There is No Religion in the Bible


  • Naomi R. Goldenberg University of Ottawa



anachronism, religion, Bible, governance, methodology


The author argues that “religion” as a term designating distinct phenomena or institutions is alien to the Bible, the text that supposedly anchors the concept in Western politics and imagination. She analyses excerpts from books and lectures by prominent scholars to show that even when they state outright that “religion” is non-existent in biblical times and thus is a misleading and inaccurate descriptor, each one then ignores this insight and proceeds to employ the fiction that “religion” is present in ancient cultures. Such habits of contradiction perpetuate an illusion. The author then discusses several specific texts from each testament to argue that the subject of biblical literature is governance. She contends that biblical depictions of God and His representatives are narratives about sovereignty, authoritative jurisdiction and communal allegiance.


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Goldenberg, Naomi R. 2015. “The Category of Religion in the Technology of Governance: An Argument for Understanding Religions as Vestigial States.” In Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty, edited by Trevor Stack, Naomi R. Goldenberg, and Timothy Fitzgerald, 280–292. Leiden: Brill.

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How to Cite

Goldenberg, N. R. (2019). There is No Religion in the Bible. Implicit Religion, 22(1), 13–29.