On Knowing Faith

Theology, Everyday Religion, and Anthropological Theory

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University of Cambridge jr626@cam.ac.uk
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I was very honored by the invitation to deliver the 2019 Rappaport Lecture, which forms the basis of this article. The theme of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion's conference for which it was written, “The Politics of Religious Knowledge and Ignorance,” is one that is very close to the heart of Roy Rappaport's work. After all, the foundation of his magisterial theory of the role of ritual in the development of humanity is our species’ radical inability, once language allowed expression to take on a life of its own, to know whether others are lying to us or not, and ritual's ability to address the problem of radical social ignorance that this incapacity sets before us by creating certainty about who people are and what commitments they have taken on (Rappaport 1999). For Rappaport, ritual and religion were both from the start fundamentally entangled with issues of knowledge and ignorance.

Contributor Notes

JOEL ROBBINS is Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, Co-Director of the Max Planck–Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change, and a Fellow at Trinity College. His research interests focus on the anthropology of religion and ritual, the anthropological study of Christianity, cultural change, and values and ethics. Among his publications are Becoming Sinners (2004) and several co-edited volumes, including The Anthropology of Christianity (2014, with Naomi Haynes), and Global Christianity, Global Critique (2010, with Matthew Engelke). In 2020, Oxford University Press will publish his book Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life. E-mail: jr626@cam.ac.uk

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