The Abrahamic Religions: Loving Them, Leaving Them, Mar. 2024, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

Memoir, history, and religious thought. 

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Coldstream, Catherine. Cloistered: My Years as a Nun. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9781250323514. $30. Downloadable. RELIGION/MEMOIR

Having converted to Catholicism after her father’s death, Coldstream became a Carmelite nun for 12 years but left the order at age 39, abhorring the cult of personality that had replaced the venerable concept of religious obedience. Here she peers intently at her journey into and out of the priory while contemplating the joys and dangers of living within an enclosed community. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

Feldman, Noah. Bad Jew: A Perplexed Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People. Farrar. Mar. 2024. 416p. ISBN 9780374298340. $32. RELIGION

At a time of intermarriage and differing approaches to spirituality, Feldman looks at Judaism in contemporary times, ranging across its different forms to ponder how to be a Jew today. His bedrock approach: the ancient teaching claiming that there is no such thing as a “bad Jew.” Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard and founding director of its Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law.

Gazmarian, Anna. Devout: A Memoir of Doubt. S. & S. Mar. 2024. 192p. ISBN 9781668004036. $27.99. RELIGION/MEMOIR

In 2011, Gazmarian was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which suddenly made sense of her life but was viewed by the Evangelical community in which she was raised as an affliction of the spirit instead of a medical condition. Here she explains how she spent years finding a way to square her mental health issues with her religious beliefs.

Habib, M.A.R. & Bruce B. Lawrence. The Qur’an: A Verse Translation. Liveright: Norton. Feb. 2024. 752p. ISBN 9780871404992. $49.99. RELIGION

Ten years in the making, this verse translation of the Qur’an is the work of two qualified scholars: Rutgers English professor Habib, a poet whose many volumes include Shades of Islam, and Duke professor Lawrence is a scholar of Islam who focuses on the complexities of translation. Billed as an accessible and lyrically rendered work for all comers.

Held, Shai. Judaism Is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life. Farrar. Mar. 2024. 560p. ISBN 9780374192440. $35. CD/downloadable. RELIGION

President, dean, and chair in Jewish thought at New York’s Hadar Institute, Held (The Heart of Torah) plumbs tradition, current practice, and a belief in full equality for all people to counter the long-held perception that Christianity is meant to embody loving kindness while Judaism focuses on the law. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

McCammon, Sarah. The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781250284471. $30. Downloadable. RELIGION/MEMOIR

A national political correspondent for NPR, McCammon was raised evangelical and was a believer entertaining some doubts until the 2016 election. Then she saw how powerfully evangelical Christianity influenced the political Right and discovered that she belonged to a rising tide of younger people raised in the faith and now fleeing it. With a 125,000-copy first printing.

Moss, Candida. God’s Ghostwriters: Enslaved Christians and the Making of the Bible. Little, Brown. Mar. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780316564670. $30. Downloadable. RELIGION/HISTORY

The New Testament is generally attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, but Moss, an award-winning biblical scholar who serves as Edward Cadbury Chair of Theology at the University of Birmingham, argues that they worked with enslaved coauthors and collaborators who have gone uncredited. They produced the earliest manuscripts, edited the final works, and carried the texts throughout the Mediterranean, reading them aloud to crowds. With a 45,000-copy first printing.

Nixey, Catherine. Heretic: The Many Lives and Deaths of Jesus Christ. Mariner: HarperCollins. Mar. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9780358652915. $32.50. CD. RELIGION

The daughter of a monk and a nun, classicist-turned-journalist Nixey shook things up with her multi-best-booked The Darkening Age, which argued that early Christians were hardly meek but instead aggressively attacked classical thought and anyone who disagreed with them. Here, she presents the multiple versions of Christ, from one who traveled to India and another who killed opponents, that prevailed in the religion’s early centuries. With a 25,000-copy first printing.

Robinson, Marilynne. Reading Genesis. Farrar. Mar. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780374299408. $29. Downloadable. RELIGION

While believers argue over the literal truth of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and scholars examine how it derives from other beliefs and stories of the time, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Robinson argues for its importance as literature and its expression of the unbreakable covenant between God and humans. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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