BILIMNAME, vol.35, no.1, pp.9-49, 2018 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 35 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.28949/bilimname.368994
  • Journal Name: BILIMNAME
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.9-49
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: Yes


In 1961 Mircea Eliade published his one of his most important articles about the methodology of the History of Religions: "History of Religions and a New Humanism" which opened the first issue of the journal History of Religions. Eliade describes their task of the discipline. Beyond being a scientific discipline, the science of religions will fulfill its true cultural function by making the meanings of religious documents intelligible to the mind of modern man and this cultural role is of the first importance. The main factor which incited Eliade to define such a task was on the one hand, the recent reappearance of the peoples of Asia on the stage of history and, on the other; the so-called primitive peoples were preparing to make their appearance on the horizon of greater history. Eliade expected these confrontations between Westerners and non-Westerners would create new cultural values. Eliade believed that by attempting to understand the existential situations expressed by the documents he is studying; the historian of religions would inevitably attain to a deeper knowledge of man. It is on the basis of such a knowledge that a new humanism, on a world-wide scale, could develop. The specificity of this task to this discipline is due to its research area. This article was reissued in The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (1969) with some addenda. There Eliade emphasizes the privileged position of the History of Religions among the other humanistic disciplines. For him, more than any other humanistic discipline (i.e., psychology, anthropology, sociology, etc.), history of religions can open the way to a philosophical anthropology. For the sacred is a universal dimension and the beginnings of culture are rooted in religious experiences and beliefs. Furthermore, even after they are radically secularized, such cultural creations as social institutions, technology, moral ideas, arts, etc., cannot be correctly understood if one does not know their original religious matrix, which they tacitly criticized, modified, or rejected in becoming what they are now: secular cultural values. Thus, the historian of religions is in a position to grasp the permanence of what has been called man's specific existential situation of "being in the world," for the experience of the sacred is its correlate. In fact, man's becoming aware of his own mode of being and assuming his presence in the world together constitute a "religious" experience.