J. Haynes, ed., Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics, 2nd edn.
Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016. Pp. xxiv, 395. Hb. Â£150.
This second edition of the Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics
is an extraordinary achievement. The first part offers readers a broad
overview of key aspects of diverse religious perspectives on politics
(Buddhism, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism,
Sunni Islam, Shiism and Judaism). The second to fourth parts treat
well-chosen themes: â€˜Religion and Governanceâ€™, â€˜Religion and International Relationsâ€™ and â€˜Religion, Security and Developmentâ€™. All are expertly
written with modern historical and present-day concerns deftly informed
by historical and theological insight. Consistently high quality is unusual
in any edited collection.
In the first part, Schmuel Sandlerâ€™s essay on â€˜Judaism: State and Foreign
Policyâ€™ especially struck me as a fine example of a short but feisty and
informative essay on whether it is possible to identify a Jewish approach
to statehood and foreign policy (p. 122). Sandler interweaves an historical
perspective from Abraham, the forefather of Judaism, through the
diaspora period following the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE, modern
anti-Semitism, the presidency of Aharon Barak, and beyond. The focus is
modern and present-day, but informed by the sacred narratives of the
ancient Israelitesâ€™ experience in Egypt, etc., attentive to the theology
of covenant, and mindful of atrocities in the Middle Ages and beyond.
The concern throughout is the â€˜tension between statecraft and religious
principlesâ€™ (p. 133).
In the second part, the choice of top-quality essays upon which
to comment is again extensive. Luca Ozzanoâ€™s â€˜Religious Fundamentalismâ€™ examines diverse ways in which this imprecise category is treated
in the relevant literature, before reviewing fundamentalist belief-sets
and practices in Protestantism, Islam and Judaism. It would have been
Modern Believing 58.2 2017