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Jesus and Addiction to Origins

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With an Afterword by William E. Arnal, University of Regina This collection of essays constitutes an extended argument for an anthropocentric, human-focused study of religious practices. Part I presents the basic premise of the argument, which is that there is nothing special or extraordinary about human behaviors and constructs that are claimed to have uniquely religious status and authority. Instead, they are fundamentally human, and so the scholar of religion is engaged in nothing more or less than studying humans across time and place in all their complex existence—which includes creating more-than-human beings and realities. As an extended and detailed example of such an approach, Part II addresses practices, rhetoric, and other data in early Christianities within Greco-Roman cultures and religions. The underlying aim is to insert studies of the New Testament and non-canonical texts, most often presented as “biblical studies,” into the anthropocentric study of religion proposed in Part I. How might we approach the study of “sacred texts” if they are nothing more or less than human documents deriving from situations that were themselves all too human? Braun’s Jesus and Addiction to Origins addresses that question with clarity and insight.

Published: Nov 5, 2020


Section Chapter Authors
Editor's Foreword Russell T. McCutcheon
Preface Willi Braun
Sources Willi Braun
I. Generalities
1. Religion: A Guide Willi Braun
2. The Irony of Religion Willi Braun
3. Introducing Religion Willi Braun
II. Particularities
4. Jesus and Addiction to Origins Willi Braun
5. Christian Origins and the Gospel of Mark: Fragments of a Story Willi Braun
6. The Sayings Gospel Q and the Making of an Early Jesus Group Willi Braun
7. In the Beginning was not the Word Willi Braun
8. Sex, Gender and Empire: Virgins and Eunuchs in the Ancient Mediterranean World Willi Braun
9. Physiotherapy of Femininity in Early Christianity: Ideology and Practice Willi Braun
10. "Our Religion Compels us to make a Distinction": Prolegomena on Meals and Social Formation Willi Braun
III. Afterword
Reification, Religion and the Relics of the Past William Arnal
End Matter
Index Willi Braun


Author interview: "Comparing Methods in Christian Origins", Religious Studies Podcast, April 19, 2021

If the juxtaposition of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Origins’ suggests a re-run of New Testament biblical studies, think again. Braun is different, starting in a different place, with a different agenda, and offering fresh insight rather than traditional info, highlighting hazards and warnings rather than contentedly re-affirming the familiar. His laudable objective is to explore Religion as a normal human and universal experience in a purely secular, humanistic, scientific way, independent of specific religions (faiths, beliefs, or creeds), to take it off its pedestal and nurture its roots.
The Baptist Times

The purpose of this collection of essays is to show that the performances usually presented as religious are, in fact, human productions. The volume argues for an anthropocentric, human-focused study of religious practices. The result is a provocative and challenging proposal for anyone engaged in studying religion, but especially those concerned about ancient Christian rhetoric and practices.

Several characteristics make this volume an interesting project. First, it aims at presenting a clear anthropological approach to the study of religion, especially through the specific site of early Christianities within the larger Greek and Roman cultures and religions. Second, it demonstrates the possibility of studying the New Testament and other texts related to early Christianities in a thorough and sophisticated manner using tools both from sociology and anthropology.
Reading Religion

The benefit of this volume is that it provides a series of introductions to a variety of different topics in early Christianity and, as such, presents the student of early Christianity with a number of tools, by which they can understand their subject in a way that places human action at the forefront.