History of Religious Ideas, Volume 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms

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University of Chicago Press, 1985 - Religion - 367 pages
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This volume completes the immensely learned three-volume A History of Religious Ideas. Eliade examines the movement of Jewish thought out of ancient Eurasia, the Christian transformation of the Mediterranean area and Europe, and the rise and diffusion of Islam from approximately the sixth through the seventeenth centuries. Eliade's vast knowledge of past and present scholarship provides a synthesis that is unparalleled. In addition to reviewing recent interpretations of the individual traditions, he explores the interactions of the three religions and shows their continuing mutual influence to be subtle but unmistakable.

As in his previous work, Eliade pays particular attention to heresies, folk beliefs, and cults of secret wisdom, such as alchemy and sorcery, and continues the discussion, begun in earlier volumes, of pre-Christian shamanistic practices in northern Europe and the syncretistic tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. These subcultures, he maintains, are as important as the better-known orthodoxies to a full understanding of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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A history of religious ideas

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This third volume by the preeminent historian of religions, who died in April 1986, concludes his masterly survey of the field. The arrangement of the volumes is roughly chronological. This volume ... Read full review

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About the author (1985)

Born in Bucharest, Rumania, Mircea Eliade studied at the University of Bucharest and, from 1928 to 1932, at the University of Calcutta with Surendranath Dasgupta. After taking his doctorate in 1933 with a dissertation on yoga, he taught at the University of Bucharest and, after the war, at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1957, Eliade was a professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago. He was at the same time a writer of fiction, known and appreciated especially in Western Europe, where several of his novels and volumes of short stories appeared in French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Two Tales of the Occult "to relate some yogic techniques, and particularly yogic folklore, to a series of events narrated in the genre of a mystery story." Both Nights of Serampore and The Secret of Dr. Honigberger evoke the mythical geography and time of India. Mythology, fantasy, and autobiography are skillfully combined in Eliade's tales.

ALF HILTEBEITEL is Professor of Religion and Director of the Human Sciences Program at George Washington University. His books include Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupad.

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