Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

By :  The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Apr 20, 2021 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines | Interreligious

Scholar and author Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva of Chicago Theological Seminary discusses her book, Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In Dangerous Religious Ideas, Rabbi Mikva argues all religious ideas are dangerous—not only those we might consider extremist, but even those that stand at the heart of faith. Because most religious traditions have always understood this peril, they have transmitted tools of self-critique as essential to their teachings.

Putting Jewish thought and practice in conversation with Christianity and Islam, the book explores the common challenges of dealing with Scriptures that can inspire great goodness but also justify oppression, and the myriad ways that the potential for blessing in religion is bound up with its potential for harm. Repeatedly, this work leads back to the public square, where we must discern the proper role of religion in our common life. 

This event was sponsored by The JTS Library. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.

About Rabbi Dr. Rachel S. Mikva

Rabbi Dr. Rachel S. Mikva serves as the Herman E. Schaalman Professor in Jewish Studies and Senior Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary. The Institute and the Seminary work at the cutting edge of theological education, training religious leaders who can build bridges across cultural and religious difference for the critical work of social transformation. With a passion for justice and academic expertise in the history of scriptural interpretation, Rabbi Mikva’s courses and publications address a range of Jewish and comparative studies, with a special interest in the intersections of sacred texts, culture and ethics. Her most recent book is Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Beacon, 2020), and she is working on a textbook for graduate and undergraduate students, Interreligious Studies: An Introduction, to be published by Cambridge University Press.