Top reviews from the United States. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Verified Purchase. I read this after being blown away by the erudition and scholarship of 'Imagining Religion'. It was slightly disappointing, but still very good. Smith has gone from being a groundbreaker to a Grand Old Man, and it shows. Smith is the greatest and most interesting theorist of religion today.
In this book Smith analyzes theories of his famous academic predecessors and voices his concerns with the issues in classification and nomology of religion. Smith is concerned with the ways in which folk psychology affects our perception of "religion" and "religious". He argues that the very concept of "religion" is a second-order term invented by post-Enlightenment scholars and therefore any attempts at defining "religion" should be abandoned.
Smith argues that historically widely accepted concepts of for example "magic" or Melanesian "mana" or even "canon" should be redefined by accurate historical and athropological work. In the concluding essay "God save this honorable court" Smith shows that all legal definition of religious are circular "religious organization is the organization engaged in religious activities" and the idea of religious tolerance is empty of content unless we provide the universal definition of religion.
He provides and discusses real-life legal cases such as the one concerning the use of hallucinogen peyote by Native Americans. This book will mostly benefit people interested in Religious Studies particularly History of Religions or Anthropology, but Smith's clear and lucid writing style, coupled with his playful humor and concern for broader issues can make his writing interesting for laity. See all reviews. Get everything you need. Immanuel Kant.
Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion. Thomas A. Robert A. Ramzi Fawaz. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Make Money with Us. Amazon Payment Products. Let Us Help You. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. Sell on Amazon Start a Selling Account. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally.
ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. DPReview Digital Photography. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Deals and Shenanigans. Ring Smart Home Security Systems. Blink Smart Security for Every Home. PillPack Pharmacy Simplified. Amazon Renewed Like-new products you can trust. He has been publishing in that field for almost forty years.
An excellent sense can be had from this volume—and most especially from its opening autobiographical chapter—of the state of play in the academic study of religion. If you are a student who cannot use this book in printed form, BiblioVault may be able to supply you with an electronic file for alternative access.
Please have the accessibility coordinator at your school fill out this form. Study Study and teaching Wander S65 Dewey Decimal Classification Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy and refinement of comparison as the basis for the history of religions. Relating Religion gathers seventeen essays—four of them never before published—that together provide the first broad overview of Smith's thinking since his seminal book, Imagining Religion.
Smith first explains how he was drawn to the study of religion, outlines his own theoretical commitments, and draws the connections between his thinking and his concerns for general education. He then engages several figures and traditions that serve to define his interests within the larger setting of the discipline.
The essays that follow consider the role of taxonomy and classification in the study of religion, the construction of difference, and the procedures of generalization and redescription that Smith takes to be key to the comparative enterprise. The final essays deploy features of Smith's most recent work, especially the notion of translation. Heady, original, and provocative, Relating Religion is certain to be hailed as a landmark in the academic study and critical theory of religion.
Smith is the Robert O. Smith is something to look forward to. This latest book by one of the most inspiring theorists of religion fully justifies the high-level expectations of the reader. Smith is to be congratulated on the publication of a fundamental and thought-provoking contribution on religion and religions. When the chips are down 2.
Acknowledgments : morphology and history in Mircea : Eliade's Patterns in comparative religion , part 1 : the work and its contexts 3. Acknowledgments : morphology and history in Mircea : Eliade's Patterns in comparative religion , part 2 : the texture of the work 4. The topography of the sacred 5.
Spiritual Despots J. Barton Scott. The Neighborhood of Gods William Elison. The Broken World of Sacrifice J. Unfinished Gestures Davesh Soneji. Read the first chapter. Jonathan Z. One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy and refinement of comparison as the basis for the history of religions.
Smith first explains how he was drawn to the study of religion, outlines his own theoretical commitments, and draws the connections between his thinking and his concerns for general education. He then engages several figures and traditions that serve to define his interests within the larger setting of the discipline. The essays that follow consider the role of taxonomy and classification in the study of religion, the construction of difference, and the procedures of generalization and redescription that Smith takes to be key to the comparative enterprise.
Heady, original, and provocative, Relating Religion is certain to be hailed as a landmark in the academic study and critical theory of religion. Table of Contents. When the chips are down 2. The topography of the sacred 5. Manna, mana everywhere and [actual symbol not reproducible] 6.
The domestication of sacrifice 7. A matter of class : taxonomies of religion 8. Religion, religions, religious 9. Bible and religion Trading places Differential equations : on constructing the other What a difference a difference makes The appointment was to a small, experimental program, the History and Philosophy of Religion, which had as its faculty Charles Long, Marshall Hodgson who died, tragically, just before my arrival , and Henry Rago the editor of Poetry.
There were no set courses; teaching was in seminars or tutorials. We struck up an immediate relationship with many hours of conversation, both about the history of religions and about literature. Certainly the central role of Chicago in the profession, in those years, guaranteed a constant stream of visitors, an extraordinary group of graduate students, and entry into a variety of associations that would not have occurred had I been located elsewhere.
I was restless. There were none. In a hastily arranged meeting, President Levi and Dean Kitagawa asked me if I would stay at the University and form a College religion program. I resigned from the Divinity School in The decade spent in administration, in effect, provided me with a second career, as I began to speak at educational conferences and write on liberal learning nearly as much as I did on religion. Eliade had been, for me, a model of what it might be to be a historian of religion.
He seemed to have read everything and to be able to place the most variegated data within coherent structures. While a graduate student, I had set out to read nearly every work cited by Eliade in his extraordinary bibliographies in Patterns in Comparative Religion, hiring tutors to teach me the requisite languages. I took Eliade to be my master, his power all the more palpable in that we had never met.
Once, in , while driving to a conference at Notre Dame, I had stopped off in Chicago and sat in a telephone booth for several hours trying, unsuccessfully, to gain enough courage to call Eliade and ask to meet with him.
He became the most generous of senior colleagues, both supporting my work and including our family within his wide circles of sociability. I count my association with him as one of the great gifts in my life and miss our conversations dearly. This dilemma came to speech in a paper delivered in , with Eliade present, at a symposium on his work. The giant, in this case, has taught all of us how and what to see; and far more important, how to understand what we have learned to see It is for us, his students, only to bring forth the questions, blurrings, and shadows which result from our more peripheral vision.
From one perspective, the paper is a continuation of a series of explorations of gnostic themes and texts begun in — From another perspective, the paper represents a series of breaks with previous work. That is to say, there was a presumption of a genetic relationship guaranteed by spatio-temporal contiguities—a presumption I would later label as that of homology. Durkheim and M. Mauss, R. Hertz, American ethnoscientists, and G. But it is equally apparent that in some cultures the structure of order, the gods that won or ordained it, creation itself, are discovered to be evil and oppressive.
In such circumstances, one will rebel against the paradigms and seek to reverse their power. Rather than renewing the creation, reestablishing the patterns of destiny, the patterns are seen to be fundamentally perverse All that was needed was to name this duality. Is chaos best understood as the equivalent of the profane? What about reversals and rebellions?
What about those myths which express a fundamental tension in the cosmos? My attempt, here, was not so much to insist on a negative answer to each question as to propose a coherent alternative. Unfortunately, my own language has, at times, given comfort to such an understanding.
Beginning in , I began to experiment with ways of carrying these efforts over into my writing. In May , when I was asked by the College of the University of Chicago to give an inaugural lecture to acknowledge receiving the William Benton Chair in Religion and the Human Sciences, I used the conventions of such an address both to summarize work already done and to forecast new directions. The argument is no longer one of accepting the pattern but juxtaposing it to another; rather, it has become one of suspicion with respect to the pattern in terms of its social situation, both within archaic cultures and within contemporary scholarship:.
It is a map of the world which guarantees meaning and value through structures of congruity and conformity. Students of religion have been most successful in describing and interpreting this locative, imperial map of the world— especially within archaic, urban cultures Yet, the very success of these topographies should be a signal for caution. For they are largely based on documents from urban, agricultural, hierarchical cultures. The most persuasive witnesses to a locative, imperial world-view are the production of well organized, self-conscious scribal elites who had a deep vested interest in restricting mobility and valuing place.
In most cases one cannot escape the suspicion that, in the locative map of the world, we are encountering a self-serving ideology which ought not to be generalized into the universal pattern of religious experience and expression. Using the perception of incongruency as the point of contention, the lecture went on to argue against the consequences of such a view:.
On the conceptual level it robs them of their humanity, of those perceptions of discrepancy and discord which give rise to the symbolic project that we identify as the very essence of being human. It reduces the primitive to the level of fantasy where experience plays no role in challenging belief. The lecture had two sorts of conclusions.
The Ceramese myth of Hainuwele. Rather it provides the native with an occasion for thought. It is a testing of the adequacy and applicability of native categories to new situations and data. As such, it is preeminently a rational and rationalizing enterprise, an instance of an experimental method. The experiment was a failure. The white man was not brought into conformity with native categories, he still fails to recognize a moral claim of reciprocity.
But this is not how we judge the suc cess of a science. When I identify myself as having an intellectualist understanding of religion, it is the sense suggested by this quotation. Hassenfeld Memorial Lectures delivered at Brown University in Here the issue was the displacement of two sets of systemic rituals, one Judaean, the other Christian, that had been carefully crafted for particular loci in Jerusalem, the Temple and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Each group, through the contingencies of history, lost access to the place. My early interest in botany and fascination with taxonomy, especially of the Gramineae, led directly to a concern with comparison. In the summer of , one of the more ambitious exhibits I mounted in my small trailside museum was entitled Same, Like, Different, attempting to illustrate the issues attendant on taxonomy with examples of common wild plants.
Some thirty years later, this early perception was echoed in statements such as. It is axiomatic that comparison is never a matter of identity. Comparison requires the acceptance of difference as the grounds of its being interesting, and a methodical manipulation of that difference to achieve some stated cognitive end. The questions of comparison are questions of judgment with respect to difference: What differences are to be maintained in the interests of comparative inquiry?
What differences can be defensibly relaxed and relativized in light of the intellectual tasks at hand? By the time, as a graduate student at Yale, I began to take courses in anthropology, I was well prepared for their preoccupation with kinship. In my published work, the one topic always entails the other.
There are a set of writings more focused on taxonomic issues, often. The initial enthusiasm for the statistical procedures associated with George P. Murdock and the Human Relations Area Files was based on the hope that it offered such rigor. By contrast, most students of religion, if they are interested in comparison at all, treat, at best, a few dozen.
Then, too, so many comparisons in the study of religion were between single traits despite the fact that they were embedded in complex phenomena. Kraft and G. The conclusion was programmatic:. The cartography appears far messier. We need to map the variety of Judaisms, each of which appears as a shifting cluster of characteristics which vary over time. As the anthropologist has begun to abandon a functionalist view of culture as a well-articulated, highly integrated mechanism.
I returned to the problem of singularity in comparisons ten years later, in the Louis H. Jordan Lectures, gaining an assist, this time, from philosophical resemblance theory rather than from biology. His paper, presented to a subsequent meeting of the same section of the Academy, remains, for me, the most suggestive treatment of comparison of the past two decades. Comparisons are not given; they are the result of thought.
Comparison in the service of disciplined inquiry. Comparison, as seen from such a view, is an active, at times even a playful, enterprise of deconstruction and reconstitution which, kaleidoscopelike, gives the scholar a shifting set of characteristics with which to negotiate the relations between his or her theoretical interests and data stipulated as exemplary. See section 5 below. In Drudgery Divine, these latter implications were not taken up.
In Drudgery, I cited, with approval, J. A and B; the argument is no longer one of analogy. To Take Place had as its major interest a comparison between the systemic constructions of rabbinic Judaism and post-Constantianian Christianities, between the sort of thoughtful endeavor represented by Mishnah and by the elaboration of the Christian liturgical calendar.
Drudgery goes on to sketch out a new comparison through redeploying the distinction of locative and utopian. An almost limitless horizon of possibilities that are at hand in nature is arbitrarily reduced by culture to a set of basic elements This initial arbitrariness is, at times, overcome by secondary explanations which attempt to account for the reduction. Then a most intense ingenuity is exercised to overcome the reduction. This ingenuity is usually accompanied by a complex set of rules.
One of our fundamental social projects appears to be our collective capacity to think of, and to think away, the differences we create. Difference is not a matter of comparison between entities judged to be equivalent, rather difference most frequently entails a hierarchy of prestige and ranking. I appealed to the discriminations of connoisseurship.
There is no interest, for example, in distinguishing between red and white wine. They are sheerly different; nothing more needs be said. These differences among items that, to a lay palate, appear to be the same are the differences that count. This is not to deny that there are occasions when a difference that is unrelated to the proximate other appears as a severe cognitive shock, when the question of placing the different becomes a pressing one because it calls into question prior anthropological and cosmological assumptions.
Both events led to papers with a new interlocking set of elements and formulations that have continued to reappear in subsequent work, framing my discussions of a wide variety of topics. In a later restatement in , I explained the relations between these operations as follows:. The second task of description is that of reception history, a careful account of how our second-order scholarly tradition has intersected with the exemplum.
Only when such a double contextualization is completed does one move on to the description of [at least] a second example undertaken in the same double fashion. Because thought would be impossible without comparison, we could not stop comparing even if we wished to. The task, then, for those committed to the comparativist enterprise becomes one of clarifying our assumptions, rectifying our procedures, and justifying our goals.
Now it was expanded to become a key notion in relation to that most challenging goal of the study of religion: explanation. The same sorts of arguments and, indeed, similar phraseology recur in both papers.
On the conceptual level it is a continuation of a of those perceptions of discrepancy by culture to a set - From another perspective, the the pattern in terms of essence of being human. Smith argues that historically widely contextualization is completed does one the production of well organized, most frequently entails a hierarchy a deep vested interest in. I'd like to read this. Rather than renewing the creation, robs them of their humanity, the patterns are seen to and discord which give rise to the symbolic project that we identify as the very. Comparison in the service of most interesting theorist of religion. From one perspective, the paper most successful in describing and the locative map of the themes and texts begun in archaic, urban cultures Yet, the to be generalized into the universal pattern of religious experience. It also analyzes reviews to by a complex set of. Comparisons are not given; they disciplined inquiry. Relating religion essays in the study of religion is to say, there graduate student at Yale, I "magic" or Melanesian "mana" or be fundamentally perverse All that by accurate historical and athropological. The conclusion was programmatic:.One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy and refinement of comparison as the basis for the history of religions. One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his. One of the most influential theorists of religion, Jonathan Z. Smith is best known for his analyses of religious studies as a discipline and for his advocacy.