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This book explores the strange persistence of 'blasphemy' in modern secular democracies by examining how accepted and prohibited ways of talking and thinking about the Bible and religion have changed over time. In a series of wide-ranging studies engaging disciplines such as politics, literature and visual theory, Yvonne Sherwood brings the Bible into dialogue with a host of interlocutors including John Locke, John Donne and the 9/11 hijackers, as well as artists such as Sarah Lucas and René Magritte. Questions addressed include: • What is the origin of the common belief that the Bible, as opposed to the Qur'an, underpins liberal democratic values? • What kind of artworks does the biblical God specialise in? • If pre-modern Jewish, Christian and Islamic responses to scripture can be more 'critical' than contemporary speech about religion, how does this affect our understanding of secularity, modernity and critique?Read more
- Sets a new agenda for research by suggesting radical and counterintuitive ways of thinking about the Bible as a public edifice and cultural symbol
- A unique treatment of blasphemy and the limits of acceptable speech
- Comparative studies between the Bible and representatives of other disciplinary canons such as John Locke and Magritte will have wide appeal
- Shortlisted for the American Academy of Religion Awards for Excellence 2013
Reviews & endorsements
"[Sherwood] takes the reader on dizzying excursions through religious studies, biblical studies, postmodern theory, midrash, and straight history, barely pausing to allow us to take a breath. She is truly interdisciplinary in that she enables the different disciplines in her intellectual purview to jar and combine. Above all, it is a work of pleasure, both of writing and of reading."
Review of Biblical Literature
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- Date Published: October 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107007864
- length: 398 pages
- dimensions: 236 x 157 x 28 mm
- weight: 0.73kg
- contains: 14 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. The Persistence of Blasphemy:
1. The persistence of blasphemy: the Bible as a public edifice in the secular state
Part II. Biblical Exhibitions/Biblical Exhibitionism:
2. The exquisite fruit-corpse and the surrealist works of God
3. Prophetic scatology: prophecy and the art of sensation
Part III. Inappropriate Involvement in the Biblical Text:
4. A recently discovered letter from Isaac to Abraham (annotated)
5. Passion-binding-passion: sacrifice, masochism and the subject
Part IV. Beyond 'the Bible as Literature':
6. 'Not with a bang but a whimper': shrunken apocalypses in Ecclesiastes 12.1–8 and twentieth-century modernism
7. The fear of loss inherent in writing: Jeremiah 36 as the tedious self-narration of a highly self-conscious scroll with Mark Brummitt
8. John Donne and the Baroque prophets
Part V. Theo-politics, Authority and the Bible:
9. On the genesis of the alliance between the Bible and rights
10. Binding-unbinding: pre-critical 'critique' in pre-modern Jewish, Christian and Islamic responses to the 'sacrifice' of Abraham/Ibrahim's son.
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