Before Religion A History of a Modern Concept

ISBN-10: 030015416X
ISBN-13: 9780300154160
Edition: 2012
Authors: Brent Nongbri
List price: $40.00 Buy it from $19.64
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Description: For 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $40.00
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 1/22/2013
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

For 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.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
What Do We Mean by "Religion"?
Lost in Translation: Inserting "Religion" into Ancient Texts
Some (Premature) Births of Religion in Antiquity
Christians and "Others" in the Premodern Era
Renaissance, Reformation, and Religion in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
New Worlds, New Religions, World Religions
The Modern Origins of Ancient Religions
Conclusion: After Religion?
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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