On the Lived Theology Reading List: Religion as We Know It

Religion as We Know It: An Origin Story, by Jack MilesAn Origin Story

In this slender volume, scholar of religion Jack Miles explains the origins of the comparative study of religion, and how the concept of religion came to be thought of as being distinct from other human spheres of activity. In his essay, which was originally the introduction to the Norton Anthology of World Religions, Miles makes an eloquent case for the necessity of considering the worldviews of others with compassion and understanding. At the end of the volume, Miles explores his own faith, explaining how he understands religion’s place in the modern world.

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Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Any student of theology will be enlightened by this deeply satisfying work.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is an exceptional work that challenges and rewards careful reading and thought. It belongs in every library.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Jack Miles has written the perfect first book for religious studies beginners. He starts with the widely held American understanding of religion but ends arguing brilliantly that inescapable human ignorance creates the possibility of welcoming the new, the unexpected, even the religious. Our self-absorbed age needs this book.”—Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University
“The question of the origin of religion has rarely been addressed with the erudition and eloquence of Jack Miles. Drawing on a remarkable wealth of sources across time and place, he offers much for us to ponder in an essay that is at once highly learned and deeply personal.”—Donald S. Lopez Jr., University of Michigan

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