of Jesus”, and whether it is plausible that the historical associations of a place—even a place in Nazareth—can be remembered 200 years on, let alone three centuries.

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The Catholic Church and European State Formation, AD 1000-1500

Bringing the Church back in: European state-formation, AD 1000-1500 [long read]

European state-formation would have looked very different if rulers did not constantly have to negotiate with a strong clergy, independent townsmen, and the nobility over, inter alia, the wherewithal for warfare, succession and public peace. But the medieval Church shaped European societies in other ways than this. It was the one institution of late antiquity that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and it carried the torch of the Roman world after the Empire collapsed.

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Excommunication in Thirteenth-Century England by Felicity Hill

Excommunication in thirteenth-century England: a volatile tool

Reactions to excommunication in thirteenth-century England varied considerably, but its consequences for society as well as individuals were significant. The fact that sentences needed to be publicised so that communities knew who to avoid made excommunication a valuable tool of mass communication. However, when the sanction was used unfairly or vengefully, this publicity shone a light on such abuses, with potentially damaging consequences for the church.

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Gobal Tantra

Modern tantra and the global history of religion

For good reasons, tantra often stands at the center of debates about cultural appropriation and the commodification of religious practices. Through nineteenth-century orientalist studies and missionary polemics, it became associated with sexual licentiousness and abhorrent rituals before it was refashioned as a way to sexual liberation and individual freedom.

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The Masnavi, Book Five

Rumi’s subversive poetry and his sexually explicit stories

Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim poet, has become a household name in the last few decades, even becoming the best-selling poet in North America thanks to translations of his work into English. Verses of his poetry are used to begin yoga sessions, religious ceremonies, and weddings, and are ubiquitous throughout social media, in addition to actual […]

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Blackfriars in Early Modern London

East and west the preachers mouth: St. Anne Blackfriars in early modern London

The experience of churchgoing at St Anne’s was undoubtedly shaped by the unconventional situation and layout of the place of worship, but in ways that are now hard to recover. Religious experience, like any other, is embodied experience that unfolds in particular spaces and physical conditions. St Anne’s parishioners may have considered the unorthodox nature of their worship space an unhappy accident of history, or they may just as readily have imbued it with special symbolic significance, making it an important focus of their collective identity.

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Embattled America: The Rise of Anti-Politics and America's Obsession with Religion

A democracy, if we can keep it

At this fearful time in American democracy, the best way to starve anti-democratic forces of their energy is to change the subject away from conservative religion and demand investment in civic education, democratic localism, and human rights.

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Salvation on earth: “saviour” gods in Ancient Greece

Salvation on earth: “saviour” gods in Ancient Greece

What did it mean to be “saved” in antiquity? In a polytheistic system where multiple gods and goddesses reigned, which ones did the ancient Greeks turn to as their “saviour” and how could the gods be persuaded to “save”? Theodora Jim investigates how the Greeks imagine, solicit, and experience divine saving as they confronted the unknown and unknowable, and how their hopes of “salvation” differ from that in Christianity.

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