There is No Religion in the Bible

Authors

  • Naomi R. Goldenberg University of Ottawa

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.39758

Keywords:

anachronism, religion, Bible, governance, methodology

Abstract

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.

References

Antiquities of the Jews – Book XI. www.ccel.org>works>files>ant-11

Apion, Bk 2 – The Bible. http//biblical.ie>josephus>Xtras>Apion-En2

Aslan, Reza. 2013. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Random House. https://doi.org/10.1111/cros.12067

Fredriksen, Paula. 2013. “How Later Contexts Affect Pauline Content, or Retrospect is the Mother of Anachronism.” Paper presented in a departmental seminar at the University of Ottawa, Department of Classics and Religious Studies. 13 October. Ottawa, Ontario. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004278479_003

Friedman, Richard Elliott. 1987. Who Wrote the Bible. New York: Summit.

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. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004290594_013

———. 2014. “Demythologizing Gender and Religion within Nation-States: Toward a Politics of Disbelief.” In Religion, Gender and the Public Sphere, edited by Niamh Reilly and Stacey Scriver, 248–256. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.22456/1982-8136.88049

Goldenberg, Naomi R. 2013. “Theorizing Religions as Vestigial States in Relation to Gender and Law: Three Cases.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 29(1): 39–51. https://doi.org/10.2979/jfemistudreli.29.1.39

Levine, Amy-Jill. 2007. The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. New York: HarperCollins. https://doi.org/10.6017/scjr.v2i1.1409

Magness, Jodi. 2013. “The Ancient Synagogue and Village at Huqoq, Israel.” Lecture given at St Paul’s University. 13 October. Ottawa, Ontario.

Martin, Dale. 2013. “Still a Firebrand, 2000 Years Later.” New York Times. Global edition, 5 August. https://doi.org/10.1111/cros.12067

Published

2019-12-16

How to Cite

Goldenberg, N. R. (2019). There is No Religion in the Bible. Implicit Religion, 22(1), 13–29. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.39758

Issue

Section

Articles