Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie

Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie

by Leonard W. Levy
     
 
This book is about the suppression of freedom of expression in the religious belief and experience; it is also about an inchmeal progression in the scope of freedom of expression.

Overview

This book is about the suppression of freedom of expression in the religious belief and experience; it is also about an inchmeal progression in the scope of freedom of expression.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Socrates, Jesus, Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno, Quakers George Fox and William Penn, Daniel Defoe and Thomas Paine were all condemned for blasphemy. In a tour de force of lively writing and keen historical interpretation, prolific legal historian Levy shows that the charge of blasphemy has served as a means to besmirch opinions or people held objectionable to those in positions of authority. For centuries the Catholic Church persecuted blasphemers and heretics for their divergent views. Protestant reformers adopted the epithet ``blasphemer'' to castigate dissidents within their own ranks. Proceeding from fifth century B.C. Athens to medieval persecution of the Jews to the ``hysteria'' over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, this work is both an essential casebook and an outspoken, feisty, important study of the struggle for intellectual and religious liberties. History Book Club alternate. (Sept.)
Aaron Cohen
The Constitution notwithstanding, blasphemy laws still exist in the U.S., for although virtually comatose, they've never been overturned by the Supreme Court. In England, church and state have never been fully separated, and only 14 years ago the House of Lords upheld the blasphemy conviction of the publishers of London's "Gay News". Such startling revelations about the persistence of antiquated decrees in modern, presumably secular democracies indicate the importance of Levy's new study. Almost unbelievably thorough, it covers famous trials of long and not so long ago as well as lesser-known cases that reveal, for instance, much about colonial America. Levy vividly conjures the excitements of his more outlandish examples; his portrayal of seventeenth-century Britain's anarchistic Ranters is especially provocative. In addition, although defining "blasphemy"--when the term has so often been mixed up with "heresy", "profanity", and "treason"--is no easy task, Levy proves able to straighten out its semantic evolution. Since Salman Rushdie is still in hiding, Levy's opus is, however recondite it may seem at first blush, all too pertinent to the close of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679402367
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/17/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
688
Product dimensions:
6.67(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.93(d)

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