The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion

The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion

Language: English

Pages: 187

ISBN: 0226203972

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In The Quest Mircea Eliade stresses the cultural function that a study of the history of religions can play in a secularized society. He writes for the intelligent general reader in the hope that what he calls a new humanism "will be engendered by a confrontation of modern Western man with unknown or less familiar worlds of meaning."

"Each of these essays contains insights which will be fruitful and challenging for professional students of religion, but at the same time they all retain the kind of cultural relevance and clarity of style which makes them accessible to anyone seriously concerned with man and his religious possibilities."—Joseph M. Kitagawa, Religious Education

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of the ancient Near East. Indeed, if there is one area in which comparisons can be rightfully applied, it is the ancient Near East. We know that agriculture, neolithic village culture, and finally urban civilization start from a Near Eastern center with many radii. 45. Religionem oorld, 2d ed. (Stockholm, 1953); Hochgottglaube im alten Iran (Uppsala, 1938); Die Religionen Iram (Stuttgart, 1965); etc. 46. Cf. H. Frankfort, The Problem vf Similarity in Ancient Near Eastern Religiom (Frazer Lecture,

these longings and drives denote a sort of nostalgia for the primordial, for the original, universal matrix. Matter, Substance, represents the absolute origin, the beginning of all things: Cosmos, Life, Mind. There is an irresistible desire to pierce time and space deeply to reach the limits and the beginnings of the visible Universe, and especially to disclose the ultimate ground of Substance and the germinal state of living Matter.2 From a certain pOint of view to say that the human soul is

with England and the European past was accentuated to the extent to which the pioneers prepared for the millennium by returning to the virtue of the Early Church. For the Puritans, the major Christian virtue was simplicity. On the other hand, intelligence, culture, learning, manners, luxury were of the Devil's creation. John Cotton wrote: "The more cultured and intelligent you are, the more ready you are to work for Satan." The superiority complex of the pioneers and the missionaries of the

scale of values. Men live on the fifth earth - the black soil- which is the one in the Center. The great pyramid~like hills of Sierra Nevada are imagined to be "worlds" or "houses" of a similar structure. Likewise, the principal cuI tic houses are their microcosmic replicas; consequently, they are situated at the "Center of the World." The associations do not stop here. The cosmic egg is interpreted as the uterus of the Universal Mother, in which mankind lives. The earth is equally a uterus, as

tribe, Handsome Lake, decided to reform the religion of his people after an ecstatic revelation. He substituted for the couple of the mythical Twins that of the Great God, Haweniyo (the "Great Voice"), and the Devil, Haninseono ("Who Dwells in the Earth") . But the prophet endeavored to concentrate the religious life on the Great God; for this reason he forbade the rituals consecrated to the bad Twin and transformed them into "social dances." This reform, with its strong monotheistic tendency,

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