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In: The Orient in Utrecht: Adriaan Reland (1676-1718), Arabist, Cartographer, Antiquarian and Scholar of Comparative Religion
In: Exchange


We reply in this article to Kehinde Olabimtan's polemical response to our article, 'Is Africa Incurably Religious?: Confessing and Contesting an Invention' [of Tradition], both published in this journal in 2003. We first review the setting of this exchange: the theological character of the journal Exchange, and then point to Olabimtan's strategy of polemically presenting our analysis in the terms of the old 'war' between atheist and religious scholarship on religions. Having carefully summarised the 'weapons' he used in his 'counter-attack' on our analysis, we dispassionately respond to them by pointing out first that our analysis was not inspired by an atheist approach to religions, but by methodological agnosticism, and then reply to Olabimtan's other misrepresentations of us and of p'Bitek. We conclude by pointing to the 'bridges' between his and our approaches, which Olabimtan did not explode.

In: Exchange
Adriaan Reland (1676-1718), Arabist, Cartographer, Antiquarian and Scholar of Comparative Religion covers the intellectual achievements of a remarkable man: Adriaan Reland, professor of Oriental languages (1701) and Hebrew Antiquities (1713) at the University of Utrecht from 1701 to 1718. Although he never travelled beyond the borders of his home country, he had an astonishingly broad worldview. The contributions in this volume illuminate Reland’s many accomplishments and follow his scholarly trajectory as an Orientalist, a linguist, a cartographer, a poet, and a historian of comparative religions. Reland, although a devout Protestant, believed that religions should be examined objectively on their own terms with the help of reliable and authentic documents, which would dispel the prejudices of the past. Contributors: Lot Brouwer, Ulrich Groetsch,Toon van Hal, Jason Harris, Bart Jaski, Christian Lange, Richard van Leeuwen, Remke Kruk, Anna Pytlowany, Henk J. van Rinsum, Dirk Sacré, Arnoud Vrolijk, Tobias Winnerling and Jan Just Witkam