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In exploring ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visits to Britain, Brendan McNamara expands the jigsaw of our knowledge of how “the east came west”. More importantly, by exploring the visits through the motives of those that received him, The Reception of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Britain: East Comes West demonstrates that the “cultic milieu” thesis is incomplete. Focusing on a number of well-known Edwardian Protestant reformers, the book demonstrates that the arrival of eastern forms of religions in Britain penetrated more mainstream Christian forms. This process is set within significant developments in the early formation of the study of religions, the rise of science and orientalism. All these elements are shown to be linked together. Significantly the work argues that the advent of World War One changed the direction of new forms of religion leading to a ‘forgetfulness’ that has lasted until the present time.
In Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth: Contributions in Honor of Robert A. Segal, nineteen renowned scholars offer a collection of essays addressing the persisting question of how to approach religion and myth as academic categories. Taking their cue from the work of Robert A. Segal, they discuss how to theorize about religion and myth from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. With cases from ancient Greece and Mesopotamia to East Asia and the modern world by and large, and engaging with diverse disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, history, film, theology, and religious studies among others, the volume establishes a synthesis that demonstrates the pervasiveness as well as the pitfalls of the categories “religion” and “myth” in the world.

Abstract

Russian Orthodoxy and Secularism surveys the ways in which the Russian Orthodox Church has negotiated its relationship with the secular state, with other religions, and with Western modernity from its beginnings until the present. It applies multiple theoretical perspectives and draws on different disciplinary approaches to explain the varied and at times contradictory facets of Russian Orthodoxy as a state church or as a critic of the state, as a lived religion or as a civil religion controlled by the state, as a source of dissidence during Communism or as a reservoir of anti-Western, anti-modernist ideas that celebrate the uniqueness and superiority of the Russian nation. Kristina Stoeckl argues that, three decades after the fall of Communism, the period of post-Soviet transition is over for Russian Orthodoxy and that the Moscow Patriarchate has settled on its role as national church and provider of a new civil religion of traditional values.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and Politics

Abstract

After a general overview of Myth Criticism since its beginnings, this article will give a precise account of the main purpose of this methodological approach: to show the actuality of myth and its functions. Particular attention will be paid to Cultural Myth Criticism, and how this new perspective deals with the main challenges that myth encounters today: social globalization, culture of immanence, and logic of consumerism. R. Segal’s key ideas about the concept of myth and its development in 20th century will be accounted for. This article pays particular attention to Cultural Mythcriticism, and how this new perspective deals with the main challenges that myth encounters today: social globalisation, culture of immanence, and logic of consumerism.

In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
Author: Jon Mills

Abstract

Myth has a convoluted etymological history in terms of its origins, meanings, and functions. Throughout this essay I explore the signification, structure, and essence of myth in terms of its source, force, form, object, and teleology derived from archaic ontology. Here I offer a theoretic typology of myth by engaging the work of contemporary scholar, Robert Segal, who places fine distinctions on criteria of explanation versus interpretation when theorizing about myth. Through my analysis of an explanandum and an explanans, I argue that both interpretation and explanation are acts of explication that signify the ontological significance, truth, and psychic reality of myth in both individuals and social collectives. I conclude that, in essence, myth is a form of inner sense.

In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
Author: Ivan Strenski

Abstract

With Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology vying to become the theoretical foundations of some promised “scientific” study of religion, the very question of the criteria of scientific practice once more comes to the fore. A close reading of past attempts to found a “science of religion” reveals that these criteria are conventional, and as such both historically-relative and contestable. Terms, like “science,” are sometimes applied with less than one hundred percent confidence in their applicability. Few cases in the “scientific” study of religion better exhibit this shift of foundational and conceptual criteria of the scientific imaginary and its practice than one of the first proponents of a “science of religion,” the Dutch historian and morphologist of religion, Cornelis P. Tiele. The essay examines Tiele’s approach in relation to attempts for a scientific study of religion.

In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
Author: Fiona Bowie

Abstract

This essay explores the tension between the study of religion as an exercise in phenomenological bracketing on the one hand, and as engagement with a world of transpersonal forces on the other. I argue that certain experiences of encounters with spirits, non-human others, and with what are perceived as divine beings, have cross-cultural features that transcend specific cultural interpretations. One reason for their ubiquity could be their origin in direct human experience. The ontological force of anomalous and transpersonal experience has been debated by anthropologists for well over a century, gaining recent visibility via explorations in the anthropology of ontology.

In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth
Author: Laura Feldt

Abstract

Myth is often seen as the key narrative genre for religious traditions, and as playing crucial roles for forming and maintaining religious beliefs and practices. Myth and fiction or literature have often been understood as two very separate genres, and only to a limited extent have the concepts of myth and fiction/literature been brought into interaction, and then primarily in the form of analyses of the rewriting of myths in modern literature. This article will discuss the nexus of religion and fiction/literature in the ancient world, using an analysis of the Standard-Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh from ancient Mesopotamia as a case study. Based on a discussion of Robert A. Segal’s definition and discussions of myth and on an analysis of fictionalizing traits and the use of myth in the SB Epic of Gilgamesh, this paper will discuss the nexus of myth and fiction in ancient Mesopotamia, as well as the roles played, in religion, by fiction and a broader, fluctuating spectrum of types of religious narratives, which are not necessarily believed in and where the characters have an uncertain reality status, up against concepts of “myth.”

In: Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth