Sunday, February 2, 2014

Language as framing

I have used the expression Abrahamic religions. After reading and listening to this presentation by the Rev. Dr Mark Durie, I do not think I will be doing that again.

Language frames how we think about things. Monotheistic religions have some common dynamics. They are, for example, prone to strong gender and sex taboos -- a tendency common to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism.

Moreover, Zoroastrianism is a bit the odd one out. Not only because it has no overlapping figures in its scriptures or prophetic history, but because it was for long more of a proto-monotheism, with the strongest dualist tendency and subordinate deities.

But as Mark Durie points out, using the term Abrahamic religions not only postulates more commonality between Judaism and Christianity on the one hand and Islam on the other than there is, it also buys into very specifically Muslim terminology and claims.

During the Cold War, certain phrasings and usages were very much loaded with ideological connections and significance. That is also true of the current contretemps with militant Islam.

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