By Jonathan Z. Smith
During this significant theoretical and methodological assertion at the background of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith indicates how convert apologetic agendas can dictate the process comparative non secular reports. As his instance, Smith experiences 4 centuries of scholarship evaluating early Christianities with religions of overdue Antiquity (especially the so-called secret cults) and exhibits how this scholarship has been dependent upon an underlying Protestant-Catholic polemic. the result's a devastating critique of conventional New testomony scholarship, a redescription of early Christianities as non secular traditions amenable to comparability, and a milestone in Smith's arguable method of comparative non secular studies."An vital e-book, and definitely the most major within the occupation of Jonathan Z. Smith, whom one may perhaps enterprise to name the best pathologist within the historical past of religions. As in lots of precedent circumstances, Smith follows a regular process: he rigorously selects his sufferer, after which dissects with creative finesse and unequaled acumen. The operation is usually priceless, and a deconstructor of Smith's quality is tough to find."—Ioan P. Coulianu, magazine of faith
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Additional resources for Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity
He offers specific historical explanations which provide context. For example, Justin's doctrine of the logos, Souverain asserts, was developed as a response to a contemporary issue, the attempt to prove that Christianity was not a novel religion. For Justin, 'the Christ has preexisted, just as Christianity and Christians have preexisted' (187-8). On another matter, Souverain writes, the Prologue of John, rather than being influenced by Platonism, borrowed the term and the understanding of logos from Jewish wisdom speculation where it is a 'figurative' language 'never extended to persons'.
The same presuppositions, the same rhetorical tactics, indeed, in the main, the very same data exhibited in these early efforts underlie much of our present-day research, with one important alteration, that the characteristics attributed to 'Popery', by the Reformation and post-Reformation controversialists, have been transferred, wholesale, to the religions of Late Antiquity. 58 The 58 I cite only a few representative instances culled from a far longer list. It should be emphasized that these only include passages which employ the phrase, ex opere operato.
His work 'was to be a major mine of mythic detai1'48 for generations of scholars, with or without explicit acknowledgment. ' Occasionally, he broke 'loose to express his irritation with Dupuis's atheism' (F. E. , 19591: 27 2). 46 Chinard, Jefferson et les ideologues:233-57 has some analysis of this interchange between Adams and Jefferson; see also, Manuel:271-80. 47 R. M. Dorson, 'The Eclipse of Solar Mythology,' in Th. A. , Myth: A Symposium (Bloomington, 1958): 25. 48 B. Feldman and R. D. Richardson, The Rise oj Modern Mythology: 1680-1860 (Bloomington, 1972): 277.