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. Jonathan Berkey’s book surveys the religious history of the peoples of the Near East from roughly to CE. The opening chapter examines the religious. Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, – (Themes in Islamic.

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Berkey’s focus in The Formation of Islam is on ideas and institutions and their social and political context, exploring how the core ideological and structural features of Islam developed. Many Jews had become speakers of Greek — hence the need for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, produced in that most Hellenistic of cities, Alexandria, in the third century BCE. Their anxieties about the social mixing of adherents of different religious communities were shared by the Zoroastrian priests who grew increasingly identified with the Sasanian state, and reflected the more general process by which religious identities in late antiquity crystallized around a few major traditions.

Assimilation and Resistance Princeton: Bantam, Here again, it is important to stress that Jews did not always act as a politically passive minority. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: In the first place, the question of paganism is a reminder that religion and religious identities can be experienced on a variety of levels. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in.

The Formation of Islam | Jonathan Berkey –

The exilarch, for example, functioned at times almost as a courtier of the Sasanian emperor, yet his authority rested in the final analysis on the claim of Davidic descent.


Popular religion, often involving syncretic elements and the veneration of individuals as well as mystical ideas, posed a broader threat to the authority of the ulama.

University of California Press, Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P.

Cambridge University Press,— This was particularly true in southwest Asia, given the presence there of Palestine and of the significant Jewish population in Babylonia: And he surveys the ascetic and mystical strands of Islam. The commitment of late antique and early medieval defenders of paganism reflected not only a nostalgic longing for a vanishing faith, but a genuine appreciation for a tradition which, in its breadth, sophistication, and universalist outlook, laid the groundwork for and in many ways anticipated the achievements and vision of the new monotheisms.

Given the sheer size of the Jewish population and its presence throughout the Mediterranean world, Judaism had distinct political advantages, too, another point worth remembering in light of later conditions. In a famous passage from his Christian cosmography, an early sixth-century Alexandrian merchant named Cosmas glossed a verse from the Book of Daniel which he took to refer to the rough coincidence of the establishment of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christ.

University of Chicago Press,— This was true even of a religion such as Judaism, which, succumbing to the powerful gravitational pull of late antique Hellenism, moved beyond the this-worldly focus of its core Biblical texts. Nonetheless, reconstructing the history of Judaism in the Near East in the centuries before and after the rise of Islam is difficult, given the nature of the surviving historical record; much of the story has to be pieced together from sources hostile to the Jews and their faith.

Jews constituted a significant minority of the population in many Mediterranean towns, and Judaism had an impact on the religious lives of many non-Jews as well.


Jonathan Berkey – the formation of islam

And he describes common patterns in social and political organisation, the legal system, and the transmission of religious knowledge. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight, —8. It was they, with their concerns about the law and ritual purity, who discouraged contact between Jews and non-Jews, who grew skeptical of conversion to Judaism, and who frowned upon intermarriage.

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.

Frend, The Rise of Christianity Philadelphia, The religions of late antiquity 29 foundation of kingship and kingship protects religion. 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.

Modrzejewski, The Jews of Egypt: On the other hand, Mani and his followers aimed from the beginning at an even larger target.

Christians served the Sasanians in the army and in the bureaucracy, sometimes in quite senior positions. Philosophical Library,78— Newman Press,56—7; cf.

Two general trends among the religions of the end of the classical and the late antique worlds deserve special mention. Even so, there was a strong universalizing streak in the Judaism of late antiquity.

You do not currently have access to this article. They helped to make possible, for example, the emergence of traditions jonathab claimed adherents beyond any one city or locality: