220 Comparing Ancient Religions. A Discussion of J. Z. Smith's (Drudgery Divine' HANS G. KIPPENBERG J. Z. Smith tells us two stories in his book: the story of a great chain of scholarly misunderstandings, and the story of describing similarities between ancient Christianity and the religions of Late Antiquity. Both stories are carefully studied, reported with numerous valuable suggestions and ably presented. Reading this book made me feel like being under the treatment of an intellectual health service. Smith has chosen the study of Mystery religions as an example of the obstinate impact that tacit assumptions make on comparative studies and the distortions produced by them. Like a good doctor Smith diagnoses the disease. This disease has its roots in a long history of theological bias deriving from Protestant apologetics against Catholics. In these controversies ancient Mystery religions played the same role that sacraments perform in religions such as Catholicism. Well-known Protestants of different professions agreed that the early Church lost its genuine character by adapting to the Mystery religions. Because of this background the issue of similarities between pagan religions and ancient Christianity became a battlefield of hidden theological wars. Smith provides evidence of an obvious failure
Numen – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1992
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