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RLG101H5 Study Guide - Heavensent, Mother Goddess, Zoroastrianism

14 pages146 viewsWinter 2011

Department
Religion
Course Code
RLG101H5
Professor
David Miller

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PART B QUESTIONS FROM READINGS
HISTORIANS OF RELIGION
1) What the main features of F. Max Muller’s theory of the origin of religion, and
how does it compare to other theories of origin in his time?
F.Max Muller:
Devoted his life to the study of classical Indian religious documents, comparative
study of religious history and myth, and publication of religious history of the
world
End of 19th century debates about the origin of religion
oE.B. Tylor – proposed that religion had its origin in various psychological
factors such as dreams, ecstasies, etc.
oAndrew Lang –argued that the idea of a supreme being could be traced
historically among earliest conceptions of humanity. Therefore no
discussion of an antecedent of religion was meaningful
Religion and mythology began with human perception of overpowering natural
phenomena myth is an imagistic expression of experience of infinite provoked
by nature
most important to Muller were the myths that he believed to be inspired by the
power of the sun: hissolar mythology” argued that – principal gods and heroes
of the indo-european peoples were at root, solar metaphors
transformation from a Direct perception of sun’s power to metaphorical
representation of power in myth illustrated a “disease of language
Natural objects of awe and reverence were gradually obscured behind a tissue of
linguistic usage and ultimately served from direct perception by action of
metaphor
Gods were originally only names for natural phenomena, names that over time =
falsely interpreted, personified and deified.
Insisted that major holy books of religious history should be given to scholars 
new science of religion should be based on study of sources
Conviction that traces of divine wisdom and love could be discovered in history
of humanity
Mircea Eliade:
Romanian born, great hope was o decipher the message of the cosmos, which to
him was a great repository of hidden meanings
Created notion of “cosmic religion”
Proper procedure for grasping mythological thought and meaning is not the
naturalist’sobjectivity but the intelligent sympathy of the hermeneut (a person
who develops and studies theories and interpretation of religious texts)
Like Raffaele Pettazzoni and Joachim Wach Eliade held that history of
religions consisted of two dimenstions: historical and systematic
“cosmic” hierophanies such as the sky, waters, earth, and stones
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religious wholes are not seen in bits and pieces, for each class of hierophanies
forms, in its own way a whole, both morphologically and historically
has much in common with phenomenology of religion of Gerardus van der Leeuw
shows that human beings can and do find religious meaning even in most banal
physiological activities
cosmos serves as grounds for the manifestation of the scared
for van der Leeuw scheme: 1) religion as experience (studied
phenomenologically) 2) religion as revelation (studied theologically)
Elliade never claimed that history of religions is empirical (means to gain by
experience)
A work of are for example reveals its meaning only when it is seen as an
autonomous (having own bounds) artistic creation and nothing else. In the case of
history of religions, he realized that the situation is complex because there is no
such thing as a “pure religion datum (human datum = historical datum)
Every rite, every myth, every belief or divine figure reflects the experience of the
sacred and hence implies the notions of being, or meaning, and of truth.
Only the sacred’s first appearance has value myths portray this and thus,
mythological age = sacred age
Argues that religion is based on a sharp distinction between sacred and profane
Sacred contains reality and others acquire reality only to extent that they
participate in the sacred.
Rudolf Otto:
German Christian theologian similar religious expressions were arising out of
common human sense of numinous
Careful to show at the same time how parallel forms are qualified by the
dynamics of the individual religion he thought that historian of religions must
be sensitive to both similarities and differences
2) MIRCEA ELIADE called historians of religion “learned generalists”. What two
tasks were central to his methodology and what did he envision the end purposes of
the study of religion to be?
History of religions play an important role in contemporary cultural life
Understanding of exotic and archaic religions will significantly assist in a cultural
dialogue with the representatives of such religions
History will inevitably attain to a deeper knowledge of man basis of such
knowledge that a new humanism, on a worldwide scale could develop.
NOT FINISHED! don’t know the rest of this answer
3) Describe and explain the key elements of Rudolf Otto’s IDEA OF THE HOLY
Perhaps the tremendous impact of his trip to Asia in 1911 and 1912 and his early
study of Sanskrit texts that led him to the analysis of religious experience first
articulated in The Idea of The Holy
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It attempted to clarify distinctively religious element in religious experience by
attending especially to nonrational factors – what is left after the rational elements
have been subtracted
Book specifically investigated relationship of rational to the nonrational in
religious experience.
Term holy, which should designate special religious dimension, had lost its
primary meaning and had come to designate ethical and moral self-righteousness
Its primary meaning otto found eludes apprehension in conceptual terms
So otto coined a new word, Numinous to stand for holy minus its moral factor and
without any rational aspect. The word now indicates special religious overplus of
meaning in idea of holy beyond that which is commonly thought of as rational
and moral – can be understood only when there is an existential experience of it
Numinous consciousness is directed tomysterium tremendum (mystery before
which one trembles) which evokes a strong sense of “creative feelin” this
experience according to otto includes double dimension of response to the holy.
1) element of shaking fear or repulsion, 2) element of powerful attraction of
fascination
numinous experience of holy is basic to all religious experience
human beings have a special faculty of genuinely recognizing holy in its
appearances – divination
divination means by which a person senses the meaning, value, and purpose of
the numinous presence
since numinous experience is nonrational, it evades precise formulation, the
overplus of meaning can only be indicated by “ideograms (concepts/doctrines
that can be understood symbolically not logically)
sin for example is not simply moral depreciation or transgression but it a feeling
or absolute profaneness involving the most uncompromising judgement of
depreciation of oneself as a creature accompanied by heightened appreciation of
the numen as holy mystery. thus source of forgiveness arises from numinous
those who experience the numinous experience a sense of dependency of
something objective and external to themselves that is greater than themelseves
holiness belongs just to God , we are profane but have potential to experience
numinous
experience of numinous cannot be described in terms of other experiences
COSMOGONY
1) Describe the characteristics of the CREATOR DEITY in myths related to
“CREATION FROM NOTHING”.
Cosmogony deals with myths, stories, or theories regarding the birth or creation
of the universe as an order of the description of the original order of the universe
The cosmogonic myth that is related to “creation from nothing” is usually
identified with monotheistic religions of the Semitic tradtions
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