Jesus and Addiction to Origins

Towards an Anthropocentric Study of Religion

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Willi Braun
Russell T. McCutcheon
  • Sheffield, UK: 
    , October
     256 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This collection of essays constitutes an extended argument for an anthropocentric, human-focused study of religious practices. Part I presents the basic premise of the argument, which is that there is nothing special or extraordinary about human behaviors and constructs that are claimed to have uniquely religious status and authority. Instead, they are fundamentally human, and so the scholar of religion is engaged in nothing more or less than studying humans across time and place in all their complex existence—which includes creating more-than-human beings and realities.

As an extended and detailed example of such an approach, Part II addresses practices, rhetoric, and other data in early Christianities within Greco-Roman cultures and religions. The underlying aim is to insert studies of the New Testament and non-canonical texts, most often presented as “biblical studies,” into the anthropocentric study of religion proposed in Part I. How might we approach the study of “sacred texts” if they are nothing more or less than human documents deriving from situations that were themselves all too human? Braun’s Jesus and Addiction to Origins addresses that question with clarity and insight.

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

Willi Braun is a professor emeritus in the Department of History and Classics and the Program in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is the former president of the North American Association for the Study of Religion and also the past president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies. Although a specialist in the writings and social formations of earliest Christianities in the Roman empire, his work also focuses on the methods and theories of the academic study of religion itself. He has published and presented his work widely and served as editor of a variety of books and journals, including his longtime role as editor of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion; most recently, he co-edited Reading J. Z. Smith: Interviews and Essay (Oxford, 2018).

Russell T. McCutcheon is professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. His major publications include Manufacutring Religion (Oxford University Press, 1997), The Guide to the Study of Religion (Bloomsbury, 2000), Critics not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion (State University of New York Press, 2001), and The Discipline of Religion: Structure, Meaning, Rhetoric (Routledge, 2003).


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