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. Khalid Yahya Blankinship; Jonathan P. Berkey. The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, – (Themes in Islamic. Berkey is an Associate Professor of History at Davidson College. He describes Islam as having developed across generations, and he writes of various religious .

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Tormation course, no pre-modern society reached anything close to the levels of urbanization in our industrial and post-industrial world, and it is worth remembering at the outset that many of the religious developments described in this book reached the ninety percent or more of the population which was rural in attenuated and problematic form.

Berkey writes of the mystical tradition which came to be known as Sufism, which came into conflict with Muslim political authorities of some ulama. Only in such an open world can the considerable o in the size of the Jewish community in late antiquity be understood. In the end, however, despite its universalism and its appeal, Manichaeism failed.

The formation of Islam: religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800

And when early Muslim polemicists defended their radical monotheism in the face of Iranian dualism, it was the compelling mythology and syncretistic doctrine berkdy Mani, rather than ispam Zoroastrianism associated with the Sasanian state, which occupied most of their attention. This is what academics call a universalist faith. Judaism and Christianity, as we have already seen, staked out a significant presence in the Sasanian realm, largely but not exclusively in its Mesopotamian provinces.

Formagion he seems to have glossed over some of the more nuanced questions formatikn economic structures and social class, Hodgson drew in a general way upon the sociological analysis of Max Weber; and — if we allow ourselves at the outset to paint with a rather broad brush — it will serve us as well, in part because it informs some of the most basic questions about the origins and character of Islam. Sapor and Kartir Chicago: Beacon Press,esp. Overall, The Formation of Islam is an excellent survey of the earlier history of Islam, managing to provide some structure to a hugely complex body of religious institutions and ideas as they evolved over nine hundred years.


In light of what came later, it is worth recalling that many Jews participated freely in the religious dialogue and experimentation which characterized the centuries just before and at the start of the Common Era. The religions of late antiquity 35 district of Beth Aramaye lower Iraq. The religions of late antiquity 29 foundation of kingship and kingship protects religion. This fueled sectarian competition, especially between Nestorians and Monophysites.

Even so, there was a strong universalizing streak in the Judaism of late antiquity.

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

By the fourth century, the church was well- established, with a network of churches down to the village level, and a growing body of Christian literature written in or translated into Coptic, the language of the native population.

The Formation of Islam. University of Michigan Press,5—6. In an ethnically mixed area such as Iraq, however, Zoroastrianism was primarily the religion of the ruling elite, Iranians belonging to the upper classes and serving the Sasanian state.

The Formation of Islam: Princeton University Press,61—2.

Scholars Press, Society of Biblical Literature: For the early period there are problems with sources which were mostly written in the context of later debates and divides. Most users should sign in with their email address.

Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Knopf,— It was to such problems, made worse by the per- manently shifting character of urban life, that many of the new religions addressed themselves. Monotheistic passages in Zoroastrian texts may have served as an apologetic response to Jewish and Christian polemic.

The Byzantine Empire, with its capital in Constantinople, was the old Roman Empire, or what was left of it. Cambridge University Press, Sources for Biblical Study, no. His authority was shared, however, with the rabbis, who first came to Mesopotamia from Palestine in the wake of the Bar Kochba revolt. Bayard Dodge New York: Others have credited competition with Islam for encouraging the compilation of definitive Zoroastrian texts. Pagans and Christians New York: For while Christ was yet in the womb, the Roman empire received its power from God as the servant of the dispensation which Christ introduced, since at that very time the accession was proclaimed of the unending line of the Augusti by whose command a census was made which embraced the whole world.


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. On the controversy surrounding the conciliar declaration of Mary as Theotokos, see Hilda Graef, Mary: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, ; Samuel N. Her husband, naturally distraught, sought the assistance of the Christian saint.

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. The religions of late antiquity 27 Manichaeans and others in the Fertile Crescent.

The Formation of Islam (Jonathan Berkey) – book review

This is not to say that there was no universalist dimension to Zoroastrian religious life; but what universalism there was derived directly, and to a greater degree than in the case of Rome and Christianity, from the explicit connection between religion and the state. Clarendon Press,; on the situation in western Anatolia more generally, see Frank R.

The urban commercial economy had a decisive impact on religious develop- ments of the era. Nestorian Christianity in particular proved to be a dynamic force in the religious history of the early medieval period, its missionaries active throughout Central Asia and as far as China at least until the Mongol conquests in the thirteenth century.

Signs of the survival of pagan traditions abound throughout the Near East. 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. 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.