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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But it was also a product of very practical and immediate needs such as healing, or ensuring a decent cropand so was served not simply by relatively remote temple priests but by local holy men, local deities, local shrines, local stories, and religious practices defined or administered by local figures — loci of religious 79 Morony, Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, — Who was vouchsafed the epiphany of that godhead who gives oracles and makes known future events, if not the most famous of the pagans?

A second point concerns the universalist character and claims of the religions of late antiquity. Routledge and Kegan Paul,— Religion and Society in the Near East, There were exceptions, of course, such as the efforts of the Seleucid Antiochus Epiphanes to suppress Judaism which efforts sparked the Maccabaean revolt in the second century BCEor the reprisals carried out by the Romans in response to the rebellions in Palestine in 66—70 and — CE, which resulted in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the banishing of Jews from that city.

Especially to be recommended is Fred M. The religions of late antiquity 31 mythology is conceived as a state of suffering, as the divine sparks present in the progeny of Adam await their separation from dark matter. This quadripartite model, the creation of which was ascribed in Zoroastrian legend to the primal and archetypal ruler Jamshid, and which almost certainly had an ancient connection to similar models prominent in Indian thought, formed the ideological foundation of the Sasanian state.

For example, a number of Jewish incan- tation bowls from Mesopotamia have survived which sought to counter-act the evil influence of demons identified as, among others, Ishtar — the name of the prominent ancient goddess of the region. One should not overstress the simplistic contrast be- tween the tolerant polytheism of the classical Mediterranean world and the more repressive orthodoxies of the monotheistic faiths. Nonetheless, cities there were, cities which were frequently dominated by merchants and others involved in a commercial economy, and often it was in them, or in response to their needs and uncertainties, that the religious developments which survived and which seemed important to later generations took shape.


In Egypt, for example, thaumaturgy and oracular functions had always played an important role in local manifestations of paganism.

The religions of late formaation 33 practices of almost unlimited variety, many of them unconnected in any mean- ingful sense to others also defined as manifestations of paganism. Remember me on this computer. 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.

Princeton University Press,—8. The adherents of the religions of late antiquity — or at least those adherents who took their religion seriously — increasingly associated their faith with a truth which applied to all the world, and not just to a particular people or place.

The religions of late antiquity 25 community, foreshadowing the situation in the Islamic Middle Ages. The social and historical significance of those controversies, however, is another matter. First, they tended to be closely associated with states and empires.

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The Formation of Islam (Jonathan Berkey) – book review

Clarendon Press,; Han J. Don’t already have an Oxford Academic account? Her husband, naturally distraught, sought the assistance of the Christian saint. The two states were bitter rivals, and for much of late antiquity were at war.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East,

The religious identity of a pagan in, say, an Egyptian village may have been related to, and informed by, the dominant myths which have survived in ancient Egyptian literature and the cults of the temples whose finances were increasingly in disarray. The flexibility and syncretistic potential of Mediterranean paganism are well known, and need no comment here.

The Jewish Publication Society,— But paganism — or more accurately, some of the paganisms of late antiquity — had moved a good distance from the religion of Homer and Ramses, and in many respects shared a good deal with the Christian and Islamic traditions which replaced it.

Significantly, the competition grew sharper in the early years of the seventh century, just before the Arab invasions, as churches and monasteries purged their ranks of nonconforming members. Princeton University Press,— Blackwell,—30; and see below, pp. Separate polytheistic, monotheistic, and especially dualist strands can be identified within the broader Zoroastrian tradition.

In the first place, the question of paganism is a reminder that religion and religious identities can be experienced on a variety of levels. 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.


University of California Press, But the tensions also had a social dimension. A distinctive Zoroastrian faith was beginning to emerge in late antiquity, but the process was not complete, even by the time of the Arab invasions.

Like their Christian Roman counterparts, however, they might intervene in church affairs, to convene a council of Christian bishops, for example, or to secure the election of some particular candidate as catholicos.

Isolated Jewish kingdoms or principalities emerged in various times and places — in Armenia, Chalcis, Cappadocia, Iturea, and Abilene in the first century CE; among the Himyarites, in southern Arabia, during the sixth century; or among the Khazars of Central Asia in the eighth — and the Jewish revolts in Palestine in 66 and CE represented a striking amalgamation of political and religious authority.

Jonathan Berkey – the formation of islam

Despite the imprecision formaion the term, historians fall back on it, inevitably if reluctantly, to identify the mass of inter-connected religious traditions and cults which emerged from the ancient world and which found themselves in competition with the newly self-conscious communities of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and, later, Muslims. His authority was shared, however, with the rabbis, who first came to Mesopotamia from Palestine in jonathqn wake of the Bar Kochba revolt. These developments were the social manifestations of a changing theological climate, in which religions claimed for themselves authority to define the parameters of truth, parameters which applied to and circumscribed the lives of all.

The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, volume 1: In recent years, several scholars have cast serious doubt upon the accuracy of the traditional picture of pre- and early-Islamic CHAPTER 3 Arabia before Islam 39 Arabian society, much of it relying on those late Muslim sources.

In response to the more precise religious identity of, for example, Christianity, fourth-century pagans such as Libanius and the Roman emperor Julian understood themselves to represent an alternative — an older alternative — to the new religions. Sources for Biblical Study, no. The Talmud, however, does not speak with a unified voice. Pagans of various stripes could be found virtually everywhere.