History of Religions: The Comparative Moment

In: Regimes of Comparatism
Author: Guy G. Stroumsa

Abstract: This chapter studies the birth and growth of the comparative approach to the study of religions in the second half of the nineteenth century. It seeks to understand better the intellectual revolution that permitted an essentially non-theological approach to the study of religion in an era of secularization. It also seeks to unveil some pitfalls of this comparative approach and the new taxonomy of religions highlighting what came to be called “world religions.” Those pitfalls are at the root of the eventual failure of the grand comparative approach to the study of religions in the twentieth century.