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Jonathan Z. Smith
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Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  70 Ratings  ·  3 Reviews

With this influential book of essays, Jonathan Z. Smith has pointed the academic study of religion in a new theoretical direction, one neither theological nor willfully ideological.

Making use of examples as apparently diverse and exotic as the Maori cults in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the events of Jonestown, Smith shows that religion must be construed as conventi

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Hardcover, 165 pages
Published November 1st 1982 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
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Yang
Dec 18, 2014 Yang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like he says in the early chapters in the book, that scholars of religions should not attempt toward unification, integration, and systemization, this book as a whole also remains a bit disconnected and unfocused. J.Smith is highly self-conscious as a historian of religion (of Judaism) and reflects on what does the exercise of this profession implicates. He begins with the problem of classification, and stresses again and again the structuralist insight of how things only obtain significance by ...more
Miller Sherling
Dec 18, 2011 Miller Sherling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J.Z. Smith is wonderful at tweaking readers' perspectives. The most noticeable shift (in terms of change/time) I've made in my thinking in my life was from reading him. Reading the chapter on "the persistence of canon" was the first time I'd made such a noticeable shift--he calls into question the whole enterprise of defining terms, & I've never stopped doing so since.

The chapter in this book in which he discusses Jonestown, what happened there, attempts to propose reasons why, & chastis
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Aug 16, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Decievingly obscure, but enlightening on second read- very dense material.
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Jonathan Z. Smith is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities at the University of Chicago where he is also a member of the Committee on the History of Culture.
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