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    Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept (Hardback) By (author) Brent Nongbri

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    DescriptionFor much of the past two centuries, religion has been understood as a universal phenomenon, a part of the "natural" human experience that is essentially the same across cultures and throughout history. Individual religions may vary through time and geographically, but there is an element, religion, that is to be found in all cultures during all time periods. Taking apart this assumption, Brent Nongbri shows that the idea of religion as a sphere of life distinct from politics, economics, or science is a recent development in European history-a development that has been projected outward in space and backward in time with the result that religion now appears to be a natural and necessary part of our world. Examining a wide array of ancient writings, Nongbri demonstrates that in antiquity, there was no conceptual arena that could be designated as "religious" as opposed to "secular." Surveying representative episodes from a two-thousand-year period, while constantly attending to the concrete social, political, and colonial contexts that shaped relevant works of philosophers, legal theorists, missionaries, and others, Nongbri offers a concise and readable account of the emergence of the concept of religion.

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  • Full bibliographic data for Before Religion

    Before Religion
    A History of a Modern Concept
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Brent Nongbri
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 288
    Width: 142 mm
    Height: 213 mm
    Thickness: 30 mm
    Weight: 454 g
    ISBN 13: 9780300154160
    ISBN 10: 030015416X

    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: REL
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T6.0
    B&T General Subject: 690
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 01
    LC subject heading:
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    BIC subject category V2: HRAX
    Ingram Subject Code: RY
    Libri: I-RY
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 15540
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 02
    BISAC V2.8: REL017000
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 35
    B&T Merchandise Category: UP
    BISAC V2.8: HIS002000
    DC22: 200.9
    LC subject heading:
    BISAC V2.8: REL033000
    DC23: 200.9
    LC classification: BL430 .N57 2013
    Thema V1.0: QRAC, QRAX
    Yale University Press
    Imprint name
    Yale University Press
    Publication date
    22 January 2013
    Publication City/Country
    New Haven
    Author Information
    Brent Nongbri, a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has held teaching positions at Yale University and Oberlin College.
    Review quote
    "Recent scholarship exposing the modern origin of 'religion' has awaited a treatise precisely like this: a wide-ranging yet careful exploration of the prehistory of the powerful idea. Written with clarity, ease, and grace, it is exceedingly informative and provocative."-Tomoko Masuzawa, author of The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism -- Tomoko Masuzawa "This book provides a wonderfully clear and concise account of our modern notion of 'religion.' Written with erudition and insight, it challenges us to rethink everything we have thought about religions, past and present."-Peter Harrison, The University of Queensland -- Peter Harrison "This lucid, broad and well-documented book focuses on the crucial periods of late antiquity and early modernity. In it, Brent Nongbri makes a convincing case for a more careful and self-conscious use of the term religion. A remarkable synthesis."- Guy G. Stroumsa, author of A New Science: the Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason -- Guy S. Stroumsa "In this brief but challenging book Brent Nongbri defamiliarizes the notion of religion as commonly used. Even if one does not agree with all of his conclusions, the study of 'religion', be it in antiquity or today, will never be the same after the standards set by his book."-Jan Bremmer, University of Groningen -- Jan Bremmer "Inevitably, we use our own concepts to make sense of the past; failing to realize this, however, is an indictment of our work. Luckily, Brent Nongbri's genealogy of the concept 'religion' will help keep scholars honest by making it tougher for them to portray their modern interpretations as disinterested descriptions."-Russell T. McCutcheon, author of Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia -- Russell T. McCutcheon "Compelling ... a thought-provoking addition to scholarship on religion, history, and culture."-Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly "Sharp and learned ... In addition to being an absorbing historical polemic, Before Religion is a fine example of the kind of curiosity and skepticism it advocates."-Adam Kirsch, Barnes and Noble Review Barnes and Noble Review "Fascinating"-Andrew Sullivan, The Dish -- Andrew Sullivan The Dish "Valuable ... a coherent, lucid, book-length argument that ought to convince the skeptic that 'religion' is a problematic category... Nongbri's book is a great place to start to question the inevitability of modern categories." -William T. Cavanaugh, First Things -- William T. Cavanaugh First Things "A significant contribution ... a clear and carefully written book."-Naomi Goldenberg, Critical Religion -- Naomi Goldenberg Critical Religion