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David Miller

PART B QUESTIONS FROM READINGS HISTORIANS OF RELIGION 1) What the main features of F. Max Mullers 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 19 century debates about the origin of religion o E.B. Tylor proposed that religion had its origin in various psychological factors such as dreams, ecstasies, etc. o Andrew 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: his solar mythology argued that principal gods and heroes of the indo-european peoples were at root, solar metaphors transformation from a Direct perception of suns 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 naturalists objectivity 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 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 sacreds 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! dont know the rest of this answer 3) Describe and explain the key elements of Rudolf Ottos 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 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 to mysterium 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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