Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos

Princeton University Press
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By the end of World War II, religion appeared to be on the decline throughout the United States and Europe. Recent world events had cast doubt on the relevance of religious belief, and modernizing trends made religious rituals look out of place. It was in this atmosphere that the careers of Scholem, Eliade, and Corbin--the twentieth century's legendary scholars in the respective fields of Judaism, History of Religions, and Islam--converged and ultimately revolutionized how people thought about religion. Between 1949 and 1978, all three lectured to Carl Jung's famous Eranos circle in Ascona, Switzerland, where each in his own way came to identify the symbolism of mystical experience as a central element of his monotheistic tradition. In this, the first book ever to compare the paths taken by these thinkers, Steven Wasserstrom explores how they overturned traditional approaches to studying religion by de-emphasizing law, ritual, and social history and by extolling the role of myth and mysticism. The most controversial aspect of their theory of religion, Wasserstrom argues, is that it minimized the binding character of moral law associated with monotheism.

The author focuses on the lectures delivered by Scholem, Eliade, and Corbin to the Eranos participants, but also shows how these scholars generated broader interest in their ideas through radio talks, poetry, novels, short stories, autobiographies, and interviews. He analyzes their conception of religion from a broadly integrated, comparative perspective, sets their distinctive thinking into historical and intellectual context, and interprets the striking success of their approaches.

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About the author

Steven M. Wasserstrom is the Moe and Izetta Tonkon Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and the Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. His book Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem of Symbiosis under Early Islam (Princeton) was given the Award for Excellence in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 15, 1999
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781400823178
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Steven Wasserstrom undertakes a detailed analysis of the "creative symbiosis" that existed between Jewish and Muslim religious thought in the eighth through tenth centuries. Wasserstrom brings the disciplinary approaches of religious studies to bear on questions that have been examined previously by historians and by specialists in Judaism and Islam. His thematic approach provides an example of how difficult questions of influence might be opened up for broader examination.

In Part I, "Trajectories," the author explores early Jewish-Muslim interactions, studying such areas as messianism, professions, authority, and class structure and showing how they were reshaped during the first centuries of Islam. Part II, "Constructions," looks at influences of Judaism on the development of the emerging Shi'ite community. This is tied to the wider issue of how early Muslims conceptualized "the Jew." In Part III, "Intimacies," the author tackles the complex "esoteric symbiosis" between Muslim and Jewish theologies. An investigation of the milieu in which Jews and Muslims interacted sheds new light on their shared religious imaginings. Throughout, Wasserstrom expands on the work of social and political historians to include symbolic and conceptual aspects of interreligious symbiosis. This book will interest scholars of Judaism and Islam, as well as those who are attracted by the larger issues exposed by its methodology.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Steven Wasserstrom undertakes a detailed analysis of the "creative symbiosis" that existed between Jewish and Muslim religious thought in the eighth through tenth centuries. Wasserstrom brings the disciplinary approaches of religious studies to bear on questions that have been examined previously by historians and by specialists in Judaism and Islam. His thematic approach provides an example of how difficult questions of influence might be opened up for broader examination.

In Part I, "Trajectories," the author explores early Jewish-Muslim interactions, studying such areas as messianism, professions, authority, and class structure and showing how they were reshaped during the first centuries of Islam. Part II, "Constructions," looks at influences of Judaism on the development of the emerging Shi'ite community. This is tied to the wider issue of how early Muslims conceptualized "the Jew." In Part III, "Intimacies," the author tackles the complex "esoteric symbiosis" between Muslim and Jewish theologies. An investigation of the milieu in which Jews and Muslims interacted sheds new light on their shared religious imaginings. Throughout, Wasserstrom expands on the work of social and political historians to include symbolic and conceptual aspects of interreligious symbiosis. This book will interest scholars of Judaism and Islam, as well as those who are attracted by the larger issues exposed by its methodology.

Originally published in 1995.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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