MST76 coverJesudasan



76. Religion as Metaphor for Ethno-ethical Identity, by Ignatius Jesudasan. ISBN-13: 978-0-87462-793-0. ISBN-10: 0-87462-793-1. Paper. 183 pp. $20. Bibliography. Index.

 “It is the rare book in religion studies today that is truly original and not just a commentary on commentaries. This is a brilliant break-through study that stretches the horizons of religious discourse. With the perspective of a scholar working in India, a nation riven with religious and ethnic tensions, Jesudasan shows that identity-forming metaphors underlie the truth-claims of the world religions and he analyses how these metaphoric enclaves engender hostility toward those outside the group-defining metaphoric parameters. By relativizing the metaphor-based truth claims, Jesudasan shows how it is only on the moral commons of basic human values that humanity can unite. The various metaphor-based religions can serve and be validated only by how they serve this needed moral ecumenism.” ~ Daniel C. Maguire

“An acute theological as well as ethical problem has arisen in the intolerance between ethnic-religious communities, the religious affiliations legitimizing mutual exclusion and hatred. The central point in Jesudasan’s Religion as Metaphor for Ethno-Ethical Identity is that religious doctrines, norms and rituals are metaphorical in their function, group identities being constructed by that poetic-metaphorical language. In a sociological and anthropological approach we can see the (theological) image of God change with social changes. We have thus an ethical duty to de-objectify religious doctrines and norm in order to promote a world of peace instead of a world of group interests, dualistic-exclusive worldviews, conflicts, wars and ethnic cleansing. Can we come to a reading of religious texts that discovers a more universal than a particularistic meaning? Jesudasan’s tentative analyses of Biblical narratives, both in the Old and the New Testaments, from this perspective are very inspiring and influenced by post modern philosophy: “… the metaphorical character of social linguistics reveals that we live not inside reality, but inside our representation of it. We live in metaphors, which move and are syncretistically derived from one text and context to another.” ~ Jan Hjärpe

Dr. Ignatius Jesudasan, SJ, is librarian at the Arul Kadal, Jesuit Regional Theology Center, in Chennai (formerly Madras), India. Among his previous books are A Gandhian Theology of Liberation (Orbis Books). Roots of Religious Violence (Media House, New Delhi). A Rumour of Biblical Angels (Media House). Through the Prism: Literary-critical Scripture-reading (ISPCK: Delhi). Cult and Spirituality (Asian Trading Corporation, Bangalore). Genesis Myth of Manifold Meanings (Global Vision, New Delhi), and Gospels of Deconstructed Adamic Myth (Global Vision, New Delhi).


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