History, Religion, and Antisemitism

History, Religion, and Antisemitism

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Gavin I. Langmuir's work on the formation and nature of antisemitism has earned him an international reputation. In "History, Religion, and Antisemitism" he bravely confronts the problems that arise when historians have to describe and explain religious phenomena, as any historian of antisemitism must. How, and to what extent, can the historian be objective? Is it possible to discuss Christian attitudes toward Jews, for example, without adopting the historical explanations of those whose thoughts and actions one is discussing? What, exactly, does the historian mean by 'religion' or 'religious'? Langmuir's original and stimulating responses to these questions reflect his inquiry into the approaches of anthropology, sociology, and psychology and into recent empirical research on the functioning of the mind and the nature of thought. His distinction between religiosity, a property of individuals, and religion, a social phenomenon, allows him to place unusual emphasis on the role of religious doubts and tensions and the irrationality they can produce.
Defining antisemitism as irrational beliefs about Jews, he distinguishes Christian anti-Judaism from Christian antisemitism, demonstrates that antisemitism emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries because of rising Christian doubts, and sketches how the revolutionary changes in religion and mentality in the modern period brought new faiths, new kinds of religious doubt, and a deadlier expression of antisemitism. Although he developed it in dealing with the difficult question of antisemitism, Langmuir's approach to religious history is important for historians in all areas.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 391 pages
  • 152.4 x 5 x 5.33mm | 590g
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0520077288
  • 9780520077287
  • 1,968,707

Table of contents

Part One: Religion as a Problem for Historians
1. The Problem
2. An Extreme Example
3* Rationalization and Explanation
4* The Concept of Religion
5* Religion as Compensation
6. Religion as Symbols
Part Two: Proposals for a Historiographic Solution
7* A Definition of Religion
8. Nonrational Thinking
g. A Definition of Religiosity
10. The Empirical Accessibility of Religion and Religiosity
11. Physiocentric Religion
12. Religious Doubt
13. Religious Irrationality
Part Three: The Religious Roots of Antisemitism
14. From Anti-Judaism to Antisemitism
15. The Revolution in Religiosity
16. Physiocentric Antisemitism
17. Religiosity and Objectivity
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Review quote

"Langmuir critically probes the vast literature on the nature of religion--the work of Emile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, Robert Bellah, Mircea Eliade, William James, and others. He finds standard definitions and descriptions wanting, but his appraisals brilliantly survey the basic worlds that have shaped religious studies."--Charles H. Lippy, "Church History
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About Gavin I. Langmuir

Gavin I. Langmuir, a distinguished medievalist, is Professor of History at Stanford University and the author of Toward a Definition of Antisemitism (California, 1990).
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Rating details

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3 29% (2)
2 14% (1)
1 14% (1)
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