Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade

Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade

Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade

Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade

Synopsis

This volume comprises papers presented at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Joachim Wach's death, and the centennial of Mircea Eliade's birth. Its purpose is to reconsider both the problematic, separate legacies of these two major twentieth-century historians of religions, and the bearing of these two legacies upon each other. Shortly after Wach's death in 1955, Eliade succeeded him as the premiere historian of religions at the University of Chicago. As a result, the two have been associated with each other in many people's minds as the successive leaders of the so-called "Chicago School" in the history of religions. In fact, as this volume makes clear, there never was a monolithic Chicago School. Although Wach reportedly referred to Eliade as the most astute historian of religions of the day; the two never met, and their approaches to the study of religions differed significantly. Several dominant issues run through the essays collected here: the relationship between the two men's writings and their lives, and in Eliade's case, the relationship between his political commitments and his writings in fiction, history of religions, and autobiography. Both men's contributions to the field continue to provoke controversy and debate, and this volume sheds new light on these controversies and what they reveal about these two 'scholars' legacies.

Excerpt

Christian K. Wedemeyer

The chapters in this volume are the product of a conference held November 3–4, 2006, at the University of Chicago Divinity School. This congress represents the integration of two initially separate, though integrally related impulses: to reassess the work, lives, and scholarly legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade on the occasions of the fiftieth anniversary of the untimely death of the former (2005) and the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the latter (2007). Responsibility (or culpability, perhaps) for the impulse to explore the legacy of Wach was mine; that of Eliade, of Wendy Doniger and Matthew Kapstein. Serendipity found the three of us in mendicant moments in or around the office of our dean simultaneously, and so events were set in motion that led to an integrated program entitled “Hermeneutics in History: Mircea Eliade, Joachim Wach, and the Science of Religions.” The discussions took place in the intermediate year (2006) in the room that had served as the Divinity School library during the tenure of these scholars (now the lecture hall), with the participants discussing and debating the issues raised by the chapters contained herein while seated round-table at the lone remaining study table from the old Divinity Library.

The conference title is worthy of at least a brief comment, insofar as it to some degree reflects the initial conception of the dialogue that was to ensue. In part, our intent was to occasion a conversation that would attempt to engage the work of these two scholars, for both of whom a hermeneutical perspective was central to their scholarly . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.