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CompleteMartialArts.com - The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion

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Manufacturer: University Of Chicago Press
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 299.932
EAN: 9780226453811
ISBN: 0226453812
Label: University Of Chicago Press
Manufacturer: University Of Chicago Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 232
Publication Date: 2006-12-15
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
Studio: University Of Chicago Press

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Editorial Reviews:

“Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field.” With those words in Genesis, God condemns the serpent for tempting Adam and Eve, and the serpent has shouldered the blame ever since. But how would the study of religion change if we looked at the Fall from the snake’s point of view? Would he appear as a bringer of wisdom, more generous than the God who wishes to keep his creation ignorant? 

Inspired by the early Gnostics who took that startling view, Jeffrey J. Kripal uses the serpent as a starting point for a groundbreaking reconsideration of religious studies and its methods. In a series of related essays, he moves beyond both rational and faith-based approaches to religion, exploring the erotics of the gospels and the sexualities of Jesus, John, and Mary Magdalene. He considers Feuerbach’s Gnosticism, the untapped mystical potential of comparative religion, and even the modern mythology of the X-Men. 

Ultimately, The Serpent’s Gift is a provocative call for a complete reorientation of religious studies, aimed at a larger understanding of the world, the self, and the divine.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Highly recommend for intelligent analysis of religion
Comment: I highly recommend this book to anyone with a serious interest in studying and understanding religion. Kripal steers a course between accepting religion on its own terms or reducing it to merely a delusion; instead he offers a vision of religious studies as a form of gnostic or mystical practice capable of revealing the largely untapped human potential for extra-ordinary capabilities. Essays on the sexuality of Jesus, the seminal work of Feurerbach on religion as psychological projection, the universalism of Ramakrishna, and the allegoric interpretation of the X-Men are tied together by this overriding theme, but each alone is a goldmine of thought-provoking insights on religion and the study of religion.

An important and rewarding book for the educated reader, although those with less exposure to current academic debates (i.e., post-modernism) will have to work a bit to get the most out of it. (My main reason for giving it four stars vs. five.) Kripal's proposal of a "mystical humanism" is persuasive and important; a book well worth spending time on.

--Alan F. Zundel, The HeartAwake Center

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