Did you know that we're living in the Golden Age of scholarship about religions? You probably don't, because our media generally ignores it, focusing on religion only when it impacts politics or culture war issues. But most people in the world are and always have been religious, and scholars are delving ever deeper into the history, meaning, and rationales for religious doctrines, experiences, and traditions. If you're curious about the subject of religion, than the Thinking about Religion is for you. We give you unfiltered access to opinionated and brilliant scholars who study religions, such as historians, philosophers, textual scholars, and social scientists. In every episode, you'll enjoy a full intellectual meal - not a tasty little sound bite or a fashionable nugget of wisdom. Whether you embrace a religion yourself, try to embrace them all, or hold them all at arm's length, Thinking About Religion will illuminate your thoughts on this fascinating subject.
S1 E9 Benjamin Sommer on God’s Bodies
Could a human being literally shake hands with God? If so, then God must have at least one hand – and one would think, not only a hand, but a complete humanoid body. While sophisticates have long scorned the idea that God could in any sense have a body, as Dr. Benjamin Sommer points out in his The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel, the authors of the Jewish Bible (what Christians call the “Old Testament”) all seem to assume that God has a body. After all, God walks in a garden (Genesis 3:8) and is literally seen by Moses and the elders of Israel (Exodus 24:9-11)..But in this book Dr. Sommer argues that some ancient Jews, like other Near Eastern peoples, believed that their god (the LORD) had multiple bodies and also multiple personae. Others, though, disagreed; thus Dr. Summer says we can discern an ancient argument behind the texts as they have come down to us..As Jewish theology evolved, which side “won” in this dispute, and what did this discussion have to do with concerns about the sin of idolatry? Moreover, what would these ancient authors have thought was involved in God having a body? Would this make God a limited and vulnerable being? Would one in principle be able to starve, imprison, or physically harm such a being?.You can subscribe to Thinking About Religion wherever you get your podcasts or by email..The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient IsraelDr. Sommer’s home pageRevelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66Jewish Concepts of Scripture: A Comparative IntroductionSaadia GaonMaimonides (aka Rambam), his Guide to the PerplexedGenesis 18The 10 Commandments: Exodus version, Deuteronomy versionIdolatryKabbalaMoses de Leon and the ZoharTrinityIdealism in western PhilosophyA scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation: S3E21-Hollow Pursuits featuring the Holodeck.Bonus audio: Comparing Maimonides’s view on God’s “body” with Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Holodeck.https://www.thinkingaboutreligion.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/TAR-S1E9-bonus.mp3
S1 E8 Graham Oppy on Atheism and Agnosticism
Dr. Graham Oppy is an atheist and a leading philosopher of religion. He has a lot to add to recent discussions about atheism and agnosticism. When it comes to the reality of gods, Dr. Oppy argues that each of us fits into one of these four categories: theist, atheist, agnostic, and “innocent.” Interestingly, this clashes with some current ideas on these topics.
In this wide-ranging interview Dr. Oppy addresses a number of important questions. Should we think of an “atheist” as someone who simply lacks belief in God? Is it true that all babies are atheists? Should atheists and agnostics be thought of as skeptics? Is there any important differences between atheism and agnosticism? What is the “big picture” naturalism, and how does it relate to atheism? How can one mount a comprehensive case for atheism? What do we make of the fact that many smart and educated people are not atheists? Should an agnostic think that in principle no one could know there is a god? And what should we make of alleged evidence for theism, in the form of alleged miracles or special religious experiences?
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li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"ema rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="Atheism and Agnosticism￼ (opens in a new tab)" href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/elements/atheism-and-agnosticism/C0D61CA2D386696A43294D440B7F9C11" target="_blank"Atheism and Agnosticism/a/ema rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="Atheism and Agnosticism￼ (opens in a new tab)" href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/elements/atheism-and-agnosticism/C0D61CA2D386696A43294D440B7F9C11" target="_blank" /a(free pdf ebook)/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"“a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="Atheism and Agnosticism (opens in a new tab)" href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/" target="_blank"Atheism and Agnosticism/a“/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) (opens in a new tab)" href="http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/thuxley.html" target="_blank"Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)/a/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="skepticism (opens in a new tab)" href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/" target="_blank"skepticism/a/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="naturalism (opens in a new tab)" href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/" target="_blank"naturalism/a/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="simplicity (opens in a new tab)" href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/" target="_blank"theoretical simplicity/a/span/li
li style="font-family: Calibri;" lang="en-GB"span style="font-size: 12.0pt;"a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="Bayes' Theorem (opens in a new tab)" href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bayes-theorem/" target="_blank"Bayes’ Theorem/a/span/li
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S1 E7 Jonathan A. C. Brown on the Qur’an and the Hadith
When many of us think of a scripture, we think of the Protestant Christian Bible: a well-defined, reasonably small library of writings which can be printed in a single, thick volume..It’s not that simple in Islam. While there is the Qur’an, there is also an enormous body of reports about Muhammad’s sayings and deeds called the Hadith, and Islamic law is fundamentally based on these more than on the Qur’an. .As it is clear that many are inaccurate, Islamic scholars have long tried to sort these Hadith reports into the categories of “sound,” “well-known,” or “weak.” But even when this is done, the modern believer faces the problem of scriptural passages which seem implausible or morally problematic. In his Misquoting Muhammad, Dr. Jonathan A.C. Brown discusses many ways Islamic scholars have grappled with problematic scritural passages. In this interview we discuss some notorious examples, including a passage from Sura 4 of the Qur’an, and the hadith of the fly..You can subscribe to Thinking About Religion wherever you get your podcasts or by email..Dr. Brown’s home pageMisquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s LegacyHadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern WorldThe Canonization of al-Bukhari and MuslimMuhammad: A Very Short Introduction Scholar’s Chair – Interview with Dr Jonathan A.C. BrownSharī’ah, Violence, and Contemporary IssuesDr. Brown addresses Muhammad’s marriage to AishaThe Role of Sunnah and Classical Scholarship – Dr. Jonathan BrownThe Study Quran: A New Translation and CommentaryHadith CollectionKoran by HeartMünster rebellionIbn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – Life of the Prophet of GodThis episode’s thinking m...
S1 E6 Donald Lopez on A Jesuit’s Quest for the Soul of Tibet
In 1712 Italian Jesuit priest Ippolito Desideri set off an dangerous mission to Tibet, his goal to win souls to Roman Catholic Christianity. But his plan was not to merely preach the gospel, or to combine preaching and charitable works. He would learn Tibetan, familiarize himself with Tibetan paganism, and seek to persuade them to convert through a series of rational arguments, put forth in a learned treatise in the style of Tibetan Buddhism.
What happened when he got there? In this episode Dr. Donald S. Lopez Jr. discuss his recent book, co-authored with Dr. Thupten Jinpa, Dispelling the Darkness: A Jesuit’s Quest for the Soul of Tibet. In this book they not only tell Desideri’s major-motion-picture-worthy story, but they also translate some of his writings. Dr. Lopez discusses both the stories and some of the central ideas of Desideri’s works. Boldly, Desideri tries to refute the central Buddhist doctrines of rebirth and of emptiness.
Dr. Lopez’s home page
Dr. Thupten Jinpa
“The White Lama Ippolito: An Italian Jesuit in Tibet“
“Dispatches from Nirvana: 45 Years of Buddhist Studies”
other talks by Dr. Lopez on YouTube
Curators of the Buddha
From Stone to Flesh: A Short History of the Buddha
Elaboration on Emptiness
The Story of Buddhism
Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West
The Lotus Sutra: A Biography
S1 E4 Wendy Doniger on Hinduism
Dr. Wendy Doniger’s On Hinduism is a sort of captstone on an epic career exploring Hindu literature, religion, and history. In this conversation we discuss a number of themes from the book, including her own religious background, common misconceptions about Hinduism, the caste system, orientalism, the so-called “Hindu Trinity,” Hindu nationalism, a controversy in India over the charge that she committed blasphemy, goddess worship and its relationship to the status of women, non-violence, how Western cultures have influenced recent Hindu thought, and reincarnation.
To get new episodes subscribe to Thinking About Religion wherever you get your podcasts or by email.
Dr. Wendy Doniger @ The University of Chicago
The Hindus: An Alternative History
To The Point: The controversy with Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus’
The Doniger Affair: Censorship, Self-Censorship, and the Role of the Academy in the Public Understanding of Religion
The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology
Other Peoples’ Myths: The Cave of Echoes
Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions
“Glossing Anti-Dharma with Dharma”
the problem of evil
a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-WjxSUBOpc&index=7&list=PLMCt15e8gG-j3nRRZlmhltadY8XDn4KAH" target="_bl...
S1 E3 Amy-Jill Levine on The Jewish Annotated New Testament
Typically religious scholars will comment on the scriptures of their own religion. But sometimes, bold scholars will go where others fear to tread, commenting the scriptures of another religion. The situation is all the more sensitive when historically, one religion branched off of the other.
This episode of Thinking About Religion is a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament, a “study Bible” edition of the New Testament featuring lengthy commentary and essays by (non-Christian) Jewish scholars.
Among other things we discuss faith, clashing interpretations of scripture, misconceptions about Judaism, conversion, humor in the Bible, and the theological significance of local thunder during the interview.
To get new episodes subscribe to Thinking About Religion wherever you get your podcasts or by email.
Marc Zvi Brettler
The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2nd ed.
The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us
The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus
trinities podcast 236 – Levine and Witherington on Luke – Part 1
trinities podcast 237 – Levine and Witherington on Luke – Part 2
The Jewish Study Bible, 2nd ed.
The Babylonian Talmud
Jesus in the Talmud
Some of the biblical texts mentioned: a href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?