The phenomenon of 'sacred text' has undergone radical deconstruction in recent times, reflecting how religion has broken out of its traditional definitions and practices, and how current literary theories have influenced texts inside the religious domain and beyond. Reading Spiritualities presents both commentary and vivid examples of this evolution, engaging with a variety of reading practices that work with traditional texts and those that extend the notion of 'text' itself. The contributors draw on a range of textual sites such as an interview, Caribbean literature, drama and jazz, women's writings, emerging church blogs, Neopagan websites, the reading practices of Buddhist nuns, empirical studies on the reading experiences of Gujarati, Christian and post-Christian women, Chicana short stories, the mosque, cinema, modern art and literature. These examples open up understandings of where and how 'sacred texts' are emerging and being reassessed within contemporary religious and spiritual contexts; and make room for readings where the spiritual resides not only in the textual, but in other unexpected places. Reading Spiritualities includes contributions from Graham Holderness, Ursula King, Michael N. Jagessar, David Jasper, Anthony G. Reddie, Michèle Roberts, and Heather Walton to reflect and encourage the interdisciplinary study of sacred text in the broad arena of the arts and social sciences. It offers a unique and well-focused 'snapshot' of the textual constructions and representations of the sacred within the contemporary religious climate - accessible to the general reader, as well as more specialist interests of students and researchers working in the crossover fields of religious, theological, cultural and literary studies.
Dawn Llewellyn is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Lancaster University and is examining the use of 'text' in the development of women's and feminist spiritualities. She has recently contributed to Feminist Spiritualities: The Next Generation (forthcoming) and was the principle conference organiser of Reading Spiritualities (2006). Deborah F. Sawyer is Reader in Religion and Gender and Director of Post Graduate Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University. She has published widely on biblical studies, hermeneutics and the influence of religion on the construction of gender. Her monographs include Midrash Aleph Beth (1993), Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries (1996), God, Gender and the Bible (2002) and she co-edited (with Paul Morris) A Walk in the Garden: Biblical, Iconographical and Literary Images of Eden (1992), and (with Diane Collier) Is there a Future for Feminist Theology? (1999). She has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition, (2004), The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture (2006) and has recently published articles in Theology and Sexuality (2008) and Rivista Biblica (2008).
’There are a number of features that distinguish this volume from a great many recent (and less recent) works on theological hermeneutics in a postmodern context.... The editors’ introduction is to my mind an excellent stand-alone map of where postmodern theological interpretation is situated today, ... Reading Spiritualities forms a snapshot of contemporary thought on the concept of sacred texts. ...asserting the continued relevance of doing theology with a political edge, yet without staying boxed in a room of one's own.’Journal of Literature and Theology 'Reading Spiritualities is accessible to both scholars in the field of contemporary theology and culture and to others who are interested in what is becoming recognized as a dynamic and increasingly important area for research and study. ... It is a collection that succeeds in opening up new ways of thinking about sacred texts and, with the rise of fundamentalism, we are reminded of the need for a view of religious thought that is critical and open to other perspectives.' Christianity and Literature '... this is an exciting volume that reflects the growing interest in spirituality and the inter-textual relationships that can be opened up in many different places. It is widely accessible for the general reader whilst also being suitable for specialists in the fields of theology religious studies, cultural and literary studies.' Theological Book Review 'This vivacious collection examines the very terms it sets up to describe. ’Reading’ and ’Spirituality’ are de-shrouded and in this sense the book presents a tantalising array of potentials and possibilities for research in this wide arena.' Journal of Contemporary Religion