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The Slain GodAnthropologists and the Christian Faith$
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Timothy Larsen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657872.001.0001

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Mary Douglas

Mary Douglas

Chapter:
(p.120) 4 Mary Douglas
Source:
The Slain God
Author(s):

Timothy Larsen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657872.003.0005

Mary Douglas (1921–2007) was raised a Roman Catholic and was a practising Catholic throughout her entire life. She did her doctoral work at the Univerisity of Oxford with fieldwork among the Lele in the Congo. As a leading anthropologist, Douglas sought to present her church in a more favourable light, especially by using grid-group analysis (later known as cultural theory) to reveal the validity and virtues of hierarchy. Her classic study, Purity and Danger, included an influential treatment of the food taboos in Leviticus. This early interest in the Hebrew scriptures flowered later in her career as she became increasing committed to biblical studies. While acknowledging herself to be an intellectual disciple of Durkheim, Douglas expounded the doctrine of the Incarnation as a way of refuting the assumption that Durkheim’s insights undercut the veracity of the Christian faith.

Keywords:   Mary Douglas, Lele, Purity and Danger, Leviticus, hierarchy, Roman Catholicism, grid-group analysis, cultural theory, biblical studies, Émile Durkheim, Incarnation

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