Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown (Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism)

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9780226763606: Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown (Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism)
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With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological.

Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventional, anthropological, historical, and as an exercise of imagination. In his analyses, religion emerges as the product of historically and geographically situated human ingenuity, cognition, and curiosity—simply put, as the result of human labor, one of the decisive but wholly ordinary ways human beings create the worlds in which they live and make sense of them.

"These seven essays . . . display the critical intelligence, creativity, and sheer common sense that make Smith one of the most methodologically sophisticated and suggestive historians of religion writing today. . . . Smith scrutinizes the fundamental problems of taxonomy and comparison in religious studies, suggestively redescribes such basic categories as canon and ritual, and shows how frequently studied myths may more likely reflect situational incongruities than vaunted mimetic congruities. His final essay, on Jonestown, demonstrates the interpretive power of the historian of religion to render intelligible that in our own day which seems most bizarre."—Richard S. Sarason, Religious Studies Review

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About the Author:

Jonathan Z. Smith (1938-2017) was Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He also held appointments in the Committees on the Ancient Mediterranean World and on the History of Culture, and in the College. He was also an associate faculty member in the Divinity School. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Religions, and served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature.

In 2013, when he was named to an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the International Association for the History of Religions, the citation read, in part: "Smith's enormous contributions to the field from the 1960s to the present have unwaveringly insisted upon, and been exemplary of, methodological rigor and self consciousness. He has probably done more than any single scholar to promote an analytic or critical approach to the study of religion."

He was the author of numerous works, including some published by the University of Chicago Press.

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9780226763583: Imagining religion: From Babylon to Jonestown (Chicago studies in the history of Judaism)

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ISBN 10:  0226763587 ISBN 13:  9780226763583
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1982
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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1988. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English. Brand new Book. With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological. Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventional, anthropological, historical, and as an exercise of imagination. In his analyses, religion emerges as the product of historically and geographically situated human ingenuity, cognition, and curiosity-simply put, as the result of human labor, one of the decisive but wholly ordinary ways human beings create the worlds in which they live and make sense of them. "These seven essays . . . display the critical intelligence, creativity, and sheer common sense that make Smith one of the most methodologically sophisticated and suggestive historians of religion writing today. . . . Smith scrutinizes the fundamental problems of taxonomy and comparison in religious studies, suggestively redescribes such basic categories as canon and ritual, and shows how frequently studied myths may more likely reflect situational incongruities than vaunted mimetic congruities. His final essay, on Jonestown, demonstrates the interpretive power of the historian of religion to render intelligible that in our own day which seems most bizarre."-Richard S. Sarason, Religious Studies Review. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226763606

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1988. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English. Brand new Book. With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological. Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventional, anthropological, historical, and as an exercise of imagination. In his analyses, religion emerges as the product of historically and geographically situated human ingenuity, cognition, and curiosity-simply put, as the result of human labor, one of the decisive but wholly ordinary ways human beings create the worlds in which they live and make sense of them. "These seven essays . . . display the critical intelligence, creativity, and sheer common sense that make Smith one of the most methodologically sophisticated and suggestive historians of religion writing today. . . . Smith scrutinizes the fundamental problems of taxonomy and comparison in religious studies, suggestively redescribes such basic categories as canon and ritual, and shows how frequently studied myths may more likely reflect situational incongruities than vaunted mimetic congruities. His final essay, on Jonestown, demonstrates the interpretive power of the historian of religion to render intelligible that in our own day which seems most bizarre."-Richard S. Sarason, Religious Studies Review. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226763606

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1988. Paperback. Condition: New. New edition. Language: English. Brand new Book. With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological. Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventional, anthropological, historical, and as an exercise of imagination. In his analyses, religion emerges as the product of historically and geographically situated human ingenuity, cognition, and curiosity-simply put, as the result of human labor, one of the decisive but wholly ordinary ways human beings create the worlds in which they live and make sense of them. "These seven essays . . . display the critical intelligence, creativity, and sheer common sense that make Smith one of the most methodologically sophisticated and suggestive historians of religion writing today. . . . Smith scrutinizes the fundamental problems of taxonomy and comparison in religious studies, suggestively redescribes such basic categories as canon and ritual, and shows how frequently studied myths may more likely reflect situational incongruities than vaunted mimetic congruities. His final essay, on Jonestown, demonstrates the interpretive power of the historian of religion to render intelligible that in our own day which seems most bizarre."-Richard S. Sarason, Religious Studies Review. Seller Inventory # BTE9780226763606

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