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God in the Enlightenment$
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William J. Bulman and Robert G. Ingram

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190267070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190267070.001.0001

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From Christian Apologetics to Deism

From Christian Apologetics to Deism

Libertine Readings of Hinduism, 1650–1730

(p.107) 4 From Christian Apologetics to Deism
God in the Enlightenment

Joan-Pau Rubiés

Oxford University Press

India and its religion played an important role in the assault on Christian orthodoxy during the late Enlightenment. However, the late-seventeenth century transition from antiquarian apologetics to libertinism is harder to explain, and yet historically more crucial. This chapter maps this process with particular reference to the interpretation of the remarkable range of materials concerning Hinduism that appeared in the illustrated encyclopedia of world religions Cérémonies et coutumes de tots les peuples du monde. Its editor, Jean-Fréderic Bernard, went well beyond the mere task of compilation and publication, and his interpretative choices, colored by a rationalist form of Deism, often departed from the differing agendas present in his sources. On the basis of considering these differences, this chapter seeks to elucidate how exactly the shift from comparative antiquarian apologetics to a comparative libertine anthropology of religion took place and analyzes its implications for the religious culture of the Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Hinduism, illustrated encyclopedia, idolatry, superstition, antiquarian apologetics, anthropology of religion, deism, libertinism, Jean-Fréderic Bernard

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