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Religion After Religion – Steven Wasserstrom (1999)

An investigation into three big names in the “history of religion”: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade and Anton Corbin. Wasserstrom himself seems to posit himself in that field as well and closely investigates Scholem, Eliade and Corbin in order to be able to take the next step in the history of religions.

Scholem, Eliade and Corbin knew each other, they influenced each other, they had similar influences, but also they differed from each other. A meeting point of the three Wasserstrom takes as focal point; the annual Eranos meetings where academics met around a certain ‘program’.

The book is both biographical and deeply investigative into the thought of the three scholars. They had similar contacts and influences, some perhaps somewhat unexpected. Each has its own field. Scholem -of course- mostly focussed on Judaism, Corbin on Islam and Eliade was more of an all-rounder.

Wasserstrom tells his readers where the three academics found their inspiration, where they looked for answers and looks into their religions and esoteric (even initiatic) filiations. Also he takes up a few themes that can be found in the work of the three named authors.

Renaissance thought, perennial philosophy, Christian Kabbala, antinomianism, Goethe, (anti-)modernism, nationalism, Wasserstrom does not just scratch the surface and does not shy away from more difficult subjects. Even though he admires all three, some sides of for example Corbin he obviously finds dangerous.

“Religion After Religion” will give you context and background of these three famous authors in the field of the history of religion, partly also elements that are not so clear when you read their books yourself. He works towards the question if the history of religions is or was a child of its time, what the relevance of it could be today and how the approach can develop.

1999 Princeton University Press, isbn 0691005400

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