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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




Matthew A. Sutton, "Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War" (Basic Books, 2019)

What makes a good missionary makes a good spy. Or so thought "Wild" Bill Donovan when he secretly recruited a team of religious activists for the Office of Strategic Services. They entered into a world of lies, deception, and murder, confident that their nefarious deeds would eventually help them expand the kingdom of God. In Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War (Basic Books, 2019), historian Matthew Avery Sutton tells the extraordinary...


Jolyon Baraka Thomas, "Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

Jolyon Baraka Thomas’s Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2019) challenges the commonsensical notion that the Japanese empire granted its subjects no religious freedom—that, despite the legal provision in the Meiji Constitution of 1890 affirming freedom of worship, “State Shinto” was the law of the land—and that it was the American-led occupation which finally granted freedom of conscience and worship to the benighted Japanese. Thomas...


Yael Almog, "Secularism and Hermeneutics" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2019)

In the late Enlightenment, a new imperative began to inform theories of interpretation: all literary texts should be read in the same way that we read the Bible. However, this assumption concealed a problem—there was no coherent "we" who read the Bible in the same way. In Secularism and Hermeneutics (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), Yael Almog shows that several prominent thinkers of the era constituted readers as an imaginary "we" around which they could form their theories and...


Farhat Haq, "Shariʿa and the State in Pakistan: Blasphemy Politics" (Routledge, 2019)

Few doctrinal and political issues are more controversial in Pakistan today than that of blasphemy. In her excellent and engaging new book Shariʿa and the State in Pakistan: Blasphemy Politics (Routledge, 2019), Farhat Haq presents the history and present of blasphemy laws, debates, and politics in Pakistan, in a manner that carefully weaves the historical backdrop of blasphemy politics with detailed descriptions of important discursive moments and contributions involving a range of...


Oren Harman, "Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World" (FSG, 2018)

“There are only two ways to live your life,” said Albert Einstein, “One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle.” Oren Harman clearly agrees with Einstein’s sentiments. In Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), Harman takes scientific facts, as we know them today, and weaves them into narratives that have the tone, grace and drama of myth. Harman recognizes that despite the astounding achievements of...


Andrew Steinmann, "Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary" (IVP Academic, 2019)

Genesis is a book of origins: of the world, of sin, of God's promise of redemption, and of the people of Israel. It traces God's pledge of a Savior through Abraham's line down to his great-grandson Judah. It serves as a foundation for the New Testament and its teaching that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise to save humankind from sin and death. In Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (IVP Academic, 2019), Andrew Steinmann offers a thorough exegetical commentary on Genesis,...


Mark McClish, "The History of the Arthaśāstra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

Was ancient India ruled by politics or religion? In The History of the Arthaśāstra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Mark McClish explores the Arthaśāstra (ancient India’s foundational treatise on statecraft and governance) to problematize the common scholarly idea that politics in ancient India was circumscribed by religion, i.e., that kings prioritized a sacred duty to abide by the spiritual law of dharma. McClish shows that this model of...


Esau McCaulley, "Sharing in the Son's Inheritance: Davidic Messianism and Paul's Worldwide Interpretation of the Abrahamic Land Promise in Galatians" (T and T Clark, 2017)

Dr. Esau McCaulley is the author of Sharing in the Son's Inheritance: Davidic Messianism and Paul's Worldwide Interpretation of the Abrahamic Land Promise in Galatians, published in 2017 by T&T Clark. Esau serves as assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. Further, he is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of North America, for which he serves as director of Next Generation Leadership. In this work, McCaulley examines the nature of land, prophesy, and...


A Conversation with Acquisitions Editor Dawn Durante about How Manuscripts Become Books

For a book to exist, there must be a lot more than a writer. Of course, the writer is the essential component. But what about all the other hard-working professionals who shepherd the text from manuscript to beautiful finished product? There are a bunch of them, and today we talk to one: Dawn Durante, Senior Acquisitions Editor at the University of Illinois Press for books in African American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, Religion, and Anthropology. She...


Hans Boersma, "Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition" (Eerdmans, 2018)

Dr. Hans Boersma is the author of Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition, published in 2018 by Eerdmans. He holds the Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Chair in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin in the United States, and previously was a professor at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this work, Boersma introduces readers to the historic teaching of Christian theology concerning beatitude—the eschatological reality of being...


Geoffrey Barstow, "Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet" (Columbia UP, 2018)

Tibetan Buddhism teaches compassion toward all beings, a category that explicitly includes animals. Slaughtering animals is morally problematic at best and, at worst, completely incompatible with a religious lifestyle. Yet historically most Tibetans—both monastic and lay—have made meat a regular part of their diet. In Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet (Columbia University Press, 2018) of the place of vegetarianism within Tibetan religiosity,...


Rachel Werczberger, "Jews In The Age Of Authenticity: Jewish Spiritual Renewal In Israel" (Peter Lang, 2016)

Perhaps there’s something in the air in the Middle East, something that elevates spirituality. The Middle East, particularly Israel, is the legendary home of spiritual searching, of prophecy and religious expression. And in this historical birthplace of monotheism – of Judaism and its daughter religions, Christianity and Islam – religious vitality is as vibrant today as ever. Although traditional forms of religious practice dominate throughout the Middle East, not everyone finds their...


Jonathan Sarna, "American Judaism: A History" (Yale UP, 2019)

American Judaism: A History (Yale University Press; second edition, 2019) chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture―predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist―affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the...


Alexander Rocklin, "The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad" (UNC Press, 2019)

Beginning in the mid 19th century, thousands of indentured laborers traveled from India to the Caribbean, and many settled in Trinidad. In The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) Alexander Rocklin argues that the beliefs and practices they recreated in the new world only became recognizable as a discrete entity we now call “religion” over time and as the result of social and political processes. This book tells the...


Zahra Ayubi, "Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society" (Columbia UP, 2019)

How are notions of justice and equality constructed in Islamic virtue ethics (akhlaq)? How are Islamic virtue ethics gendered, despite their venture into perennial concerns of how best to live a good and ethical life? These are the questions that Zahra Ayubi, an assistant professor of religion at Dartmouth college, examines in her new book Gendered Morality: Classical Islamic Ethics of the Self, Family, and Society (Columbia University Press, 2019). Using akhlaq literature by al-Ghazali,...


Ronald E. Purser, "McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality" (Repeater Books, 2019)

In his recent exposé, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Repeater Books, 2019), Ronald Purser Ph.D. takes a hard look at the mindfulness movement that has taken society by storm. Purser opens the book by questioning elements of the movement that have lead to its success: its scientific credibility, its secular façade, the prevailing discourse in society around stress, and other topics. Purser’s main concern, however, is that mindfulness is being used to...


Milton Gaither, "Homeschool: An American History" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

With around two million children currently enrolled in home schools in the USA, no-one can doubt that the subject of Milton Gaither’s new book is timely. Gaither, a professor of education at Messiah College, PA, first published this study in 2008, but has updated his text to reflect both the levelling out of the number of children involved in the movement as well as to explain some of the scandals that have brought some parts of the movement into disrepute. Homeschool: An American History...


Sara Georgini, "Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family" (Oxford UP, 2019)

Sara Georgini is a historian and series editor for The Papers of John Adams at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family (Oxford University Press, 2019) is a family biography that explores the Christian republicanism of John and Abigail Adams and how it shaped their view of the origins and destiny of the American nation under the guidance of divine providence. The book charts change in religious culture through the generations with profiles...


Gregg L. Frazer, "God against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy’s Case Against the American Revolution" (UP of Kansas, 2018)

Not everyone was convinced by the arguments of patriots during the American revolution. Among those who retained some degree of loyalty to the British crown were the majority of the clergy of the Episcopalian Church, as well as a smaller number of clergy from Congregational, Presbyterian and other protestant bodies. In this important new work, Gregg L. Frazer, professor of history and political science at The Master’s University, Santa Clarita, CA, surveys the arguments that loyalist clergy...


Larry E. Morris, "A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon" (Oxford UP, 2019)

The story of the creation of the Book of Mormon has been told many times, and often ridiculed. A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (Oxford University Press, 2019), by Larry E. Morris, presents and examines the primary sources surrounding the origin of the foundational text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the most successful new religion of modern times. The scores of documents transcribed and annotated in this book include family histories, journal entries,...