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Books of Interest: Islam and the Tyranny of Authenticity
Aaron W. Hughes, Islam and the Tyranny of Authenticity (Equinox, 2016)
Many scholars of Islam are interested in creating a liberal, inclusive, pluralistic, feminist, and modern version of the religion that they believe to be explicit in the pages of the Qur’ān, but missed by earlier interpreters. In so doing, they create “good” Islam and, in the process, seek to define what does and does not get to count as authentic. As the purveyors of what they now believe to be veritable Islam, they subsequently claim that rival presentations are bastardizations based either on Orientalism and Islamophobia (if one is a non-Muslim) or misogyny and homophobia (if one is a Muslim that disagrees with them). Instead of engaging in critical scholarship, they engage in a constructive and theological project that they deceive themselves into thinking is both analytical and empirical. This book provides a hard-hitting examination of the spiritual motivations, rhetorical moves, and political implications associated with these apologetical discourses. It argues that what is at stake is relevance, and examines the consequences of engaging in mythopoesis as opposed to scholarship.
Books of Interest: Jacob Neusner on Religion
Aaron W. Hughes, Jacob Neusner on Religion (Routledge, 2015).
Jacob Neusner was a prolific and innovative contributor to the study of religion for over fifty years. A scholar of rabbinic Judaism, Neusner regarded Jewish texts as data to address larger questions in the academic study of religion that he helped to formulate. Jacob Neusner on Religion offers the first full critical assessment of his thought on the subject of religion. Aaron W. Hughes delineates the stages of Neusner’s career and provides an overview of Neusner’s personal biography and critical reception. This book is essential reading for students and scholars interested in Neusner specifically, or in the history of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, and philosophy of religion more broadly.
This is the latest volume in Routledge’s Key Thinkers in the Study of Religion series, sponsored by NAASR.