4. The Historical and Comparative Study of Religions: A Rhetorical Approach
Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion - In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday - Peter Antes
Jørgen Podemann Sørensen [+]
University of Copenhagen
Jørgen Podemann Sørensen is Associate professor in history of religions, University of Copenhagen, Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies. Podemann-Sørensen was educated as a historian of religions specialized in ancient Egyptian religion at the Universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen (promoted 1979). His primary fields of interest are the religions of Antiquity, especially ancient Egyptian religion and its contribution to the Gnostic and Hermetic currents of Late Antiquity and the comparative study of ritual. He has recently (2013) published a handbook on ancient Egyptian religious literature (with sample translations) and a book on the comparative study of ritual, both in Danish.
With a point of departure in the history of our discipline, notably Henri Hubert’s introduction to the French edition of the first major collective textbook in History of Religions, Chantepie de la Saussayes’ Lehrbuch, it is argued that the comparative study of religious expressions – texts, images and performances – should not be fettered in preconceived ideas of the social or psychological role of each type of expression. Not every doomsday prophet becomes a leader, and not every spell remedies anxiety. Religious expressions should be compared in order to establish types of rhetoric, while the study of their impact on society or the human mind should be pursued in individual historical studies.