Religions of a Single God
Religions of a Single God is like no other introductory textbook on the Western monotheistic religions. As expected, it teaches both the basics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, presenting the trajectories of their development over time, their main theological debates and claims, sacred writings, and their common practices and holy days. But rather than claiming to show the “essence” of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, Religions of a Single God shows the diversity within Jewish, Christian, and Islamic experience, theological dispute, and practice. Rather than relying solely on the traditional theorists of religion, this book also introduces the approaches of contemporary critical thinkers to questions of defining, classifying, and studying religion. Rather than presenting Mormonism and the Baha’i Religion as “New Religious Movements”, this book treats them as part of the continuing history of religion, growing out of and within Christianity and Islam respectively. Religion, in other words, is not a thing of the past. It’s happening right now, all around us.
Published: May 15, 2019
Crook provides a theoretically sophisticated and pedagogically useful introduction to monotheistic religions. These are but two of the many features that will distinguish this book from the competition.
Aaron W. Hughes, University of Rochester
It’s a challenge to integrate theoretical advances in any field with introductory-level teaching, with some concluding that it just can’t be done. Religions of a Single God nicely proves them wrong; for it takes the common descriptive information of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and rethinks it in light of work now being done by scholars at some of the field’s most interesting cutting edges. From the distinction between insiders and outsiders and the importance of avoiding anachronism when writing history to the need to see the people that we study as anything but uniform or locked in amber—such that there are differences and disagreements, with new groups always forming from the old—Zeba Crook offers readers a survey that satisfies their interest in the descriptive details while getting them thinking far more critically about how scholars go about their work.
Russell T. McCutcheon, University Research Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of Alabama