This book explores the strange persistence of 'blasphemy' in modern secular democracies by examining how accepted and prohibited ways of talking and thinking about the Bible and religion have changed over time. In a series of wide-ranging studies engaging disciplines such as politics, literature and visual theory, Yvonne Sherwood brings the Bible into dialogue with a host of interlocutors including John Locke, John Donne and the 9/11 hijackers, as well as artists such as Sarah Lucas and René Magritte. Questions addressed include: • What is the origin of the common belief that the Bible, as opposed to the Qur'an, underpins liberal democratic values? • What kind of artworks does the biblical God specialise in? • If pre-modern Jewish, Christian and Islamic responses to scripture can be more 'critical' than contemporary speech about religion, how does this affect our understanding of secularity, modernity and critique?
• Sets a new agenda for research by suggesting radical and counterintuitive ways of thinking about the Bible as a public edifice and cultural symbol• A unique treatment of blasphemy and the limits of acceptable speech• Comparative studies between the Bible and representatives of other disciplinary canons such as John Locke and Magritte will have wide appeal