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History of the Science of World Religions

History of the Science of World Religions

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History of the Science of World Religions

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  1. History of the Science of World Religions

  2. A. Religion—from Latin “religio” 1. Originally seems to referred to as “fear” or reverence for the gods—later to the rites offered to them 2. Confusion as to where word originates a. “relegere”--to gather things together” or “to pass over things repeatedly” b. “religare”--to bind things together”—emphasize communal aspect—draws people into religious rites, practice and belief

  3. A. The study of religions seemingly originated with the Greeks • 1. Herodotus—father of history—took seriously the chronology of the past • 2. Epicurus—a radical critic of religion and sought to catalog and explain the sense of the sacred • 3. Stoics—believed there was a common denominator of sacred behind all religion

  4. B. Romans studied religion • 1. Cicero—concerned with the word “religion” and was first to use the term • 2. Seneca, Tacitus, and Julius Caesar all interested in the study • 3. After Christianity emerged study of different religions was neglected since the church was more concerned with its own mission and survival

  5. C. Confrontation with Islam • 1. Islam rapid expansion • 2. Crusades

  6. D. The Modern Mission Movement • With William Carey in 1792

  7. E. The New Empiricism and Rationalism • 1. Deists and philosophers such as Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire discussed the problem of “natural religion” • 2. Max Mueller wrote an essay on comparative mythology—he found the origin of myths in natural phenomena

  8. Criteria for the Study of World Religions

  9. A. Objectivity—students of religion must observe facts as objectively as possible • 1. One must consider sacred texts and historical manifestations of the faith • 2. It is important not to pre-judge another religious perspective

  10. B. A Thorough Grounding • 1. Must have knowledge of history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and theology in order to come to the essence of different religions • 2. Such facts are necessary for intelligent comparisons and discussions

  11. C. Proper Criteria • One must have the responsibility to establish a criteria for judgment based on fact, not value judgments

  12. Distinguishing between fact and value • 1. A factual judgment asserts that is or is so • 2. A value judgment asserts that something ought to be

  13. The Study of Religion

  14. A. Animism • Edward Tylor—founder of modern anthropology • A type of consciousness in animate and inanimate objects

  15. Fear • Rabbi Brown • Anicent humanity was insecure because of the forces of nature • Suggested Gen. 1:1 should have read • “in the beginning was fear” • Lucretius offered this as explanation of origin of religion • “We fear what we do not know”

  16. Totemism—Durkheim Worship of ancestors Religion arose out of fear for loved ones Tribe was the family enlarged Religion is identified with society

  17. D. High God Revelation—Wilhelm Schmidt • Rooted against evolution view of religion • Believed most ancient people had a belief in a higher being

  18. Definitions of Religion

  19. A. Religion as a phenomenon looked on as universal—Eliade’s concept of the • “sense of the sacred”

  20. B. Anti-Rationalistic Definitions • 1. Lucretius—an anti-rational, coercive force • 2. Reinanch—a sum of scruples which impede the free exercise of our faculties • 3. Marx—a pathological manifestation of protective forces, deviation caused by ignorance of natural causes and their effects

  21. C. Intellectual Definition • Max Mueller wrote that religion is a mental factor independent of sense and reason to apprehend the infinite in different names

  22. D. Emotional Definitions • 1. Schleiermacher saw the essence of religion as an emotion and consists of feelings of absolute dependence • 2. McTaggert said religion is best described as an emotion resting in conviction of harmony between ourselves and the universe at large

  23. E. Religion as Morality • Immanuel Kant saw religion as the recognitions of our duties as divine commands, the driving force of the sacred is morality, e.g., tabu, holiness

  24. F. Psychological Definition • William James said that religion comes from the feelings and experiences and individual people

  25. G. Religion as Ultimate Valuation—Paul Tillich’s ultimate concern • 1. Ultimate concern has priority in the system of concerns which constitutes a personality or a culture—it gives meaning and purpose to human life • 2. Ultimate concern is pervasive—spread over the totality of existence • 3. Ultimate concern is concerned with the holy—Rudolph Otto saw holiness as a special and unique experience. He coined the phrase numinous, from Latin meaning divinity, god, or spirit—refers to a special feeling of aweness or fear • 4. Ultimate concern has to do with the expression and communication of religious experience—religious experience takes place through symbolic words, objects, and actions • 5. Ultimate Concern is both lived and celebrated---celebrated through liturgy and mythology—lived out in the religious expressions influencing all factors of life

  26. Three Types of Religious Experience

  27. A. Cosmic Religion—one in which there is found a plurality of religious objects or gods; it is polytheistic. The many gods are associated with nature and/or culture. Prehistoric and folk religions are examples of this type

  28. B. Acosmic Religion—one in which is found the religious object beyond the common secular world of nature and society—usually emphasizes the One. • Hinduism and transcendental monism are examples

  29. C. Historical Religion—one in which is found the religious object beyond and within the common world—sees history as linear—examples are Judaism, Christanity, and Islam

  30. Religion of Pre-Historic Humanity

  31. A. Concept of religion is believed to have began in the Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic) with the Neanderthals (100,000-25,000 years ago) 1. Deliberate and meticulous care of burying dead, with ceremony 2. The dead were buried in a “fetal” position—a “return to the womb”

  32. 3. Example of burial in Monte Cicero (Italy) a. Bones of deer, horse, hyena, elephant, and lion were on the floor and heaped up around the walls in piles b. On the floor beneath the cranaium were two fractured metacarpals of an ox and of a deer c. The skull showed signs of having received a fatal blow on the right side of the temple

  33. d. At its base the portion connecting the braid with the spinal cord had been cut away after death, probably to extract the brain e. The site appeared be a place in which the body was deposited ceremonially in a cave used for ritual purposes as a sacred ossuary

  34. 4. Another example of a ritual burial is in Bavaria a. A nest of 27 human skulls were found in a group embedded in red ochre, the skulls looking westward b. A few yards away was a second identical group of six skulls—some of these the cervical vertebrae were still attached and from their condition the heads must have been severed from the body after death with flint knives

  35. c. Those skulls in the center were tightly packed together and crushed—it seems that they had been added one by one from time to time d. Twenty of the skulls were of children ornamented with snail shells; nine were of women with necklaces of deer teeth, and four were of adult males

  36. Cro-Magnons (25,000-10,000 years ago)—more developed1. First “idols” found were of female deities—shows interest in fertility; the concept of the “mother goddess” beginning to appear as a fecundity motif

  37. 2. From drawings, it appears the concept of symphatic magic was being conceived3. Throughout other burial sites, certain shells (cowrie) were shaped in the form of a portal through which a child enters the world4. During this time there was a widespread custom of placing ochreous powder on the body: red was the color of life and placing the red ochre on the body suggests a belief in a “life to come”

  38. 5. One anthropologist believes the painting of the body with the red ochre was the first “mummification” and an attempt to make the body “servicable” again 6. Some burial spots could suggest that the living were making offerings to the dead out of a fear and awe of them

  39. C. Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age, 10,000-7,000 years ago 1. This age was a transitional age which saw the vanishing of the ice sheet and a gradual shift from nomadic to village life 2. In one grave site in Brittany were found a great ossuary with ten burial sites, including the remains of 23 individuals. a. The bodies were crouched in shallow trench caves near the hearths accompanied by implements, perforated shell necklaces, and braclets b. The bodies were covered with red ochre and stone slabs c. It appeared that the bodies were clothed where they were interred

  40. 3. In Denmark there was a continuation of extended burial in earth graves defined by a small ring of small stones around the body and covered with a large earth mound known as dyssers or dolmans

  41. D. The Neolithic (New Stone Age, 7000-3000 years ago 1. This age is characterized by several great changes a. Early forms of agriculture, with active tilling of the soil b. Domestication of animals and their gathering into flocks and herds c. Advances in the arts of pottery, plaiting, weaving, and sewing d. Establishment of settled communities with an accompanying growth of population e. The invention of the wheeled card f. The first surgery

  42. 2. Religion also being radically transformed a. The Mother Goddess or Great Goddess of earlier hunting culture became associated with creation and regeneration b. Female divine power went beyond the animal models of birthing and nurture to the watering, tending, and protecting of the whole world of vegetation c. Studies of Old Europe (Balkans) reveal a pantheon of mostly female deities subsequently obscured, but not fully displaced by later Indo-Aryan patriarchal and gender-polarized views.

  43. Generalizations of Tribal Religions A. Traditional—no written language exists B. Naturalistic framework of reference—biological drives C. Spontaneous—response to stimuli, irrational

  44. Broad Generalizations A. Primitive religion is monistic—no dualism B. A sense of absolute interdependence of all things C. Interdependence maintained by infallible rigid authority D. Religion serves to maintain social harmony and stability E. No opposites among tribal people—everything and everybody complementary

  45. Characteristics of Religion in Primal Cultures

  46. A. Awe before the Sacred 1. Rudolf Otto in The Ideal of the Holy, bases the experience of the holy upon an encounter with a mysterium tremendum et fascinosum, and found it in all religions—the degree of the sense of the awe or holy various tremendously with each group 2. In most primitive societies the sacred possesses a special significance and cannot be handled lightly 3. Objects and persons can have this “awe” within them

  47. B. Expressions of anxiety in ritual 1. When there is a sense of the sacred, anxiety occurs and will cause “action” 2. This “action” takes the form of special deeds and words 3. Such anxiety is the basis of all religious ritual

  48. C. Ritual and Expectancy 1. Some rituals are expectant in nature 2. They presuppose a causal efficacy 3. They are performed to bring health, offspring, productivity of the soil, fertility of cattle, et al 4. Other rites occur at specific times for specific purposes a. Rites of passage—connected with birth, name giving, initiation, betrothal, marriage, death, etc b. The elevation to tribal leadership or kingship

  49. D. Myth and Ritual 1. The making of myth is common in all human cultures 2. Myths help to answer questions as to the origin of actions or beliefs 3. Cosmogonic or “creation” myths help to explain the origin of existence 4. An etiological myth is one that explains how things have come to be as they are now 5. The quasi-historical myth is the elaboration of an original happening, usually involving a hero or pioneer figure

  50. E. Types of magic 1. Magic may be loosely defined as an endeavor through utterance of set words, or the performance of set acts, or both, to control or bend the powers of the world to one’s will 2. Sympathetic magic (James Frazer) takes an imitative form based upon analogy a. It assumes that look-alikes act alike, or, more significantly, that like influences or even produces like b. Thus, if one imitates the looks and actions of a person or an animal (or even a thundercloud), one can induce a like and desired action in the imitated being or object