Book

Varieties of Religious Invention

Edited by Patrick Gray

Published in print November 2015 | ISBN: 9780199359714
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190264253 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199359714.001.0001
Varieties of Religious Invention

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Religious controversies frequently focus on origins, and at the origins of the major religious traditions one typically finds a seminal figure. Names such as Jesus, Muhammad, Confucius, and Moses are well known, yet their status as “founders” has not gone uncontested. Does Paul deserve the credit for founding Christianity? Is Laozi the father of Daoism, or should that title belong to Zhuangzi? What is at stake, if anything, in debates about “the historical Buddha”? What assumptions are implicit in the claim that Hinduism is a religion without a founder? The chapters in this book do not attempt to settle these perennial arguments once and for all. Rather, the aim is to consider the subtexts of such debates as an exercise in comparative religion: Who engages in them? To whom do they matter, and when? When is “development” in a religious tradition perceived as “deviation” from its roots? To what extent are origins thought to define the “essence” of a religion? In what ways do arguments about founders serve as a proxy for broader cultural, theological, political, or ideological questions? What do they reveal about the ways in which the past is remembered and authority negotiated? As the chapters survey the landscape shaped by these questions within each tradition, they provide an opportunity to map their contours from a novel perspective.

Keywords: Daoism; Christianity; Hinduism; historical Buddha; comparative religion; founders

Book.  224 pages. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Varieties of Religious Invention

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Finding Judaism’s Founders in Varieties of Religious Invention

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The Buddha in Varieties of Religious Invention

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When the Founder Is Not a Creator in Varieties of Religious Invention

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What Is Daoism and Who Is Its Founder? in Varieties of Religious Invention

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Jesus, Paul, and the Birth of Christianity in Varieties of Religious Invention

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Hinduism and the Question of Founders in Varieties of Religious Invention

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Crossing Boundaries in Varieties of Religious Invention

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