Read: Jonah Winters' personal page at the Baha'i Library Online


In the final analysis, for the believer there are no
questions, and for the non-believer there are no answers.

— Haffetz Hayyim

click: Winters Web Works

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College papers

  1. "Saying Nothing about No-Thing: Apophatic Theology in the Classical World," 1994. This paper examines and relates the apophatic (negative) theology of the Neoplatonism of Plotinus ad some pre-Pseudo-Dionysius eastern Christian thinkers.
  2. "The Shi'i Qur'an: an Examination of Western Scholarship," 1995. This work was inspired by statements in the Kitab-i-Iqan (pp. 84-89) where Bahá'u'lláh rejects the charge that the text of the Bible has been willfully tampered with. Many Shi'is have charged the same, accusing Sunnis of removing the prooftexts of Ali's appointment as leader of the Muslim community from the Qur'an. This work examines the treatment of the topic by Western academics.
  3. "Themes of 'The Erotic' in Sufi Mysticism," 1996. A fair amount of work has examined the symbolisms of love and eros in mystical writing, but only little has addressed the topic in the mystical love poetry of Bahá'u'lláh, largely because few of these poems have been translated. This paper provides background for that topic by surveying the use and meanings of themes of the erotic in writings by seven Sufi mystics.
  4. "Communicative Interaction: Notes on Relating Habermasian Universalism to Bahá'í Consultation," 1996. The "communicative action" theories of contemporary German philosopher Jurgen Habermas have proven very influential in formulating definitions of morality and understanding ways in which morality can be universalized. These theories are quite similar to the unique use by Bahá'ís of "consultation" as a tool for creating functioning societies and nonrepressive moral codes.
  5. "The Origins of Shi'ism: A Consensus of Western Scholarship," 1996. Shi'is represents approximately 10% of the Muslim community. Because the other 90% tend to regard this party as illegitimate, Shi'ism has tried a number of different ways to legitimate their history. Here I examine, using Western historiographical methods, the three key events occuring during the life of Muhammad that are used as proof of Shi'i origins.
  6. "Martyrdom in Jihad," 1997. Judaism contains a strong theme of the theological importance of suffering, and Christianity elevated the marytrdom of Jesus to a key salvific event. Islam, however, does not contain one core thread of martyrdom. Rather, martyrdom occurs in three disparate areas: war and jihad, Sufi asceticism, and Shi'ism. Here I examine the relationship between jihad and martyrdom and changes their meanings have undergone, both classical and contemporary.

Theses

  1. Bachelor's thesis: Thinking in Buddhism: Nagarjuna's Middle Way, 1994, 183 pages. Madhyamika Buddhism, the philosophical foundation behind both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism and possibly behind Hinduism's Advaita Vedanta, is one of the most thoroughly apophatic religious philosophies in the history of religions. This thesis describes and analyzes the core text of Madhyamika, a third-century C.E. collection of mystical couplets called "Roots of the Middle Way." Both it and the thesis serve as introductory textbooks on this school of Buddhism.
  2. Master's thesis: Dying for God: Martyrdom in the Shii and Babi Religions, 1997, 134 pages. Shi'ism has developed an ethos of suffering and martyrdom almost unparalleled in the history of religions. Both the Babi and Bahá'í religions reflect this ethos of their parent religion, but in markedly differing ways: the Babis were zealous revolutionaries, teaching that Persian religious institutions of the day were highly corrupt and that the time for a new Prophet had come. While they rarely if ever fought on the offense, they were willing and at times eager to sacrifice their lives. Bahá'u'lláh, however, taught that He was the new prophet, and that the time for peace had come. While retaining the use of of martyrdom and suffering symbolisms, he transformed them into metaphors for peace and service. (This is parts one and two--Shiism and Babism--of the three-part continuing study: part three, on the Bahá'í Faith, has not yet been written).

Publications

  1. Review of Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith, by Moojan Momen (Oxford: George Ronald, 1995). Review published in the Journal of Bahá'í Studies 6:4 (1994).
  2. Reviews of Revisioning the Sacred: New Perspectives on a Bahá'í Theology (Studies in the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, volume 8), ed. Jack McLean (Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1997) and Symbol and Secret: Qur'an Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Iqan (SBBR, volume 7), by Christopher Buck (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995). Reviews published in Iranian Studies 32:1 (Winter 1999).
  3. Review of Symbol and Secret: Qur'an Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Iqan, by Christopher Buck (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995). Review published in the Journal of Bahá'í Studies 9:3 (September 1999) 69-75.

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