Louis Henry Jordan.

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in man which, universally and persistently, has manifested
itself under an infinite variety of forms — is accurately chron-
icled, together with such proofs as serve to furnish it with
its fitting and sujfficient credentials.

The study of the History of Religions, it need scarcely be
said, represents a huge undertaking ; and it is a splendid
proof of courage that any individual scholar, especially to-
day, should attempt to prepare a competent manual em-
bodying the results of up-to-date research in that field.^ It
is, however, more in accordance with our present purpose to
point out that the study of the History of Religions consti-
tutes the uppermost and final course in those broad and deep
foundations upon which modern Comparative Religion rests.
The measure of indebtedness which Comparative Religion
owes to it can scarcely be exaggerated. Of all the * avenues
of approach * specified in the present volume, the History
of Religions is the chief. It is from this source that Com-
parative Religion daily derives support. The History of
Religions is a stepping-stone with which Comparative
Religion is quite unable to dispense. It is not only a means
to the end which Comparative Religion has in view, but it is
an absolutely imperative means to that end. No matter
how much assistance Comparative Religion may obtain
through other kindred channels, it would instantly become
bereft of its most valuable tributory if it were cut off from
the constant help it receives from students of the History of
» Vide infra, pp. 168 f.


Religions. A reliable historical basis is absolutely essential to
the uprearing and stability of this additional and most complex
science. Anthropology, Ethnology, Sociology, and the rest,
are extremely useful auxiliaries ; the History of Religions is
a sine qua non. It has yielded the student of Comparative
Religion larger results, richer results, and more direct results
than any of the others. It has yielded larger, richer, and
more direct results than all the other seven put together.
Under the historical search-light, — and no religion can be
understood, and accurately expounded, except through a
knowledge of its history — Comparative Religion has become
able to interpret, with a steadily growing confidence, the
likenesses which link together the religions belonging to
a given racial group, and likewise the differences which set
these and all other religions apart from one another. It has
become able to disclose many undreamed-of parallelisms ;
but, at the same time, it rapidly disintegrates those specious
analogies which appeal strongly to the imagination, yet
which are plausible only to those whom they deceive and
mislead. It will be shown, presently, that it is owing to a
study of the History of Religions that scholars have not only
been furnished with a practically exhaustless store of the
very information most needed, but have been enabled to
make that transition into Comparative Religion which has
already been accomplished.^ It was in the History of Re-
ligions that Comparative Religion found its initial material ;
it is from the same source that it first derived, and still
derives, its impulse.

The volumes which belong to this eighth category, the
History of Religions, have been written of course for
students working in that particular department. Save in
a very few instances,^ they make little or no pretence to
be concerned with the needs of students of Comparative
Religion ; and, in some at least of the cases just referred to,

* Vide infra, pp. 325 f.

* Cf., e. g. Alfred S. Geden, Studies in the Religions of the East : vide infra,
pp. 181 f.


the assistance that is afforded is meagre in the extreme. Nor
need it surprise any one if the historian of religions presents
his readers with little more than a bare chronicle ; it is not
really his duty to do more than collect the relevant data.
The acquisition of knowledge, rather than the critical
comparison of such knowledge, is the task he formally
undertakes. The matter of history, rather than the hidden
relationships of the facts his record embraces, constitutes
the burden of his quest. It is enough, therefore, if the His-
tory of Religions reveals the actual career of various faiths,
their points (if any) of historical contact, and the measure
of capacity (or incapacity) they exhibit when each is con-
fronted and tested by some grim revealing crisis.

The aim and legitimate scope of the History of Religions
is satisj&ed when it gives us * an account of the origin, de-
velopment and characteristic features of all religions, from
those of the lowest savage tribes to those of the most culti-
vated nations.' ^ In the prosecution of its task, it seeks to
be rigidly scientific, and to admit no alleged ' fact ' into
its growing depository until that fact has been properly
certified. Nevertheless, its results need to be checked by
a dispassionate, independent, and competent authority.
Unwarranted conclusions must be pointed out, publicly
discredited, and discarded. A subconscious bias, where it
exists, must be remedied. Moreover, the work achieved by
the historian of religions must be carried a step further.
The History of Religions hitherto, in countless instances, —
overlooking the circumstance that, in so doing, it is encroach-
ing upon the domain of a totally different science — has itself
attempted to discharge this function of review and impartial
criticism. It has itself made many a formal application of
the comparative method. There has arisen, in consequence,
that confusion of boundaries between the History of Religions
and Comparative Religion which still imhappily exists ;
these two distinctive designations, indeed, are to-day fre-

> Cf. Philip Schaff, Theological Propcedeutic, p. 19. New York, 1892.
[2nd edition, 1894.]


quently employed as if they were synonymous, and might
therefore quite legitimately be interchanged.

As a matter of fact, the study of the History of Religions
can aid Comparative Religion only up to a certain point. It
can furnish the necessary historical data, but it cannot impart
the insight and trained acuteness that will ensure the right
employment of the materials thus obtained. ' The valid
comparison of the faiths of mankind — not made by concen-
trating attention upon their superficial features of likeness
or unlikeness, but executed in a far deeper and more pene-
trative way — is a task which not every scholar is competent
to perform. Comparison, in so far as the historian is con-
cerned, is a passing incident, a detail, a side-issue. With
the student of Comparative Religion, on the other hand, it
is his sole and supreme business The facts which the his-
torian supplies require in due course to be interpreted, and
they must be interpreted by one who thoroughly understands
them. Such a teacher will be able to say with confidence
what these facts mean, — not what they probably mean, but
what they unquestionably mean, when one reads unerringly
their actual and authentic significance.' ^

Inasmuch as the immediate precursor (the necessary
foundation, the logical starting-point, the portico or vesti-
bule) of Comparative Religion has now to be dealt with,
it will be necessary to mention and appraise a considerably
larger number of publications than seemed necessary under
any previous heading. At the same time, the present survey
is of course concerned only indirectly with the History of
Religions. Of the varied sources of that study, — whether
epigraphical and monumental, hagiographical (the sacred
books of different religions), legendary and mythical, or
incidental and collateral ^ — one cannot here pause to speak.
Of the many benefits which it is capable of supplying, —
its value as a science, its practical utility for missionary

^ Cf. Jordan, Comparative Religion : Its Method and Scope, pp. 12-13.
London, 1908.

* Cf. William F. Warren, The Religions o/ the World and the World- Religion,
pp. 12 f. : vide infra, pp. 200 f.


propagandists of literally every name, the assistance it un-
consciously lends to the defenders of Christianity, the larger
outlook it affords — nothing can now be said. The present
survey is concerned directly, and solely, with the relationship
in which the History of Religions stands joined to Compara-
tive Religion. No attempt will be made to include all the
books which have recently been published in exposition of
the History of Religions, or to do more than present a review
of representative volumes. Even so, a goodly array of titles
must be specified. The amount of space allotted to each
book must therefore be curtailed, and the examination at-
tempted must be limited exclusively to relevant and material


When recalling the most prominent books which have
been published within the domain of the History of Religions
during the last four years, it is fitting to begin with those
which make a comprehensive survey of the entire field. In
them we are furnished with a conspectus of modern know-
ledge covering all the religions of the world. In most cases
the summary with which their authors respectively furnish
us will be found to be adequate and satisfying ; in others it
will seem unduly pruned and condensed ; but, in practi-
cally every instance, the writer's aim has been t o provide a
bird's-eye view of all the necessary facts. During the period
1910-1914 an unusually large number of Manuals have been
published. The quality of these books, moreover, is of a high
order ; in one or two cases, indeed, the standard reached
will not likely be surpassed for many years to come.

In several of these publications, differing widely as they
do in purpose and general effectiveness, there is discoverable
one conspicuous defect. They are not marred by that
blemish which largely destroyed the scientific value of
M. Reinach's Manual,^ viz. a constant and unconcealed

^ Cf. Salomon Reinach, Orpheus : Histoire genirale des religions. Paris,


feeling of antagonism towards Christianity, which was some-
times alluded to in a tone that seemed to be embittered by
scorn. The fault which must be charged against these later
handbooks is a tendency to err in the opposite direction.
Christianity, in the estimate of some of their authors, appears
to be sacrosanct ; it is either exempted from review alto-
gether, or it is so set apart from other religions that it is
made to occupy a place separate and unique.^ This fact is
significant, and should put the reader on his guard. The
promoter of Comparative Religion, as long as he remains a
student, will never so deal with the Christian faith ; as long
as his comparisons retain any genuine value, he must never
so deal with any faith.

Hence, though more up-to-date than many of their pre-
decessors, some of these later Manuals have not kept pace
with the march of events. In certain respects they are
scarcely abreast of the more distinguished of the pioneers
who went before them. Happily this description is wholly
undeserved by the majority of the text-books whose titles
are included in the list that follows. The splendid Manual
which Professor Moore is now engaged in preparing does
him infinite credit. It represents an immense forward-
stride, and one for which the English-speaking world has
been waiting with evident and growing impatience. Con-
tinental students in this field have long been well served by
Professor Chantepie de la Saussaye's magnificent handbook.^
That treatise, it is true, has thus far omitted all reference to
Judaism and Christianity ; but this oversight is soon to be
remedied. A revised edition, now in hand, is being edited
by Professor Lehmann of the University of Lund, and may
be expected during 1915-1916. To it, an extra volume
is to be added ; and the new section will deal ex-
clusively with Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism.

^ Vide infra, pp. 175 f., 184 f., 186 f., 369 f., etc.

' Cf. Pierre D. Chantepie de la Saussaye, Lehrhtich der Religionsgeschichte.

2 vols. Freiburg i/B, 1887-1889. [3rd edition, Tiibingen, 1905. 4th edition,

3 vols. In preparation.]


Professor Menzies, in his well-known handbook,^ omits neither
Judaism nor the Christian religion ; and Professor Moore is
to follow this wise and broad-minded example.^ A frank
discussion of the merits of Judaism and Christianity is simply-
imperative. The publication (and republication) of the
three Manuals just named, not forgetting the special aid
which Professor Soderblom and the late Professor von Orelli
so opportunely rendered, must speedily impart to the study
of the History of Religions, regarded as a domain of un-
biased scientific inquiry, a vigorous and permanent im-
pulse. That so lengthy an array of text-books should have
been published within so brief a period is a very notable sign
of the ^imes, and a most hopeful augury for the future.

LES RELIGIONS. Etude histoeique et sociologique
Du phenomene religieux, par Henri Beuchat et
M. Hollebecque. (Collection Athena.) Paris : Marcel
Riviere et C^ 1910. Pp. xxv., 157. Fr. 2.50.

As its sub-title fairly suggests, this study of the reli-
gions of the world is dominated by those conceptions for
which M. Durkheim and his school stand sponsors.^ As
Professor Jevons has given us a history of early religion
* investigated on the principles and methods of Anthro-
pology ',* so there is presented to us here a survey — similar in
character but of considerably wider range — based on the prin-
ciples and methods of Sociology. Readers must bear this
fact in mind. At the same time, it is interesting to watch
how the principles in question work themselves out in the
course of a concrete and responsible inquiry.

In the judgement of the publishers and the authors, ' La

^ (7/. Allan Menzies, History of Religion : vide infra, pp. 187 f.

* Cf. George F. Moore, History of Religions : vide infra, pp. 188 f.
' Vide supra, pp. 62 f .

* Cf. Frank B. Jevons, An Introduction to the History of Religion, p. v.
London, 1896. [6th edition, 1914.]


Science des Eeligions est elle-meme une branche de la
Sociologie Generale. . . . Le livre que nous publions sous ce
titre Les Beligions a pour but d'expliquer, d'une maniere
claire et precise, ce qu'est le phenomene religieux et la fonc-
tion qu'il remplit a I'interieur de chaque societe. . . . Loin
que I'individu explique la societe, la societe pourrait bien
expliquer I'individu.^ . . . Une telle permanence [as religion]
ne pent s'expliquer que par I'existence d'une realite partout
sentie et traduite. Cette realite, c'est le phenomene social.' ^

Within the limitations of a necessarily rapid survey, this
little book rather more than justifies the expectations which
it raises. It consists of only five chapters. First, we have
a brief section giving an account of the * Distribution geo-
graphique des principales religions qui existent actuellement'.
Chapter ii, consisting of forty pages, is allotted to an * Etude
historique des religions ' ; here one is introduced succes-
sively to the faiths found among uncivilized peoples, the
Egyptian religion, the Chaldao-Assyrian religion, the Syrian
and Phoenician religions, the religions of India and Persia
(Vedism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mazdaism),
the religions of China (Sinism, Confucianism, and Taoism),
the religion of Japan (Shinto), the religions of Celts, Slavs,
and Teutons, the Greek religion, the Eoman religion, Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam. In each case, a brief list is given
of the latest relevant literature.

Chapters iii and iv bring us to the most interesting portion
of the book, wherein we get a taste of its individual quality.
The former chapter, covering over thirty pages, is entitled
* Le Phenomene religieux: ses formes, sa nature'. It
accepts as a fairly adequate definition of religion the one
which M. Durkheim has framed, viz. ' Un ensemble de
croyances et de pratiques communes a un groupe d'individus
et relatives a des choses sacres.' ^ It then goes on to deal

1 Cf. p. xii. * Cf. p. 135.

^ Cf. p. 84. It is only fair, however, to quote the authors when, on the
preceding page, they remark : ' Nous pouvons nous rattacher d'une maniere
generale et sous les reserves precedentes [cf, p. xvi. f.] a I'idee de M. Durk-
heim sur la separation entre le sacre et le profane.


with the associations which gradually gather around sacred
places, authorized beliefs, solemn rites, myths, and magic.
Chapter iv is devoted to ' Le Fonctionnement d'une religion \
and deals successively with feasts, sacrifices, priesthoods,
and the Church, the latter term being used in the general
sense of ' une assemblee '.

Chapter v is assigned to ' Les Theories relatives au pheno-
mene religieux '. The theologian is apt to find the origin of
religion in an express divine revelation. The historical and
philosophical student of the faiths of mankind directs his
scrutiny rather to early mythology, and the growing claims
of a not-too-scrupulous priesthood. Investigators of this
latter type devote special study to those phenomena of reli-
gion which become disclosed in the researches of Anthropo-
logy, Ethnology, Archaeology, Philology, Psychology, and (in
particular) the History of Religions. Each is led, in conse-
quence, to adopt and defend a corresponding ' method ' of
inquiry. The present authors have no hesitation in casting
their vote on behalf of modern sociological interpretations.
All the other methods serve, indeed, a useful purpose. * Elles
peuvent toutes fournir des faits ; mais ces faits ont besoin,
a leur tour, d'etre classes suivant une discipline speciale qui
est celle de la sociologie. Tandis que I'histoire, par exemple,
se borne a reconstituer des series de faits qui se succedent
dans le temps, la sociologie, sans se soucier de I'ordre du
temps ni de I'espace, groupe des faits capables de rentrer
sous une denomination commune. L'histoire etudie, en la
situant, le developpement de telle ou telle religion particu-
liere ; la sociologie recherche, a travers tous les etats religieux
connus, ce qu'est, par exemple, un mythe, un rite, le sacri-
fice, etc' 1

On the whole, this sketch is entitled to a place in the
present section of this survey. It is merely a sketch ; it is
often very one-sided ; and it is sure to provoke some re-
joinders. The theory is still very far from being accepted
that Totemism is ' la forme religieuse qui parait etre primi-

^ Cf. p. 136.


t ive '?■ The relation of religion to magic ^ — Professor Jevons ^
and other British anthropologists notwithstanding — is very
inaccurately defined by stating ' la premiere a mi but eminem-
ment social : I'autre ne poursuit qu'une fin individuelle.' *
Nevertheless Les Religions will repay those who read it with
an alert and open mind.

Studies in the Eeligions of the World, by Arthur
Stanley Bishop. London ; Eobert CuUey, 1910. Pp.
xii., 275. 3s. 6^.

Mr. Bishop's book puts forward no claim to be a Manual
in the technical sense of that name. Its open type, its lack
of footnotes, and its deliberate avoidance of some of the
special difficulties of the subject, suggests that it is to be
regarded rather as a preliminary historical guide of a very
modest character.

The introductory chapter abundantly confirms this fore-
cast. Nothing is really attempted save the presentation of
an attractive and useful outline of ' the religious aspirations
of the human race '.^ At the same time, the writer's survey
is not only comprehensive and fair, but it is brought within
conveniently restricted limits. Moreover, his mental apti-
tude for such an undertaking is conspicuous and commend-
able. * In the childhood of the world ', he affirms, * we may
expect to find childish conceptions. . . . But whatever history
reveals of the struggle for light, — marred by unclean and
degrading ideas, discredited by impostures, as religion may
be till the end of time — it must be steadily borne in mind
that, if God operates in the world to-day according to the
extent of our faculties, so has he operated in all the lifetime

^ Cf. p. 40. Vide supra, pp. 21, 29, etc.
' Vide supra, pp. 6 f., 23, etc.

^ Cf. Introduction, p. 40, and Comparative Religion, [Cambridge, 1913],
pp. 49 f.

« Cf. p. 113. « Cf. p. 13.


of the race up to the highest limit of their power to receive
the Truth, the Truth which makes men free.' ^

For a considerable number of years, Mr. Bishop was a
Christian missionary in Ceylon ; it is not surprising, there-
fore, that he reveals at once an intimate and accurate
acquaintance with Buddhism and Hinduism. He possesses
also, of course, a still closer familiarity with the temper and
doctrines of Christianity, a fact which has led him occasion-
ally to institute some very suggestive comparisons between
these three representative faiths.

The writer gives us, in a few bold and vivid strokes, a
series of excellent sketches of the greater religions of man-
kind. Recognizing that the anthropologist has not yet col-
lected sufficient data upon which to base any authoritative
pronouncement concerning primitive religion,^ he has very
little to say upon that controversial topic. His strength
is concentrated upon providing brief descriptions, in their
order, of (1) Turanian Religions, (2) Semitic Religions, and
(3) Aryan Religions, with additional chapters on Modern
Gnosticism and on Christianity.

Mr. Bishop rather surprises one by his retention of the
term ' Turanian ', in the foregoing classification. No such
family of religions exists. Notwithstanding the philological
views held by Professor Max Miiller half a century ago —
accepted in substance by the late Professor von Orelli,
as if still legitimately applicable within the sphere of
religion ^ — ^we have no right to invent an omnibus-group of
languages or religions, and then affirm that it includes all
items of Asiatic origin which are neither Semitic nor Aryan.
The name * Turanian ' is clumsy, inexact, and even mis-
leading ; it corresponds to no reality ; the product of a mere
adventure of the imagination, the term is now generally aban-
doned. It is to be regretted, further, that no account is given
us by Mr. Bishop of the rehgions of Greece and Rome.

* Cj. p. 32. * Yide, aupra^ pp. 5 f .

' Cf. Conrad von Orelli, Allgemeine JReUgionsgescJiichte, pp. 31 f. : vide
infra, pp. 191 f.

BISHOP, The World's Altar Stairs 175

The writer jBnds it difficult at times, it would seem, to
view the situation with absolute disinterestedness. He
does not always take his bearings from a purely scientific
standpoint. The chapter on ' The Hebrews ',^ moreover,
is distinctly disappointing ; it reveals, occasionally, an
unexpected lack of sympathy and appreciation. Never-
theless, Mr. Bishop has been successful in providing his
readers with a truly excellent popular exposition of a very
complex theme. The book will prove helpful and timely. The
Appendices, including a brief Bibliography, are conveniently
arranged, and increase greatly the value of the book for all
who chance to consult it.

Bricout, Directeur de la Bevue du ClergeFrancais, Paris.
2 vols. Paris : Letouzey et Ane, 1911-1912. 'Pp. 457 +
580. Fr. 12.

The elaborate work which M. Bricout recently edited is
of a type quite different from the one which Mr. Bishop has
given US.2 It comprises over 1,000 pages of closely-printed
matter. It owes its origin, not to a Protestant source, but
to Eoman Catholic inspiration. It is written, not by one
author, but by a selected group of writers. It views the
situation, not from the standpoint of the ardent missionary,
but from the platform of scholars who are experts in these

The first volume, considerably the smaller of the two,
attempts to cover the major portion of the field. It em-
braces a survey of Les Beligions non-chretiennes, while
volume ii is allotted to Judaisme et Christianisme. A very
few years ago, the publication of a work which ventured to
associate Judaism and Christianity — even on manifestly
restrictive terms — with the ' lesser ' religions of mankind *

^ Cf. pp. 102-19. * Vide supra, pp. 173 f.

* Vide supra, p. 169.

Online LibraryLouis Henry JordanComparative religion, its adjuncts and allies → online text (page 16 of 52)