Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion

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9780226763866: Relating Religion: Essays in the Study of Religion

One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy and refinement of comparison as the basis for the history of religions. Relating Religion gathers seventeen essays—four of them never before published—that together provide the first broad overview of Smith's thinking since his seminal 1982 book, Imagining Religion.

Smith first explains how he was drawn to the study of religion, outlines his own theoretical commitments, and draws the connections between his thinking and his concerns for general education. He then engages several figures and traditions that serve to define his interests within the larger setting of the discipline. The essays that follow consider the role of taxonomy and classification in the study of religion, the construction of difference, and the procedures of generalization and redescription that Smith takes to be key to the comparative enterprise. The final essays deploy features of Smith's most recent work, especially the notion of translation.

Heady, original, and provocative, Relating Religion is certain to be hailed as a landmark in the academic study and critical theory of religion.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Z. Smith is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities in the College and the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World at the University of Chicago. He is the author of numerous works, including Map Is Not Territory, Imagining Religion, To Take Place, and Drudgery Divine. He is also the editor of The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion.

Review:

"Jonathan Z. Smith is one of the two or three most widely read and discussed living theorists of religion. He has been publishing in that field for almost forty years. . . . An excellent sense can be had from this volume—and most especially from its opening autobiographical chapter—of the state of play in the academic study of religion."

(Paul J. Griffiths First Things)

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2006  "[Smith's] latest collection of essays maintains the peripatetic brilliance and dazzling acumen his readers have come to expect, while introducing newer notes of intellectual autobiography, , , , Here Smith once again sets the bar higher for critical reflection: by attending to the cognitive values and cultural valences that are assigned to differences, he demonstrates how syustems of thought construct their 'others' and in so doing define themselves." (CHOICE)

"A new book by Jonathan Z. Smith is something to look forward to. This latest book by one of the most inspiring theorists of religion fully justifies the high-level expectations of the reader. . . . Smith is to be congratulated on the publication of a fundamental and thought-provoking contribution on religion and religions." (Karel van der Toorn Journal of Biblical Literature)

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