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Imagining Smith

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In his bio-bibliographical essay, J.Z. Smith wrote that he was fond of the expression “when the chips are down” in the sense of all being said and done. With his passing in December 2017, the phrase has gained an additional layer of sad finality - the chips are really down. Scholarship is not poker, however, which means that these chips not only can but in fact should be picked up and circulated. Imagining Smith brings together the contributions of scholars who do exactly that by considering theoretical and methodological issues central to J. Z. Smith’s oeuvre in the context of their own research. Through analyses of Smith’s own work as well as applications of his concerns to new situations, historic periods, and regions, the contributors test the adequacy and applicability of Smith’s ideas and thus provide an indirect assessment of his influence and legacy in the field of Religious Studies.

Published: Oct 1, 2022

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Barbara Krawcowicz
Chapter 1
J.Z. and Me Aaron Hughes
Chapter 2
The Glory Jest and Riddle: Jonathan Z. Smith and an Aesthetic of Impossibles Sam Gill
Chapter 3
An Uneasy Silence: Jonathan Z. Smith and the Divorce of Race from Power Craig Prentiss
Chapter 4
Is J. Z. Smith a Nominalist… a Pragmatist… or a Constructionist? Does it Even Matter? Indrek Peedu
Chapter 5
The Semantics of Comparison in J. Z. Smith Steven Engler, Mark Gardiner
Chapter 6
What’s in “Comparison”? Jeppe Jensen
Chapter 7
When no Magic Dwells Andrew Durdin
Chapter 8
Teaching J. Z. Smith in Scandinavia Gabriel Levy
Chapter 9
Principles of Pedagogy: Thinking with Smith in the Introductory Classroom Andie Alexander
Chapter 10
Making Room for “This Sort of Religion” Can Religious Education Incorporate Reflexivity? Kornel Zathureczky, Jack Laughlin
Chapter 11
Multiple Magdalenas: Locative and Utopian Orientations in an Indigenous Community Divided by an International Border Seth Schermerhorn
Chapter 12
J. Z. Smith, Comparison and Jewish Theology Barbara Krawcowicz
Chapter 13
Old Tibetan Prayer: An Investigation into Native Taxonomic Categories Lewis Doney
Chapter 14
Theorizing Brahmanical Ritual from an Indian Buddhist Perspective Nicholas Witkowski
Chapter 15
Orphism: The Whole Created of Fragments - The Role of Suffix–ism in Formation of Religious Categories Lech Trzcionkowski
Chapter 16
Imagining the Past: A Case Study of Double Archaeology Vaia Touna
Afterword Russell McCutcheon