The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously

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9780521853149: The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously
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Today's secularists too often have very little accurate knowledge about religion, and even less desire to learn. This is problematic insofar as their sense of self is constructed in opposition to religion. Above all, the secularist is not a Jew, is not a Christian, not a Muslim, and so on. But is it intellectually responsible to define one's identity against something that one does not understand? And what happens when these secularists weigh in on contentious political issues, blind to the religious back-story or concerns that inevitably inform these debates? In The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously Jacques Berlinerblau suggests that atheists and agnostics must take stock of that which they so adamantly oppose. Defiantly maintaining a shallow understanding of religion, he argues, is not a politically prudent strategy in this day and age. But this book is no less critical of many believers, who--Berlinerblau contends--need to emancipate themselves from ways of thinking about their faith that are dangerously simplistic, irrational and outdated. Exploring the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, from the perspective of a specialist, nonbeliever, and critic of the academic religious studies establishment, Berlinerblau begins by offering a provocative answer to the question of "who wrote the Bible?" The very peculiar way in which this text was composed provides a key to understanding its unique power (and vulnerability) in the modern public sphere. In separate chapters, he looks at how the sparse and contradictory words of Scripture are invoked in contemporary disputes about Jewish intermarriage and homosexuality in the Christian world. Finally, he examines ways in which the Qur'an might be subject to the types of secular interpretation advocated throughout this book. Cumulatively, this book is a first attempt to reinvigorate an estimable secular, intellectual tradition, albeit one that is currently experiencing a moment of crisis.

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Book Description:

In The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, Jacques Berlinerblau explores the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, though an explicitly critical and secular perspective, reviewing how it has been interpreted from antiquity to today and how these interpretations impact our current political debates. In separate chapters, he looks at how the Bible continues to be invoked in disputes about Jewish identity, intermarriage, and about homosexuality--offering secular readers background and ideas for joining conversations about scripture. Finally, he suggests ways in which secularists in all countries need to pose such questions about all sacred texts and religious phenomena. Cumulatively, the book is a first attempt to re-invigorate a once-estimable secular, intellectual tradition.

About the Author:

Jacques Berlinerblau, who holds separate Ph.D.s in ancient Near Eastern studies and sociology, is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Languages and Director of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at Hofstra University. His second book, The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals, was published in 1999 and his articles have appeared in The Journal of the Academy of American Religion, History of Religions, Biblical Interpretation, and other scholarly as well as more mainstream publications.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780521618243: The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously

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ISBN 10:  052161824X ISBN 13:  9780521618243
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2005
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9780300106428: The Secular Bible

Yale U..., 2004
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