Imagine No Religion

How Modern Abstractions Hide Ancient Realities

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Carlin A. Barton, Daniel Boyarin
  • Bronx, NY: 
    Fordham University Press
    , October
     328 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Ben Sheppard forthcoming.


This book has been reviewed in JAAR by Kevin Schilbrack.

What do we fail to see when we force other, earlier cultures into the Procrustean bed of concepts that organize our contemporary world? In Imagine No Religion, Carlin A. Barton and Daniel Boyarin map the myriad meanings of the Latin and Greek words religio and thrēskeia, frequently and reductively mistranslated as “religion,” in order to explore the manifold nuances of their uses within ancient Roman and Greek societies. In doing so, they reveal how we can conceptualize anew and speak of these cultures without invoking the anachronistic concept of religion. From Plautus to Tertullian, Herodotus to Josephus, Imagine No Religion illuminates cultural complexities otherwise obscured by our modern-day categories.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Carlin A. Barton is Professor Emerita in the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: The Gladiator and the Monster and Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones.

Daniel Boyarin is the Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Among hisrecent books are The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (2012), Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (2009), and Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (2004).


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