The Meaning of Religion: Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion

The Meaning of Religion: Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion

The Meaning of Religion: Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion

The Meaning of Religion: Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion

Excerpt

This book needs a special introduction, for without it, its real significance and value cannot be grasped. This is particularly true because the author, W. Brede Kristensen, is entirely unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world. The writer of this Introduction counts it one of the great privileges of his life to have been one of his pupils and to have become, at the insistence of Kristensen himself, his successor in the famous Chair of the History and Phenomenology of Religion at the University of Leyden (Holland). Kristensen is not only unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world, but in nearly the whole world, except for Holland and the Scandinavian countries. Yet I do not hesitate to say that in the last fifty years, he was not only one of the most original and penetrating scholars in the field of religion, but also one of the greatest phenomenologists of religion, if not the greatest. In fact, even though I myself differ in a very marked degree from my teacher and friend Kristensen in my own approach to the subject of Religion, I am personally convinced that he is undoubtedly the greatest phenomenologist of religion in the first half of the twentieth century, not excepting G. van der Leeuw, whose name deservedly enjoys international fame.

That Kristensen has remained until his death internationally unknown, is entirely due to his characteristic personality. He was wholly absorbed in his field of study, and devoted to it as a lover to his beloved. It fascinated him to such a degree that he was not at all interested in publishing, nor in attending Congresses or Conferences on the Science of Religion, nor in creating a "school", but exclusively in pursuing the quest for understanding the phenomena of Religion as the believer in a given religion understood them. He was therefore entirely un-

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