By Bruce Lincoln
How does faith stimulate and feed imperial pursuits and violence? lately this query has received new urgency, and in faith, Empire, and Torture, Bruce Lincoln techniques the matter through a vintage yet little-studied case: Achaemenian Persia.Lincoln identifies 3 middle elements of an imperial theology that experience transhistorical and modern relevance: dualistic ethics, a conception of divine election, and a feeling of salvific challenge. past this, he asks, how did the Achaemenians comprehend their position within the cosmos and their ethical prestige when it comes to others? Why did they think known as to intrude within the fight among solid and evil? What used to be their experience of ancient function, specially their wish to restoration paradise misplaced? and the way did this make them care for enemies and critics as imperial energy ran its path? Lincoln exhibits how those non secular principles formed Achaemenian perform and taken the Persians exceptional wealth, energy, and territory, but in addition produced unmanageable contradictions, as in a ugly case of torture mentioned within the book’s ultimate bankruptcy. shut research of that episode leads Lincoln again to the current with a postscript that gives a searing and totally novel standpoint at the images from Abu Ghraib.
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Additional resources for Religion, Empire, and Torture: The Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib
The issue of prime interest is, as I suggested initially, how religion, empire, and torture can be interrelated. More specifically, I hope to explore how certain Achaemenian religious constructs that resemble those found elsewhere—reverence for a benevolent creator, a theology of election and vocation, a dualistic ethics, eschatological expectations, and a sense of soteriological mission—helped inspire the project of empire and informed even its most brutally violent aspects. As part of this study, I am led to consider certain aspects of Achaemenian cosmology, a cosmology that I have come to understand as self-consciously moral and acutely political.
5. When the time comes to list these lands/peoples, the text will begin in one of the cardinal points and work its way outward from those who are geographically closest to the center, step by step, until it reaches those who are most distant. That being accomplished, it will rotate ninety degrees and repeat the operation. Once all four quadrants have been covered, the list is complete, although there are certain peoples (Nubians, Carians, and Makans) who tend to be reserved for last, even if this means breaking with other principles that govern the sequence.
This is the woeful supine figure who has Darius’s left foot firmly planted on his chest (see, again, figure 4). A short inscription beneath this figure serves as a caption: “This is Gaumata the Magus. He lied. He proclaimed thus: ‘I am Bardiya, son of Cyrus. I am King” (DBb). The vertical plane thus organizes a radical contrast between God above and an archrepresentative of the Lie below, with the righteous King Darius between them. The intermediate space that Darius dominates, that of the earth’s surface, is, thus, understood as an arena of struggle between good and evil.