The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2005 - Religion - 359 pages
6 Reviews
The idea of "world religions" expresses a vague commitment to multiculturalism. Not merely a descriptive concept, "world religions" is actually a particular ethos, a pluralist ideology, a logic of classification, and a form of knowledge that has shaped the study of religion and infiltrated ordinary language.

In this ambitious study, Tomoko Masuzawa examines the emergence of "world religions" in modern European thought. Devoting particular attention to the relation between the comparative study of language and the nascent science of religion, she demonstrates how new classifications of language and race caused Buddhism and Islam to gain special significance, as these religions came to be seen in opposing terms-Aryan on one hand and Semitic on the other. Masuzawa also explores the complex relation of "world religions" to Protestant theology, from the hierarchical ordering of religions typical of the Christian supremacists of the nineteenth century to the aspirations of early twentieth-century theologian Ernst Troeltsch, who embraced the pluralist logic of "world religions" and by so doing sought to reclaim the universalist destiny of European modernity.
  

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Review: The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism

User Review  - Kevin - Goodreads

This book is a great study with a lot of valuable insights into the historical circumstances that led to the current 'world religions' discourse. I do think is a bit on the dry side, however. This is a must read if you take seriously the study of religion. Read full review

Review: The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism

User Review  - Sarah Woodbury - Goodreads

Interesting discussion of the history of "world religions." Esp. helpful contextualization of comparative philology w/re to European universalism, racial logic Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
The Discourse on Religion as a Discourse of Othering
14
A Synoptic Overview
21
The Religions of the World before World Religions
37
The Legacy qfComparative Theology
72
The Birth Trauma of World Religions
107
Chapter4 Buddhism a World Religion
121
Philology and the Discovery of a Fissure in the European Past
147
Islam a Semitic Religion
179
F Max Miiller
207
Omnibus Guidefor Looking toward
259
Ernst Troeltsch
309
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Tomoko Masuzawa is associate professor of history and comparative literature at the University of Michigan. She is the author of In Search of Dream Time: The Quest for the Origin of Religion, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


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