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Cover for the book The Revenge of God

The Revenge of God

The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in the Modern World Gilles Kepel
  • Copyright: 1994
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-01313-8
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-01314-5
  • Co-publisher: Polity Press

Paperback Edition: $35.95

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“An astonishing book on one of the burning issues of the day.”
“Stimulating, remarkably well-informed, and completely unpartisan, The Revenge of God paints a disturbing picture of our world at the end of the millennium when, once again, apocalyptic voices are making themselves heard.”
“This book is well-informed and written in a precise and accessible way. . . . Rather than take sides, Kepel concentrates on describing and analyzing a major phenomenon of our time.”
The Revenge of God examines religious revivalism in Islam, Christianity (both Catholicism and North American Protestantism), and Judaism. As such, it is almost unique and sorely needed. Arguing that the simultaneity of these revivals is not coincidental, Kepel suggests that they are reflections of widespread and profound disquiet with modernity. His description of these movements is sound, and the analysis is thoughtful and perceptive. It is especially interesting to read the impressions that Kepel, a French scholar of Islam, has of Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, and others!”
“This path-breaking comparative essay explores how popular movements since the 1960s in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity reaffirm for many believers the relevance of their respective sacred texts for personal conduct and political life. Kepel argues that these movements ‘from below,’ each claiming to possess its Truth, are distinctly modern and have major implications for the future of civil society. Fresh and insightful, Kepel replaces conventional wisdom with a convincing framework for understanding religion and religiosity in the late twentieth century.”
“Where most of us notice freak and isolated sparks, Kepel discovers a smoldering bonfire. In what most of us explain away as so many local deviations from the global trend, Kepel discerns a fateful twist in history. He calls us to treat the new religious fundamentalism seriously and to read carefully the message it carries since it is a serious and seminal message. A timely appeal, which deserves to be widely heard and followed. This study is truly eye-opening. It may well change the way we think of the direction our world is going—if, that is, we still believe there is a direction in the movement.”
The Revenge of God offers a powerful and persuasive antidote to those over-reductionist accounts of fundamentalism that see it exclusively as a reaction to modernity and secularism. This is not only a book for academic specialists within the social sciences; it is also for anyone seeking to understand those puzzling and parallel movements within contemporary religion that seem to be setting out to reconquer today’s world.”
“In the contentious admixture of politics and religion, Mr. Kepel is most unusual in not seeking to press a particular view. . . . He instead seeks intelligently to understand and to explain the influence religion is likely to have in the world in the foreseeable future. And he is persuasive when he concludes that, for better and worse, the political influence of religion will be much greater than it has been in the recent past.”

In this translation of the best-selling French book, La Revanche de Dieu, Gilles Kepel, one of Europe's leading authorities on Islamic societies, offers a compelling account of the resurgence of religious belief in the modern world. His focus is radical movements within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Much has been written recently about the rise of fundamentalisms in contemporary religion. Kepel, however, finds the term "fundamentalism," which derives from the American Protestant experience, to be inadequate for understanding revivalist movements throughout the rest of the world. Ranging from America to Europe and the Middle East, from Protestant televangelists to ultra-Orthodox Jews, from Islamic militants to the "charismatic renewal," Kepel argues that each of these movements resists the spirit of modernity and secularism. Nevertheless, they cannot be dismissed simply as a reaction to modernity. In Kepel's words, "They are true children of our time." Each group contains a militant membership of young, educated, and modern people. Rather than retreat into the past, they seek to recreate society according to a set of symbols and values in accordance with their holy scriptures. Each group pursues both a strategy from above, attempting to seize state power and use state legislation to promote its ends, and a strategy from below, evangelizing the masses and seeking to take control of their daily lives.

According to Kepel, we have much to learn from today's religious movements. Like the workers' movements of yesteryear, they have a singular capacity to reveal the ills of society. Whether or not we agree with their diagnoses, they offer an important and perceptive critique of our society at the end of the millennium.

Gilles Kepel is a researcher at the CNRS and teaches at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. He is the author of Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh (1986).

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This book is a part of the Association of American University Presses' Books for Understanding: Israel & Palestine book list, created to help all of us better understand the world we live in.

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