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Smells like holy spirit

Did early Christians smell inspiration? Susan Ashbrook Harvey‘s book Scenting Salvation: Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination assures us that yes, they did. The book might, metaphorically, help other academics to wake up and smell the coffee: here is a pungent research topic that researchers have, until now, hardly bothered to sniff at.

Harvey is professor of religious studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Her 442-page tome explores (1) the most compelling odours, and (2) what and how early Christians thought about those odours.

The table of contents offers topics to tempt even a casual bookstore browser. Read these items aloud to a friend or loved one, and you’ll see…

So begins this week?s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

Improbable Research