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The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2008
Editor: Wes Williams

This book addresses the relationship between human rights and religion. The original blurb for the Oxford Amnesty Lectures of 2008 invited speakers and audiences to ponder arguments for the God-given source of human rights. The book explains how biblical inspiration (both Old and New Testament) fuelled the anti-slavery protests and later the civil rights movement in the United States. It develops the particular relevance, for arguments over human rights within Islam, of the writings of the medieval philosopher Muhammad al-Ghazali who justified an openness towards constructive engagement with other traditions. The book shows where the philosophical worldviews that inform the religion of Islam and the rights discourse may be distant from each other. It illustrates the challenge of taking the real world of human practice seriously while avoiding simplistic arguments for pluralism or relativism. The book focuses on Simon Schama's evocation of the religious fervour which helped feed the long struggles for liberation among American slave communities. It discusses the understanding of human rights in the Roman Catholic tradition. The book also shows that the Christian experience of Pentecost and what it means to learn to speak as well as understand another's language, is a continuing resource God has given the church to sustain the ability to suffer as well as respond to those who suffer for the long haul. The book argues that moral progress consists in the universalisation of Western liberal democracy with its specific understanding of human rights.

Spaces for argument and agreement
Wendy James

passions for liberation. Simon Schama’s opening chapter in this volume is a wonderful example of the latter, showing how biblical inspiration (both Old and New Testament) fuelled the anti-slavery protests and later the civil rights movement in the United States: ‘Baptist theology with its emphasis on free will, on self-deliverance and adult rebirth … communicated itself most forcefully to a captive population yearning for redemption.’ He sketches the widening horizons of freedom and the promise of redemption fostered in the world of the Spirituals and multiple religious

in Religion and rights
Resistance to incorporation in Judith
Denis Ferhatović

This chapter focuses on Judith, a poem that describes the eponymous Hebrew heroine’s successful decapitation of the evil Assyrian king Holofernes. Holofernes’s head provides a literal example of plunder. Unlike her biblical inspiration, Judith accepts the Assyrian’s gore-smeared armour as an offering from her people. The irony of this instance of spolia increases because the woman whom Holofernes wishes to claim as his plunder in the end plunders him. Two sets of opposing methods surface regarding spolia and similar objects. Certain passages in Judith feature zooming out and quickening of the narrative pace, while in others zooming in and slower rhythm predominate. The narrative allows us neither to neglect the dangerous, seductive detail (often a type of spolium) nor to linger too long on it. The foreshortened narrative itself invites and resists appropriation through allegorisation, whether religious (as a Christian typological exercise) or political (as a statement about the Viking attacks). The chapter argues that Judith thus complicates two common, contrasting theoretical approaches to it: the psychoanalytical criticism emphasising the heroine’s subversion and the exegetical interpretations that contain the protagonist and her actions within orthodox medieval belief.

in Borrowed objects and the art of poetry
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Simon Burton

found at a critical juncture for Anglican progressives, in the fallout following the 1860 publication of Essays and Reviews. Often seen as the ‘Broad Church Manifesto’, this work promoted a liberal vision of Christianity grounded on the new, German school of biblical hermeneutics.58 One of the contributors was Rowland Williams (1817–70), Vice-­Principal of St David’s College, Lampeter. His review of Bunsen’s Biblical Researches, which was regarded as a frontal attack on the doctrine of biblical inspiration, raised a storm of protest. The situation quickly escalated

in Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain
John M. Cinnamon

the clan regroupments went from fragments of Fang mythology to fragments of Biblical inspiration’. The legacy of the clan reunification movement continued to inform the oral and written traditions I encountered in the field at the end of the 1980s, which have also filtered into performances and written versions of the Mvet epic. The Mvet epic as

in Ordering Africa
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Powerful fragments: Ruin, relics, spolia
Denis Ferhatović

of presenting the material ‘lytlum sticcum’ [in little bits]. Far from reading Andreas as an incompetent poem, I argue that attending to spolia and other textual and physical fragments found in the text helps us uncover sophisticated, self-conscious poetics behind the work. The fourth chapter focuses on Judith . This poem describes the eponymous Hebrew heroine's successful decapitation of the evil Assyrian king Holofernes. Holofernes's head provides a literal example of plunder. Unlike her biblical inspiration, Judith accepts the

in Borrowed objects and the art of poetry