The first thorough assessment of the field of comparative religion in forty years, this groundbreaking volume surmounts the seemingly intractable division between postmodern scholars who reject the comparative endeavor and those who affirm it. The contributors demonstrate that a broader vision of religion, involving different scales of comparison for different purposes, is both justifiable and necessary.
A Magic Still Dwells brings together leading historians of religions from a wide range of backgrounds and vantage points, and draws from traditions as diverse as Indo-European mythology, ancient Greek religion, Judaism, Buddhism, Ndembu ritual, and the spectrum of religions practiced in America. The contributors take seriously the postmodern critique, explain its impact on their work, uphold or reject various premises, and in several cases demonstrate new comparative approaches. Together, the essays represent a state-of-the-art assessment of current issues in the comparative study of religion.
Wendy Doniger, Diana Eck, Malcolm David Eckel, Jonathan R. Herman, Barbara A. Holdrege, William E. Paden, Laurie L. Patton, Kimberley C. Patton, Benjamin C. Ray, Huston Smith, Jonathan Z. Smith, Lawrence E. Sullivan, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, David Gordon White
Kimberley C. Patton is Assistant Professor in the Comparative and Historical Study of Religion at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of When the High Gods Pour Out Wine: Ritual, Paradox, and Divine Reflexivity (forthcoming in 2000). Benjamin C. Ray is Daniels Family NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Myth, Ritual, and Kingship in Buganda (1991).
"The need for a fresh look at the area of comparative religions should be apparent to anyone with any connection to the field. In the time that post-modernism has become the fin de siecle intellectual establishment, challenge to its orthodoxy has become unthinkable. However it is now obvious that a radical change of intellectual style is much overdue. . . . we must critique post-modernism from within the mind set of the period. This book does just that, filling a yawning gap in the literature of the field." —Ralph Slotten, Professor Emeritus of the History of Religions, Dickinson College