Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to His Philosophical Theology

Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to His Philosophical Theology

Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to His Philosophical Theology

Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to His Philosophical Theology


Almond places Otto's theory of religion within the context of his life (1869-1937), looking closely at the significant influences on Otto's thought, among them thinkers as different as Kant and the German Pietists. Elements of Otto's theories are shown to be closely related to the social and intellectual milieu of Germany both before and after World War I. Almond examines Otto's conception of the Holy, of rational and nonrational elements of religion, and compares his views with those of his contemporaries.

Originally published 1984.


Rudolf Otto and his analysis of the numinous experience are familiar items of discussion in the modern study of religion, and contemporary accounts of the nature of religious experience invariably and necessarily contain references to his best-known work, The Idea of the Holy. Yet there have been surprisingly few studies in English of the full extent of his thought, the last and only full-scale account having been published in 1947. This dearth of studies has been unfortunate, not merely because students of religion have not had easy access to the whole content of Otto's work, but also because The Idea of the Holy can only be fully appreciated in the light which Otto's other work casts upon it. My intention is, therefore, to provide a framework upon which a fuller understanding of Otto's thought can be constructed. To this end I have attempted to present a detailed introduction to his thought, and to set it in the religious and philosophical context out of which it arose.

A practical difficulty arose during the preparation of this volume: the inaccessibility of many of Otto's publications, and especially the various collections of essays not translated into English. The appendix gives an overview of the contents of volumes published by Otto and the various revised versions of many of his essays.

I should like to express my thanks to the Council of Hartley College of Advanced Education, Adelaide, South Australia, for granting the sabbatical leave during which much of the research for this book was completed. I am grateful, too, to the staff and graduate students of the Religious Studies . . .

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