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Religious Syncretism (Scm Core Text) (Scm Core Text S.) [Paperback]

By Eric Maroney (Author)
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Item description for Religious Syncretism (Scm Core Text) (Scm Core Text S.) by Eric Maroney...

Overview
Even a quick scan of today's headlines makes clear that the growth of fundamentalist versions of Islam is having a vast impact on our world. For Americans the rise of Christian fundamentalism, especially the Evangelical movement, is also socially and politically shaping the country, as debates about abortion, stem cell research and other important issues are often driven by fundamentalist notions. In profound ways, orthodox versions of Judaism have altered the fabric of Middle Eastern politics through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially regarding settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, making peace there all the more difficult, and further destabilizing an already unstable region. The rise of fundamentalism in the three monotheistic faiths is fully examined in this textbook. It is not about fundamentalism however, it is about its opposite trend: religious syncretism. Syncretism describes the phenomenon of one religion borrowing elements from another, and it is part of religion that fundamentalists will seldom acknowledge. This textbook explores Judaism, Christianity and Islam, using compelling examples of how syncretism works and looks, to show how these three religions have adopted customs and conceptions of other religions, most often acquiring practices from pagan predecessors and neighbours. The book shows how these three faiths - despite how modern media would have us believe - have been willing, at various times and places, to borrow.

Publishers Description
The teacher who uses this book in a course... has a great opportunity here to bring history to life and to show nuances concerning religious stereotypes which are not based on historic fact --Tijdschrift voor Theologie, (Journal for Theology) 2008: 48, 117 The SCM Core Text Religious Syncretism provides a persuasive account of the principle that syncretism is an important and widespread expression of religious belief and practice. Each chapter concludes with a useful summary and questions that might be considered for seminar or class discussion.... there is much to commend the book. Those of us who work in education can be accustomed to think of religion in terms of creeds and doctrines and to teach the subject along those lines. Such an approach is to ignore the importance of syncretistic experience as a defining factor in religion. --Elliot Shaw, Senior Lecturer, Religious Education at St. Martin's College, in the journal World Religions in Education, XXVIII, 2007-8. Even a quick scan of today's headlines makes clear that the growth of fundamentalist versions of Islam is having a vast impact on our world. For Americans the rise of Christian fundamentalism, especially the Evangelical movement, is also socially and politically shaping the country, as debates about abortion, stem cell research and other important issues are often driven by fundamentalist notions. In profound ways, orthodox versions of Judaism have altered the fabric of Middle Eastern politics through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially regarding settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, making peace there all the more difficult, and further destabilizing an already unstable region. The rise of fundamentalism in the three monotheistic faiths is fully examined in this textbook. It is not about fundamentalism however, it is about its opposite trend: religious syncretism. Syncretism describes the phenomenon of one religion borrowing elements from another, and it is part of religion that fundamentalists will seldom acknowledge. This textbook explores Judaism, Christianity and Islam, using compelling examples of how syncretism works and looks, to show how these three religions have adopted customs and conceptions of other religions, most often acquiring practices from pagan predecessors and neighbours. The book shows how these three faiths - despite how modern media would have us believe - have been willing, at various times and places, to borrow.

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Item Specifications...


Studio: SCM Press
Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.64"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 17, 2011
Publisher   SCM Press
Series  SCM Core Text  
ISBN  0334040183  
ISBN13  9780334040187  


Availability  82 units.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Religious Syncretism (Scm Core Text) (Scm Core Text S.)?

an excellent resource and extremely well written  May 28, 2010
Syncretism is a very controversial subject. It is also an intrinsically complex subject, since by definition it involves the ways in which religions "mix" together, rather than the far simpler (but in truth simplistic and hopelessly unrealistic) approach of treating religions as neatly separated, mutually exclusive clubs.

Controversies over syncretism arise because of two inter-related questions: (1) is syncretism a good thing or a bad thing? and (2) is syncretism a natural state or is it a sign of the "decay" of a once "pure" religion? While scholars tend to shy away from the first question as irredeemably subjective, the second question is unavoidable. But the second question inevitably yields only one answer: that syncretism is a natural, universal feature of all religions. But that, in essence, also answers the first question.

Maroney confidently handles this complex and controversial subject. His writing style is clear and engaging, his examples are thoughtfully chosen and well presented, and the book is structured in a way that presents the world of religious syncretism in all of its luxurious messiness without overwhelming the reader (the forest, as the old saying goes, is not lost sight of in the course of examining representative trees).

This is a subversive book. It "deproblematizes" syncretism in a way that many will find discomforting. As Maroney himself points out in the first chapter, the monotheistic religions of the world have a tendency to view syncretism as their "sworn enemy". In spite of that attitude, though, Christianity, Judaism and Islam have all engaged in syncretism throughout their histories not only with each other, but also with those other, Pagan, religions.

Although he has chosen what has generally been considered an esoteric topic in the study of religion, Maroney has actually produced a book that in many ways is far superior as a general introduction to Religion (with a capital "R") than the usual survey books on World Religions (ie, Huston Smith, Stephen Prothero, etc). Because he focuses on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the otherwise forbidding subject of syncretism is made accessible to a wide English speaking readership. I wish such a book had existed many many years ago -- but I am very glad it is here now!
 
Some fundamentals of theory would help.  Mar 1, 2010
A textbook for undergraduates that defines religion as "the search for the ineffable" at the end of the book (167) cannot convey much in the way of systematic theory, since "the ineffable" cannot be defined. Maroney opens with the definition that syncretism is "a reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief in religion, especially when the result is heterogeneous." (6) He outlines "sorts, varieties, types" of syncretism. One is "the syncretism of religious origins." A second is "a more overt variety" that "occurs once an established religion moves beyond the borders of its cradle and farm from its traditional territorial bounds." A third is "the drive to create religious and political uniformity." (9) A fourth is "another form...isolation...which creates a decidedly rural, folk-based syncretism." (10)
Chapters follow on Spanish and Portuguese Marranos; on Islam in the Balkans; on cults of saints is Christianity and Islam; one the cult of the Virgin in Christianity; on the Kabala, and on Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar, the Mogul Emperor (1542-1605). Easy language and interesting descriptions make all the chapters very entertaining reading.

Having left his definitions of syncretism a tattered coat of many colors, Maroney interprets evolutionary history largely as mutual responses among orthodoxy, mysticism, and fundamentalism in the growth of the historic empires, and pretty nicely, too, but without any systematic theory. His field of syncretism is largely variations on religions he calls "Abrahamic" and "revealed" in the archaic, historic, and a little modern Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East and India -- Christianity, Islam, and ancient polytheism.

The closing chapter is a paean to Hellenistic syncretism and a cry that "The word syncretism appears almost useless as a defining term." (168) Since this is a textbook, there are questions for discussion, scholarly notes, and recommended readings. The scholarly notes are provided in the cumbersome, old-fashioned format that eschews a central bibliography. It is difficult to say how one might use a textbook like this; perhaps in a course on the sociology of religion, but students would be better served by Max Weber.
 

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