October Theme: Religion

As we consider 2012 as a whole, following closely on last month’s discussions on political economy, religion may have assumed a more central role in global culture—conflicts and revolutions, apocalyptic predictions, elections, scientific discoveries—despite an increasing insistence on secularist thought throughout much of the world.

In addition to Yale University Press’s Anchor Yale Bible Series, we publish a number of titles on religion and religious studies, crossing theology with politics, scientific thought, and philosophy, furthering the debates that fuel academic and popular inquiry alike. We began October’s Religion theme with a reconsideration of Benny Morris’s 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, in light of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September. Next, we celebrated the arrival in English of André Vauchez’s Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint, timed to the saint’s October 4 feast day, when pets are known to appear at church to honor this patron saint of animals.

Over the coming weeks, we will review our year in publications: John Bowker’s The Message and the Book: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions, introducing the great faiths of the world through their most important writings; Michael Meyerson’s Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America, rejecting the extreme arguments of today’s debates by examining what the framers of the Constitution actually said about religious freedom and how it can inspire and unify our religiously diverse nation; and John Lynch’s New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America, encompassing the Latin American people’s reception of Christianity from the Spanish Conquest and the arrival of evangelists to the dictators and repressive regimes of the twentieth century.

New this fall are Malcolm Barber’s The Crusader States, exploring the military battles and cultural clashes as East and West struggled for dominance in the crusader states of Jerusalem, Antioch, Tripoli, and Edessa in the twelfth century. Our Jewish Lives series brings a new biography of the biblical hero Jacob, written by Yair Zakovitch. The latest in the Terry Lecture series, The Scientific Buddha: His Short and Happy Life, by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. explores the dissonance between Buddhist teachings as practiced in Asia and in the West, and demonstrates how Western notions of the Buddha have long misrepresented the traditional teachings of the religion. Meanwhile, this year’s lecture series begins on October 9, with Keith Thomson on “Jefferson and Darwin: Science and Religion in Troubled Times.”

Francis Bremer takes us on a New England tour of Puritan history and its present-day relevance, leading to the publication of his new book on New Haven co-founder John Davenport, Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds. And lastly, we’ll have an early look at The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity, by Robert Louis Wilken, narrating the dramatic spread and development of a global Christianity over the first thousand years of its history and showing how it constituted one of the most profound revolutions the world has ever known.

All this in addition to our daily coverage of new books, art, authors, and publishing news—and don’t even think we’re done yet with election season!

In books we trust

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