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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books




David C. Posthumus, “All My Relatives: Exploring Lakota Ontology, Belief, and Ritual” (U Nebraska Press, 2018)

In All My Relatives: Exploring Lakota Ontology, Belief, and Ritual (University of Nebraska Press, 2018), David C. Posthumus, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of South Dakota, offers the first revisionist history of the Lakotas’ religion and culture in a generation. He applies key insights from what has...


Ann Taves, “Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths” (Princeton UP, 2016)

I’ve often asked myself this question: “How do religions begin?” I don’t know about you, but I think I would be very, very skeptical if someone told me that they’d had just received a revelation, communicated with some spiritual “higher power,” or had some sort of mystical-though-divinely-inspired experience. Ditto with...


Joshua J. F. Coutts, “The Divine Name in the Gospel of John” (Mohr Siebeck, 2017)

Unlike many of the other early Christian texts, the Gospel of John emphasizes the name of the Father alongside the name of Jesus—why? One reason, says Joshua Coutts, is because of the significance of God’s name in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Join us as we talk with Joshua...


Brian Stanley, “Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History” (Princeton UP, 2018)

Today I talked with Brian Stanley, professor of World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, about his new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History (Princeton University Press, 2018). Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, and representing the expansion, assimilation and contraction of Christian religion in a...


Matthew Harper, “The End of Days: African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation” (UNC Press, 2016)

In the wake of the bloody Civil War, millions of slaves were emancipated. How did those freed slaves, along with African Americans freed before the Civil War, interpret this new post-war world? Dr. Matthew Harper’s The End of Days: African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation (University of...


Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution...


Irfan Ahmad, “Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace” (UNC Press, 2017)

In the last few decades, questions relating to Islam’s compatibility with liberal secular democracy, or the question of why Islam remains incompatible with Western liberal norms of thought and politics have generated considerable commentary in both scholarly and journalistic communities. Among the central assumptions driving such compatibility talk relates to...


Tala Jarjour, “Sense and Sadness: Syriac Chant in Aleppo” (Oxford UP, 2018)

Religious music can be a source of comfort and release, but also a remembrance of sadness and loss. In Sense and Sadness: Syriac Chant in Aleppo (Oxford University Press, 2018), Tala Jarjour analyzes the Syriac chant sung in Aramaic used by the small Christian Suriyani community in Aleppo, Syria. The Suriyani...


Adam D. Hensley, “Covenant Relationships and the Editing of the Hebrew Psalter” (T&T Clark, 2018)

Was the Hebrew Psalter purposefully shaped and arranged by editors to convey a particular theological message? Adam Hensley says yes. By examining the relationship between the Davidic covenant and the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, he suggests the editors understood these covenants as a theological unity, whose common fulfillment centers on...


Robert D. Miller II, “Covenant and Grace in the Old Testament: Assyrian Propaganda and Israelite Faith” (Gorgias Press, 2012)

How would Israelites have understood their nation’s covenant relationship with Yahweh? Dr. Robert Miller II offers a study of the Old Testament language of covenant within its ancient context, especially in light of Assyrian ideology. His study reveals that ‘covenant’ really meant ‘grace.’ Tune in as we talk with Robert...


Larry Shapiro, “The Miracle Myth: Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified” (Columbia UP, 2016)

There are many who believe Moses parted the Red Sea and Jesus came back from the dead. Others are certain that exorcisms occur, ghosts haunt attics, and the blessed can cure the terminally ill. Though miracles are immensely improbable, people have embraced them for millennia, seeing in them proof of...


Janelle Wong, “Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2018)

Surprising to many, white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election at a higher rate than any candidate in the previous four presidential elections. At the same time, the Evangelical community is changing, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. How will this new diversity change Evangelical politics, if...


Ruth Gamble, “Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism: The Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition” (Oxford UP, 2018)

Ruth Gamble’s Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism: The Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a thorough and accessible study on reincarnation, the tulku tradition in Tibet, and the life of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorjé (1284-1339). In this book, Gamble gives an account of Rangjung...


Luis Cortest, “Philo’s Heirs: Moses Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas” (Academic Studies Press, 2017)

The tensions found between Reason and Revelation, between the traditions of the Bible and Greek thought, were central to pre-modern philosophy and in a sense remain so today. We live in an age beholden to both the religious and the secular as ways of understanding the ourselves and the world...


Merin Shobhana Xavier, “Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism: Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and Contemporary Shrine Cultures” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

In 1971, a Sri Lankan Sufi arrived in Philadelphia to address a group of spiritual seekers. This trip initiated the career of one of the most influential teachers in the history of North American Sufism. In Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism: Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and Contemporary Shrine Cultures...


M. Cooper Harriss, “Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology” (NYU Press, 2017)

Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man is a milestone of American literature and the idea of invisibility has become a key way for understanding social marginalization. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology (NYU Press, 2017), M. Cooper Harriss, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, explores the theological...


Jessica Johnson, “Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire” (Duke UP, 2018)

In her book Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire (Duke University Press, 2018), Dr. Jessica Johnson chronicles the rise and fall of Mars Hill Church, an evangelical megachurch that started in Seattle in the 1990’s and spread to multiple locations across five states before collapsing in the...


Leigh Eric Schmidt, “Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in A Godly Nation” (Princeton UP, 2016)

A much-maligned minority throughout American history, atheists have been cast as a threat to the nation’s moral fabric, barred from holding public office, and branded as irreligious misfits in a nation chosen by God. Yet, village atheists—as these godless freethinkers came to be known by the close of the nineteenth...


Christopher Grasso, “Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War” (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Christopher Grasso is a professor of history at the College of William and Mary. His book Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2018) explores the tensions and ongoing dialogue between religious faith and skepticism and fear over how it would shape the...


Jonathan Smyth, “Robespierre and the Festival of the Supreme Being: The Search for a Republican Morality” (Manchester UP, 2016)

In his speech delivered to the National Convention on 18 Floréal (May 7, 1794), Maximilien Robespierre shocked his listeners as he attacked the proponents of atheism and dechristianization in the government: “Who nominated you to tell the people that God does not exist anymore? What do you hope to gain by persuading...