Skip to content

New Book by Eric Ziolkowski – Religion and Literature: History and Method (Brill, 2019)

October 8, 2020

Eric Ziolkowski’s Religion and Literature: History and Method (Brill, 2019) provides a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment of the theoretical issues and approaches that have informed the study of the dynamic interrelationships among religious traditions, theological institutions and literary practices. As the Helen H. P. Manson Professor of Bible at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, Ziolkowski draws from decades of teaching and research experience to offer key insights into persistent themes in the field, including the dual aspects of religious texts as both sacred documents and literary works, the validity and limits of any definition of “religion,” the achievements of myth criticism and bible reception histories, as well as the determinant forces of institutionalization, internationalization, globalization, and pluralism.

In this way, Ziolkowski greatly expands the scope of the field, which Anton Bierl has defined as “the method of using religious materials for the comprehensive interpretation of literary texts,” emphasizing “the productive interdependence of religious studies and literature” and addressing “the question of how the subjects of religious studies can serve as a set of heuristic tools for understanding the structure and meaning of literary works in a historically appropriate way” (cited on p. 2). To what extent does “religion and literature” constitute a discrete discipline or field of study? And where precisely should it situate itself in the modern university system? Ziolkowski’s careful review of the specific histories and methodologies makes a vital step towards responding to these fundamental issues.

Comments are closed.