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Preview: Journal of the American Academy of Religion - current issue

Journal of the American Academy of Religion Current Issue





Published: Tue, 01 Aug 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2017 11:52:41 GMT

 



Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 . By Carlos M. N. Eire

2017-08-01

Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. By EireCarlos M. N.. Yale University Press, 2016. 920 pages. $35.00 (hardcover), $19.99 (e-book).



Drinking from Love’s Cup: Surrender and Sacrifice in the Vars of Bhai Gurdas Bhalla. Selections translated with introduction and commentary by Rahuldeep Singh Gill

2017-07-21

Drinking from Love’s Cup: Surrender and Sacrifice in the Vars of Bhai Gurdas Bhalla. Selections translated with introduction and commentary by GillRahuldeep Singh. Oxford University Press, 2016. 296 pages. $99.00 (hardcover), $97.99 (e-book).



God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration. By Tanya Erzen

2017-07-03

God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration. By ErzenTanya. Beacon Press, 2017. 248 pages. $26.95 (hardcover), $25.99 (e-book).



New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration . By Judith Weisenfeld

2017-07-03

New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration. By WeisenfeldJudith. New York University Press, 2017. 368 pages. $35.00 (hardcover), $16.06 (e-book).



The Ground Has Shifted: The Future of the Black Church in Post-Racial America . By Walter Earl Fluker

2017-06-09

The Ground Has Shifted: The Future of the Black Church in Post-Racial America. By FlukerWalter Earl. New York University Press, 2016. 304 pages. $35.00 (hardcover), $16.50 (e-book).



Imagine No Religion: How Modern Abstractions Hide Ancient Realities . By Carlin A. Barton and Daniel Boyarin

2017-05-29

Imagine No Religion: How Modern Abstractions Hide Ancient Realities. By BartonCarlin A. and BoyarinDaniel. Fordham University Press, 2016. 328 pages. $125.00 (hardcover), $35.00 (paperback), $14.39 (e-book).



Revival and Awakening: American Evangelical Missionaries in Iran and the Origins of Assyrian Nationalism. By Adam H. Becker

2017-05-29

Revival and Awakening: American Evangelical Missionaries in Iran and the Origins of Assyrian Nationalism. By BeckerAdam H.. University of Chicago Press, 2015. 440 pages. $95.00 (hardcover), $32.50 (paperback), $32.50 (e-book).



Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860. By Kyle Roberts

2017-05-29

Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860. By RobertsKyle. University of Chicago Press, 2016. 352 pages. $50.00 (hardcover), $50.00 (e-book).



Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India. By Bhrigupati Singh

2017-05-23

Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India. By SinghBhrigupati. University of Chicago Press, 2015. 328 pages. $85.00 (hardcover), $27.50 (paperback), $21.99 (e-book).



Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith. By Francis J. Beckwith

2017-05-08

Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith. By BeckwithFrancis J.. Cambridge University Press, 2015. 240 pages. $99.99 (hardcover), $28.99 (paperback), $23.00 (e-book).



The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions . By Lena Salaymeh

2017-05-08

The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions. By SalaymehLena. Cambridge University Press, 2016. 253 pages. $99.99 (hardcover).



The Lean Closet: Asceticism in Postindustrial Consumer Culture

2017-03-23

The goop brand, started by celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow, demonstrates key qualities of asceticism in contemporary consumer culture—namely the desire to eliminate excess through consumption. As part of a growing body of work that considers the relationship of consumer and religious practices in the United States, this study looks at the role of “elimination” as lifestyle. goop sells what Weber described as ascetic accumulation, in which the renunciation of pleasure—through practices such as “detoxing”—encourages the accumulation of capital. This form of asceticism is a practice for elites who have too many material gifts to begin with and thus demonstrate their spiritual election through the elimination of excess materiality. Unlike the more democratic practices of mass-market brands, goop’s ascetic practices are not for everyone and thus help theorize the “unpopular” in religion and popular culture. Against readings of popular culture as the source of easy satisfaction, goop promotes depleting difficulty. Thus the project explores the differentiated religious practices of postindustrial corporations, some of which sell to everyone, while others like goop makes no secret of their limited availability.



The Age of Messianic Reproduction: The Image of the Last Lubavitcher Rebbe in Chabad Theology

2017-03-23

The smiling face of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known fondly as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, is a well-known sight to even secular Jews. Staring out of billboards, key-chains, and newspapers, Schneerson, despite his death in 1994, appears everywhere. The Rebbe’s portrait is a devotional image for many members of the Lubavitch-Chabad sect. For those familiar with Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the many copies of Schneerson’s portrait appear to contradict the singular holiness, or “aura,” of the beloved image. By investigating Chabad’s use of the Rebbe’s portrait through Benjamin’s concept of aura, this article shows that Schneerson’s portrait has maintained ritual power while participating in the capitalistic consumption of images. Finally, due to Chabad’s Messianism and outreach efforts, the act of reproducing the image itself has become a part of Chabad’s theology, creating a new paradigm for how religious images retain aura.



“Mountains of Flesh and Seas of Blood”: Reflecting Philosophically on Animal Sacrifice through Dramatic Fiction

2017-03-23

Despite recent moves among philosophers of religion to avoid undue abstraction by giving closer attention to religion’s practical dimensions, such moves commonly remain limited to a relatively narrow range of religious traditions. What D. Z. Phillips has termed the “radical plurality” of religious and nonreligious forms of life, comprising morally troubling as well as edifying varieties, thus continues to be neglected. This article promotes an expanded approach to philosophy of religion with regard to both methodology and scope. Methodologically, it explores the potential of narrative works, and of dramatic fiction in particular, not only to constitute resources for philosophical reflection but also to actively philosophize themselves. To this end, two plays, by Rabindranath Tagore and Girish Karnad, respectively, are discussed. With regard to subject matter, the article examines the complex phenomenon of animal sacrifice, and opposition to it, in South Asian contexts.



Ritualized Doctrine? Rethinking Protestant Bodily Practice Through Attention to Genre in Calvin’s Institutio

2017-03-07

Protestantism poses a two-fronted challenge to ritual studies. First, Protestants have been deeply shaped by the Reformation’s polemical stance against ritual and accompanying valorization of scripture and theological reason. Second, Protestant assumptions remain inscribed in many of the historic methods used to study ritual, resulting in a series of methodological dichotomies—between mind and body, subjectivity and habituation, text and action—of which scholars are still taking critical stock. Against this backdrop, this article reconsiders the genre of Jean Calvin’s 1559 Institutio Christianae Religionis. It shows a strong resonance with other ancient and medieval examples of writing designed to be used within a field of embodied practice, yet in which the theoretical content is nonetheless crucial to the text’s ritualized use. It thus recasts the conceptual relationship between theological writing and ritualization while also illuminating an underappreciated and distinctive role given to bodily practice within a major tradition of Protestantism.



“The Slave Girl Gives Birth to Her Master”: Female Slavery from the Mamlūk Era (1250–1517) to the Islamic State (2014– )

2017-02-01

“[The Messenger of God] mentioned that one of the signs of the Hour was that ‘the slave girl gives birth to her master.’”—ISIS author (2014, 15)This paper analyzes how the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) appropriates Islamic tradition to justify sexual slavery, most notably the eschatological prophetic report “the slave girl will give birth to her master.” Contrary to the public discourse that constantly emphasizes the “medieval” nature of ISIS, I demonstrate that the movement has developed a modern interpretation of the tradition. The medieval Muslim scholars that the ISIS author quotes argue that the report should be read broadly and not be used in legal discussions or to expand slavery. In contrast, the ISIS author contends that the saying should be interpreted to mean the revival of slavery and justifies taking Yazidi women as sex slaves. The ISIS author thus presents a new understanding of the report, one that is unique within the history of Islam.



The Dangers of Reading As We Know It: Sight Reading As a Source of Heresy in Early Rabbinic Traditions

2017-01-31

Contemporary scholarship often treats classical rabbinic allusions to “reading” the Bible as evidence that late antique rabbinic culture valorized the written word as a source of religious knowledge and authority. However, the early rabbinic practice that we commonly refer to as “reading” actually consisted of reciting a precise oral formula from memory—with (or more often without) reference to a written text. When a rabbinic Jew “read” the Bible according to this practice, he did not extract words or meaning from written signs but rather pulled words and formulas from memory which could then be correlated with a written text for ritual performances. In contrast, classical rabbinic traditions treat the practices associated with acquiring information from written texts as an alien, even illicit, mode of engaging with written text and a locus of spiritual and social dangers.



Autism and Christianity: An Ethnographic Intervention

2017-01-23

Most scholarly discussions of autism and religion presuppose the absent self theory of autism. The theory holds that autistic persons lack a sense of self and anticipates that they will have trouble relating to a personal God and assigning religious meaning to their lives. I argue that the theory is untestable, which leaves scholars of religion with a choice: either we can say, with proponents of the absent self theory, that autistic persons lack a self, a choice that cuts religious studies off from the lived theologies of autistic persons of faith; or we can view autistic persons of faith as authority voices on their religious self-experience. As an example of what scholars of religion stand to gain by choosing the latter, I present an ethnography of autistic Christians in three web communities. These autistic Christians construct a distinctively Christian understanding of neurodiversity and a distinctively aspie understanding of God.



A Market in Prophecy: Secularism, Law, and the Economy of American Religious Publishing

2017-01-21

This article examines Worldwide Church of God v. Philadelphia Church of God, an influential case in which the plaintiff church sued a splinter sect for the unauthorized publication of one of its founder’s prophetic works. In this case, both groups turned to legal rationales, either the maximalist claims of intellectual property rights or the protections afforded by fair use exemptions, to defend their religious actions. In doing so, I argue that the dispute tested the capacity for the American legal system, and fair use doctrine in particular, to handle the complexities of alternative media economies like that of religious publishing. Because fair use asks courts to deal with the purpose of and market for the infringement, this case problematically turned theological issues of religious authorship, doctrinal difference, and church ecclesiology—normally considered outside the ambit of secular law—into matters central to the court’s adjudication.



Looking Like the Land: Beauty and Aesthetics in Amazonian Quichua Philosophy and Practice

2017-01-19

This article offers an account of Quichua thinking about beauty in the Ecuadorian Amazon: how it is grounded in a philosophical tradition that conceives the world and the self in “perspectivist” and relational terms, and how experiences of beauty play specific roles and attain a particular kind of sense within that context. In particular, we show how indigenous Quichua ideas about beauty inform a range of everyday practices and are intimately connected to distinct ideas about what it means to live a good or mature life. This maturity involves cultivating the self as a body shared with the land, taking on its styles, and responding empathetically to it. But it also means leaving space for others, respecting the boundaries of privacy that emerge through the differentiation of species and the formation of distinct aesthetic communities within particular territories.