Blasphemy: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198797579

Yvonne Sherwood
160 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions
  • Offers a global analysis of blasphemy across different religions and contexts
  • Analyses why blasphemy persists today, even as society grows increasingly secular
  • Considers some of the most famous cases of blasphemy, along with lesser know instances
  • Discusses the influence of colonial histories of blasphemy as a Christian export

In a world where not everyone believes in God, 'blasphemy' is surely a concept that has passed its use-by-date. And yet blasphemy (like God and religion) seems to be on the rise. In this Very Short Introduction Yvonne Sherwood asks why this should be the case, looking at factors such as the increased visibility of religious and racial minorities, new media, and engines of surveillance (which are far more omniscient than the old gods could ever be), and the legacies of colonial blasphemy laws.
Throughout, Sherwood uncovers new histories, from the story of accidentally blasphemous cartoons, to the close associations between blasphemy, sex, and birth control. She also argues that blasphemy itself involves an inherent contradiction in imagining the divine as an entity that must be revered above all, yet also a being that could possibly be hurt by anything that happens in the merely human sphere. Unpicking some of the most famous cases of blasphemy, Sherwood also looks at obscure instances, asking why some 'blasphemies' have become infamous, while others have disappeared.


1:Introduction: 'Blasphemous' crucifixions
2:Blasphemy in scarequotes
3:Blasphemy in religion
4:Blasphemy in law
5:Blasphemy and minorities
6:Blasphemy and media
References and Further Reading


Yvonne Sherwood, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Kent
Yvonne Sherwood has spent thirty years teaching in British universities, including Kings College London, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Kent. She has had fellowships and grants from the British Academy; was the Speakers Lecturer at the University of Oxford in 2015; and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Oslo in 2017. Her many books include Biblical Blaspheming: Trials of the Sacred for a Secular Age (2012) shortlisted for the American Academy Awards for Excellence Book Prize; The Invention of the Biblical Scholar: A Critical Manifesto (with Stephen D. Moore, 2011); and The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field (2017).