Bruce B. Lawrence celebrates Marshall Hodgson’s moral vision
by BRUCE LAWRENCE for MARGINALIA (AT LA REVIEW OF BOOKS) on NOVEMBER 11, 2014:
Marshall Hodgson was both a genius and a visionary. While he may have seemed to be just another university professor, at once restless, innovative, and genial, he was also an academic Übermensch with a global agenda. He wanted to change the world by changing the way we saw, understood, and engaged Islam within world history. Born in 1922, he was drafted but as a Quaker refused to fight in World War II. After serving five years in detention camp, he returned to school, graduating from the University of Chicago with a PhD in the early 1950s. He had been teaching from the notes that became The Venture of Islam for over a decade before his demise in 1968. Forty-six years after his death, and 40 years since the posthumous publication of his magnum opus, his legacy remains puzzling. Was he ahead of his time, or has he been overtaken by the Cold War and its aftermath, including the horror of 9/11, along with its own, persistent aftermath?
Bruce Lawrence earned his PhD. from Yale University (1972) in the History of Religions: Islam and Hinduism. He served as the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Professor of the Humanities at Duke University and is currently Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University. His research ranges from institutional Islam to Indo-Persian Sufism and also encompasses the comparative study of religious movements. He was founding director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center and currently serves on the DISC Advisory Board. He was a Carnegie Scholar of Islam from 2008-2010. His recent books have included “On Violence - A Reader (with Aisha Karim)”; “Messages to the World, The Statements of Osama Bin Laden;” “The Quran, A Biography;” and, with his spouse, miriam cooke, “Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop.” His forthcoming book will be “Who is Allah?” (UNC Press, 2015).