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Remembering J.Z. Smith

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This volume presents an archive of remembrances of the person and the contributions of the late Jonathan Z. Smith (1938-2017). Section one collects previously unpublished papers from three separate recent scholarly panels (from the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the North American Association for the Study of Religion), in which a wide variety of scholars reflect on the impact Smith had on their own careers and the field at large. Section two includes revised versions of blog posts, many of which appeared shortly after news of Smith’s death, in which scholars, journalists, and onetime students of Smith offer a more intimate and personal look at his legacy. The volume closes with the extended transcripts of seven interviews about Smith carried out with those who either trained or worked with him. Taken together, the volume documents the role Smith’s work has played in the modern field while providing a basis for further considering the future direction of the field.

Published: Oct 1, 2020

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Preface Emily Crews, Russell McCutcheon
Remembering Jonathan Z. Smith (1938-2017) Russell McCutcheon
I. Essays
Introduction (AAR Panel) Kathryn McClymond
The Poetics and Politics of Comparison: From Revolutionary Suicide to Mass Murder (AAR Panel) Hugh Urban
The Magus: Jonathan Z. Smith and “the Absolute Wonder of the Human Imagination” (AAR Panel) Kimberly Patton
Citing Smith (AAR Panel) Kurtis Schaeffer
J. Z. Smith on Comparison: Insights and Appropriations (AAR Panel) Oliver Freiberger
Wrestling with Angels and Heavy Books (AAR Panel) Eric Mortensen
Introduction to the Society of Biblical Literature Wisdom of the Ages Panel (SBL Panel) Zev Garber
A Matter of Interest: In Memory of Jonathan Z. Smith (SBL Panel) Ron Cameron
Introduction (NAASR Panel) Willi Braun, Russell McCutcheon
Transformed Agendas: Generalism in the Work of Jonathan Z. Smith and the Study of Religion (NAASR Panel) Stephanie Frank
Jonathan Smith and the Necessary Double-Face (NAASR Panel) Sam Gill
Remembering Jonathan Z. Smith: Some Personal Reflections (NAASR Panel) James Tabor
II. Blogs
Jonathan Z. Smith: The College’s Iconoclastic, Beloved, Chainsmoking Dean Pete Grieve
How I Failed J. Z. Smith Brett Colasacco
The Positive Genealogy of J. Z. Smith Tenzan Eaghll
In the Laboratory of Taxonomy and Classification (When the Chips Were Really Down) Richard Hecht
My Preliminary Journey through the World of J. Z. Smith Mitsutoshi Horii
On J. Z. Smith and the Remarkable Richard Newton
“It Ain’t Too High, and it Ain’t Too Theoretical” William O'Connor
A Matter of Difference: On the Legacy of J. Z. Smith Matt Sheedy
On Articulate Choice Vaia Touna
Jonathan Z Smith’s Gift Bruce Woll
Significant, Significance, Signifier Ipsita Chatterjea
III. Interviews
Interviews Sam Gill, Amir Hussain, Donald Wiebe, Carole Myscofski, Christopher Lehrich, Eugene Gallagher, Ron Cameron
IV. Afterword
Clues to a Great Mystery Emily Crews
Academic Freedom and Academic Responsibility Jonathan Smith