Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown” as Want to Read:
Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  75 Ratings  ·  5 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 conventio
...more
Paperback, Reprint, 180 pages
Published May 15th 1988 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Imagining Religion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Imagining Religion

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Roger Green
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This eclectic collection of essays remains inspiring today. Smith's breadth of knowledge and ability to perform interdisciplinary analyses over widely varying moments in the history of religion is coupled with a sincere attempt to question what religious studies should be about.
Yang
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Dan Gorman
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In 2012, I struggled with this book and gave it only 3 stars. Five years later, I have gone to graduate school and read a lot more nonfiction, so I better appreciated it. Smith calls for the study of religion as a secular discipline, not a theological one. No topic is off limits, in Smith's formulation. Ask the hard questions about religion. This might mean struggling between universal and particular, relative and absolute concepts, but the struggle is worth it. The chapter on Jonestown is fasci ...more
Allison
rated it it was amazing
Jul 12, 2010
Gitai Ben-ammi
rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2014
Chrissy Anderson
rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2016
Melanie
rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2017
Nate
rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2014
Jenn
rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2008
Joe Gurba
rated it it was amazing
Jul 05, 2013
Rachel
rated it it was amazing
Dec 16, 2013
Joe
rated it it was ok
Jun 20, 2007
Heather
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2016
Sisyphus
rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2010
zachary
rated it it was amazing
Nov 02, 2015
Richard
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Decievingly obscure, but enlightening on second read- very dense material.
Martino
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2016
Allison
rated it liked it
Jul 23, 2007
Caleb
rated it really liked it
Dec 22, 2012
Lupe Ojeda
rated it liked it
Oct 05, 2015
Nathan
rated it really liked it
Jun 29, 2008
Sara
rated it liked it
Aug 29, 2007
Harold
rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2013
Allan Edwin
rated it it was amazing
Nov 02, 2012
Jackie
rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2014
Kait
rated it liked it
Sep 24, 2013
Cierra King
rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2015
Chazz
rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2013
Jess
rated it liked it
Apr 30, 2009
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
62009
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.
More about Jonathan Z. Smith...