Eric Weitzner’s “Jewish Bach” blog

I wrote this piece in late 2013 or early 2014. I continually find things I wrote that are suitable to the blog but never published here. I found this piece, never posted, in Dec. 2017 while “cleaning up” some computer files. I spent some time reading the blog that is the subject of this post, and made a few edits before posting it today.

I started reading the blog of Eric Weitzner after noting that a public read-through of his version of Bach’s B Minor Mass, with his Hebrew text, was to be mounted at HaBonim Synagogue in January 2014. Here is where the announcement was posted: http://dessoff.org/this-season/sing-in-bachs-prayer-in-b-minor/ (but I do not think this is currently available as I review this post–SW). It was billed as “adapting Jewish prayers and theological ideas to Bach’s transcendent music.”

Weitzner discusses this work in his blog: https://jewishbach.wordpress.com/ — a blog he concluded a few months after the HaBonim Synagogue event, but which, as of this writing, is still viewable on line. And the blog still makes curious reading.

There are of course Hebrew translations of the B Minor Mass, for example this one, by Ada Brodski, a very serviceable literal translation of the B Minor Mass text (with some further comments in Hebrew, mostly about the music rather than the text.) Some Catholics in Israel are Hebrew speaking, because they are converts from Judaism—or because Hebrew is the local language. Click here for the pages of the St. James Vicariate, which has links to could easily be adapted for the B Minor or any other Mass (currently these links may be found here).

Of course, the Hebrew translations of the Mass are literal. Weitzner’s version is not, nor is it meant to be. Instead, it uses or adapts Jewish liturgical texts—trying to match and adapt Jewish ideas to the music and text of Bach’s masterwork. I read through a lot of Weitzner’s blog, and it is pretty interesting as an exercise in reshaping the Mass text to conform with a very different set of theological considerations in Judaism.

He ascribes the Hebrew version of the B Minor Mass to Sara Itzig Levy (1761-1854), an important Jewish figure, well-connected, and an organizer of Berlin Salons. She may very well have been responsible for the revival of interest in J.S. Bach: she was a noted student of W.F. Bach and a collector of his father’s J.S. Bach’s manuscripts. She gave her young relative Felix Mendelssohn the St. Matthew Passion manuscript, the performance of which in 1829 created the upsurge in interest in Bach’s music. Weitzner’s blog though reads like what it is: a classic instance of ascribing his own work to a “found manuscript” – one never displayed on his blog, nor does he give the full name of the collector who brought it to his attention. (Instead, he takes pains to describe why the supposed collector “Robert” does not identify himself further or publish any image of the manuscript). The Dessoff Choirs website did not engage in this literary trope; the site simply described the text as a “version created by Eric Weitzner.”

Of course, there are some very strong parallels between the Mass and the Jewish liturgy. The most obvious being the Sanctus and Kedusha. The Kedusha—with its Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh – to my mind—is the most relevant parallel between Jewish liturgical usage and the Mass, not merely because it has nearly the same wording as the Sanctus, but because it comes in the context of “sanctification” in the Christian Mass, the sanctification of the Host. The Aramaic and Arabic terminology most often used by Christians for the Mass, involving the term quddus – Sanctification (rather than something based on Mass or “Missa”)– i.e. the same term as Kedusha.

It’s hard to think about Weitzner’s endeavor without thinking about two Jewish musical giants who approached the idea of writing their own Mass, and came up with new music and quite different approaches to the text.

Ernest Bloch came to the conclusion that his Mass would be a setting of the Union Prayer Book, Avodath HaKodesh, and his setting is quite faithful to the version of the UPB in use when he composed his piece. Nevertheless, Bloch’s musical settings (especially for the Adon Olam), his use of the English “Kaddish,” and his comments about the piece enlighten us about his own views regarding the theology of the piece. (The Bloch Avodath HaKodesh should be thought of as a concert piece although it was written to enable synagogue use; the “Kaddish” in concerts not the traditional Aramaic texts, but an amazing English-language piece).

Leonard Bernstein envisioned his Mass as “A Theatre Piece,” which indeed it is, and wrote it for the Kennedy Center’s opening. Bernstein’s libretto may indeed be an attempt to re-make the Mass in such a way that he, Bernstein, could write a Mass—a benchmark for composers!–although his endeavor could never be considered liturgical in spirit. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that either of them would have entertained the idea of translating the Mass text into Hebrew (beyond replacing the Sanctus with the Hebrew original, as Bernstein did), and if so, translating it in a way that adapted Jewish liturgical texts and was more consistent with Jewish theology.

This was—I should say lehavdil—the approach though of endeavors of “Judaizing translations” of non-Jewish pieces. In some translation, such as most Yiddish translations of Gilbert and Sullivan, the transformation is largely in a signature section—not the entire work. Thus translations of Pirates of Penzance might have the Modern Major General’s song refer to traditional Jewish knowledge alongside and instead of some of the items in the W.S. Gilbert text. Of course, this is also satirical, a far stretch from the realm of liturgy—and the satirical adaptations are standard outside the realm of “Jewish versions” anyway. Yiddish theatre was replete with Shakespeare and other classics totally transformed into their new Jewish settings for the Jewish stage.

Another issue worth discussing is the need or desire to make some of the great Christian music palatable to Jews who might feel uncomfortable or indeed feel it is inappropriate or halachicly inadmissible to sing texts invoking Christ’s mercy or referring to an only begotten Divine son–indeed, anything mentioning the name of the second part of the Trinity. One could imagine a note similar to one found in some contemporary Jewish choral programs (“members of the choir sing Adomai”) one may well imagine that the notice would be along the lines of “members of the choir sing ‘Priced’ or ‘Rhesus’ ” (although probably not exactly these suggestions!)

Weitzner’s solution is, for such singers, a lot more elegant and a lot more thoroughgoing than that.

It’s hard for me to envision Weitzner’s opus—the Bach B Minor Mass re-worded with what is purportedly the Jewish prayer of Sara Itzig Levy—will ever be more than a curiosity or be mounted in a formal concert. But it was fun to read Weitzner’s blog, and I was happy to re-read some of his postings while updating this post.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Torah Reading and Haftarah for Shabbat Hatan

I do not know if I would have written up these comments except that the discussion of the Torah Reading for Shabbat Hatan came up a few days before Shabbat Chayei Sarah, the parasha where the readin is taken from. 

 

Something related to custom of a special Torah reading and/or haftarah was mentioned at the annual meeting of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies on Tuesday of this week.  I mentioned to my friend and colleague Rabbi Merrill Shapiro that I had encountered this in my research. I could not remember more at first but a survey of the Internet found that the haftarah is Sos Asis (Isa. 61:10ff.)— the last of the “Seven Haftarot of Consolation” and always read right before Rosh Hashanah.

 

The Torah reading passage is Ve- Avraham zaqen ba bayim  (Gen. 24:1-7). As it happened, this passage is from this week’s parasha, so covered it in my Wednesday lunchtime Torah study (WUTSup: Wyoming Union Torah Study). We primarily do “Humash with Rashi” and some other sources, such as Targum, as relevant. So we read the passage with Rashi, and I also covered a Targum Pseudo-Jonathan from a little later in the chapter, in which the generosity and hospitality of Abraham is contrasted with a supposed rapacious murderousness of Laban, who sought to poison Abraham’s messenger—whom he thought was Abraham himself—and steal his wealth. This reading explains why Rebecca’s father is not mentioned after the meal served to Abraham’s servant: the poison did not hard Abraham but instead killed his own father.

 

Back to the Torah and Haftarah for the Hatan:

 

Since the reported custom of a Torah reading for the Hatan is relevant to tomorrow’s Parasha, I spent a little more time on it erev shabbat.

 

Rabbi Yehoshua Glazman writing here: http://asif.co.il/?wpfb_dl=7543  gives the reference for the Haftara Sos Asis for a newly-wed man diring the week of Sheva Berachot as Rema (R. Moses Isserles) on  Orah Hayyim 428:8 – and he and many others refer to the haftarah as an Ashkenazi custom on this basis. He also found a reference to Ashkenazim in Safed having a version of this custom. But he also thinks the custom may be as ancient as the 7th century and mentioned in Saadia’s Siddur (which would be 10th century).

 

http://www.shtaygen.co.il/?CategoryID=1909&ArticleID=12869&Page=1   “Shtaygen” has some further sources, including Abudarham and a few others, and is mostly about the Torah reading rather than the Haftarah. This is about the reading from our upcoming Parasha—Chayei Sarah, VeAvraham Zaqen Ba Bayamim. Sources gathered by the Shtaygen website suggest to me that there were various customs as to whether it was read from a second scroll, recited by heart, or from the same Torah as Parashat HaShavua and rolled to Chayei Sarah. There are a few traditions about how many verses are read, but the usual one is 7 verses—up to “you shall take a wife for my son from there.” This is about getting a wife for Isaac. The passage could be interpreted as a warning about intermarriage—not marrying a Canaanite woman (or perhaps, if you are going to have to intermarry, at least it should be with a relative!). The reasoning for selecting this passage is more likely to underscore the difficulty of making good matches. Personally, I think the reading would make more sense in these cases for the Aufruf before the wedding, rather than for the Shabbat hatan (i.e. the Shabbat that occurs in the week of Sheva Berachot), although the custom of an Aufruf prior to the wedding, so widespread today, was probably not so common centuries ago.

 

As far as I can tell, this tradition is rarely upheld today. A quick internet search is not a replacement for serious research; nevertheless, the on-line responsa that show up quickly about these subjects basically suggest that this practice is rare today and there’s no need to start it where it does not currently exist.

 

Rebecca’s generosity and enthusiasm is explicitly documented in the Torah, so is the love of Isaac and Rebecca, and Isaac appears to be a model Biblical patriarchal monogamous marriage. It seems fitting to me that Abraham’s charge to his servant, resulting in this match, provides the text used by some communities to celebrate a marriage.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mut’a Marriage

Mut’a Marriage

Seth Ward

(This was an ISIME Position Paper, written for Shaul Gabbay, who was at that time the Director of the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East (ISIME) at the University of Denver. Disclosure: I had a small role in proposing the Center for Israeli Studies in what was then the Graduate School of International Studies; ISIME was the outcome of this proposal. The text below was last edited Dec. 31 2007). 

Islamic law and tradition defines a status of “temporary marriage.” In commenting on traditions ascribed to Muhammad, the 13th century scholar Al-Nawawi notes that mut’a marriage is as “marriage for a specified time, without inheritance, the end of which results from the end of the period, without divorce.” (Commentary on the Sahih of Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, chapter on Mut’a marriage).[1] Al-Nawawi notes, as is typical, that at the end of the period, this status can be renewed. Al-Nawawi further notes that no witness or guardian is necessary, as is the case in normal Muslim marriage, and that it was typically done for short periods in cases of great duress, and that there are traditions prohibiting and those allowing the practice.

 

Complexity of Personal Status issues

 

When dealing with personal status issues, we as a society often assume that the status is binary—one is either married or not, alive or not and so forth. Nevertheless, there are always “grey areas” which test the limits of personal status, and in such cases, definitions may vary between various jurisdictions and contexts. In some of these cases, legislation or regulations define more precise boundaries at least within specific applications, often yielding complex guidelines. In recent years to much ongoing public discourse, debate in churches and government, and professional considerations in hospitals have focused on beginning- and end-of life issues, where the complexity of medical, legal and ethical issues is obvious. There is no societal agreement about the precise moment when various rights, prohibitions and obligations inherent in the personal status of “living person” begin and end, and such cases can become contentious and complex.

 

U.S. Marital status continues until terminated by death, divorce or other decree dissolving the marriage

 

Debate about married status can be similarly complex. For example, Internal Revenue Service regulations use a Federal test to determine who is able to claim “married” status for Federal tax purposes, but State-level actions define a once-married individual as “single” for Federal tax purposes. (2006 1040 Forms and Instructions pp. 16-17).  The IRS language is consistent with the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, Pub. L. 104-199, 100 Stat. 2419 (Sept. 21, 1996) (DOMA) which defines marriage for all Federal purposes as the “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” requiring Federal agencies to use a different definition than might be in practice in certain States or other jurisdictions. Its reference to “legal union” does not address what statutory requirements make the union legal, nor does it establish a single, Federal, regulation for marriage throughout the United States.

 

Nevertheless, multiple types of marriage are recognized in the United States. In this state, Colorado, certain unions are recognized as marriage which would not be valid in a majority of the other States. According to Colorado State Attorney General, John W.  Suthers, “Common law marriage is a term used to describe a marriage which has not complied with the statutory requirements most states have enacted as necessary for a ceremonial marriage.” In Colorado, this type of union has the status of marriage, although it is not considered valid in the States. One ramification is that the “common law marriage,” like the ceremonial marriage, can be “terminated only by death and divorce.” http://www.ago.state.co.us/FAQ/CLM_FAQ.cfm

 

Note that termination only by death or divorce is thus a feature of the Colorado A.G.’s office understanding of marriage, as it is (with legal separation or court decree) of Federal IRS regulations.

 

The Defense of Marriage Act was not designed to address termination of marriage, although those who framed this legislation no doubt presumed that marriage is a status terminated only by death, divorce or equivalent decree, as in the IRS and Colorado regulations.

 

The point is not to review applicable Federal and State regulations regarding marriage, but to introduce the proper subject of this memorandum with a reminder that personal status can be a complex issue, with status differing for different jurisdictions and contexts. Nevertheless, U.S. discourse generally recognizes marriage as an institution that continues indefinitely, requiring death or a specific act for termination. If termination of marriage is by death, divorce or other decree, a relationship uniting a man and a woman for a specific period of time which specifies that no such act is necessary cannot be a marriage.

 

Temporary Marriage, the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and the Pre-Islamic tradition

 

As we have seen, American society considers marriage to be a union between two parties who cohabit and maintain a joint household, with marital status continuing indefinitely, terminated only by death, divorce, or another act of separation or annulment. “Temporary Marriage,” or “limited-duration marriage” as practiced in Shi’a Islam occurs when the union ends at such time as contracted by the parties at the beginning of the union. In other words, instead of specifying the marriage lasts “’till death do us part” the temporary marriage provides “until next Thursday” or some other specified term.

 

The idea that marriage is “one man, one woman, one lifetime” (“’till death do us part”) reflects New Testament considerations, in both the Gospels and the letters of St. Paul; the influence of Saint Augustine (d. 439 CE), especially his work The Good of Marriage,  and the Justinian Code (534 CE), which allowed sexual activities only within monogamous, permanent, heterosexual marriage.

 

While it might appear that this yields a situation in which there is only one type of marriage, note that the Hebrew Bible provides multiple models for marriage. For example, Abraham is depicted as having a full wife (Sarah), a slave woman functioning as a surrogate for purposes of procreation (Hagar) and later a concubine (Keturah). Nevertheless, it does not appear that any “time-delimited” unions were characterized as marriage in Hebrew Bible. Rabbinic discussion of marriage contracts devoted much attention to possible variations of the statement “behold you are consecrated to me,” including various stipulations. But there is no reference to a betrothal “for such and such a period of time,” and in any case, marriage cannot be conditioned on any stipulation limiting it in this way (see, e.g., Yevamot 94b) and regardless of any such stipulation the woman would be considered married until death, legal separation or divorce.

 

In American culture, a time-delimited arrangement a man and woman which includes a financial consideration for the woman is not considered marriage. Indeed, especially if it is short term and involves sexual activity, it is usually considered more like prostitution than marriage in many jurisdictions.

 

Nevertheless, in ancient Arabia and probably parts of adjacent Africa, this type of union was well known, and it continued on into Islamic times especially but not only in Shia areas.  In Arabic, “temporary marriage” is almost always called mut’a marriage. Mut‘a is an Arabic word meaning “pleasure.”  There are references to the practice in the pre-Islamic Middle East, including ancient Egypt and Erythaea; and a Roman source refers to this Arabian practice in the 4th century. (W. Robertson Smith, Kinship in Islam pp. 80ff). Islamic-period works make frequent reference to this as a practice remembered in pre-Islamic times, sometimes even at the woman’s initiation and even in cases where the woman was married to someone else but her husband was absent for long periods of time.

 

  1. Mut’a Marriage

 

Temporary marriage survived into early Islamic times, and may have been referred to in the Qur’an:

 

“Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess. Thus hath Allah ordained (prohibitions) against you; Except for those, all others are lawful, provided you (seek them in marriage) with gifts from your property desiring chastity not lust. Seeing as you derive Benefit from them (!) give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed.” Al-Nisā’ (4): 24. (translation follows Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

 

In this text, the word translated as “benefit” is istamta‘tum literally “you had pleasure of them” or “you had a mut‘a relationship with them.”

 

There is a robust literature on the precise meaning of this term.  As we have seen, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates the term “had benefit of them” in The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, (originally Lahore 1934; edition used is Amana, Beltsville MD 2001). In this popular Sunni-oriented Qur’an edition, there is no reference to “temporary marriage;” the term is understood to mean “surrendered her person.” Based on Islamic law, which distinguishes between marriages which have been consumatged and those which have not, presumably this refers to consummation of the marriage.

 

The Mir Ahmad Ali translation (Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2002) is a Shi’i translation, and renders this as:

“ye had ‘Muta’ with them.” The margin notes: “Ar. ‘Muta’ or a limited wedlock allowed in Islam—current during the whole lifetime of the Holy Prophet—during Abubakar’s Kalifate—and also for two or more years during Omar’s Kalifate—but Omar prohibited it of his own accord—against the sanction of the Qur’an. Ali renewed it & none thereafter prohibited it.”

 

Footnote 516 (p. 370) observes that even Umar, who cancelled it, recognized that it was practiced in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. The note explains that neither party inherits from the other after the term of the agreement, and offers a number of justifications. Among them are a lengthy citation from A.F. Badshah Husain’s commentary on the Qur’an, written in 1931. Husain notes that there a situations in which permanent marriage is undesirable, in part when the woman is one “incapable of permanent marriage, for whom a permanent wedlock is nothing but misery.” Husain says further that

“Nothing can be more cruel than to marry one day on promise of an all-life union and to cast away the next day on some fantastic reason. … it is infinitely better for him to marry for short periods and to extend time later if it suits the, so that the other party may know of its true position. It wants that persons who are not sure that they will abide by their contract for their whole life should not deceive the other by an unexpected divorce. It is really meant to put a stop to this nasty practice which is so much growing in this modern civilization.” (Citing The Holy Qur’an, Lucknow 1931; I have been unable to view this work).

 

Note that Husain is writing a half century before the Iranian Islamic Republic.

 

Hadith

 

Alongside the Qur’an, Islamic practice is based on reports about what Muhammad said, did or accepted tacitly when done in his presence. Shi’a’s also privilege similar reports ascribed to Ali and his descendants. Reports about the acts, statements, or agreements of early Muslims, who knew Muhammad or Ali, often also quoted as having some value.

 

Normally, the next stage in discussing any matter of Islamic law would be to examine sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and to other early Muslims.

 

The situation is clear enough for our purposes: there are ample attestations that “temporary marriage” was practiced in the times of Muhammad, and at least on some occasions, had his blessing; that Umar—the second caliph–cancelled it.  Shi’a revile Umar as an imposter, and consider mut’a to continue to be valid. Shi’a consider that it is supported by the Qur’an test cited above, and by the references to Muhammad and Ali allowing it.

 

Modern Iran

 

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khumayni—the leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution—published a book called Risalet Tawzih al-Masael “A Clarification of Questions.” As explained by the translator, J. Borujerdi, this is a stereotypical work—the answers offered by Khomeini are pretty much the same as are offered throughout the relevant Shi’a literature.[2]

 

Questions 2421ff. concern the “concubine” (mut’eh) or “formula [woman]” (seegheh) wife; terms defined before Question 2363 (p. 311).  Among the stipulations are:

 

2423: If a woman who becomes a formula [woman] conditions that the husband has no intercourse with her, the contract and the condition are correct and the husband can only get other pleasures from her…

 

  1. A formula woman, though she becomes pregnant, has no right to sustenance.

 

  1. A formula woman has no right to sleep with the man and will not inherit from the husband, nor the husband inherits from her.

 

  1. If the formula wife did not know that she has no right to sustenance and to sleep with her husband, her contract is correct, and she shall find no right upon her husband for her ignorance.

 

  1. A father and a paternal grandfather can marry a woman to his minor son for a period of one or two hours for the purpose of becoming intimate….

 

  1. If the man spares the woman the term of the concubinage he must give her all those things they had agreed upon if he has had intercourse with her, and if not he must give her half of that.

 

2432 A man can (permanently) contract for himself the woman who was his concubine and whose waiting period [the period she must wait after the end of a marriage if it was consummated] is not yet over.

 

The next Question begins a section entitled “Precepts of Looking”

 

  1. A man’s look at the body of a woman who is a stranger, whether or not with the intention of pleasure, is unlawful. Further it is an obligatory caution that he does not look even without the intention of pleasure [In other words, it is unlawful to look, and it is obligatory to avoid looking]. (These Questions are pp. 319-320).

 

This is typical of modern Iranian practice: temporary marriage may be sexual, but also may be asexual, and may be followed by “permanent” marriage. It can be with a minor and for a short period of time, only for the purpose of becoming intimate. It involves payment to the woman, reduced if no sexual activity has occurred, and does not involve inheritance or the requirement of a mutual household. These questions do not talk about renewal of terms of concubinage, but state that a permanent marriage can contracted after the end of a temporary marriage. Finally, there are “Precepts of Looking” which are responsible for temporary marriages even when no sexual activity is involved. In Iranian society, even looking at fully clothed persons of the other sex may be considered to fall within the type of activity described in this passage.

 

Conclusion

 

Classic Shi’a jurisrudence sometimes praises the mut’ah or “pleasure” marriage as a type of relationship found in the Qur’an and allowed by Muhammad and Ali. Although some classic cases of “99 year” mut’ah marriages are reported, the discussions make it clear that the term applies equally well to relationships lasting a few days or even for an hour or two, whose only purpose is intimacy. By definition, the parties do not establish inheritance or financial support beyond the terms of the contract for the temporary relationship: a pregnant mut’a wife is not even entitled to sustenance. Moreover, she is not entitled to assume that she has any such rights, and the man can “spare” her part of the period they agreed upon—without any divorce or decree—as long as he pays what he agreed to if they have had sexual intercourse.

 

Given the strictures about “looking” at persons of the opposite sex, as well as the positive attitude towards it in Shi’a Islam, it is easy enough to see why this practice is fairly common in modern Iran. Yet, any “pleasure” or “formula” relationship undertaken for a relatively short period of time is far short of the definition of marriage in Sunni Muslim most other non-Shia environments.  The differences involve such things as the nature of inheritance, the lack of divorce, and in reality, often the lack of a common household.  The typical arrangement is for a few hours, days or weeks, but even when there is a long-term mut’a arrangement such as a 99-year marriage, in practice, a lifetime commitment, the mut’a arrangements remain distinct from those of a permanent marriage.

 

Marriage is considered in our society and in Federal legislation to be an institution in which one man and one woman are married until death, legal separation or divorce. They are assumed to establish a joint household, to have various rights of inheritance and succession, rights to sustenance and so forth. None of these conditions apply to the “pleasure wife” in Shi’a countries, indicating that such relationships should clearly not be considered to be “marriage” in the U.S. definition of the term.

 

Seth Ward

University of Wyoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] In the margin on vol. 6 p. 122 in the edition of al-Qastallani’s commentary of al-Bukhari.

[2] Boulder: Westview, 1984.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uploaded video about Bahai faith

Today I uploaded a video based on a PowerPoint I’ve used in my classes on World Religions. There is some additional information in the Description box. The occasion for loading this is the anniversaries of the birth of the Bab and Bahaullah, marked by Baha’i’s (since calendar reform in 2015) on the two days following the 8th New Moon after the Spring equinox. This year, this was earlier this week.

Over time, I hope to load a larger selection of videos, essays written for class,rs etc., into this Blog.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Talk on the occasion of my father’s yahrtzeit, Sept. 2017

Here is a talk I offered on the occasion of the Yahrtzeit of my father, Aba Ward.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HR0_N5jdxFs
It was offered at EDOS (East Denver Orthodox Synagogue).

Sorry for the delay posting it here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is Religion? What is Islam?

In a continuing attempt to get essays that I have written over the years and circulated in various ways, all posted in one place, here is a link to an essay that actually began its life as a lecture for a 2000-level religious studies class, attempting to elicit ideas about what religion does. I reworked it as an intro to religion for a class in Islamic history and religion, and have used it to discuss theoretical frameworks for understanding religion in the Univ. of Wyoming Capstone course in Theories of Religion. Rather than edit it into this site, or for that matter editing it at all (indeed, I caught a small number of things that ought to be fixed), I am just providing the link:

http://www.uwyo.edu/sward/what%20is%20religion.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Qur’an, Chosen People and Holy Land

This is a link to the text of article I published some time ago:

Ward, “Qur’an, Chosen People and Holy Land” in Khaleel Mohammed & Andrew Rippin, edd., Coming to terms with the Qur’an, North Haledon NJ: Islamic Publications International, 2008, 63-74.

This volume was a tribute to Prof. Issa Boulatta of McGill university.

http://www.uwyo.edu/sward/articles/ward-quranonisrael-boullatavol.htm

The published article was based on a piece I wrote but never published that (inter alia) I circulated to one of the editors of the Boulatta volume. I later edited the earlier piece for inclusion into this blog:

https://drsethward.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/what-does-the-quran-say-about-the-chosen-peop/

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment