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Taxonomies of Religion in the Ancient and Modern Worlds (2/2)

A188
Panel Chairs: Daniel Barbu, Francesco Massa | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Starting from recent studies on the invention of “paganism” and “judaism” in the fourth century, this panel will investigate historical processes that produce taxonomies of religion as part of a discourse on religious diversity. How do religious groups organize the diversity of religions? What are the narratives through which they give sense to religious diversity? What are the political forces driving the need to organize diversity? Taxonomies of religion are a central component of the discursive construction of religious identities. Drawing the boundaries between “us” vs “others” implies both comparison and systematization of religious knowledge, that is, to inscribe the rites and beliefs of others on the map. Such taxonomies can take many forms, from heresiological discourse to elaborate narratives on the cultural history of mankind. With this topic, we intend to explore the formation and uses of fundamental categories that often continue to frame the study of religion.

Nicolas Meylan

Is Snorry a Colleague?

The Prologue to Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, a textbook of Old Norse poetry and mythology, in which he narrates the history of religious change, strikes scholars as ahead of his time: the absence of polemic; the role of linguistic change and diffusion in history; his anticipation of the notion of “natural religion” have led scholars to label Snorri as an early historian of religions. I would like to interrogate this label by replacing it in Snorri’s general project. I will explore the paradigm with which he works and the ways he departs from it. In so doing, I wish to suggest that Snorri’s Prologue is not so much a historical as a taxonomical enterprise, seeking to establish a higher order taxon in order to deconstruct the incommensurability between paganism and Christianity in his bid to protect his forebears and their poetry from clerical censure.

Emma Abate

An Atelier of Jewish Studies in the Core of the XVIth Century Papal Rome

My presentation will deal with a crucial passage in the relationship between Christians and Jews in the Roman Renaissance focusing on the milieu of the Christian Kabbalist Giles of Viterbo (1469-1532). He was Superior of the Augustinian order and Cardinal, reformer and humanist. The study of the Hebrew religious culture played a central role in his reformist and ecumenical vision of the mission of the Christianity. He gathered around him a group of Jewish intellectuals and converted whom he engaged in the acquiring, writing, teaching and copying of Hebrew works. Notably he was interested in biblical exegesis and mysticism. My contribution aims at delving into the intellectual mutual exchange of religious notions in the entourage of Giles of Viterbo and in the friendship between Giles and his master of Hebrew Eliahu Bahur ha-Levi (1469-1549), the celebrated philologist who was guested in Rome by Giles for more than ten years.

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Panels:

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Sessions

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Thematic Outline

University Map (pdf, 192 KB)