Cloth $73.00 ISBN: 9780226424903 Published November 2004
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226424927 Published November 2004

The Presence of Light

Divine Radiance and Religious Experience

Edited by Matthew T. Kapstein

The Presence of Light
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Edited by Matthew T. Kapstein

336 pages | 12 color plates, 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2004
Cloth $73.00 ISBN: 9780226424903 Published November 2004
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226424927 Published November 2004
There is perhaps no greater constant in religious intuition and experience than the presence of light. In spiritual traditions East and West, light is not only ubiquitous but something that assumes strikingly similar forms in altogether different historical and cultural settings. This study examines light as an aspect of religiously valued experiences and its entailments for mystical theology, philosophy, politics, and religious art.

The essays in this volume make an important contribution to religious studies by proposing that it is misleading to conceive of religious experience in terms of an irreconcilable dichotomy between universality and cultural construction. An esteemed group of contributors, representing the study of Asian and Western religious traditions from a range of disciplinary perspectives, suggests that attention to various forms of divine radiance shows that there is indeed a range of principles that, if not universal, are nevertheless very widely occurring and amenable to fruitful comparative inquiry. What results is a work of enormous scope, demonstrating compelling cross-connections that will be of value to scholars of comparative religions, mysticism, and the relationship between art and the sacred.

Contributors:
* Catherine B. Asher
* Raoul Birnbaum
* Sarah Iles Johnston
* Matthew T. Kapstein
* Andrew Louth
* Paul E. Muller-Ortega
* Elliot R. Wolfson
* Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan
* Hossein Ziai
William Darrow, Williams College

The Presence of Light is a significant contribution to the history of religions and the study of mysticism. This is a rich collection of essays and an exemplary model of comparative inquiry.”--William Darrow, Williams College

Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface
Part One: The Divine Presence of Light
Introduction
1. Fiat Lux, Fiat Ritus: Divine Light and the Late Antique Defense of Ritual
Sarah Iles Johnston
2. Suhrawardi on Knowledge and the Experience of Light
Hossein Ziai
3. Luminous Consciousness: Light in the Tantric Mysticism of Abhinavagupta
Paul E. Muller-Ortega
Part Two: Transformative Visions and Their Vicissitudes
Introduction
4. Light, Vision, and Religious Experience in Byzantium
Andrew Louth
5. Hermeneutics of Light in Medieval Kabbalah
Elliot R. Wolfson
6. The Strange Death of Pema the Demon Tamer
Matthew T. Kapstein
Part Three: In the Sight of the Eye
Introduction
7. A Ray from the Sun: Mughal Ideology and the Visual Construction of the Divine
Catherine B. Asher
8. Light in the Wutai Mountains
Raoul Birnbaum
9. The Eyes of Michinaga in the Light of Pure Land Buddhism
Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan
Part Four: Concluding Reflections
10. Rethinking Religious Experience: Seeing the Light in the History of Religions
Matthew T. Kapstein
Contributors
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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