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Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of ReligionsThe Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade$
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Christian Wedemeyer and Wendy Doniger

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195394337

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394337.001.0001

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The Eternal Deferral

The Eternal Deferral

(p.215) 10 The Eternal Deferral
Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions

Jonathan Z. Smith

Oxford University Press

This chapter poses the question of whether or not the “companion volume” that Eliade promised in Patterns in Comparative Religions can be identified with “the awkward, multi-volume, unfinished production of Eliade’s last years,” A History of Religious Ideas. It argues that Eliade thought it so, or came to think it so. The History functions—and will continue to function—in a way analogous to an encyclopedia, providing a valuable starting point for further inquiries, one that is provocative of both thought and questions. But despite Eliade’s identification of the History with the “companion volume,” it fails to reflect explicitly on the relations between the morphological approach, as exemplified in Patterns, and a historical approach, as illustrated by the History. In part, this is due to the lack of the concluding volume to the History, Eliade’s growing problems with his health, and, finally, his death; but it is also due to the inadequate conceptualization of the historical embodied in the work.

Keywords:   Frazer, Mac Linscott Ricketts, Patterns in Comparative Religion, Shamanism, Baal, El, Ugaritic, Dussaud, Hittite, Canaan

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