Book cover for 'Religion and the Authority of the Past'
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Religion and the Authority of the Past

Tobin Siebers, Editor
With an Introduction by Wendy Doniger
Explores the relationship between religion and authority across civilizations and cultures


Religion and the Authority of the Past looks at how the past has influenced religious authority, and demonstrates that authority has been, and continues to be, prevalent in all religions and cultures. This book shows, in a fascinating variety of ways, how religious doctrine, interpretation, behavior, and expression are affected by those in power. The contributors—distinguished scholars from the fields of history, religion, classics, art, and Asian studies—find authority not only in places where one might expect it—in Islamic doctrine, Hindu religious texts, and the dogma of the Catholic church, for example—but also in unimagined and intriguing locations: in the first U.S. archaeological expedition to the ancient Near East; in representations of heroic action in the Homeric epics and early Chinese classics; in the transmission of religious stereotypes from the Old World to the New; in the poetry of Paul Celan and Dan Pagis; and in a sculptor's attempts to create art for houses of worship, where architects, bishops, priests, and the laity assert a variety of forms of religious authority of their own.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Authority of the Parental Metaphor (Wendy Doniger) - 1
1. Clean Hands and Shining Helmets: Heroic Action in Early Chinese and Greek Culture (David N. Keightley) - 13
2. The Authority of the Hindu Epics: Genealogy, Authenticity, and Authorship (Barbara Stoler Miller) - 52
3. Imagining Idolatry: Missionaries, Indians, and Jews (Judith Laikin Elkin) - 75
4. Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Garth Fowden) - 100
5. Current Arab Paradigms for an Islamic Future (Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad) - 119
6. Carving for the Saints (Michael R. Kapetan) - 161
7. Modernizing Tradition: Some Catholic Neo-Scholastics and the Genealogy of Natural Rights (Robert E. Sullivan) - 184
8. Puritans in Babylon: The Ancient Near East and the Revolution in Intellectual Life, 1888-1938 (Bruce Kuklick) - 209
9. The Search for Authority in Twentieth-Century Judaism (Arnold Eisen) - 222
10. Seeking the Meridian: The Reconstitution of Space and Audience in the Poetry of Paul Celan and Dan Pagis (Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi) - 253
Epilogue: Nietzsche's Lion (Tobin Siebers) - 285
Notes on Contributors - 293

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 304pp.
  • 21 photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1994
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08259-9

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  • $39.95 U.S.


Announcing the Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities