Tag Archives: narratives

Esotericism and the Academy

Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture by Wouter J Hanegraaff, from Cambridge University Press, previously only available as a 2012 hardcover, is due to release as a paperback tomorrow, March 6th, 2014.

Wouter J Hanegraaff Esotericism and the Academy from Cambridge University Press

“Academics tend to look on ‘esoteric’, ‘occult’ or ‘magical’ beliefs with contempt, but are usually ignorant about the religious and philosophical traditions to which these terms refer, or their relevance to intellectual history. Wouter Hanegraaff tells the neglected story of how intellectuals since the Renaissance have tried to come to terms with a cluster of ‘pagan’ ideas from late antiquity that challenged the foundations of biblical religion and Greek rationality. Expelled from the academy on the basis of Protestant and Enlightenment polemics, these traditions have come to be perceived as the Other by which academics define their identity to the present day. Hanegraaff grounds his discussion in a meticulous study of primary and secondary sources, taking the reader on an exciting intellectual voyage from the fifteenth century to the present day and asking what implications the forgotten history of exclusion has for established textbook narratives of religion, philosophy and science.” [via]

To Take Place

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:

Jonathan Z Smith's To Take Place from 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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