Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity presents a rich  variety of approaches to the study of religious beliefs, practices, and communities in historical context. The themes addressed in this volume are both timely and pressing.  Each contributor participated in a three-semester series of lectures and seminars at the University of Florida hosted by the History Department in collaboration with several other departments and centers on campus in 2008 and 2009.

The study of religion in history poses many distinctive challenges.  Some historians ignore religious phenomena and evidence altogether, while others aim their work at a narrow audience of co-religionists.  Certainly all historians who work in this area have had to struggle with the complex interpretive issues involved in the analysis of religious texts, practices, and experiences.  Like the lecture series, this volume acknowledges and confronts such challenges and offers multiple responses to them.  All of the scholars in this work exemplify compelling strategies for negotiating the difficulties inherent in this increasingly important subfield of historical study.  In essays ranging chronologically from late antiquity to modern America, and thematically from the spirituality of near eastern monks to women’s agency in religion, these historians engage with particular religious issues or themes in a theoretically critical yet sensitive manner. Conversations with faculty and students at the University of Florida and with members of the larger Gainesville community helped to shape the final form these essays have taken, making this a truly collaborative effort.

faithful narratives

Click on image for more details of the book. Contents listed below.

Introduction: The Challenge of Religion in History
 ANDREA STERK AND NINA CAPUTO


Part One: Late Antique and Medieval Religious Debates and Their Modern Implications

1. Pagan Challenge, Christian Response: Emperor Julian and Gregory of Nazianzus as Paradigms of Interreligious Discourse 
SUSANNA ELM

2. Between Syria and Egypt: Alms, Work, and the “Holy Poor” 
PETER BROWN

3. Medieval Monks on Labor and Leisure 
JOHN VAN ENGEN

4. Sibling Rivalries, Scriptural Communities: What Medieval History Can and Cannot
Teach Us about Relations between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam 
DAVID NIRENBERG

Part Two: Early Modern Perspectives on Spirituality, Culture, and Religious Boundaries

5. The People and the Book: Print and the Transformation of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe 
DAVID B. RUDERMAN

6. The Jewish Book in Christian Europe: Material Texts and Religious Encounters 
ANTHONY GRAFTON

7. Mission and Narrative in the Early Modern Spanish World: Diego de Ocaña’s Desert in Passing
KENNETH MILLS

8. Incombustible Weber: How the Protestant Reformation Really Disenchanted the World 
CARLOS EIRE

Part Three: From the Premodern to the Modern World: Sacred Texts, Individual Agency, and Religious Identity

9. Religion and Gender in Enlightenment England: The Problem of Agency 
PHYLLIS MACK

10. Constructions of Jewish Identity through Reflections on Islam 
SUSANNAH HESCHEL

11. Bible, Translation, and Culture: From the KJV to the Christian Resurgence in Africa 
LAMIN SANNEH

12. Reflections on the Bible and American Public Life 
MARK A. NOLL

 

 

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