The First Man the Bible Calls the Messiah

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1633 A non-Jewish Persian king was the first to be called Messiah in the Bible, and those wishing to see his legacy can visit his tomb in Pasargadae, Iran or drop by the British Museum. by Candida Moss Next Friday marks the anniversary of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great’s capture of the city of Babylon in 539 B.C. It was a momentous event, not only for the Persians who became de facto world conquerors, but also for the Jews. Cyrus, unlike Babylonian rulers, had a more magnanimous and PR-savvy style of leadership. His conquest of Babylon led to … Continue reading The First Man the Bible Calls the Messiah

Our age of horror

Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Getty In this febrile cultural moment filled with fear of the Other, horror has achieved the status of true art by M M Owen is a British author who has published fiction and non-fiction in a range of places. He obtained his PhD at the University of British Columbia, and now runs a design and animation studio called Misfit Productions and an independent press called Misfit Press. Edited by Pam Weintraub In Ray Bradbury’s horror short story, ‘The Next in Line’ (1955), a woman visits the catacombs in Guanajuato, Mexico. Mummified bodies line the walls. Lying awake the next … Continue reading Our age of horror

Love, Death, and Other Forgotten Traditions

What we don’t tell our children. BY DORSA AMIR The science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote, “Each generation thinks it invented sex.” He was presumably referring to the pride each generation takes in defining its own sexual practices and ethics. But his comment hit the mark in another sense: Every generation has to reinvent sex because the previous generation did a lousy job of teaching it. In the United States, the conversations we have with our children about sex are often awkward, limited, and brimming with euphemism. At school, if kids are lucky enough to live in a state that … Continue reading Love, Death, and Other Forgotten Traditions

Slavery-entangled philosophy

Slave Ship (1840) by J M W Turner. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston John Locke took part in administering the slave-owning colonies. Does that make him, and liberalism itself, hypocritical? by Holly Brewer is Burke chair of American history and associate professor at the University of Maryland. She is co-editor of the American Society for Legal History’s book series and serves on their board of directors. She is the author of By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority (2005). Edited by Sam Haselby John Locke, who lived through two revolutions in 17th-century England, remains perhaps the most important theorist … Continue reading Slavery-entangled philosophy

Forging Islamic science

Detail from a contemporary fake miniature, purporting to be from the 17th-century, depicting Ottoman-era scholars observing the night sky through telescopes. Allegedly from the Istanbul University Library. Photo by DEA/Getty Fake miniatures depicting Islamic science have found their way into the most august of libraries and history books. How? Nir Shafir is a historian of the early modern Ottoman Empire at the University of California, San Diego. He is editor-in-chief of the Ottoman History Podcast. Edited by Sally Davies As I prepared to teach my class ‘Science and Islam’ last spring, I noticed something peculiar about the book I was about to assign to … Continue reading Forging Islamic science

A Cardiologist’s 9/11 Story

ILLUSTRATION BY IGNACIO SERRANO From trauma to arrhythmia, and back again. BY SANDEEP JAUHAR The morgue was inside Brooks Brothers. I was standing at the corner of Church and Dey, right next to the rubble of the World Trade Center, when a policeman shouted that doctors were needed at the menswear emporium inside the building at One Liberty Plaza. Bodies were piling up there, he said, and another makeshift morgue on the other side of the rubble had just closed. I volunteered and set off down the debris-strewn street. It was the day after the attack. The smoke and stench … Continue reading A Cardiologist’s 9/11 Story

The big squeeze

Lemon vendors in Palermo, Sicily, in 1943. Photo by J R Eyerman/LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Sicily’s mafia sprang from the growing global market for lemons – a tale with sour parallels for consumers today by Ola Olsson is professor of economics at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He is the author of Essentials of Advanced Macroeconomic Theory (2012), and his new book Prehistorical Economics: From African Origins to Civilization is due out in 2019. Edited by Sally Davies The Sicilian mafia is probably the most famous criminal organisation in the world. It’s been known to exist at least since the 1870s, when a Sicilian landlord documented how … Continue reading The big squeeze