Figuring Religions

Comparing Ideas, Images, and Activities

Edited by Shubha Pathak

Subjects: Religion, Comparative Religion, Anthropology Of Religion, Psychology Of Religion, Linguistics
Paperback : 9781438445380, 314 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438445373, 314 pages, March 2013

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Table of contents

Foreword by Wendy Doniger
Introduction by Shubha Pathak
Part I. Figuring Religious Ideas

1. Marking Religion’s Boundaries: Constitutive Terms, Orienting Tropes, and Exegetical Fussiness
Thomas A. Tweed
2. “Epic” as an Amnesiac Metaphor: Finding the Word to Compare Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Poems
Shubha Pathak
3. Conceptions of the Self in the Zhuangzi: Conceptual Metaphor Analysis and Comparative Thought
Edward Slingerland
4. Theorizing Embodiment: Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Comparative Study of Religion
James Egge

Part II. Figuring Religious Images

5. Bathed in Milk: Metaphors of Suckling and Spiritual Transmission in Thirteenth-Century Kabbalah
Ellen Haskell
6. Metaphors and Images of Dress and Nakedness: Wrappings of Embodied Identity
Terhi Utriainen
Part III. Figuring Religious Activities
7. Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India and Elsewhere
Laurie L. Patton

8. Spatial Metaphors and Women’s Religious Activities in Ancient Greece and China
Yiqun Zhou

9. In Search of Equivalence: Conceiving Muslim-Hindu Encounter through Translation Theory
Tony K. Stewart

Afterword by Glen Alexander Hayes

Offers new ways of comparing features of the world’s religions.


Figuring Religions offers new ways of comparing prominent features of the world's religions. Comparison has been at the heart of religious studies as a modern academic discipline, but comparison can be problematic. Scholars of religion have been faulted for ignoring or reinterpreting differences to create a universal paradigm. In reaction, many of today's scholars have placed chief emphasis on the differences between traditions. Seeking to reinvigorate comparison and avoid its excesses, contributors to this volume use theories of metaphor and metonymy from the fields of philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology to look at religious ideas, images, and activities. Traditions considered include Hinduism, ancient Greek religions, Judaism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. By applying trope theories, contributors reveal elements of these religions in and across their cultural contexts.

Shubha Pathak is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at American University.