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Quaerendum est in litteris quod non est in actis. Issues of Religious Historiography in Scholarly Correspondences (1/3)

Panel Chair: Giovanni Casadio | Thursday, August 27, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

Correspondences as a literary genre have proven to be, in the last years, an important key to reading religious historiography, both in order to obtain access to the Lebenssitz of scholars and to put concepts, debates, developments, structures and changes in their respective contexts. Hence, the religious-historical methodology cannot afford to neglect such a literary genre, given its character as 'etic' representation approaching the research object with an immediacy and originality that only personal communications can have; a freshness enriching scientific narration at all its levels with new and sometimes unexpected points of view. This panel (divided in three parts) intends to present some recent publications dealing with particularly significant exchanges of letters in the European area. The panel was launched with a half-open structure: besides the fixed books presentation (correspondences Pettazzoni-Rose, Cumont-Loisy, and Weinreich-Nilsson), it cordially invited researchers to contribute to it with further proposals of publication projects. (First part)

Giovanni Casadio

The Correspondence Weinreich – Nilsson

For at least forty years, the review “Archiv für Religionswissenschaft” was a fundamental reference point for German and international history of religions. Its originality consisted not only of its openness to foreign contributors, but also of the active participation of a non-German editor (M. P. Nilsson) as well as in the cooperation with the Swedish Society for History of Religions for about 20 years, which decisively assisted this journal both on the financial and the scientific level. The correspondence between the Swedish Nilsson and the German Otto Weinreich, both editors of the “Archiv”, delineates very well, as M. Dürkop remarks in her book, this cooperation, with particular attention to the German Altertumswissenschaft during the interwar period.

Peter Antes

The Correspondence Pettazzoni – Rose

D. Accorinti's imposing volume presents the edition of the correspondence between the second IAHR president (1950-1959) and an eminent British-Canadian scholar, who were united by a very deep friendship and scientific cooperation. During his whole academic life, Pettazzoni strove to defend the unity and irreducibility of religion as a human phenomenon, without never yielding to any theologism or reductionism and constantly applying a sound philological scientific method. As G. Casadio argues in his preface, Rose was an expert of Greek and Roman religions and folklore with “a natural instinct for cross-cultural comparison”, an instinct which greatly assisted him in his very competent translations of Pettazzoni’s works into English. This correspondence offers insights not only into the writing processes of the Italian scholar, but also into the origins and development of the IAHR and its official review NVMEN.

Jean-Michel Roessli, Annelies Lannoy

The Correspondence Loisy – Cumont

The correspondence between Alfred Loisy and Franz Cumont expands for more than 30 years and comprehends over 400 letters. Very rich in substance, it gives a unique overview of the genesis of the works of both scholars, which use their correspondence to provide a sort of analysis and structuring instrument for their leadings ideas regarding varied topics: Christianity (above all in its relation with mystery religions), Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Mandaeism, as well as methodological questions like the definition of the notion of “religion” and its socio-political effects. Moreover, the letters reflect on the role and the evolution of the history of religions and related disciplines, and can be seen as a mirror of coeval society, with numerous reflections on its political, religious, and cultural aspects.

Martina Dürkop


Martina Dürkop will respond to the issues raised in the papers presented in this panel.


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