This book addresses a fundamental dilemma in religious studies. Exploring the tension between humanistic and social scientific approaches to thinking and writing about religion, Daniel Gold develops a line of argument that begins with the aesthetics of academic writing in the field. He shows that successful writers on religion employ characteristic aesthetic strategies in communicating their visions of human truths. Gold examines these strategies with regard to epistemology and to the study of religion as a collective endeavor.
“Excellent introduction . . . to debates in religious studies that would be valuable not only to students of religion but to all scholars in the humanities.”—Lynne Walhout Hinojosa Perspectives In Religious Stds
"Gold has cleverly managed to write an important new genealogy for the history of religions, and like any good genealogist, he sets out to resolve a shadow in our ancestry. The issue at hand is not science versus disguised theory or imagination, but the blessed union between a vital science and a keen sense of the aesthetics of religiohistorical writing. This is a ground-breaking work, essential reading for scholars and students of religion."—Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co-editor of Gods of Flesh, Gods of Stone: The Embodiment of Divinity in India
"A most important and original corrective to a confused and self-contradictory set of dogmas that have split the field of comparative religions in disastrous ways in past decades."—Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religion, University of Chicago
"An engaging, refreshing and exciting book. This impressive account of humanistic writing about religion in the 20th century greatly expands the history of the study. And for people who already know the history, Gold's approach comes as a breath of fresh air."—Greg Alles, author of The Iliad, the Ramayana, and the Work of Religion: Failed Persuasion and Religious Mystification
"At long last, an up-to-date, theoretically sophisticated exploration of the history of religions and religious studies and their development in the 20th century! Focusing on the many ways in which influential scholars have creatively managed an intrinsic tension between aesthetic sensitivity and scientific commitment, Gold provides a richly documented account. Fascinating Truths is one of those very rare discipline-oriented books that both illumines the past and establishes a creative trajectory for the future."—Frank Reynolds, Professor Emeritus of History of Religions at the University of Chicago and editor of Religion and Practical Reason