Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam Paperback – 1 Aug 1993
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This eloquent, lucid, and complex work is the product of remarkable intelligence and erudition; it is a profound contribution to the understanding of the cultural hegemony of the West.(Ralph M. Coury Religious Studies Review)
All articles are extremely well written, exhibit impressive scholarship, and are thoughtful and are thoughtful and stimulating. Asad's criticisms are neither judgmental nor self-righteous but are generally driven by the will to understand.(James R. Wood Contemporary Sociology)
About the Author
Talal Asad is a professor of anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University.
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So although we have a vague and general idea of religion in the modern era, Asad argues for a more particular study of religion that subdivides it into smaller categories. He writes:
'In the Middle Ages, such [religious] discourses ranged over an enormous domain, defining and creating religion: rejecting 'pagan' practices or accepting them; authenticating particular miracles and relics (the two confirmed each other); authorizing shrines; compiling saints' lives, both as a model of and as a model for the Truth; requiring the regular telling of sinful thoughts, words, and deeds to a priestly confessor and giving absolution to a penitent; regularizing popular social movements into Rule-following Orders (for example, the Fransciscans), or denouncing them for heresy or for verging on the heretical (for example, the Beguines). The medieval Church did not attempt to establish absolute uniformity of practice; on the contrary, its authoritative discourse was always concerned to specify differences, gradations, exceptions. What it sought was the subjection of all practice to a unified authority, to a single authentic source that could tell truth from falsehood. It was the early Christian Fathers who established the principle that only a single Church could become the source of authenticating discourse. They knew that the 'symbols' embodied in the practice of self-confessed Christians are not always identical with the theory of the 'one true Church,' that religion requires authorized practice and authorizing doctrine, and that there is always a tension between them - sometimes breaking into heresy, the subversion of Truth - which underlines the creative role of institutional power.'
Hope this gives you a taste of what you will be getting with this book. Required Reading for the Anthropologist of Religion and Recommended Reading for the General Scholar of Religion! I give it 4 stars!
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