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Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the… (1990)

av Jonathan Z. Smith

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
901240,662 (4.25)4
In this major theoretical and methodological statement on the history of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith shows how convert apologetic agendas can dictate the course of comparative religious studies. As his example, Smith reviews four centuries of scholarship comparing early Christianities with religions of late Antiquity (especially the so-called mystery cults) and shows how this scholarship has been based upon an underlying Protestant-Catholic polemic. The result is a devastating critique of traditional New Testament scholarship, a redescription of early Christianities as religious traditions amenable to comparison, and a milestone in Smith's controversial approach to comparative religious studies. "An important book, and certainly one of the most significant in the career of Jonathan Z. Smith, whom one may venture to call the greatest pathologist in the history of religions. As in many precedent cases, Smith follows a standard procedure: he carefully selects his victim, and then dissects with artistic finesse and unequaled acumen. The operation is always necessary, and a deconstructor of Smith's caliber is hard to find."--Ioan P. Coulianu, Journal of Religion… (mer)
  1. 00
    The Gift of Death av Jacques Derrida (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Both books take their point of departure from genealogical studies of the Christian mystery, and each has profound applications of the results.
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This fairly slim book consists of five lecture texts:

* "On the Origin of Origins" begins the discussion, using the Jefferson-Adams correspondence on religious topics as a point of departure. It also orients around the writings of Priestly and Dupuis, and pinpoints the question of Christian origins in "Protestant anti-Catholic apologetics."

* "On Comparison" is a largely methodological piece, that incisively outlines the gambits of uniqueness and genealogy that have served the agendas of Protestant polemic and Christian supremacism in previous work on the topic.

* "On Comparing Words" discusses the philological arguments to date, and their subservience to theological efforts. Quite happily for me, Smith chose to use the term mysterion for illustrative purposes throughout this section. Among other things, I learned about the ancient Greek pun attributed by Athenaios to Dionysos Tyrannos: mysterion = mus terein, "mouseholes!" (p. 56 n)

* "On Comparing Stories" has a quick survey of "pagan Christs" literature, before focusing in on Frazer's 'dying and rising' god motif, and its application to Christianity in the work of Pfleiderer; then a discussion of the problems of data for historically-oriented comparisons.

* "On Comparing Settings" applies all of the foregoing to the question of comparing early Christianities (note the significant plural!) to other religions of antiquity, also bringing in Smith's locative/utopian distinction. Smith's confessed appreciation for and dependence on the Christian origins work of Burton Mack is clearest in this section.

Smith writes, "The Protestant hegemony over the enterprise of comparing the religions of Late Antiquity and early Christianities has been an affair of mythic conception and ritual practice from the outset." Aleister Crowley's Gospel According to St. Bernard Shaw (a.k.a. Jesus sub figura 888) still deserves that same valuation, despite its opposition to the Protestant hegemony, as he was fighting fire with fire. It was not "a thorough revaluation of the purposes of comparison" in service to "the scholarly imagination of religion," as Smith would prefer. But Crowley's tack adds an additional dimension to the history of the enterprise, and for those who wish to soldier on in the mythic and ritual battlefields, Smith's book is a stone that will sharpen any sword that can hold the edge.
1 rösta paradoxosalpha | Jun 10, 2009 |
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In this major theoretical and methodological statement on the history of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith shows how convert apologetic agendas can dictate the course of comparative religious studies. As his example, Smith reviews four centuries of scholarship comparing early Christianities with religions of late Antiquity (especially the so-called mystery cults) and shows how this scholarship has been based upon an underlying Protestant-Catholic polemic. The result is a devastating critique of traditional New Testament scholarship, a redescription of early Christianities as religious traditions amenable to comparison, and a milestone in Smith's controversial approach to comparative religious studies. "An important book, and certainly one of the most significant in the career of Jonathan Z. Smith, whom one may venture to call the greatest pathologist in the history of religions. As in many precedent cases, Smith follows a standard procedure: he carefully selects his victim, and then dissects with artistic finesse and unequaled acumen. The operation is always necessary, and a deconstructor of Smith's caliber is hard to find."--Ioan P. Coulianu, Journal of Religion

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