The Legacy, Life and Work of Geo Widengren and the Study of the History of Religions after World War II


Volume Editor:
Professor Geo Widengren (1907–1996), holder of the chair in History of Religions and Psychology of Religions at Uppsala University between 1940 and 1973, is one of Sweden’s best-known scholars in the field of religious studies. His involvement in the start of the IAHR and publications on topics such as the phenomenology of religions, Iranian studies and Middle Eastern Religions make Widengren one of the founding fathers of the History of Religions as an academic discipline. This volume pays tribute to Widengren’s academic achievements and critically discusses his work in light of the latest academic findings and research.

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Göran Larsson, Ph.D., is Professor of Religious Studies and Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Gothenburg. Larsson’s main research is on Islam and Muslims, but he has also published on religion and the media, global conflicts, violent extremism and security studies, theory and method, with leading international publishers like Brill, Routledge, Ashgate, Springer and Equinox .

Contributors are Daniel Andersson, Giovanni Casadio, Clemens Cavallin, Göran Eidevall, Satoko Fujiwara, René Gothóni, Jan Hjärpe, Christer Hedin, Anders Hultgård, Tim Jensen, Albert de Jong, Einar Thomassen, Mihaela Timus, Chiara Ombretta Tommasi.
Notes on Contributors

part 1: Thesis and International Work

1 Geo Widengren: A Portrait of a Swedish Historian of Religions
Göran Larsson

2 Hebrew Laments in the Light of Mesopotamian Material
Göran Eidevall

3 Professor Geo Widengren, IAHR Vice-President 1950–1960, IAHR President 1960–1970, IAHR Honorary Life Member 1996
Tim Jensen and Satoko Fujiwara

part 2: Iranian Cultures, Languages and Religions

4 Geo Widengren and the Study of Iranian Religion
Anders Hultgård

5 The Eclipse of Geo Widengren in the Study of Iranian Religions
Albert de Jong

6 “King and Saviour”: Geo Widengren’s Early Contributions (1938–1955) to the History of Iranian Religions
Mihaela Timuş

part 3: A Phenomenological Approach

7 Geo Widengren and Swedish Phenomenology of Religion versus Italian Comparative Historical Typology
Giovanni Casadio

8 The World of Religion: A Reevaluation of Geo Widengren’s Phenomenology of Religion
Clemens Cavallin

part 4: Method, Criticism and a Public Intellectual

9 The Reception and Criticism of Geo Widengren in the Nordic Countries: The Debate over the Origin of Religion
René Gothóni and Göran Larsson

10 Before the Bible: Middle-Eastern Religions and the Origins of Christianity in the Works of Geo Widengren
Christer Hedin

11 Tor Andræ and Geo Widengren: Perspectives and Purposes of the Study of the History of Religions
Jan Hjärpe

12 Africa and America Revisited: A Critical Analysis of Widengren’s Comparative Method
Daniel Andersson

Part 5: Manichaeism and Gnosticism

13 Widengren, Gnosticism, and the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule
Einar Thomassen

14 Geo Widengren and Manichaeism
Chiara O. Tommasi

Part 6: Postscript

15 Geo Widengren as Researcher and Public Intellectual: A Meta-Reflection
Göran Larsson

Appendix A: Letters between Raffaele Pettazzoni and Geo Widengren (1948–1959)
Appendix B: Letters between Helmer Ringgren, Geo Widengren and Ugo Bianchi (1959–1970)
Geo Widengren’s Bibliography
Scholars interested in how the academic study of the History of Religions, Near Eastern Studies, Comparative Religions and Biblical Studies evolved after the Second World War; scholars specialized in the university history, method and theory in the study of religions and adjacent disciplines (especially philology, but also anthropology and ethnology).
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