Hindu pilgrimages mark particular phases of the life cycle of the individual and often occur at points in the year identified as auspicious by astrological calculations.
Apart from involving movement across physical and cultural landscapes toward a sacred goal, pilgrimages frequently involve ritual movements at the site itself. Buddhists circumambulate dome-shaped reliquaries called stupas. Among Hindus, perhaps the ideal pilgrimage would involve a journey around the four most sacred sites in India the dhama s , covering the country in an auspicious clockwise direction. Finally, pilgrimage sites tend to have a material focus, even though the nature of that focus varies according to the assumptions of the religion.
Muslim and Jewish sites avoid iconic representations of divinity, but images are important in Catholic and Orthodox Christian sites. Statues of gods are central to Hindu worship and necessary for darshan , the beneficial gaze that passes between pilgrim and deity. Numerous factors determine the location of sacred sites.
Shrines memorialize some great miracle or divine appearance from the past but may also appropriate the places that are holy to an older or rival faith. Thus, as Buddhism was established as the dominant religion in Tibet , deities associated with indigenous traditions were subordinated to those of the new religion, just as sacred spots such as Mount Kailas in the Kailas Range were turned into Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Similarly, the missionary efforts of colonial powers in Africa and Latin America led to the creation of modified religious landscapes, often combining pagan and Christian imagery and myth , as is evident in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
Pilgrimage centres are frequently situated in striking and remote geographical areas.
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In Hinduism ritual bathing often takes place at the confluences of rivers, which are imbued with sacred meaning. A factor that unites pilgrimage locations across different religions is the sense, variously expressed, that a given place can provide privileged access to a divine or transcendent sphere. This idea is well expressed in the Hindu concept of the tirtha , a Sanskrit term encompassing the notion of a ford or intersection between two realms.
The same word is used by Jains for any site where a prophet was born or died. In all religious traditions, hierarchies of sites are evident, as some places are regarded as more sacred than others. For Hindus, Varanasi, one of seven especially holy cities, has the power to bestow moksha , or freedom from the cycle of reincarnation. For the medieval Catholic, a visit to Jerusalem or Rome would have gained more remission of sin through the granting of indulgences than a journey to a lesser place.
How do we understand this claim Jesus reigns, and sits on the right hand of God — really, does God have a right hand? There are many ways we can unpack all of this. So is this hyperbole, extreme, almost meaningless, exaggeration — will not Jesus the wise teacher or perhaps better Jesus of Easter morn, do?
Sitting on the right hand of God, ruling the universe, as the language suggests, comes from the great myths, stories and images of ancient civilizations. Get at the true Jesus? However, before we can deal with that claim, there is another issue we need to consider.
Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage - Google книги
Is there in fact really only the one, true, acceptable understanding of who Jesus is for us, for me, for you? Western scientific rationalism would say that there has to be just that view, and hence the passion of those within the Jesus Seminar, whereas increasingly in this postmodern world, we would say that there are other views, understandings, experiences of Jesus, the Christ, the son of the living God. Indeed there were different views in Scripture — there were, after all, four gospels. Rationality is important, but is it everything when it comes to our understanding of God and Jesus, and this understanding?
I know several of us here have had close association with this institution — Nico Koopman who came earlier in the year was from Princeton. This centre has been running a project known as the Identity of Jesus Project , and it has just published a collection of essays on this project work called Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. But how are those places recognised, and how do we then know we are actually encountering a Jesus who is real?
So the project chooses to use the metaphor, not of an archaeological dig, such as with the Jesus Seminar, but a pilgrimage. As the project says,. Pilgrims begin their treks from differing locations and require varying equipment, but they all hope to converge at a common destination.
And as they travel, they are reliably guided by the reports of those who have preceded them on the journey. In the same sense, our group worked with a variety of reports offered by the biblical canon, church tradition and contemporary experience. I personally find this far more helpful for our contemporary times. It seeks a convergence of understanding, and it accepts a variety of starting points for that quest.
Nor is the audience intended to be purely theological in their interests—there are implications here for the historical scholar that deserve serious consideration. Much of the work is heavily technical and some of the arguments quite complex: this is a text for the dedicated scholar rather than the dilettante. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating and stimulating volume for anyone Seeking the Identity of Jesus.
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