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Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics

Why and How Deep Learning Still Matters
Francis X. Clooney

BUY Cloth · 224 pp. · 5.5 × 8.5 · ISBN 9780813943114 · $29.50 · Oct 2019
BUY Ebook · 224 pp. · ISBN 9780813943121 · $29.50 · Oct 2019

Best Book Award (Theology/Philosophy), Society for Hindu-Christian Studies (2020)

We live in an era of unprecedented growth in knowledge. Never before has there been so great an availability of and access to information in both print and online. Yet as opportunities to educate ourselves have greatly increased, our time for reading has significantly diminished. And when we do read, we rarely have the patience to read in the slow, sustained fashion that great books require if we are to be truly transformed by them.

In Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics, renowned Harvard Divinity School professor Francis Clooney argues that our increasing inability to read in a concerted manner is particularly notable in the realm of religion, where the proliferation of information detracts from the learning of practices that require slow and patient reading. Although awareness of the world’s many religions is at an all-time high, deep knowledge of the various traditions has suffered. Clooney challenges this trend by considering six classic Hindu and Christian texts dealing with ritual and law, catechesis and doctrine, and devotion and religious participation, showing how, in distinctive ways, such texts instruct, teach truth, and draw willing readers to participate in the realities they are learning. Through readings of these seminal scriptural and theological texts, he reveals the rewards of a more spiritually transformative mode of reading—and how individuals and communities can achieve it.


In  Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics, Clooney puts his trademark approach to comparative theology as textual reading across religions to the test, showing that even the most unsuspected texts and teachings of different religions may shed light on one another.

Catherine Cornille, Boston College, author of Meaning and Method in Comparative Theology

This wonderful book is the product of deep learning and careful analysis by one of our most distinguished scholars. It offers insightful readings of brilliantly paired Hindu and Christian texts and, at the same time, provides a model for how to respectfully compare religious traditions.

Thomas A. Tweed, University of Notre Dame, author of Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion

A timely call for recovering the art of slow and careful reading as a necessity for learning about one's own and other religious traditions. Clooney's appeal resonates with the classical methods of Hindu inquiry, but reminds us also of how much we risk when the art of deep reading is no longer practiced with diligence. This work is a beautiful and rewarding testament to the fruits of his own life-long discipline of reading of Hindu and Christian texts.

Anantanand Rambachan, St. Olaf College, author of A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two Is Not One

Clooney’s book is an important reminder that in times of crisis such as ours, reading a text from a different era can be a balm for our worries and even an opportunity for self-transformation, if we are attentive enough to let it do its work.

Andrew Nicholson · Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies

About the Author(s): 

Francis X. Clooney, SJ, is Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School and the author of His Hiding Place Is Darkness: An Exercise in Hindu-Catholic Theopoetics, among other books.

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