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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




Evdoxios Doxiadis, "State, Nationalism, and the Jewish Communities of Modern Greece" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

How did minorities fit into the new Greek state during the country’s transition from imperial rule to national sovereignty? How did the relationship between Greece and its Jewish minorities, in particular, shift as definitions of national belonging expanded, shrunk, and transformed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? These are the questions that Dr. Evdoxios Doxiadis, Associate Professor in History at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, seeks to answer in his new book, State,...


Matthew E. Ferris, "If One Uses It Lawfully: The Law of Moses and the Christian Life (Wipf and Stock, 2018)

One of the most enduring debates within protestant theology has been the discussion about how the law of Moses relates to the Christian life. In this important new book, Matthew E. Ferris, a self-described “gentleman theologian,” puts the debate within the contexts of recent writing in New Testament studies as well as in practical theology, and argues that Christian ethics require the law to be “fulfilled” rather than “kept.” This might seem to be a nice distinction, but, Ferris argues, it...


E. H. Ecklund and D. R. Johnson, "Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think of Religion" (Oxford UP, 2019)

It is common to see science and religion portrayed as mutually exclusive and warring ways of viewing the world, but is that how actual scientists see it? For that matter, which cultural factors shape the attitudes of scientists toward religion? Could scientists help show us a way to build collaboration between scientific and religious communities, if such collaborations are even possible? The book we’re looking at today, Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think...


Holly Rogers, "The Mindful Twenty-Something" (New Harbinger, 2016)

In her book, The Mindful Twenty-Something (New Harbinger, 2016), Holly Rogers presents a unique, evidence based approach to help you make important life decisions with clarity and confidence. As cofounder of the extremely popular Koru Mindfulness program developed at Duke University, her work with students serves as inspiration for this book. As a twenty-something, you may feel like you are being pulled in dozen different directions. With the daily tumult, busyness, and major life changes...


Arik Moran, "Kingship and Polity on the Himalayan Borderland" (Amsterdam UP, 2019)

What role did women play in securing power in colonial Himalayan kingdoms? Kingship and Polity on the Himalayan Borderland (Amsterdam UP, 2019) specifically documents the key roles played by women - especially queen regents - in the modern transformation of state and society in the Indian Himalaya kingdoms. Arik Moran examines three Rajput kingdoms during the transition to British rule (c. 1790-1840) and their interconnected histories and court intrigues. He draws on rich archival records,...


Levi McLaughlin, "Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of A Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

Being Japan’s largest and most influential new religious organization, Soka Gakkai (Society for the Creation of Value) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) claims to have 12 million members in 192 countries around the world. Founded in the 1930s by a group of teachers focused on educational reform, Soka Gakkai has since evolved from its grassroot origins as a movement inspired by Nichiren Buddhism to a highly significant source of influence in contemporary Japanese education and politics. In...


William M. Gorvine, "Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint" (Oxford UP, 2018)

In his new book, Envisioning A Tibetan Luminary: The Life of a Modern Bonpo Saint (Oxford University Press, 2018), William M. Gorvine provides a multifaceted analysis of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1934), one of the most prominent modern representatives of the Tibetan Bön tradition. Engaging two written versions of Shardza’s life story as well as oral histories gathered during fieldwork in eastern Tibet and Bön exile communities in India, Gorvine explores the ways in which Shardza has been...


William Elison, "The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

William Elison's The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai(University of Chicago Press, 2018) explores how slum residents, tribal people, and members of other marginalized groups use religious icons to mark urban spaces in Mumbai. Interestingly, not all of Elison's interview subjects identify as Hindu, which bolsters has argument that sacred space in Mumbai is created by visual and somatic practices performed across religious boundaries. Join as as we...


Berthe Jansen, "The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet" (U California Press, 2018)

The Monastery Rules: Buddhist Monastic Organization in Pre-Modern Tibet (University of California Press, 2018) discusses the position of the monasteries in pre-1950s Tibetan Buddhist societies and how that position was informed by the far-reaching relationship of monastic Buddhism with Tibetan society, economy, law, and culture. Berthe Jansen's study of monastic guidelines is the first study of its kind to examine the genre in detail. The book contains an exploration of its parallels in...


Max Oidtmann, "Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

In 1995, the People’s Republic of China resurrected the technology of the “Golden Urn,” a Qing-era tool which involves the identification of the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks by drawing lots from a golden vessel. Why would the Chinese Communist Party revive this former ritual? What powers lie in the symbolism of the “Golden Urn”? Why was this tradition invented? Using both archival sources in the Manchu language and chronicles of Tibetan elites, Max Oidtmann answers...


M. David Litwa, "How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths" (Yale UP, 2019)

Did the early Christians believe their myths? Like most ancient—and modern—people, early Christians made efforts to present their myths in the most believable ways. In How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths (Yale University Press, 2019), M. David Litwa explores how and why what later became the four canonical gospels take on a historical cast that remains vitally important for many Christians today. Offering an in-depth comparison with other Greco-Roman stories that...


Daniel Veidlinger, "From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas" (U Hawaii Press, 2018)

In this episode of New Books in Buddhist Studies, I am joined by Daniel Veidlinger to discuss his exciting new book From Indra’s Net to Internet: Communication, Technology, and the Evolution of Buddhist Ideas (University of Hawaii Press, 2018), which offers a theoretically compelling exploration of the types communicative “ecosystems” in which Buddhist ideas have flourished throughout history. Drawing inspiration from evolutionary biology and media theory, Veidlinger’s book begins by...


Jonathan G. Kline, "Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in 2 Minutes a Day" (Hendrickson, 2017)

The last few years have seen a proliferation of helps for those of us who struggle to consolidate and develop our knowledge of ancient languages. But here is one of the most helpful of these new resources. Jonathan G. Kline, who is academic editor at Hendrickson, and the author of Allusive soundplay in the Hebrew Bible (SBL, 2017), has published a series of books that provide one-sentence daily readings in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, and which then parse these sentences in an imaginative and...


Ithamar Theodor, "Exploring the Bhagavad Gītā: Philosophy, Structure and Meaning" (Routledge, 2016)

The Bhagavad Gītā remains to this day a mainstay of Hinduism and Hindu Studies alike, despite the profusion of books written on it over the centuries. While the Gītā’s profundity is evident, its meaning most certainly is not. Is there a unity within the Bhagavad Gītā? Ithamar Theodor’s Exploring the Bhagavad Gītā: Philosophy, Structure and Meaning (Routledge, 2016) proposes a unifying structure which of this seminal Hindu work, identifying multiple layers of meaning at play. Theodor provides...


Julia Cassaniti, "Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia" (Cornell UP, 2018)

How do you understand mindfulness? Is your understanding limited by your own culture’s definition of what mindfulness is? These are some of the questions you will ask yourself while reading Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia (Cornell University Press). In today’s podcast, Prof. Julia Cassaniti takes us on a tour of three Theravada Buddhist countries (Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) to show us how mindfulness is understood in this region and what this, in turn, can teach...


Nazia Kazi, "Islamophobia, Race, and Global Politics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018)

Nazia Kazi’s Islamophobia, Race, and Global Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) is a brilliant and powerful meditation on the intersection and interaction of Islamophobia, racism, and U.S. imperial state power. This book seeks to reorient our understanding of Islamophobia from a phenomenon centered on individual attitudes and perceptions of hate, to one which is indelibly entrenched to the structural logics of modern state sovereignty, and to the long-running history of racism in the U.S....


Lynn Kaye, "Time In The Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative" (Cambridge UP, 2018)

The great writer Jorge Luis Borges said, “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” Time is the topic of a new book by Lynn Kaye, Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought at Brandeis University and Visiting Library Fellow at The Van Leer Institute Jerusalem. With insights gleaned from art and literature, as well as a...


Jackson Wu, "Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul's Message and Mission" (IVP Academic, 2019)

What does it mean to “read Romans with Eastern eyes”? Combining research from Asian scholars with his many years of experience living and working in East Asia, Jackson directs our attention to Paul's letter to the Romans. He argues that some traditional East Asian cultural values are closer to those of the first-century biblical world than common Western cultural values. In addition, he adds his voice to the scholarship engaging the values of honor and shame in particular and their influence...


Laury Silvers, “The Lover” (Kindle Direct Publishers, 2019)

Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant girl she barely knows comes and begs her to bring some justice to the death of a local boy, she is forced to face the suffering of the most vulnerable in Baghdad and the emotional and mystical legacy of her mother, a famed ecstatic whose love for God eclipsed everything. The Lover (Kindle Direct Publishers, 2019) is a historically sensitive mystery that...


Jessica Starling, "Guardians of the Buddha’s Home: Domestic Religion in Contemporary Jōdo Shinshū" (U Hawaii Press, 2019)

In her recent ethnography, Guardians of the Buddha’s Home: Domestic Religion in Contemporary Jōdo Shinshū (University of Hawaii Press, 2019), Prof. Jessica Starling invites us into the daily lives of the bōmori, the spouses of priests in the Japanese Jōdo Shinshū, or True Pure Land, tradition. Focusing on domestic religion, Prof. Starling shows us how the bōmori create community by cleaning the temple altar, how they express gratitude for their salvation by carefully managing temple...