New Books in American Religious History: 2016 Year in Preview, Part One (January-April)

Paul Putz

We're back for another year of book preview lists! Like last year, I plan on posting three of these. This first one will cover books set to be published in January-April. Part two (posted in late April) will cover books published in May-August, and the last (posted in late August) will include those published in September-December.

The usual preface: I've listed the books in roughly chronological order based on the month of their tentative release date. Although I've tried to include as many relevant and interesting titles as I could find, I'm sure that I left out some deserving books. Sometimes this is because publishers don't have updated information on their websites, and sometimes it's because I just missed it. Please feel free to use the comments to add to this list and I can update the post as needed.

As for how I define what is "American" in American religion (to say nothing of what is "religion" in American religion), for the purposes of these lists I mostly follow Kathryn Gin Lum's response in this IUPUI RAAC forum. There, she articulated an understanding of "America" as the region that eventually became known as the United States. That definition does have problems, of course, which is why your contributions to this list -- contributions which envision "America" differently -- are more than welcome.

Now, on to the books! (after this collage to add some color to any social media links)


Hugh B. Urban, Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement (University of California Press, January)
From the publisher: "...the first comprehensive study of the life, teachings, and following of the controversial Indian guru known in his youth as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and in his later years as Osho (1931–1990). Most Americans today remember him only as the “sex guru” and the “Rolls Royce guru,” who built a hugely successful but scandal-ridden utopian community in central Oregon during the 1980s. Yet Osho was arguably the first truly global guru of the twentieth century, creating a large transnational movement that traced a complex global circuit from post-Independence India of the 1960s to Reagan’s America of the 1980s and back to a developing new India in the 1990s."

Marla F. Frederick, Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global (Stanford University Press, January)
From the publisher: "...illuminates the phenomenal international success of American TV preachers like T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, and Juanita Bynum. Focusing particularly on Jamaica and the Caribbean, it also explores why televangelism has resonated so powerfully around the world. Investigating the roles of producers, consumers, and distributors, Marla Frederick takes a unique look at the ministries, the communities they enter, and the global markets of competition that buffer them."

C. Lynn Carr, A Year in White: Cultural Newcomers to Lukumi and Santería in the United States (Rutgers University Press, January)
From the publisher: "In the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religious tradition—more commonly known in the United States as Santería—entrants into the priesthood undergo an extraordinary fifty-three-week initiation period. During this time, these novices—called iyawo—endure a host of prohibitions, including most notably wearing exclusively white clothing. In A Year in White, sociologist C. Lynn Carr, who underwent this initiation herself, opens a window on this remarkable year-long religious transformation."

Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zoë Robinsoneds., The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty (Oxford University Press, January)
Martha Nussbaum: "The scope, limits, and grounds of corporate religious liberty are among the most urgently important questions in current American law. This collection does a great service, bringing together top scholars to analyze the history and the various dimensions of these issues. A must-read for legal scholars, it will also be compelling reading for political scientists, scholars of religion, and many general readers."

W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos (Oxford University Press, January)
Christian Smith: "The social transformation of American family life over the last half century has produced complex and varied consequences in people's lives. Soul Mates closely examines those experiences among two important minority groups, contributing particular insight on the often-neglected question of how religion interacts with family structure to shape life outcomes."

Stephen Prothero, Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson's Heresies to Gay Marriage (HarperOne, January)
From the publisher: "As Prothero makes clear, our culture wars have always been religious wars, progressing through the same stages of conservative reaction to liberal victory that eventually benefit all Americans. Drawing on his impressive depth of knowledge and detailed research, he explains how competing religious beliefs have continually molded our political, economic, and sociological discourse and reveals how the conflicts which separate us today, like those that came before, are actually the byproduct of our struggle to come to terms with inclusiveness and ideals of 'Americanness.'"

Matthew Avery Sutton and Darren Dochuk, eds., Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics (Oxford University Press, January) 
Kevin Kruse: "In this outstanding collection, two leading scholars of religion and politics in America's past have brought together an all-star roster of historians to discuss religion and politics in our present. Brimming with expertise and insights, Faith in the New Millennium is scholarship-in-action at its very finest."

Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (Oxford University Press, January) 
From the publisher: "In Defenders of the Unborn, Daniel K. Williams reveals the hidden history of the pro-life movement in America, showing that a cause that many see as reactionary and anti-feminist began as a liberal crusade for human rights....It was because of this grounding in human rights, Williams argues, that the right-to-life movement gained such momentum in the early 1960s. Indeed, pro-lifers were winning the battle before Roe v. Wade changed the course of history. Through a deep investigation of previously untapped archives, Williams presents the untold story of New Deal-era liberals who forged alliances with a diverse array of activists, Republican and Democrat alike, to fight for what they saw as a human rights cause. Provocative and insightful, Defenders of the Unborn is a must-read for anyone who craves a deeper understanding of a highly-charged issue."

Anna Su, Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power (Harvard University Press, January)
From the publisher: "Religious freedom is widely recognized today as a basic human right, guaranteed by nearly all national constitutions. Exporting Freedom charts the rise of religious freedom as an ideal firmly enshrined in international law and shows how America’s promotion of the cause of individuals worldwide to freely practice their faith advanced its ascent as a global power."

William C. Ringenberg, The Christian College and the Meaning of Academic Freedom: Truth-Seeking in Community (Palgrave Macmillan, January)
From the publisher: "William C. Ringenberg lays out the history of academic freedom in higher education in America, including its European antecedents, from the perspective of modern Christian higher education. He discusses the Christian values that provide context for the idea of academic freedom and how they have been applied to the nation's Christian colleges and universities. The book also dissects a series of recent case studies on the major controversial intellectual issues within and in, in some cases, about the Christian college community."

Jan Stievermann, Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather's 'Biblia Americana' (Mohr Siebeck, January)
From the publisher: "...pioneering study of Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana examines this Puritan scholar’s engagement with the Hebrew Bible as Old Testament. The author focuses specifically on Mather’s struggle to uphold or modify traditional typological and allegorical readings in the face of a growing awareness of the historicity of Scriptures."


Kelsy Burke, Christians under Covers: Evangelicals and Sexual Pleasure on the Internet (University of California Press, February)
Dawne Moon: "Challenging stereotypes of evangelicals as prudish Puritans, Kelsy Burke brings a respectful feminist and queer sociological gaze to this examination of what it means for twenty-first century evangelicals to understand sex as a deeply satisfying gift they can try to get the most of. This is a fascinating case study of how human beings reproduce social power as they seek to navigate its effects."

Barbara Alice Mann, Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Breath: The Twinned Cosmos of Indigenous America (Oxford University Press, February)
Bruce E. Johansen: "'Authentic' has been a much-abused word in the world of Native American spirituality, populated by ersatz dream catchers, 'great spirits,' and plastic medicine men. Into this muddle, Barbara Mann in Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Breath offers a clear, lively analysis of Native American spirituality's roots that will open your eyes. Her command of the subject matter sparkles with insight. Native American history and philosophy badly needs this ground-breaking book, now."

John Gary Maxwell, The Civil War Years in Utah: The Kingdom of God and the Territory That Did Not Fight (University of Oklahoma Press, February)
From the publisher: "In 1832 Joseph Smith, Jr., the Mormons’ first prophet, foretold of a great war beginning in South Carolina. In the combatants’ mutual destruction, God’s purposes would be served, and Mormon men would rise to form a geographical, political, and theocratic 'Kingdom of God' to encompass the earth. Three decades later, when Smith’s prophecy failed with the end of the American Civil War, the United States left torn but intact, the Mormons’ perspective on the conflict—and their inactivity in it—required palliative revision. In The Civil War Years in Utah, the first full account of the events that occurred in Utah Territory during that war, John Gary Maxwell contradicts the patriotic mythology of Mormon leaders’ version of this dark chapter in Utah history."

Anne M. Heinz and John P. Heinz, eds., Women, Work, and Worship in Lincoln's Country: The Dumville Family Letters (University of Illinois Press, February)
From the publisher: "Anne M. Heinz and John P. Heinz draw from an extraordinary archive at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to reveal how Ann Dumville and her daughters Jemima, Hephzibah, and Elizabeth lived these times. The letters tell the story of Ann, expelled from her Methodist church for her unshakable abolitionist beliefs; the serious and religious Jemima, a schoolteacher who started each school day with prayer; Elizabeth, enduring hard work as a farmer's wife, far away from the others; and Hephzibah, observing human folly and her own marriage prospects with the same wicked wit. Though separated by circumstances, the Dumvilles deeply engaged one another with their differing views on Methodism, politics, education, technological innovation, and relationships with employers...."

Michael S. Evans, Seeking Good Debate: Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life (University of California Press, February)
Elaine Howard Ecklund: “Michael Evans moves the whole conversation about religion and science from one about conflict to one about what constitutes good debate in American society. As he well argues, ‘ultimately our shared commitment . . . offers hope for our shared future.’ Anyone who cares about good public debate should read this book!”

Betty Livingston Adams, Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb (NYU Press, February)
Judith Weisenfeld: "With care and nuance, Betty Livingston Adams illuminates the social worlds and religious activism of a group of ordinary black working women who made extraordinary contributions to black public life. Well researched, engaging, and accessible, Adams’s work adds new dimensions to our understanding of the history of the black women’s club movement, their participation in interracial social reform and political organizing, and leadership in black churches."

Elizabeth Pérez, Religion in the Kitchen: Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions (NYU Press, February)
From the publisher: "In this innovative work, Elizabeth Pérez reveals how seemingly trivial 'micropractices' such as the preparation of sacred foods, are complex rituals in their own right. Drawing on years of ethnographic research in Chicago among practitioners of Lucumí, the transnational tradition popularly known as Santería, Pérez focuses on the behind-the-scenes work of the primarily women and gay men responsible for feeding the gods. She reveals how cooking and talking around the kitchen table have played vital socializing roles in Black Atlantic religions."

Cathleen Kaveny, Prophecy without Contempt: Religious Discourse in the Public Square (Harvard University Press, February)
From the publisher: "American culture warriors have plenty to argue about, but battles over such issues as abortion and torture have as much to do with rhetorical style as moral substance. Cathleen Kaveny reframes the debate about religion in the public square by focusing on a powerful stream of religious discourse in American political speech: the Biblical rhetoric of prophetic indictment."

Peter Randolph, Sketches of Slave Life and From and From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit, ed. Katherine Clay Bassard (West Virginia University Press, February)
P. Gabrielle Foreman: "Readers will benefit not only from having Randolph’s texts available to them in this new form, but also from the critical interventions and extensive knowledge that Bassard’s introduction offers to various literary and historical fields."

Tahneer Oksman, "How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?" Women and Jewish American Identity in Contemporary Graphic Memoirs (Columbia University Press, February)
From the publisher: "American comics reflect the distinct sensibilities and experiences of the Jewish American men who played an outsized role in creating them, but what about the contributions of Jewish women? Focusing on the visionary work of seven contemporary female Jewish cartoonists, Tahneer Oksman draws a remarkable connection between innovations in modes of graphic storytelling and the unstable, contradictory, and ambiguous figurations of the Jewish self in the postmodern era."

Sara M. Patterson, Middle of Nowhere: Religion, Art, and Pop Culture at Salvation Mountain (University of New Mexico Press, February)
From the publisher: "Pilgrims travel thousands of miles to visit Salvation Mountain, a unique religious structure in the Southern California desert. Built by Leonard Knight (1931–2014), variously described as a modern-day prophet and an outsider artist, Salvation Mountain offers a message of divine love for humanity. In Middle of Nowhere Sara M. Patterson argues that Knight was a spiritual descendant of the early Christian desert ascetics who escaped to the desert in order to experience God more fully....Recounting the pilgrims’ stories, Middle of Nowhere examines how Knight and the pilgrims constructed a sacred space, one that is now crumbling since the death of its creator."

Julius H. Bailey, Down in the Valley: An Introduction to African American Religious History (Fortress Press, February)
Sylvester Johnson: "Through skillful interpretation and a creative display of scholarly knowledge, Julius Bailey has written an exceptional book that transcends the restrictive paradigm of the Black Church to examine Black religions up to the twenty-first century. Bailey's path-breaking volume will reshape the way students and scholars understand African American religions."


Elijah Siegler, ed., Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order (Baylor University Press, March)
Diane Winston: "A tour de force not just for cinephiles and students of religion, Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order is compelling reading for anyone seeking meaning, identity, and purpose in the contemporary world. Each chapter dives deeply into a Coen film, illuminating how the brothers, and by implication, all of us, tease transcendence from the heartbreak of everyday life."

Iddo Tavory, Summoned: Identification and Religious Life in a Jewish Neighborhood (University of Chicago Press, March)
Ann Swidler: “This finely observed, beautifully crafted ethnography takes the reader into the intricate life of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community thriving in ultra-secular Los Angeles. At once witty and deeply serious, Summoned describes the moral obstacle course religious Jews face as they navigate the neighborhood, the identities and commitments evoked in everyday interactions, and the exquisite judgment required to enact religious obligations. At a deeper level, Summoned offers a new way of thinking about the interconnections among situations and anticipated situations that determine the density of summoning to which we are all subject.

Mary I. O'Connor, Mixtec Evangelicals: Globalization, Migration, and Religious Change in a Oaxacan Indigenous Group (University Press of Colorado, March)
From the publisher: "...a comparative ethnography of four Mixtec communities in Oaxaca, detailing the process by which economic migration and religious conversion combine to change the social and cultural makeup of predominantly folk-Catholic communities. The book describes the effects on the home communities of the Mixtecs who travel to northern Mexico and the United States in search of wage labor and return having converted from their rural Catholic roots to Evangelical Protestant religions."

George Marsden, C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A Biography (Princeton University Press, March)
From the publisher; "George Marsden describes how Lewis gradually went from being an atheist to a committed Anglican—famously converting to Christianity in 1931 after conversing into the night with his friends J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugh Dyson—and how Lewis delivered his wartime talks to a traumatized British nation in the midst of an all-out war for survival. Marsden recounts how versions of those talks were collected together in 1952 under the title Mere Christianity, and how the book went on to become one of the most widely read presentations of essential Christianity ever published, particularly among American evangelicals."

William B. Sweetser Jr., A Copious Fountain: A History of Union Presbyterian Seminary, 1812-2012 (Westminster John Knox Press, March)
From the publisher: "A Copious Fountain tells the two-hundred-year-old story of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. From its first days at Hampden-Sydney College, Union Presbyterian Seminary has answered its call to equip educated ministers to serve the church. As the first institution of its kind in the South, Union Presbyterian Seminary created a standard for theological education across denominational affiliations."

John W. Catron, Embracing Protestantism: Black Identities in the Atlantic World (University Press of Florida, March)
From the publisher: "John Catron argues that people of African descent in America who adopted Protestant Christianity during the eighteenth century did not become African Americans but instead assumed more fluid Atlantic-African identities. America was then the land of slavery and white supremacy, where citizenship and economic mobility were off-limits to most people of color. In contrast, the Atlantic World offered access to the growing abolitionist movement in Europe."

Bridget Ford, Bonds of Union: Religion, Race, and Politics in a Civil War Borderland (University of North Carolina Press, March)
Alice Fahs: "A richly rewarding and fascinating book that provides a fresh perspective on the complicated connections between Ohio and Kentucky as a Civil War borderland during a time of great sectional tension and strife. Original insights and nuanced observations appear on almost every page--this is cultural history at its finest."

Christopher D. Cantwell, Heath W. Carter, and Janine Giordano Drake, eds., The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class (University of Illinois Press, March)
Paul Harvey: "The coeditors have assembled a tremendous and diverse team for this volume. Each essay is by itself a significant contribution, and some provide brilliant and pioneering analysis and the introduction is definitely the best historiographical overview, survey, and analysis of scholarship in the field that I have ever read. It sets the standard for the next generation of scholarship."

John G. Turner, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography (Harvard University Press, March)
Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp: “Richly researched and beautifully written, The Mormon Jesus moves far beyond biography to survey the entirety of Mormon history through a focus on the ways that believers see, hear, pray to, and depict Jesus. This groundbreaking new book renders Mormonism as both quintessentially Christian and utterly distinctive.”

John Fea, The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society (Oxford University Press, March)
Margaret Bendroth: "...far more than a definitive history of the American Bible Society, though it succeeds admirably in that respect. John Fea also tells a broader story about American culture, how religion came to play such a central role in shaping national identity and how, in turn, secular ideals have shaped American belief and behavior. It is an important story, told with affection, care, and thoughtful critique."

Elizabeth Drescher, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones (Oxford University Press, March)
Leigh Schmidt: "As the rate of religious disaffiliation nears 25% of the American population, the importance of understanding the 'Nones'--from roving seekers to settled nonbelievers--has risen correspondingly. Drescher offers a splendidly variegated account of the religious practices and engagements that continue to flourish among the unaffiliated. The spiritual voices of the 'Nones' emerge with unusual clarity and resonance in these pages."

Robert Orsi, History and Presence (Harvard University Press, March)
From the publisher: "The question of 'real presence'—the Catholic doctrine of the literal, physical, embodied presence of Christ in the host—coincided with early modern global conquest and commerce and shaped how Europeans encountered the religions of others. The gods really present, in the Catholic sense, were translated into metaphors and symptoms, and into functions of the social and political. Presence became evidence of superstition, of magical thinking, of the infantile and irrational, the primitive and the savage. History and Presence radically confronts this intellectual heritage, proposing instead a model for the study of religion that begins with humans and gods present to each other in the circumstances of everyday life. Orsi then asks what it would mean to write history with the real presence of special beings restored. With reference to Marian apparitions, the cult of the saints, relations with the dead, and other Catholic instances of encounters with the gods really present, Orsi elaborates a theory of presence for the study of both contemporary religion and history."

Neil Weinstock Netanel, From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright Since the Birth of Print (Oxford University Press, March)
Edward Fram: "Neil Netanel follows Jewish copyright law from the very advent of print to the digital age. His contextualization of developments in terms of history and the laws of the societies in which Jews lived make this an exceptionally rich and rewarding read. Enviably well-versed in the language and debates of modern copyright law, Netanel contrasts and compares Jewish and secular jurisprudence through the ages and ultimately offers conclusions about changes in traditional Jewish life that make this much more than just a legal history."

Corwin E. Smidt, Pastors and Public Life: The Changing Face of American Protestant Clergy (Oxford University Press, March)
From the publisher: "Based on data gathered through national surveys of clergy across four mainline Protestant (the Disciples of Christ; the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Reformed Church in America; and the United Methodist Church) and three evangelical Protestant denominations (the Assemblies of God; the Christian Reformed Church; and, the Southern Baptist Convention), Pastors and Public Life examines the changing sociological, theological, and political characteristics of American Protestant clergy over the past twenty-plus years."

Michael N. Barnett, The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews (Princeton University Press, March)
Joel Migdal: ""Through a wide-ranging survey of history, Michael Barnett examines key concepts--internationalism, particularism, and cosmopolitanism--for understanding how Jews worked to tame and shape the world around them. His beautifully written book uses these ideas to unravel the ways Jews endeavored to alleviate Jewish suffering and guard their identity in the world."

Steven M. Nolt, The Amish: A Concise Introduction (John Hopkins University Press, March)
Donald B. Kraybill: "If you only read one book on the Amish, read this one. With engaging prose, Nolt answers our questions and explains how this horse-and-buggy community thrives in our hypermodern world. This is the gold-medal overview of America’s largest plain community. A great antidote to the fictitious fluff of 'reality' TV shows."

Elizabeth J. Clapp, A Notorious Woman: Anne Royall in Jacksonian America (University of Virginia Press, March)
From the publisher: "Widowed and in need of a livelihood following a disastrous lawsuit over her husband’s will, Royall decided to earn her living through writing--first as a travel writer, journeying through America to research and sell her books, and later as a journalist and editor. Her language and forcefully expressed opinions provoked people at least as much as did her inflammatory behavior and aggressive marketing tactics. An ardent defender of American liberties, she attacked the agents of evangelical revivals, the Bank of the United States, and corruption in government. Her positions were frequently extreme, directly challenging the would-be shapers of the early republic’s religious and political culture...The definitive account of a passionate voice when America was inventing itself, A Notorious Woman re-creates a fascinating stage on which women’s roles, evangelical hegemony, and political involvement were all contested.

Jonathon S. Kahn and Vincent W. Lloyd, eds., Race and Secularism in America (Columbia University Press, March)
Leigh Schmidt: "Focusing attention on the fundamental whiteness of American secularism, the collection highlights the ways in which the specificities of both race and religion have been managed—and obscured—through the ideals and practices of secular statecraft. All told, a very impressive and necessary critique of the widespread neglect of race and racialization in contemporary secular studies."

C. James MacKenzie, Indigenous Bodies, Maya Minds: Religion and Modernity in a Transnational K'iche' Community (University Press of Colorado, March) 
From the publisher: "...examines tension and conflict over ethnic and religious identity in the K’iche’ Maya community of San Andrés Xecul in the Guatemalan Highlands and considers how religious and ethnic attachments are sustained and transformed through the transnational experiences of locals who have migrated to the United States."

Eileen P. Sullivan, The Shamrock and the Cross: Irish American Novelists Shape American Catholicism (University of Notre Dame Press, March)
From the publisher: "...traces changes in nineteenth-century American Catholic culture through a study of Catholic popular literature. Analyzing more than thirty novels spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1870s, Sullivan elucidates the ways in which Irish immigration, which transformed the American Catholic population and its institutions, also changed what it meant to be a Catholic in America."


Matthew S. Rindge, Profane Parables: Film and the American Dream (Baylor University Press, April)
Gary Laderman: "Fantastic! This is a perfect study that brings together both Rindge’s own deep expertise in New Testament studies and his agile, interdisciplinary approach to popular culture. The films Rindge has selected are perfect vehicles for his fine-tuned analysis, both in terms of the aesthetics and meaning of film, but even more compellingly, his own perspectives on American culture generally and the mythic realities of the American dream."

Robert Elder, The Sacred Mirror: Evangelicalism, Honor, and Identity in the Deep South, 1790-1860 (University of North Carolina Press, April)
Charles Irons: "In this elegant and exciting book, Robert Elder sets himself apart by arguing that white southerners hastened modernity’s arrival when they accepted evangelicalism. Elder’s highly nuanced discussion of the relationship between the ‘secular’ culture of southern honor and the ‘sacred’ culture of southern evangelicalism establishes him as part of a robust movement of scholars quick to call attention to the ‘modern’ elements of intellectual discourse in the antebellum South.”

Kymberly N. Pinder. Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago (University of Illinois Press, April)
Sally M. Promey: "[Pinder's] bold and insightful study of local urban religious practices of 'empathetic realism' and 'tragic space' fills an inexcusable chasm in the scholarly literatures. In demonstrating the multi-media visual, material, sonic, and performative cultures of religion mobilized by her African American subjects, she illuminates not only the significant particularities of twentieth-century artistic and political history in Chicago but also invites her readers to consider larger national implications of race and religion, far beyond any one city's geographical boundaries. This is a stellar contribution."

Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez, The Valiant Woman: The Virgin Mary in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (University of North Carolina Press, April)
Jay Dolan: "The Virgin Mary has traditionally been identified with Roman Catholic piety, but Alvarez argues that Protestants also had a deep affection for Mary. In this truly original study, Mary emerges as a powerful symbol of womanhood and motherhood not just for Catholics but for Protestants as well. The Valiant Woman will forever change the way people view the role of the Virgin Mary in nineteenth century American culture."

Carol Wayne White, Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African American Religious Naturalism (Fordham University Press, April)
Laurel Schneider: "...a major contribution to American religious thought. She deftly constructs a rationale for African American sacred humanism that accomplishes (at least) three important tasks. First, she establishes the compatibility of her notion of sacred humanism with the best of current scientific thought regarding deep relationality in biology and cosmology. Second, she provides a solidly argued alternative to dogmatically theistic assumptions about African American religiosity. Third, White traces an intellectual history of sacred humanism in key American intellectual texts (Du Bois, Cooper, and Baldwin). With narrative grace, White has created a conversation among figures and fields in American religious thought that cannot help but open new avenues of philosophical and theological possibility."

Dov Waxman, Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, April)
From the publisher: "...explores the increasingly contentious place of Israel in the American Jewish community. In a fundamental shift, growing numbers of American Jews have become less willing to unquestioningly support Israel and more willing to publicly criticize its government. More than ever before, American Jews are arguing about Israeli policies, and many, especially younger ones, are becoming uncomfortable with Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Dov Waxman argues that Israel is fast becoming a source of disunity for American Jewry, and that a new era of American Jewish conflict over Israel is replacing the old era of solidarity."

Don Faber, James Jesse Strang: The Rise and Fall of Michigan's Mormon King (University of Michigan Press, April)
From the publisher: "Author Don Faber recounts this fascinating story of Strang’s journey from impoverished New York farm boy to one of the most colorful and contentious figures in Michigan’s history. This book will appeal to anyone with a love of American history and interest in the many larger-than-life personalities who emerged during the Second Great Awakening."

Kerry Archer Mitchell, Spirituality and the State: Managing Nature and Experience in America's National Parks (NYU Press, April)
John Modern: "Impressively harnessing both historical and ethnographic data, Kerry Mitchell provides a fresh take on the politics of religion-making in America. He offers a counter-narrative to scholarly celebrations of spirituality that is respectful of his subjects and acknowledges the fact that very few of us, if any, have a clear understanding of why we do what we do. Mitchell denaturalizes the concept of spirituality, showing, however, that this mode of piety is not simply made-up. On the contrary, it accomplishes an incredible amount of work in places like the John Muir Trail or Joshua Tree National Park by naturalizing the nation state and socializing the interior states of individuals."

Andrew C. Smith, Fundamentalism, Fundraising, and the Transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1919–1925 (University of Tennessee Press, April)
From the publisher: "...explores the scope and character of the interaction between Southern Baptists and early Fundamentalism during the late 1910s and early 1920s. By focusing more closely on the Southern Baptist Convention, Andrew Christopher Smith examines the interaction between the northern Fundamentalist movement and southern religion during the era."

Patricia Keer Munro, Coming of Age in Jewish America: Bar and Bat Mitzvah Reinterpreted (Rutgers University Press, April)
Keren McGinity: "Patricia Keer Munro has made an invaluable contribution to Jewish studies by elucidating the Bar/Bat Mitzvah system as a sociological negotiation between emerging adults, their parents, educators, rabbis and congregations. Her analysis illustrates how this Jewish life-cycle ritual both influences and is influenced by traditional and liberal Judaism. The book should be required reading for scholars of Jewish life and communal professionals, as well people of other faiths seeking a better understanding of this pivotal experience."

Lindsay Jones and Richard D. Shiels, eds., The Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings (University of Virginia Press, April)
From the publisher: "Considered a wonder of the ancient world, the Newark Earthworks—the gigantic geometrical mounds of earth built nearly two thousand years ago in the Ohio valley--have been a focal point for archaeologists and surveyors, researchers and scholars for almost two centuries....The first book-length volume devoted to the site, The Newark Earthworks reveals the magnitude and the geometric precision of what remains of the earthworks and the site’s undeniable importance to our history. Including contributions from archaeologists, historians, cultural geographers, and cartographers, as well as scholars in religious studies, legal studies, indigenous studies, and preservation studies, the book follows an interdisciplinary approach to shine light on the Newark Earthworks and argues compellingly for its designation as a World Heritage Site."

Roger Horowitz, Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food (Columbia University Press, April)
Hasia Diner: "Set in the context of Jewish ascendancy into the middle class, Kosher U.S.A. traces the way in which changes in modes of production and the lure of consumption battered, challenged, and sustained an ancient Jewish practice. Horowitz tells a very readable story about the convergence of technology, science, religion, animal-rights activism, and ordinary Jewish consumers. There is no other book like it."

Emerson B. Powery and Rodney S. Sadler Jr., The Genesis of Liberation: Biblical Interpretation in the Antebellum Narratives of the Enslaved (Westminster John Knox Press, April)
From the publisher: "In this fascinating volume, Powery and Sadler explore how the Bible became a source of liberation for enslaved African Americans by analyzing its function in pre-Civil War freedom narratives. They explain the various ways in which enslaved African Americans interpreted the Bible and used it as a source for hope, empowerment, and literacy."

Carl J. Richard, The Founders and the Bible (Rowman & Littlefield, April)
From the publisher: "Carl J. Richard carefully examines the framers’ relationship with the Bible to assess the conflicting claims of those who argue that they were Christians founding a Christian nation against those who see them as Deists or modern secularists."


danielsilliman said…
Coming out this month: Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather's 'Biblia Americana', by Jan Stievermann.
Paul Putz said…
Thanks, I just added it to the list!
Unknown said…
So many great bank account is already crying.
Samuel Dodge said…
I am putting together my exam lists right now. This post came just in time!

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