1. Describe in some detail the significant approach to the Study of Religion that the
following HISTORIANS OF RELIGION took?:
A.F. MAX MULLER
B. MIRCEA ELIADE
C.WILFRED C. SMITH
A.F. MAX MULLER (1823-1900)
•While studying at the University of Leipzig, Berlin and Paris, F. Max Muller (1823-
1900), used comparative linguistics in the study of religion.
•Comparative linguistics is a method to compare the similarities and differences of the
languages of the world, by looking at their historical roots through time.
•Finding similarities in languages, Muller was able to translate these similarities into
similarities in religions. He came to the view that the development of languages should
be tied to that of belief-systems.
•To illustrate an example of this, we see that from 1849, Muller started to translate the Rig
Vedas furthering his study of Sanskrit in Indian history. He saw the gods of the Rig-Veda
as active forces of nature, only partly personified as imagined supernatural persons.
•From this claim Muller derived his theory that mythology is 'a disease of language'. By
this he meant that myth transforms concepts into beings and stories. As it can be seen, his
approach of language and religion was useful to deduce his theory and further develop
the study of religion.
B.MIRCEA ELIADE (1907-1986)
Took and developed a comparative phenomenological approach
oEntailed cosmogonies and stories of creation
In Romania (1932-1940) he attempted to create a new interpretation of myths and
symbols of archaic and oriental religions.
At his stay at the University of Chicago while researching the History of
religions, he brought together the linguistical analysis of texts
oStudied patterns in comparative Religion
The Sacred and the Profane
Founded the journal: History of Religion
So prominent that he edited the Encyclopedia of Religion
C.WILFRED C. SMITH (1916-2000)
Took the comparative scriptural approach
oDynamic nature of text
In his “meaning and end of religion” (1963) he stressed the end of “isms”
oPeople had their personal interpretation of spiritual texts which would
lead to traditions
Strongly believed that religious studies are about the people
oThere should be a dynamic interpretation of texts and tradition
oReligious symbols change in meaning over time
To achieve this type of study, one should study another religion’s tradition in its
own cultural setting
2. What are the principal characteristics of ELOHIM, the GOD in GENESIS
(Chapter 1, verse 1) “Who created the Heavens and the Earth”, and what are the
two principle CREATION THEORIES found in GENESIS 1?
•Elohim is a Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity in Genesis chapter 1,
• In Genesis 1 god who created the heavens and the Earth otherwise known as the cosmos
is referred to as Elohim.
•Moreover, many important characteristics of Elohim are revealed in the beginning of
genesis chapter 1. It is known that Elohim is pluralized and transcends gender meaning
that the word represents both the male and female.
• Furthermore, Elohim can only do good as all that he created was good such as light, the
heaven and Earth.
• Elohim leaves the choice of evil to the individual as supported by the story of Adam and
Eve where they both choose to eat from the tree and were not forced to.
• In addition, Elohim is a divine being who creates with his word out of nothing as
evidenced when God said “let there be light,” and there was light.
•Elohim is the first cause because if there was a cause of god, God would not be God, thus
God is the first uncaused cause and also the efficient cause. In addition, Elohim is not the
material cause as Elohim remains apart from his creation in both theories of creation.
•The two principle creation theories that are found in genesis one are different because of
the way how God creates.
•The first creation theory is where god created something out of nothing, and god said “let
there be light” and there was light and he saw that light was good-he created out of his
word, out of nothing.
•In the second creation theory god created from preexistent matter. The Hebrew word
Tehom refers to the waters as deep is related to the word Tiamat which is the wicked
female dragon that encompoasses the waters. The God of wind, Marduk, slays Tiamat
and makes the heavens and the earth from her body. However, I Genesis this myth is
demythologized and thus the waters become the pre existant matter out of which Elohim
creates the cosmos like how a potter takes chaotic lump of clay and creates a nice pot, in
the same way, God takes waters and shapes it into the cosmos.
•God said let there be a firament in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters.
He separated the waters which were under the firament from the waters which were
above the firament and called the firament heaven and then he said let the waters under
the heaven gather together and let dry land appear- he called it earth.
3. What is the significance for the Historian of Religion of the relationship of the
HEBREW WORD TEHOM in Genesis 1 Verses 2, 6 and following to the
BABYLONIAN WORD TIAMAT in the Babylonian Myth of Creation?
•The Hebrew word Tehom refers to the waters as deep is related to the word Tiamat which
is the wicked female dragon that encompoasses the waters
• Etymologically the words are related as in the Babylonian myth, Tiamat becomes
Tehom; the Babylonian myth may have been adopted but demythologized.
•The God of wind, Marduk, slays Tiamat and makes the heavens and the earth from her
•However, in Genesis this myth is demythologized and thus the waters become the pre
existant matter out of which Elohim creates the cosmos.
•Therefore the relationship that exists between the two is that one cames from the other.
The author in Genesis simply demythologized the myth of Marduk.
5. What is the THEORY OF TIME that is implied in the words “IN THE
BEGINNING” and how do JEWS, CHRISTIANS and MUSLIMS understand it, i.e.
The Theory of Time in terms of God’s REVELATION?
Time is linear. If there is a beginning, time must be chronological, and so there
must exist a middle and a supposed end.
God is transcendent but is immanent in his revelation. Therefore, in terms of his
oAt the time of creation was Abraham. The 3 agree on this.
•is a figure in the Torah, Bible, and Quran whom Jewish,
Christian and Muslim believers regard as the founding patriarch
of the Israelites, Arabs and Edomite peoples. In what is thus
called Abrahamic religious tradition, Abraham is the forefather
of these peoples.
oThen came Moses who is described in the Torah. All agree on this as
oChristians and Muslims believe in the prophet Jesus Christ, who came
oOnly Muslims believe in Muhammad, who calls himself the last prophet
in the Qur’an.
oSupposed end of time
oAlso compare to Hinduism where time is cyclical
6. In GENESIS Chapter 2 ADAM and EVE are told by GOD not to eat the fruit of
what TREE in the middle of the GARDEN OF EDEN and what is the symbolic
significance of the CHOICE that they made?
When God saw everything he made and behold, he saw that it was good.
So, God allowed Adam to eat from the fruit of every tree in the Garden of Eden
except from the Tree of knowledge.
o“For in the day you eat of it, you shall die” – god
oSeems as if God had brought forth Evil, but this is not the case…
oAdam was lonely so god made woman (eve) from one of Adam’s ribs.