(PhD, The Warburg Institute, University of London) is based at SOAS, University of London. A Senior Fellow at the Albright Institute, Jerusalem, his current assignments include visiting professorships at several universities in Europe and Asia; his past assignments include Oxford, British Academy and Wingate fellowships, and Directorship of the British Academy Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem. He is on the editorial board of several international academic journals and institutions. His English-language publications include The Hidden Tradition in Europe (Penguin Books, 1994), The Other God (Yale University Press, 2000), Defenders and Enemies of the True Cross (Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2011) and edited volumes.
“Resilient Diabologies and Dualist “Heretical” Religiosities in Early to Contemporary Christian Contexts”
A marked emphasis on diabology and theodicy commonly forms the doctrinal core of Christian dualist currents, whether in late antiquity or contemporary imaginaries focused on conceptual or historicizing reinventions of medieval dualist heresies. Diabology, demonology and rites of demon control figured prominently in the baptismal and initiatory cultic traditions of such communities and were among the major factors fostering the appeal of their elites, especially at the level of popular religion and lived religious experience. Both learned and popular versions of such alternative and dualist diabologies and demonologies proved particularly resilient at various strata of European and Eurasian cultures, having survived the historical decline and disappearance of the actual communities which professed them.
Customarily forced underground, such diabological notions and models have proved capable of assimilating new and changing religious and cultural currents, while also manifesting a capacity to endure transformations and resurface at times of major religious-political and/or socio-economic crises, pandemics, etc. When brought to the surface in religious reactions to such crises, resilient diabologies can provide influential explanatory models, most recently seen in the frameworks of revived (and re-institutionalized) exorcism and re-activated “moral vitalism” (with its focus on the spread of infectious disease/pathogens and the emergence of spiritual beliefs in a personified evil principle and contagious malevolent forces in pre-germ-theory cultures).
The consequences of the cross-cultural application and diffusion of such models to foster religious resilience and the manner in which they affect religious empathy, spiritual healing and remedies as well as the shaping of cultural defensive mechanisms and the objectification of moral beliefs require close attention and analysis. Further important and topical problem areas concern the instrumentalization of such resilient diabologies to enhance religiously conservative stances in clerical establishments, inter-religious polarization and “apocalypticized” conflicts as well as resistance to secularization and renewed programmes of religious purification.