Research Status:Not Active
This research and discussion group met at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute to discuss mythical ideas underlying Shiite belief. The group’s aim was to trace the sources of the central myths in Shiite literature and to describe their metamorphoses after they were incorporated in the Shiite corpus. The discussion focuses on the various layers of Shiite literature, from the most ancient traditional literature, the interpretive literature, and, finally, the theological and philosophical literature. Underlying the group’s discussions was the fundamental question of whether the existence of mythical ideas that are shared by Shiite Islam and other religions—for example, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, or Manichaeism—necessarily testifies to inter-faith relations and the movement of knowledge and ideas in the early developmental stages of Shiite belief.