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  1. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept
    Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept
    Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept
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  2. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept

    [030015416X]
    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (9 reviews)
    Price R665.00

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Additional Information

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.

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Specifications

Country
USA
Author
Brent Nongbri
Binding
Hardcover
Brand
Brand: Yale University Press
EAN
9780300154160
Feature
Used Book in Good Condition
ISBN
030015416X
Label
Yale University Press
Manufacturer
Yale University Press
NumberOfItems
1
NumberOfPages
288
PublicationDate
2013-01-22
Publisher
Yale University Press
Studio
Yale University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This text documents the history of the concept we call "religion" today. It has been well known among historians that in the ancient and medieval worlds, there was no such thing that resembled "religion". There was no packaged concept of religion, nor was there a language available, in most cultures, to express such ideas the way we do. Though the term "religion" comes from the Latin term "religio", which was used in the ancient and medieval times, the book shows how diversely "religio" was used in those periods (for other ancient examples of diverse usages not found in the book see comment #1). Anyways, it was in the 16th and 17th century that the concept of "religion" as we know it, was invented and since then it has created numerous continuous problems such as the popular depiction of "religion" as a reified, abstract, monolithic, uniform, timeless, and universal "thing" that is found across time, cultures, and... Read more
This book is on the short list of those that shifted my world perspective fundamentally, then left me feeling like a fool for not reaching its conclusion on my own. I cannot recommend it highly enough to readers with any interest whatsoever in "religion," both the word itself and its many referents. Religion is contested vehemently these days: some insist that religion motivates or even causes the world's greatest evils, while others insist that people cannot get by in dignity without religion. If you hope to make sense of our world, and these disputes, without making a mess of your mind or fool of yourself, then pick up and read. Nongbri writes succinctly, persuasively, and engagingly. And the best part, if you like books that are doorways to other books, is that the endnotes, bibliography, and index comprise more than a third of the book.
Before Religion is an extremely important book with the potential of a Copernican revolution in how Westerners understand the workings of world societies and cultures. Nongbri demonstrates that the understanding of the phenomenon commonly known as religion, and its distinction from the secular, is a new one and unique to the West. The West currently understands religion to be an optional and private subset of human culture. That is not what the word meant up to the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. Its most ancient meanings referred to duties and obligations not only to the gods but also to people. In light of Nongbri's work one sees that before the Enlightenment people's relationships with their ultimate concerns, their gods, their final goals were not separated from everyday lives but an integral part of them. This is still the case in all non-Western cultures insofar as they are not influenced by the West's understanding of religion. Westerners could access major... Read more
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