THE REVENGE OF GOD by Gilles Kepel


The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World
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An informative history, previously published (1991) in France, of one of this century's more unexpected developments-- the explosive popularity of religious orthodoxy.

Kepel, an authority on Islamic fundamentalism, surveys the outburst of conservatism in major Western religions, and the effects of this movement on the secular state. Contradicting earlier studies that depict orthodoxy as a simple ``no'' to modernism, Kepel paints a more complex portrait of adherents who are often young, well-educated technocrats. The new conservatism (of which only a fraction is fundamentalist) is, he argues, "evidence of a deep malaise in society.'' The harbingers came 15 years ago, with the rise of Israel's Likkud party in 1977, the election of John Paul II in 1978, and the Iranian revolution in 1979. Kepel traces the roots of the Islamic revolt to the pre-World War II Muslim Brotherhood, whose followers preached a total break with the secular state. Their influence can be seen in the Intifada, the Shi'ite revolution in Iran, and the Rushdie affair. Christian conservatism has two components: Catholic aspirations for the "re-Christianization of Europe,'' tied to the fall of Communism and John Paul II's pontificate; and Protestant evangelism, especially strong in America, which has given rise not only to televangelism but, more recently, to a proliferation of evangelical universities. In Judaism, the emphasis is on returning secular Jews to the orthodox fold, epitomized by the proselytizing of the Lubavitch Hasidim. Kepel points out that all these movements share a rejection of the "secular city,'' but that they disagree on alternatives, with Christian conservatives loyal to democracy but at least some of the Jewish and Islamic orthodox favoring theocracy.

Belongs alongside Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby's The Glory and the Power (1992) as a notable study of orthodoxy and its political ramifications.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1994
ISBN: 0-271-01313-3
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1993


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