Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie

Leonard Levy, Author Alfred A. Knopf $35 (688p) ISBN 978-0-679-40236-7
Socrates, Jesus, Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno, Quakers George Fox and William Penn, Daniel Defoe and Thomas Paine were all condemned for blasphemy. In a tour de force of lively writing and keen historical interpretation, prolific legal historian Levy shows that the charge of blasphemy has served as a means to besmirch opinions or people held objectionable to those in positions of authority. For centuries the Catholic Church persecuted blasphemers and heretics for their divergent views. Protestant reformers adopted the epithet ``blasphemer'' to castigate dissidents within their own ranks. Proceeding from fifth century B.C. Athens to medieval persecution of the Jews to the ``hysteria'' over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, this work is both an essential casebook and an outspoken, feisty, important study of the struggle for intellectual and religious liberties. History Book Club alternate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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