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Department of Social Anthropology

Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life

Both sociocultural anthropology and theology have made fundamental contributions to our understanding of human experience and the place of humanity in the world. But can these two disciplines, despite the radical differences that separate them, work together to transform their thinking on these topics? This book argues that they can. To make this point, the author draws on key theological discussions of such matters as atonement, eschatology, interruption, passivity, and judgement to rethink important anthropological debates about such topics as ethical life, radical change, the ways people live in time, agency, gift giving, and the nature of humanity. The result is both a reconsideration of important aspects of anthropological theory through theological categories and a series of careful readings of influential theologians such as Moltmann, Pannenberg, Jüngel, and Dalferth from the vantage point of rich ethnographic materials concerning the lives of Christians from around the world. In conclusion, the author draws on contemporary discussions of secularism to interrogate the secular foundations of anthropology and suggests that the differences between anthropology and theology in regard to this topic can provide a foundation rather than obstacle to their dialogue. Written as a work of interdisciplinary anthropological theorizing, this book also provides theologians an introduction to some of the most important ground covered by the burgeoning field of the anthropology of Christianity while guiding anthropologists into some major areas of theological discussion.

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