Myth and the Christian Nation: A Social Theory of Religion

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Overview

This is a book on a social theory of religion and culture. A auvey of the meanings of the term religion from Columbus to Jonathan Z. Smith sets the pace. Examples are taken from ethnography, the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman age, and Christendom to develop the concepts of "imagined world", "social formation", "mythic grammar", and "cultural mentality". What has been learned from the study of other peoples and their religions about the function of myths and rituals is then applied to an analysis or the Christian myth-ritual system and its social logic. The odd combinations of mythic world and ritual presence, monotheism and sovereignty, righteousness and power, all peculiar to Christianity, are analyzed historically and followed into the twenty-first Century. This study offers a meditation on the recent public discourse about the "Christian nation" in light of the current social situation in the United States and ends with an invitation to rethink the role of religions in constructing a polycultural social democracy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845533724
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Series: Religion in Culture Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Burton L. Mack, now retired, was formerly John Wesley Professor in Early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology and Graduate University in California. He is the author of numerous publications on Hellenistic Judaism, ritual theory, Classical rhetoric and Christian origins from the viewpoint of cultural anthropology and the history of religions.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Looking for religion in the New World 16

Ch. 2 Noticing social interests in myths and rituals 48

Ch. 3 Watching myths in the making 82

Ch. 4 Thinking with myths about culture 120

Ch. 5 Early Christian mythmaking 146

Ch. 6 The social formation of Christendom 183

Ch. 7 The state of the Christian nation 217

Ch. 8 Religions in a polycultural world 249

Conclusion 271

Bibliography 276

Index 284

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