Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual (Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism) by Jonathan Z Smith from the University of Chicago Press:
The “place” of the title and of Smith’s theory is not merely location, but also the “place” in sequence and the “place” in rank or value. He theorizes ritual as a “mode of paying attention,” which creates and affirms distinctions and differences, rather than contents or essences. He thus draws comparisons between the “places” established by Tjilpa dreamtime narratives, ancient near eastern temple architecture, the system of the Mishnah, and the Christian liturgical year.
As always, Smith is rigorous and thorough in his treatment of his illustrative cases, and he applies a critical sensibility to the history of the scholarship of religion. Not only does he take Eliade to task over the universality of the “sacred axis,” he dissects and addresses the abiding legacy of Protestant anti-Catholic polemics underlying the conception of “ritual” in academic discourse. [via]
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