Louis Henry Jordan.

Comparative religion, its genesis and growth online

. (page 36 of 63)
Online LibraryLouis Henry JordanComparative religion, its genesis and growth → online text (page 36 of 63)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

late Professor Tiele of Leyden — even for the limited period
of but three or six months — who ceased to be the debtor of
his master as long as he lived.

6. Scientific Expeditions. — When the student of Com-
parative Eeligion has made some progress in his work, one
of the greatest boons that can possibly be put within his
reach is an invitation to join a Scientific Expedition, and to
continue his investigations under quite new and attractive
conditions. Happily for the men who are pursuing their
studies to-day, such opportunities are no longer merely
occasional. Students in Germany, for example (foreigners
included), are frequently permitted to join parties of this
sort, — as when Professor Delitzsch of Berlin, in the spring
of 1902, took several men with him to the East, in order
to carry out certain desired explorations of the site of
Ancient Babylon. Oxford students have had a similar
opportunity afforded them in connection with the excavations
which Professor Evans is directing in the Island of Crete.


Cambridge men have been doing some excellent work in the
ToEEES Steaits ISLANDS. The various national Aech^o-
LOGiCAL Schools — at Kome, at Athens, in Palestine, etc. —
provide facilities of the same sort, and in steadily multiplying
number.^ In the United States, also, such expeditions afford
advanced students increasingly frequent opportunities for
carrying forward their studies. The University of California
sent out recently an important expedition to Egypt, and
accomplished some notable results, — securing material
which is now being examined and sifted, with a view to
securing its incorporation in an elaborate printed Eeport.
Professor Salisbury of the University of Chicago, during the
summer of 1902, took a number of graduate students with
him to the Big Hoen Mountains, Wyoming, where they
spent some two months in practical geological investiga-
tions ; while another of the Professors in the same depart-
ment conducted southwards a similar group of men, and set
them to work in the Mississippi Valley. During the
winter of 1902, Professor Shailer Matthews, of the same
University, announced his willingness to accompany some
twenty theological students to Palestine, — in order that
they might be enabled to study, amid historic surroundings,
the geography of the country, and the various traditions and
incidents which are associated with the life of Jesus. Such
a proposal, had it been made twenty-five years ago, would
probably have been pronounced chimerical ; but for those
who were invited to consider it, it must have seemed as if
a glorious vision were about to become a reality. Such ex-
peditions however, under proper auspices, are not merely
pleasant and informing, — they are of simply priceless worth.
The advantages of a Travelling Fellowship, when combined
with membership in a Scientific Expedition, are enhanced
thereby fully a hundred-fold. The laboratory, no longer

^ Cp. page 274. At the British School at Athens, during 1901, there were
two lady students and five men ; and the research -work done by each was
not only satisfactory in the meantime, but full of promise for the future.
Most of these investigators secure important archaeological or other posts
upon the completion of their studies.


stationary, finds now its temporary shelter beneath a tent ;
while an atmosphere of novelty adds its charm to the many
other impulses of the work, the field of research continually
changing its site.

7. Special Museums. — One of the most important of
modern adjuncts to the study of Comparative Eeligion is a
well-equipped Museum of Eeligion. Inasmuch as the vast
majority of students are debarred from visiting the East, or
at best from making any prolonged stay in it, the necessary
steps must be taken to bring the various resources of the
East nearer to the homes and haunts of the students.

Every one admits the importance of permanent Museums,
and of temporary local Exhibitions, for increasing general
intelligence in connection with the various Arts and Sciences ;
but such auxiliaries are quite as important, and are fully as
effective, within the domain of Eeligion. No greater mis-
fortune could happen to the religious beliefs of humanity,
than that they should become hedged about with artificial
restrictions, and compelled to maintain their existence in
the dimness of some remote background; for then those
beliefs themselves are liable to become dim and uncertain
and artificial, shirking the light of day.^ A tendency of
this sort has always been characteristic of man, but happily
Comparative Eeligion has been successful in drawing atten-
tion to it and checking it. If ample justification can be
found for establishing — in addition to the more usual collec-
tions — Commercial Museums,^ Museums of Ethnology ,2 the
International War and Peace Museum at Lucerne,* the
Museum of Bibliography at Leipsic, the Post Office Museum
at Berlin, the special Museum connected with the Indian

1 Cp. pages 328-334.

^ E.g., the permanent Exhibition of Colonial Manufactures in London ;
the German Colonial Museum in Berlin ; the permanent Expositions of
Chinese products in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and the corre-
sponding Expositions of American products in Peking, Canton, Hongkong,
Hankow, etc.

^ At Berlin, at Harvard University, etc. , etc.

^ See descriptive Article in Chamhci's' s Journal, pp. 257-259. London,
April 1903.


Institute at, Oxford, and others of an equally definite and
limited range, an unanswerable argument can be framed
for establishing, and efficiently maintaining, an adequate
Museum of Eeligions. Indeed, in view of the unique and
universal interest that attaches to Eeligion, a separate
department devoted to that subject should now be found in
literally every important Museum that opens its doors to the

Fortunately, in the capitals of all Western countries at
least, some provision of the kind indicated has already been
made.^ In London, the facilities for such researches, now
available for all in the unrivalled British Museum, leave
little to be desired. Similar work can be prosecuted, also
with the highest advantage, in the Smithsonian Institution
in Washington ; ^ in the Field Columbian Museum in
Chicago ; in the Haskell Oriental Museum of the Univer-
sity of Chicago ; ^ in the Oriental Museums of Harvard
University, — of which one must name in particular the new
Semitic Museum, which (with its fine array of originals,
casts and photographs) is not surpassed, so far as Semitics
are concerned, by any similar Collection in the world.
Indeed, it is at present the only Collection devoted ex-
clusively to Semitic learning.* But the most successful
effort of this sort, attempted thus far, is undoubtedly the
GuiMET Museum in Paris.^ An entire building, ample in
size and skilfully designed, has been set apart for the
accumulation and exhibition of articles of every kind
belonging, even in a remote way, to the domain of Eeligion.
One has to visit this Museum over and over again, before it
is possible to appreciate the pains and perseverance with
which its immense store of treasures has been gathered,
and then so invitingly thrown open to the world's inspection

1 Cp. pages 409-410.

2 By a decision which has everywhere been commended, the remains of
the founder, James Smithson, are to be transferred from Geneva to the site
of his magnificent benefaction.

3 Founded by a gift of $100,000. ^ Dedicated in February 1903.
^ Founded in Lyons in 1879, but domiciled in Paris since 1888.


and study. With absolute impartiality, the Eeligions of all
lands and races are there represented by a larger or smaller
number of distinctive religious emblems. Everything that
can throw light upon the forms, the history, and the inner
essence of each of these differing systems — whether in the
guise of books, models, vestments, idols, etc. — has rightly been
accounted of importance, and has been assigned to its own
appropriate Section. Indeed, the existence of this unique
Museum in Paris — apart altogether from the lectures which
are delivered in the Sorbonne and in the College de France,
apart from the huge national and other Libraries, and apart
from various other forms of helpful apparatus — has long
proved a supreme attraction to students of Eeligion, and
has constrained them to prefer the French capital to every
other centre where they might have prosecuted their
researches. The existence of this magnificent Exposition
has also served to suggest, to the Senate and Directors of
various Universities and Theological Schools, the desirability
of imitating (even on a much reduced scale) so admirable an
example ; and so, to-day, many local Collections of this sort
are being gradually accumulated.

In addition to these larger and permanent Museums, it
is now becoming a common practice to bring together in
one place (for a week or ten days, or other limited period)
the best assortment of articles of this character that can
conveniently be secured. These exhibits, arranged in the
order of countries, and briefly explained by a missionary
or other traveller who knows intimately the customs and
manners of the natives who formerly owned them, are
certain to awaken inquiry; and oftentimes they make an
abiding and most useful impression upon the minds of
those who chance to see them. Thus, at the great Missionary
Conference held in New York in 1900, and also at the
Presbyterian General Assembly held in Philadelphia in 1901,
an outstanding feature of each occasion was a truly repre-
sentative Exhibition of the Eeligions of the world. Such
enterprises ought certainly to be commended and fostered.


for they accomplish an inestimable amount of good. Yet
some sort of permanent Collection ought rather to be aimed
at.^ The necessary exhibits could very easily be procured,
and practically without cost, by enlisting the co-operation
of Missionaries in every quarter of the globe. Many
hundreds of suitable objects, already brought to the West,
are hidden away to-day in cupboards and boxes ; but no one
ever sees them. By and by, they may come to be regarded
by their possessors, or by those who inherit them, as so much
worthless lumber; and eventually many of them may be
lost or thoughtlessly thrown away. Nevertheless all these
relics have a distinctly historic and religious value. Some
of them, if destroyed, can never be duplicated. Only a
very slight effort would be necessary to persuade the
present owners of them — indeed, by most collectors, the
proposal would be greeted with the most cordial welcome
— to allow them to be brought together in some convenient
and central building, where they might be sure of being
properly taken care of through all coming time. Moreover,
if placed thus on exhibition, the survey of them would
probably constitute one of the best arguments for Missions
that could possibly be framed ; ^ the public would begin to
feel an entirely new interest in the religious beliefs of those
to whom they send their commissioned representatives,
being appealed to through the eye as well as by way of
the ear ; while special students in this department, having
such a collection thrown open to them, would often be
found gratefully improving the opportunity of becoming
acquainted with the intricacies of a primitive — but often
recondite and ingenious — symbolism.

8. Special Libraries. — Another notable result which
has been achieved by the rapid advances recently made in

^ Cp. pages 409-410.

^ President "Warren of Boston has thrown out a suggestion which many
will be quick to appreciate ; for he has well said that ' ' the more one knows
of the thoughts and worship and life of the heathen peoples, ancient and
modern, the clearer and more impressive will be one's vision of the value of
a diviner teaching."


the study of Comparative Religion has been the establish-
ment of Special Libraries — or, in a smaller way, the
founding of a special Section in every important General
Library — where the Literature of this new Science can
adequately be represented. For it is not too much to say
that, through the inauguration of Comparative Religion, an
entirely new and distinct department of Literature has been
created.^ Thus it has come about that to-day, in addition
to innumerable monographs and articles of a more or less
furtive character, — Addresses, Pamphlets, Sermons, con-
tributions to Scientific Journals and to the Transactions of
Learned Societies, etc., — many volumes of permanent value
have already been issued from the presses of Europe and
America. The necessity of systematically collecting these
publications, and then of making them immediately avail-
able for students, has of late been fully recognised; and
accordingly Special Libraries, which contain only such prints
as are devoted to the exposition of some phase of religious
belief or practice, are now being methodically accum-
ulated all over the world. It is to-day frankly admitted
that it is quite as essential to found and foster a Library
of Religions as it is to found and maintain a Museum of
Religions. The one is the complement, indeed, and the
explanation, of what is contained in the other. What the
Catalogue or Guidebook does for the ordinary sight-seer in
a Museum, the Library achieves (though much more fully)
for the student who has been assigned some task in a fairly
complete Museum of Religions. Accordingly it has now
become the custom — in France, Germany, America, etc. —
to house both a Museum and its Library in a single

The Literature of the Science of Religion has concerned
itself, thus far, only very meagrely with that section of the
field in which students of Comparative Religion are specially

^ See Appendix. Note I., pages 483 f. See also Cliapter XII.
2 Tlie Guiraet Museum contains a Library numbering already about
24,000 volumes. See also page 410.


interested; this fact will become evident to any one who
will make an examination of the contents of the limited
number of Special Libraries which have already been
collected. The History of Keligion, indeed, has already
been very satisfactorily handled.^ It was natural, and even
essential, that this department should be studied and
mastered first; for the results thus secured constitute the
materials which have subsequently to be compared and
analysed by the Expert. It is only after this prior dis-
cipline has been carried forward to a certain point that
the processes of Comparative Religion can begin.^ The
Philosophy of Religion, likewise, though developed some-
what prematurely, is represented by a very large assort-
ment of volumes. The publications of Germany alone,
illustrative of this special sphere of work, would fill many
shelves in a Library. These books seem perhaps to be
increasing more rapidly than is actually the case ; for many
of them, even when distinctly superior to the rest, are
gradually outgrown and drop out of sight, and their places
have to be refilled by others. The explanation of these
failures lies in the facts (a) that the results accumulated
by students of Comparative Religion are still largely un-
recorded, and (h) that the great bulk of such material has
still to be collected. Hence the time for making general-
isations has scarcely yet arrived. Comparative Religion,
however, though last to employ this aid, has now likewise
summoned the printing press to its assistance; and that
indispensable agency will doubtless lend to it, as to so
many other aspiring movements, a prompt and abiding
impulse. A quite admirable instance in point is to be
found in Mr. MaccuUoch's recent book.^ At the same time,
to show how extremely little has yet been accomplished,
it is only necessary to examine the catalogues of the Library
of the British Museum, the Bihliotheque Rationale in Paris,

^ Cp. Cliai^ter XIL See also Appendix. Note I., pages 483 f.
^ See Appendix. Note XL, pages 485 f.

^ Comparative Theology. London, 1902. Cp. footnote, page 27.


the large London Library in St. James's Square, and several
other representative Collections which might readily be
named.^ Happily, one or two Library Directorates have
resolved to make an important new departure in this
connection, and to establish without delay a separate
Section or Alcove, devoted exclusively to books of this
class. Probably the most notable illustration which can
be cited — although the John Bylands Library, Manchester ,2
deserves especially honourable mention — is that of the
Bodleian Library, Oxford, which has commenced to pre-
pare two special Catalogues of volumes, collected under
the general headings "The History and Biography of the
Philosophy of Eeligion " and " The History, Biography, and
Methodology of Comparative Eeligion." Pamphlets also,
in addition to bound volumes, are now being accumulated
by the Bodleian Librarians, by whom also they are being
carefully indexed. Only the beginning, however, as regards
this comprehensive and most commendable scheme, can be
said to have been made ; meanwhile, the General Catalogue
furnishes the novice in this field with practically no assist-
ance whatever. Nevertheless no great Library to-day can
afford to be without the volumes, all too few as yet, to which
attention is here being directed. Accordingly nothing is
more certain than that this particular department of
Literature will before very long appeal with success to
benefactors, anxious to promote the endowment of a series
of Special Libraries, — in which, not by Experts only,
but by the general mass of readers, the history, the com-
parison, and the philosophy of man's religious evolution
may dispassionately be studied, and where that develop-
ment can adequately be illustrated and expounded. As a
result, the various conclusions reached and now held by
scholars will rapidly be made known to the world, — when
they will not only become the accessible property of all, but
will for the first time be subjected to a competent and

^ See second footnote, page 484.

2 Founded in 1899. An invaluable depository for research students.


dispassionate criticism. All hypotheses will be closely-
inspected and sifted, and then either sustained or rejected.
Theories that can be shown to be invalid — whether seriously
propounded by an over-ardent investigator, or merely clung
to by the traditional believer — will have to be surrendered ;
while all who wish to be able to give a reason for the Faith
wherein they stand, and which they desire intelligently
to advance and defend, will find that the most effective
of weapons has been put into their hands. Yet further,
during the advancing stages of this process, Comparative
Eeligion will be found to be busily unearthing a vast
unknown Literature, which is so old that much of it has
been entirely forgotten ; and, at the same time, it will be
producing a Literature of its own, some of whose volumes
will prove to be as engaging and even as intensely interest-
ing as any that have ever been written.

9. Special Journals. — Li concluding the list of items
enumerated in this imperfect catalogue, mention must be
made of an agency which is closely related to the one last
specified. The promotion of the study of Comparative
Eeligion has been greatly aided of late by the editing of
special scientific Journals, which devote themselves (more
or less fully) to this particular line of research.^ For a
considerable time, it had been felt that a special organ was
simply indispensable for the publication of texts, the dis-
cussion of problems, and the making known of discoveries,
to those who were busying themselves with these investiga-
tions. And necessity is always sure to find a way. Accord-
ingly effective steps in this direction were taken a little
over twenty years ago, with the result that the Eevue
DE l'Histoire des Eeligions was successfully founded
in Paris.2 This excellent Journal has regularly appeared
ever since, and is now everywhere recognised as being the
very first authority in its field ; but, as its title indicates,
it deals with Comparative Eeligion only indirectly. In
Germany, the Archiv fur Eeligionswissenschaft was

^ Cp. pages 432, 438, 447, 462, and 477. = 1880.


begun quite recently/ under the editorial supervision of
Dr. Achelis ; but it, in turn, concerns itself very largely
with questions pertaining to the Philosophy of Religion.
In Holland, presenting itself as the pioneer in this enter-
prise, stands the Theologisch TiJDSCHKirT,^ — the organ
which Drs. Kuenen, Tiele, Loman, and Eauwenhoff so
brilliantly conducted, and in whose pages in former days
so many stimulating articles on the study of Keligion were
wont to appear. Unfortunately this special feature, in an
otherwise admirably managed Review, has not been so care-
fully maintained during the last ten or twelve years. In
Belgium, La Revue des Keligions^ (Roman Catholic),
after a brief but useful career in France, became incor-
porated with Le Museon,* and began to be issued under
the new title Le Mus^on et la Revue des Eeligions.^
A new series of this publication has lately been begun, and
its title is now changed to Le Museon: Etudes Philo-
LOGiQUES, HiSTORiQUES, ET Religieuses.^ The assistance
which this Journal lends to Comparative Religion, it must
be said, varies very much both in amount and quality ; but
it has rendered highly competent and appreciated service.
In Norway, the Theologisk Tidsskrift is still supplying
much help, though within somewhat too restricted limits.^
In Great Britain and in America, information proper to
this department appears chiefly in the Transactions of
Societies devoted to the study of Anthropology, Ethnology,
Folklore, Psychology, etc. Happily, in the former country,
there has recently been founded The Hibbert Jourxal,^ " a
Quarterly Review of EeHgion, Theology, and Philosophy " ;
and discussions bearing upon Comparative Eeligion find a
place continually in its pages. Introduced under exceed-
ingly encouraging conditions, its circulation is increasing
steadily. In the United States, the issue of the initial

1 1898. 2 1867^

^ Begun in Paris, 1889. * Founded in Louvain, 1882.

^ Louvain, 1897. ^ Louvain, Second Series, 1900.

' Christiania, 1886. [A New Series began in 1900.]

8 London, 1902.


number of The American Journal of Eeligious Psycho-
logy AND Education ^ was certainly an event full of happiest
augury ; for it indicates that the effective resources of Clark
University are now to be systematically utilised in the
interests of this new study. Mention should also be made
of The Eecords of the Past,^ a Monthly Magazine which
has secured the interest and support of a very considerable
circle of contributors and readers.

All that has been done in this direction, however, thus
far, at least in English-speaking countries, has been entirely
inadequate. It is pitiable that scholars should still be
deprived of an agency which might be rendering them an
inestimable amount of service, and which, could it but
promptly aid them, would oftentimes bid them cease
expending needless energy in seeking to solve problems
which others have solved already. The supreme need,
therefore, in Great Britain and America, just now — fortun-
ately a need which seems likely soon to be removed — is the
inauguration of a Journal of Comparative Eeligion, of
the highest rank in point of erudition, published in the
English language, and competent to take its place without
fear by the side of the Revue de VHistoire des Religions.
If such an organ were actually launched, the obstacles
which have hitherto led to the postponement of its advent
would unquestionably be surmounted. It might be re-
stricted to a somewhat modest form of publication at the
outset, and in this way the initial expenses could be kept
within moderate limits; it might also, at first — perhaps,
indeed, for an indefinite period — be issued under the com-
bined editorship of British and American scholars ; but it
would need to start with, and maintain always, a thoroughly
worthy professional standard. Certainly a progressive
International Eeview of the sort indicated, in which the

Online LibraryLouis Henry JordanComparative religion, its genesis and growth → online text (page 36 of 63)