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Aryan Mythology As Science and Ideology Author(s): Stefan Arvidsson Source: Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 67, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 327-354 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1465740 . Accessed: 14/05/2013 19:07
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Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion67/2
Mythology As And Science Ideology
SINCE THE 1980s THEREhas been a heated debate about whether or not the influentialtheoriesof GeorgeDumezil havebeen affectedby ideological motives. Critics of Dumezil have argued that Dumezil's ideas about the unique structureof Indo-Europeanmythology were governed by his right-wing sympathies and his romantic view of ancient IndoEuropean-that is, "Aryan"-peoples. This article is meant as a background to that debate.By discussingthe historicalrelationshipsbetween the scholarlyand the political interest in Aryan religion, I hope to shed light on the intricatebut importantwork of identifyingideologicalcomponents in the history of religiousstudies. Let us begin by looking into one of the most successful attempts to the sounds, visions, movecreatea religionfor "theIndo-European race": ments, and messagesof the "totalart"of RichardWagner(1813-1883). THE MYTHOLOGICAL ALTERNATIVE operas, such as Lohengrin, Wagner's Parsifal,and Der Ring derNibebeen 1876 have since at the Bavariancity of Baylungen staged annually reuth (on Wagner, see Schuiler; Borchmeyer).Fromall over Europemembers of the bourgeoisiewent on pilgrimageto Bayreuthto participatein what they,as well as the organizers,thoughtof as a kind of mysteryplayor
StefanArvidsson is a Ph.D. student in the Departmentfor History of Religionsat the Universityof Lund,223 62 Lund,Sweden.
This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Tue, 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
).112. otherartists (whose adopted Wagner's project: withthehelpof Inities triedto revitalize bookLesGrands thephilosophia ) mythology perennis he staged his ownmixture of theatre andmystery of thecentury drama: at thebeginning play.groupsthatwereoften linked to studentcircles. Wagnerdreamedof creatinga new art where revitalized(and by Wagnerreinterpreted)myths were to form the framework.. mademythic drama aninteRudolf influenced andSchur6.. rootsof esoteriAntonin Artaud to bringtheatre backto its alleged Drama Sacred aspired ofEleusis.42. OnSorel. (Washington:153ff. the pessimism of Schopenhauer. cism(Cornell:93ff. has been used retemporarysociety.'Wagnerreceivedinspirationfor the mythic themes from Christian. had the featuresof a mythology. In the last decadesof the twentiethcenturywe are once more confronted with spiritual psychologists professing the quest for myths as a crucialfactorin giving life a meaning. stronglyflavoredby his eroticizedand soteriological versionof the philosophyof Schopenhauer. recent history.was Wagner's Romantic writers such as Emerson. of course.Hughes:90-96. and medievaltexts. e. fusion This and anti-Semitism. is. Steiner. The strategyconsciouslyto producemyths in orderto influencecongoal. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The ideasbehind the librettosof The lateroperaswerea mixtureof a spiritof revolt.328 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion ritual of initiation. of myths(e.e.Justas the Wagner'sWeltanschauung classicaldramasof antiquitywere based on the mythology of the Greek people.and Whitman aimed to design a particularmythology for the young American nation (Feldman and Richardson: 511ff. peatedlythroughout Thoreau.Indo-European-mythologies that firstsawthe light with Homerand the Rigveda.Von Schroeder argued in Die Vollendung des arischenMysteriumsin Bayreuth(1911) that the (primalhome) of the Aryantribeshad myths firstcreatedin the Urheimat been ennobledoverthe millenniaand werefinallywith the worksof Wagner readyto be circulatedto all of mankind.ancient Nordic.g.. byWagner 236).which.g. if we idiosyncratic fulfillment the von the Vienna areto believe Schroeder. Germanicmyths. in fact.thatthere dissemination promotes struggle) political 161-182. Ringand otherof Wagner's reworked Christianpassion mysticism.48 on Tue.At the end of the nineteenth century the mission to spreadthe gospel of Wagnerwas.g.). undertakenby a largenumberof Wagnersocieties. indologistLeopold of the ancientAryan-or with a synonym. Edmond Schur6 best-known workis 1 Later on. gralpartof Anthroposophy 2 Behind whotaught thatthecreation and viewone findsGeorgs Sorel(1847-1922) thefascist exists anon-going class activism.. Fascists like Benito Mussolini and Alfred Rosenbergused mythic themes to mobilize the people. Quite a few visitors have testifiedto what a profound experiencethe operabroughtabout. This content downloaded from 94. see.
In the world of Christianscholarsnon-biblical. Frank. the Greeceof antiquity (see Graf. Mythswere in realitypoetic exegesesof the laws of natureand of behavior:allegoric interpretation.Vernant:203-260). The word "myth"(mythos) became a synonym of "lie" alreadyin its etymologicalcountry of birth. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . philosophicaltracts.Or else myths were distorted historicalreportsin which the heroeshad been attributeddivinity:euhemerIn both casesthe interpretation meantthat behind the istic interpretation.use. instrumentalmind. scientific theses or realistic novels.48 on Tue.the religious content of these myths could be disregarded.displaysomethingrational. and the other divinities.LinAfter the criticism of religion presentedby coln 1996. received its raison d'etrefrom a dichotomy that had been constructed and transmittedby romantic traditions (on the history of "myth.thus preventingthe myths from forming a in or elsearefreefromrationality utility-oriented rationality calculating.was for the firsttime thought of as a life-affirminggenre in the romantic vogue in fashion around the beginning of the nineteenthcenturyand contradictedthe everydaysense of the word (which it retainsdespite protestsfrom today'sspiritualcamps) as a falsestory. it became difficult to believe in the literalmeaningof the storiesabout the cholericfights.." The dictatorship "greatness.With the help of the allegoric and euhemeristic modes of interpretationtaken over from antiquity. and the lascivious pastimes of Zeus. however. and distributionof myths.e. An authenticlife is only possible when myth can prevailagainstlogos. Hera. Myth." see Feldmanand Richardson. instead of. for example. serving the philosophersof the Enlightenment. and the other Xenophanes sophists.the scientists." drainslife of its "meaning. using genres like political manifestos. distortedtruth could Thus be detected. myths-behind the overt stupidities and repulsiveif ness-did." of reasonis only to be dissolvedby myths able to stir the imaginationand revealancient wisdom. "pagan" (i.the vicious abuses. mainly Greekand Roman) myths were used as educationaland artistic aids (de Vries:18-32).Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 329 THEINTERPRETATION OF MYTH Why myths?The creation. The Hellene who let himself be persuadedby the argumentsof the sophists but still didn't feel quite happy simply to dismiss the myths transmitted through authoritieslike Homer and Hesiod as fables and old wives' tales was during antiquityofferedtwo differentapproachesto the meaning of the myths. with theirown nature.Accordorderto live an authenticlife in accordance ing to the romanticthinkersthe computing. This content downloaded from 94. properlyinterpreted.112. of childish foolishness the a apparent myths hidden.42.and the politicians or "spirituality.and This theoryclaimedthat humans areeithercontrolledby a Scarborough).
mythologies. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . separation wasnot yet in place. interpretation but firstit seemsappropriate to presentan outlineof how it discussed. "mythopoetic" imagination THE "MYTH"OF ROMANTICISM Fromthe sixteenthcenturyonwardsthroughout WesternEurope in diminished and cultural influence. openedup Christianity approaches and The first re-evaluation of is con"myth" "mythology. classical astheworkof thedevil. mythsarelies (Marxism).330 Journalof the AmericanAcademyof Religion alternative. In fact. myths disciplinary or moralstories(thesociological approach).48 on Tue.112. latecapitalism a newmodeof interpretation become has. and from andtheharsh andheroic tales India. European."Oriental" werethe mythsfromIndia.Whenlookingfor inspiration. meristic of the church also what couldbe developed ways interpretation calleda hermeneutic mission. paganmyths plagiarisms Holy crudely. that of found itself with American.however. This mode of unveiled the interpretation of of Writ as mere the even more or. etparticulierement anciens Scandinaves Thusthe(artificial) between "Celtic" and"Nordic/Germanic" (1756). perse. andChinese became known andreports American. (1765)andwhichmostpeople of Ossian pre-Chrstian in "European" werealsotheEddas-firstknown to a wideraudience Paul myths. This content downloaded from 94. mythsaredistorted history Outsidethe scholarly worldof (historicism).the mostimportant the rise of the probably being the of and the of Christian bourgeoisclass. dreamy metaphysical myths 3 African.e. cameaboutthattheconcept of mythreceived sucha positive connotation as to makeWagner and othersanxiousnot to interpret or dissolvethe butinstead to revitalize it. critique of the Enethics.In contrast modesof interthehermeneutic of missionefficiently excludes thepossibility of pretation in rational the finding anything mythologies. Several series Christianity political of eventscausedthis. werethosemyths under (1736-1796) "European" published byJames Macpherson thenameof TheSongs believed to be genuine.. andthe Levant Mesopotamia. in form: a modified are about nature(the although myths speculation school of the nineteenth are nature-allegoric century)." mythic thought nectedwith the romantic writersof the eighteenth and ninteenthcenturies. progress science. Asidefromtheallegorical andeuhe"heathen" trulyreligious.fourmodesof hermeneutics havecontinued intoourownday.and clericalpowerby the philosophers metaphysics. company African. mythologies through travelogues frommissionaries. antiquity.i. andRichardson: (Feldman 199-202). andOriental Thefavorite Chinese.Persia. to theearlier.Included through HenriMallet's Monumens de la mythologie et de lapobsie des (1730-1807) Celtes.42. highly At the end of this article this new kind of willbe popular.3 mythologies of theromantics werethoseof thebeautyandfreedom-loving the Greeks. The decline of new to lightenment. the romantic writerscouldselect fromseveral different since what had been seenasmythology mythologies.
myths the same time as they integratedthe society.for example.Mythsweresupposedto enablea connection between all Germansnow living in numeroussmall countriesand to function as a foundation for a united Germany. the romantics arguedin a way typical for those impressed by Johann Gottfried von Herder's(1744-1803) epoch-making views on "people"(Volk)as an organictotality integratedby traditionand culture.It was duringthis period that the collection of Germanmyths (folktales)started. The earliergenerationof romantics(Herder. This content downloaded from 94.and could perhapsend this knowledge. some of these small countrieswere. who Mythologies are portraitsof the soul of the people (Volksgeist) createdthem. therefore. Schiller)looked upon the myths as the spontaneous production of common people and worked to re-elaborategiven mythic themes (like Schillerin Die Gditter Griechenlands ).with the Grimmbrotherstakingthe lead.consistedof stories and characters that shapedall aspectsof life in the differentcity-states.48 on Tue. regenerating The romantics imagined that the production and the reproduction of myths would make it possible to heal what destiny and the ideas of the Enlightenment had divided. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . on the intellectual level the Enlightenmentera had splintered:Kantian philosophydivided human strivinginto spheresof ethics.This increasein the sheernumberof available mythologies gave the-originally Greek-genre an aura of universality.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 331 from Ossianand the Eddas.Goethe.).according to the romanticview.however.believedthat an artisticgeniushas the capacityto create new myths that catchthe natureof his people in a waythat might react beneficiallyon the people.The productionof myths.A mythic or religious Weltanschauung fragmentationand once more heal humankind. It is this romanticview that echoes more than half a century later in Wagner'sefforts to compose operas capable of the Germanpeople.not only to be viewed as expressionsof the soul of the people but are also the culturalcementthat ties a people together.however. and the idea arosethat mythic expressionswere not merelythe remnants of an ancientpaganismbut somethingvitalto the well-beingof all peoples in all times (Feldmanand Richardson:302ff. Greekmythology.was looked upon as crucial for nationalisticpolitics to be successful.42.occupied by enlightenedand revolutionary France.during the heydayof romanticism. aesthetics. In the eyes of the romantic formeda unique form of art designedto intescholarsthe "mythopoetic" the individual into society and in generalto give shape and stability grate to existence.Furthermore. the regulating practical way to do justiceas well as the artisticwayto make the differentsystemsof significationat The connected sculptures. The younger generation (above all the Schlegel brothers).112.To make mattersworse from the romanticpoint of view. Mythsare.
and the philosophersof the Enlightenmentand positivists.The huge interestthat spiritualism caused from 1850onwardsis partlyto be explainedby the fact that the main ritual.the Theosophical Society and the Monistic League from the end of the nineteenth century (scientific concepts are incorporatedinto religious creed). G. apologetics.the materialistic.The great of Schleiermacher's workslies in the factthathe redefinedrelisignificance so that this kind of confrontation seemedto miss the point. Jungand today'sNew Age movement (spiritualpsychologyis consonant with modern science).332 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion TWO RELIGIOUS STRATEGIES The struggle for cultural hegemony between romantics and Christians. debatableargumentsin favorof Christianmoralsand doctrines. howmechanistictraditionthat was regardedas a threatto the dominanceof Chrisever. but ratherreliedupon the individual'sreligious experience.42.see Melton:83-135. 5 On spiritualism. or illusory.4One possible expedientwas to constructa religionthat incorporatedscientificideals. on the one hand. Later other similarscientisticreligions (or whateverwe would like to call them) eitherdevelopedout of the spiritualismor arose independently.The foundationof God existsonly in the soul of the religious person.the Frenchoccult vogue from around the 1840s (magical powers are as real as non-mechanical powers like electricity). on the other. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Similiar"scientificreligions"aremesmerismfrom the end of the eighteenthcentury (healingwith "animalmagnetism").when confrontedwith writershostile to religion. and the teaching of C. tianity.weresupposedto presentrational. now Schleiermacheraffected by the romantic evaluation of feeling and fantasy and by his own pietistic upbringing-removed God entirely from the intersubjective domain. It was. for example. was understood as an empirical experiment to provehypothesesabout the continued life of the soul afterdeath.48 on Tue.Someyearsbeforethe publicationof Schleiermacher's Uber die Religion (1799) Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) had moved God from the field of knowledge to that of ethics. A numberof people thought of this opposition as unfruitful.The outcome was the emergenceof differentstrategiesto stabilize the relationshipbetween a religious or idealistic worldview and a scientificor materialisticone.Schleiermacher immunized Christianityfrom rationalistic attacks. Byclaimgion ing that the kernelof the Christianreligionwas not containedin anygiven statementabout ethics or metaphysics. With the emotions breakingthrough at the moment of religious and unity experience." launchedbythe romantictheologianFriedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) Before Christian Schleiermacher. continued throughout the nineteenth century. the seance.' Partly opposed to this strategy was the strategy of "bunkering.the individualgets a sense of the interconnectedness 4 Historiansof ideas and sciences have for a long time been conscious of the significanceof an idealisticscientifictraditionduring the nineteenth century (see.Hanson). (Reardon:29-58). This content downloaded from 94.112.threatening.
Thus polytheistic religions were born. though visible. scientificage. He was an adherentof Schleiermacher's belief that the kernelof Christianity is the religiousinstinctof man.How could humans with only such a primitivelanguageexpress religiousemotions or the idea of the divine?Accordingto Muller.Chaudhuri.At stakewas first of all the status of Christianity. which in the days of Mtillerwere consideredto be the worship of the phenomena of nature. whose ideas during the laterpart of the nineteenthcenturydominatedall disciplinesinterestedin understandingthe place of Christianityand of religion in generalin the modern.This longing dependence. further distorted due to the changes in language.dissatisfaction" ing of "weakness.It so happened that these primitiveschose the sky-powerful. ("God is the sky"). able to understandthat this primitive form of religion was constructedon the basis of an approximative metais like the but some the understood ("God phor metaphorsliterally sky"). A SCIENCE OF RELIGION A thirdway to approachthe relationshipbetween religionand science The nineteenth-century was to studyreligionscientifically. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . would a priori not be granted any superior status. (Muiller: for "afriend.48 on Tue. and without this experience humans are not whole. Muiller argued. see Trompf. The foundation for religion is the personalexperienceof the total dependence on the infinite." was in the days of the childhood of humankind expressedwith the help of a language so primitive that it did not have any abstractnouns. the common people This content downloaded from 94.primitive people could only speak of such things in parables.Olender).42. Not everyone was. however.""afather.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 333 that is the absolute foundation (God) of fleeting time and endless space. and. impossibleto reach-as a symbol for the religiousobject. ideas about knowledgeand religionwereinterwovenwith his Miiller's romanticview of languageand today seem ratherobscure (on Muiller. wide.112. which primitive peoples because of their admirationof and fear for the manifestationsof naturehad grantedagency ("Thunderis caused When the words that had become names became by the Thunder-God"). The foremost advocate of the establishmentof a science of religionwas the German-British philologist FriedrichMax Muiller(1823-1900). spokesmenfor a scienceof religionclaimedthat an objectivestudy of the religionsof the world and a comparisonbetween them would clarifythe place of religion which for humankind. The sky and its sun becamethe symbols for the religiouslonging and with it expressions like "Heavenly Father" arose. a feel181). All wordsthat existedhad concretereferences.
Thus. in the highest is the exercised on sense."). the creationof myths was. as suggestedby Muiller.They often elaboratedthe storiesby takingfolk etymologyas a point of departure("TheMoon-God is calledso. however. threatenedby the seductivetricksof language:"Mythology. the Semitesand (true) religion and. on the other. with the help of his history of languages. and polytheism. Miller. In Muller'sview myths were still essentially just faulty knowledge.42. The division between." and so forth) became the foundation of the world's mythologies. on the one hand. The word roots in Semiticlanguages-the otherfamily of languagesthat interestedMuller-were.48 on Tue. with the result that the primal religious revelationwas better preservedamong the Semitictribes. MYTH OR REASON Accordingto Miller. much more MUllerdescribedwhat he felt to be the barrentransparent. ness of myths among people speaking Semitic languages.Aryansand mythology. The reasonfor this. Miller could argue that the existence of myths and worship of nature were a naturalconsequence of the confusion of languageand of the creationof popularetymologies.Manypeoplebecamequite infatuatedwith the Aryans.Muller claimed. He seems to have been too much of a positivist and sufficientlyChristian not to embracethe world of myths. Free and rational thinking is always.or an athetury irrespective ist (Olender). 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .334 Journalof the AmericanAcademyof Religion began to tell storiesabout these gods of nature. the outcome of primitive thinking and mistaken folk etymologies.particularly intense among people speaking Aryan/Indo-Europeanlanguages. power by language thought" (quotedin Feldman and Richardson:482).was not one of them. since once upon a time.Thesetales ("Thunderoccurswhen the Thunder-Goddrivesacrossthe sky. would be that the verb roots of the (Ur-Arische) Proto-Indo-European language-the languagefrom which all Aryan/Indo-European descend-were difficult languages exceptionally to understand and therefore becameeasyvictims of the exegesisof the folk etymologicalkind.a Jew. Accordingly. on the otherhand.their myths. In Muller'swritings the sun graduallycame to be seen as the naturalphenomenon that had received the most mythical elaboration. however.held a steadygrip on the minds of the philologistsand scientistsof religion in the nineteenth cenof whetherthe scholarwas a Christian.112. This content downloaded from 94. Miller and his colleaguesin the so-called nature-allegoric school taught that each and every myth originally consisted of stories about the different phenomena of nature.daybreakswhen the Sun-Godhas defeatedDarkness.
.andinfantile religious thatthe scienceof religion wasto explain At thesame standings" (away).112. the increasing improvement capacity willbe ableto liberate humans forabstraction.thepopular.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 335 In Mtiller's historical dramathe scienceof religionfightsforthe litthe the and andstruggles thefiguraeral.wherereligionshouldhaveits properplace. Also Ahmadiyya and Bahai could be counted as modernistmovementswith their roots in Islam.but by then orthodoxy had become more influentialand criticism was raised of Christianity. protected gion Superideaswere"misunderstition. and in Islam there were groups influenced by Jamalad-Din alAfghani (1838-97) and Muhammed Abduh (1849-1905). fromthe"curse" philology of mythsandleadthembackto the primalreligion.and reform Hinduism.Because ogyleadsastray. always holy. mythology. Religiousorthodoxy.however. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . childish a religion thehumansoulin thepresence maybe. plained. gion.This global. AN ANTI-LIBERAL HISTORYOF RELIGION: RIPOSTE of andtherefore tolerance toward nonByincreasing understanding andby isolating kernelin the religions Christian the religious religions.Fries. thattraditional faithwasbecoming untenable andwas time. in theexistence of a universal relibelieved Muiller that must from be secularization and scientism. of religion as the nameindicates: its missionwasto clearthe religious worldfrom and fables true "The intention of relimythic thereby safeguard religion: wherever we is meet However however it. scientific.Millerwasa typical of thosewhofoughtforthe representative establishment at the universities of a disciplinefor objective and com6 The most prominentscholarsin the first generationof historiansof religionwere Protestants.separated Thepurpose of a science thuswasnot as secular tificthought. philologist of the continuing of language. the academic will findthewayback.42. against andagainst Where theworkof folketymoltive. intothemodern hopedto bringreligion/Christianity Miiller fromscienera. but the effort during the nineteenth century to make religion fit into modern society was not only a Protestantendeavor.Muiller and other liberalscholarssupportedthe co-operationbetween scientificstudies and humanisticidealism. i.See Sharpe: This content downloaded from 94.e. expression.6 Inthis..religiousmodernismbecame manifest at the World'sParliamentof Religionsin Chicago 1893.repulsive customs. it always places of God"(Miiller:263).Protestantliberaltheology had spiritualcousins in Catholicmodernism.liberal Judaism.givingit its proper Science thusopensup roomforfaith. againstwhat the orthodoxbelievedwould be a relativization who did not want to see their discipline transformedinto a tool for world reformation. imperfect.where representatives from no less then forty-onedenominationsgatheredto explaintheir religionsand try to understandothers.also com138ff.he realized to to the modern willing adaptChristianity world. The initiative from Chicago was followed up some years later in Stockholm and Paris. of theworld.ravedagainstthe parliament("Themost unforgivableattackon Christianitythe world has seen"). trulyreligious. More rigoriousscholars.48 on Tue.
. Tiele.' The collectionsof myths that today aresold in largeeditions follow the same model.see Olender: 8 For example.Inthe called of stead. Chantepiede la Sausliberalsin religious as saye. but the Semitic children of Abrahamarenot represented: is only present Judaismand Islamaretotallyabsent. European myths that survived the Christian conversion). This content downloaded from 94. 115-135. as do scientificsurveysof the world'smythologies ARYAN MYTH.Poliakov). The science of religion that Muiller dreamtof never materialized.about the world'smythologies (including heathen. Judaism and Islam): Christian theology/pagan cosmology. Gobineau's Essaisur l'InigalitW des RacesHumaines(1853/1855).112.among the most influential Europeanthinkers of the late ninteenth century. in which he argued that race is the only factor that shapes people and cultures.42. Christian liturgy/pagan rituals. C.met with little enthusiasm. everything 7 The orientalistIgnaz Goldziher (1850-1921) tried in Der Mythosbei den Hebriaern und seine zur Mythologieund Religionswissenschaft (1876) to raise geschichtliche Entwicklung: Untersuchungen the status of Semitic religion by showing that the Hebrewtribes also had createdmyths. and Nathan Soderblom-were. academicsubjectsgave rise to two diverse sets of concepts (Christianity shares some concepts with its "Semitic"cousins. P. His effort. mythopoetic speculation (Olender. well as politicalissues (Sharpe: 119-161). The two main trendsetterswere Joseph-ArthurComte de Gobineau (1816-1883) and ErnestRenan (1823-1892).Both envisagedhistoryas a dramawherethe Semitesand the Aryansplayedthe leadbest-known work is ing parts in the struggleover the future.Manyof the scholarsin the firstgeneration of historians of religion-e.Christianreligion/paganmythology. Christianangels/paganspirits.and freethinkers began to turn awayfrom Semiticpiety in favor of Aryan.Even today.g.the conceptsof myth and mythology-the focus of this article-are seldom used when it comes to Christianor "Semitic" stories: (Abrahamic) the man who was swallowedby a giant fish or the carpenter'sson who could walkon waterare not "myths". Smith has drawn attention to the contemporaryuse of the expression "the Christ of faith"instead of "the mythical Christ" (1990:87). SEMITIC PIETY In the ninteenth century outside the clerical world scientists. artists.not thereligion. journalists. like Mtiller. it is possible to read in the survey Mythologies(Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Both were.and Christianity as a creatorof different modes of interpretationof myths. discipline history religionswas createdwith the aim to all This division of labor between study religions excludingChristianity. JonathanZ.336 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion parativestudies of religion-a disciplinein which Christianityshould be one of the religions. two volumes complied by YvesBonnefoy. like Muiller. 1991). 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .48 on Tue. however.
could not arise among Semitic tribes.and createmythologies. He evenclaimedthat the racial factor is irrelevantin modern Europe:a ParisianJew is probably moreAryanthen a Bengalifarmer. The only thing the Semiteshavein multiplesis wives. most authorityof his time on Hebrewand otherSemiticlanguages-quite a paradoxin the light of his celebrationof the Aryans-and becameinterbook on nationallyfamous or notorious because of his historical-critical In this and the life of Jesus(Lavie deJcsus.multiply everythingexcept their wives.AdolphePictet. to science which liberates humansfrom the chainsof nature. Renanwas the fore(Poliakov:215-254. and innumerabledivinities. in which the gods are altogetherdifferent persons. tradition.Ignaz Goldziher. They have both consonants and vowels."i.and other philologists (AdelbertKuhn. They have only one sign (the consonant).idealize. "echoesfrom nature. a great number of distinct languages. This content downloaded from 94. Everythingabout the Semiticsis mono. is not like the Aryanone. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .and the emptiness hinderscreativity and suppressesthe interesttowardthe surroundingworld. The Aryanlanguagesare superiorto the Semiticones:with them one can play. the revealedethics of monotheism.Renanwrote." stimulates and of in the freedom The which fantasy grants thought.contraryto Gobineau.Assyrians. becausethey lackthe capacityto idealizeand to conceptualizemultiplicity(Olender:67). sublimein its immense uniformity"(quotedin Olender:55).In the desert neither time nor space leavesany traces.and Caananites. transportthe faculty of reason to exciting metaphysical heights and.). might be outlined in the Rudolph fashion: following 9 One might wonder about those Semiticpeople who usually are said to have been polytheists: Babylonians.and only one God.1863) other (Olender.thought of the concepts Semitic and Aryanas two differentmentalitiesor waysof life. Reardon). Renan explained.). myths. The greatvariety of stories about gods. Renan.This Semitic polytheism. gods represent differentphenomena of nature.112.42.e.etc. But realpolytheism. by Friedrich Grau..48 on Tue.one language(with some dialects).The reasonfor this Semitic lack of creativityis the desert:"The desert is monotheistic. finally.as Scienceand Ideology Arvidsson: AryanMythology 337 else-geography. Renan.on the contrary. The only their "instinctfor relithing the Semitesaregood at is a traitnot acquired: gion. The Aryan (genuine) polytheismwas an answerto the riddlesof nature.the Semiticone only the outcome of splitting-different traitsof the only God become separategods. The Aryans. or means of production-is unimportant Feldmanand Richardson:463ff. as constructed Mtiller.' The opposition between these two forms of religion. works Renanelaboratedthe opposition between Aryan and Semitic religion.
Lagarde.. on the thresholdof a new phase in the discussion of Aryans. thus. Jahrhunderts (1899-1901)was importantfor the coming into being of this new friend-enemy-figure.The idea that Semiticreligion was focused on ritualwas welcomedby Chamberlain who despised Catholicism. Germans" Aryans. moreover.338 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion AryanReligion Mythology Polytheism Myths Intellect.myths. besides Wagner's wife Cosima and his was.112." where "Indowas the Germanversionof Indo-Europeans." The concept is said to have such a specialcontent or connota- This content downloaded from 94.the English.and the Jews(Poliakov:307ff. After a journey to North AfricaRobertsonSmith (1846-1894) arguedfrom his observationsof nomadic Arabsthat he could conclude that the most importantritual among Semitic tribes in the days of the Bible was the sacrificeand consumption of the tribe's totemic animal.48 on Tue. Chamberlain's Die Grundlagen des 19..conductedthe Bayreuth-cult death (Poliakov:315ff. 11"Viblkisch" was a word that in 1875was proposedby nationalistlanguagepurists as a substitute for the Latin-Romanic "national.Wagner's afterWagner's son Siegfried(named afterthe hero of "theRing"). this ritualhad much more religioussignificancefor the Semitictribes than any religiousstory or doctrine.stood Madagascar. Catholicism."o dreamof a Judenrein soon found its placein the Lagarde's Christianity movement.Lagardehad set his mind on wreckingJudaismand advocateddeportationof the Jewsto with his intense dislikeof everythingJewish. Violkisch 10 Besidesthe work of Gobineauand Houston St. Chamberlain son-in-law and one of persons who. it looked like it would be possible to constructthe lines Semitic-ritual-Catholicism and Aryan-myth-Protestantism. Chamberlain used WilliamRobertsonSmith'swell-knownbook Lectures on the Religionof the Semites(1889). 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Romance-speakingpeople.The new German/Germanic religion was to be based on the Gospel but freed from "Jewish-Pauline" concepts of sin and renunciation.Nature Cosmology Proto-Science transmission Hereditary Nordic SemiticReligion Religion Monotheism Emotionaltexts Moral History Revelation Prophets Mediterranean INDO-GERMANS VERSUS JEWS In a newly united Germanythe theologian and orientalistPaulde Lagarde (1827-1891)called for the creationof a national religion that could constitute the foundation of the Germanpeople in their struggleagainst the French. Lagarde.Mosse:33-39). and Semites-a sign of the times was that the word "anti-Semitism" became from around In this 1879 (von See:300).42.Accordingto RobertsonSmith."side by side with romantic views of the peasantry. popular Germany ideological change meant that the nationalistic opposition figure "Germansversus Rome" (i.). Forthe historiography of the history of religions it is interestingto notice that in his depreciationof the Jewsand their religion. French liberalism and culture) was replacedby "Indo-Germans versusJews.e.
48 on Tue.Soon equivalent the works of Muller and Renan about Aryan and Semitic religion were read from a racist perspective.with the change of the cultural climatein Germanyaroundthe time of its unification.reactionarymass movement. However.Tobe a Jewwas not only to be committed to a religion that denied the fulfillment of the Lawin the love and sacrificeof LordJesusbut also to be an adherentof an authoritarian and conservativetheology.the intellectualism.despite the fact that both scholarswrote of what were originallylinguisticconcriticallyabout the transformation cepts into biologicalones. and enthusiasm for everything "Germanic. both of whom advocateda radicalchangein the bourgeoisway of life (Mosse:52-63).The battle callydefinedgroupthreateningthe Aryan/Indo-European for world domination. self-sufficientfarming.Tolstoy. the market economy.see the referencesin von Schnurbein:81n.stood betweenthese two races.Nietzsche. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . which from a socio-biological point of view was to the questionof survival. and their "lifephilosophical"ideaswere to complementand change the dichotomiesof Muiller and Renan.when nationalism was turned into an anti-liberal. REAL ARYANS CELEBRATELIFE appeal for the creation of a national religion spread enLagarde's demically(to use the historianPoliakov's expression)from the end of the nineteenth century until the 1930s.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 339 disdain for democracy. such as vegetarianism.At the turn of the century this quest for a new religion was integratedwith experimentsin new ways of life that were then in progress.1. and rootlessness of the anonymity metropolis(von See:283-318).On studiesabout this Vilkischetraditionof relevancefor historianof religions.and the Jewswerelooked upon as a biologirace. Szeemann). since Judaism seemed antiquated. This content downloaded from 94. and pagan festivals (on "Lebensreform.112. scepticismtowardmabiologicalnaturalization The Jew terialistic science. the quibblings and nonsense of the cowardliness and emasculationof the bourgeoisie." Green.42.intolerant.racistssuch as Gobineaubecamepopular. In Germanythe influential publisher Eugen Diederichs (1867-1930)published the magazine Die Tattogetherwith books written or inspiredby Tolstoyand Nietzsche. During the first decades of the nineteenth century the contempt of educated people for Jews was abetted by liberal ideas.free (Lebensreform) see sex.and dogmatic. tion that it seldom is translated. and socialism. pseudoof gendercharacteristics." came to representeverythingthat at the time was wrong:the destruction by capitalism of everything valuable.
intoxipossibilities of earthlylife are affirmedby the Ubermensch catedby life. seeAschheim. humans must occupy God's throne and decide for themselves what is valuable.The reflectiveand specu12I1 am aware of thefactthatforthreedecades or moreone is lookeduponas a philosophical if he/she. in 1870 Bunsen triedto construct a suncultbased on theBible Adam wasanAryan (where a Semite andthesnake Ernst Bunsen wasthegrandson of theorientalist von Christian (Bernal:348f. For those who followed Nietzschean philosophy the opposition between Aryan/Indo-European and Semiticreligionswas no longera matter of the opposition betweenbold thought and religiousfeelingbut a matter of affirmingauthenticlife against resentment.Nietzsche's was directed at the belief in transcendence: the idea of Christianity mainly the existenceof an otherworldlyrealmis the productof a people unfit for life.Butwhen the transcendent thanks to D. dances above pain and guilt. sincethehistorians philosophy of ideasandscience StenDahlstedt andSven-Eric whohavekindly read a draftof myarLiedman. and so forth) and set their faith on a rebirth (not a development/ evolution) of the people.'2 In opposition to the crucifiedGod JesusNietzscheraisedthe lifeattackon affirmingecstasyof the GreekGod of wine Dionysos. industrialism. The who.42.Feuerbach.in thefootsteps Neanderthal of theNazisandGeorge Nietzsche as some Lukdcs. sche's philosophy 13 thecyclic viewof timeas analternative to Jewish/Christian/liberal beliefin thefuture Today canbe foundamong via Heidegger) aswellas among (fromNietzsche postmodernist philosophers Thepredilection forthecycleandtheimmanent ledanearlier (fromEliade). who in that way rejectan earthlylife that in comparisonto the heavGod.48 on Tue.a free or classlesssociety) was criticizedon the same grounds (it depreciateswhat is prevailand anti-Christian thinkersadoptedNietzsche's ing). regards kindof proto-fascist. the reactionaryand anti-Christianthinkersconsideredthe cycle to be at its lowestpoint (with the progressof secularism. is dead.egalitarianism.112.havecommented thought.Ernst person a suncult. journey This content downloaded from 94. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Reactionary prophesies of the Ubermensch as well an alternative view of time.340 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion In the very influentialworks of Nietzsche from the 1880s the JudeoChristiantradition was depicted as world-rejectingand contraryto the natureof man-revenge andbad consciousnessweresaidto be its cardinal virtues. Allthisstated asa kindof defense.and Nietzsche. on faults in mydescription of Nietzsche's On theimpact of Nietzticle. a closefriendof Friedrich MaxMiiller whobehindthe paganmythshaddetected stories Bunsen. in Germany. the cycle(in Nietzsche'sphilosophy. it is stilla factthata Viilkisch interpretation of Nietzsche wascommon theturnof the century-despite around Nietzsche's ownrepudiation of anti-Semitism andnationalism hislastsoundyears-and it is thisinterpretation morethan during Nietzsche's on whichI focushere. Butevenif it is truethatthisviewis muchcruder a simplification thanwhata Walter ora Gilles Kaufmann Deleuze thinks of Nietzsche. viz. enly idealloses its powerof enchantment.the EternalReturn). neo-pagans neo-pagan to tryto forma nature-religion withthesunasthemajor of worship (seeNoll:75generation object Bunsen waspresumably thefirst in modern timesto promote theestablishment of 108). The traditionalview of history as a linear processleadingto a goal (JudgmentDay. F Strauss.1'At the time of theirwriting.. aboutthesun's frommorning to evening to morning.).
of course.. world".4 The Vilkische. ality (Olender:68-79). and despite the fact that Christianityhad a Jewish-Semiticorigin.life-philosophical. it was only when it was expressedin Aryanlanguages(i.After all.in the north.Line Salvation The Crossof Suffering JESUS THE ARYAN Forpeople like Lagarde who stroveto free the Germanreligiousherifrom tage everythingSemitic." Semitic roots: "Fundamentally wrote Renan..the greatproblem.112. "the in the saddest Judea.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 341 lativereasonthat Renanconceivedof as the vehiclethat had broughtcivilization and science to the Aryanswas re-evaluated in the life-philosophical ideology and found to be mere intellectualism-a threatto the sound.the Semiteshad.48 on Tue. and later fascist version of Aryan and Semiticreligion might be schematizedlike this: Aryan Life-affirming Worldly Heroic Ritual.Festival Myth.Galilee.was Jesusand Christianity.been given one "sublime mission":to watch over monotheism-a mission they had carried 14 The same combinationof anti-Semitismand anti-intellectualism was also found in France. heroic way of life.It word is significantthat when the anti-Dreyfusard writerMauriceBarras coined the totallypejorative he was above all thinkingof the the greatJewishbelieverin progressemile Durkheim. and arguedthat Jesusreallyhad a very un-JewishpersonJesusneverfelt at ease in the desertsof Purportedly. and had become associatedwith Jewishand bourgeois inauthenticy and anxiety (see for exampleLukics:184-196)." This content downloaded from 94. Rationalthinking had changed sides.Ascetic Priestly/Clerical Scriptural History. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Jesuswas no real Semite. Galilee happiness in Judeathere were neither. Greekand Latin)that Christianity becamea religionof universalsignificance. In there was and a tolerant atmosphere. with its country was where felt at home loved flowers")(quotedin Jesus ("Jesus greenoases.e. Olender:72). however.Thus.42. "intellectual. wasn't Jesus Jewish?And what is Christianity but a Jewishcult? Does a religious movement fit for the Germanpeople and the Aryan race therefore have to reject Christianity entirely?One solution to this dilemmawas the attemptto rid Christianityof its Jewishthere was nothing Jewish about Jesus. Accordingto Renan. Cycle Rebirth The Evergreen Tree Semitic Life-rejecting Escapist.
112.A radicalwing among who ruled the Evangelical churchesdurthe pro-Nazi DeutscheChristen. to Renan and a was. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . customs.and Christianity evolvedfrom an anti-rabbinical and Hellenistictradition.the membersof this school tried for the firsttime with help fromhistoricalcritical methods to investigatethe relationshipbetween Semitic and Aryan religions in the biblical Near East.felt that the attemptsto purge Jesusand Christianityof Semiticelementswere useless and instead looked for pagan alternatives(Schnurbein:81-124. searchingfor a religion fit for the Germans. they were unableto developtheir religionand to successfullyfightpolytheism.Other people. so that those who consider Christianityto be the Aryan religion par excellenceare in many respects The truecontinuationof SemiticJudaism correct"(quotedin Olender:70).42.however. Renanconcerningthe religiouscontextin which Christianity wasborn. Lagarde's nationalism. which they did by creating overtime rid itself Jewishto the core. This content downloaded from 94. (prohibitionof ing Aryan-paragraph in in should be the churches and wanted to Jews state service) applied the Old Testament because it was abolish Jewish(Gunnarson: 115).342 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion out throughout history with intolerance.and the liberaltheologyof Ritschl.Christianityis essentiallynon-Jewish.One can observehow anti-Semiticideologygovernedthe entireproject:all formsof "superstition" in the Gospels are Jewishsurvivals. and ideas that could not be tracedbackto the pre-ChristianUrheimat of the Aryans. Lagardeand other writers of the same persuasionreiteratedRenan's ideas: "the Aryan Jesus"-a book published in 1931 written by Hans Hauptmannwas entitledJesusderArier-was crucifiedby "SemiticJews".Christianity Christianity. in Vienna where Leothe Wagnerite. assembleddiscipleswho wereto idenpold von Schroeder. Influenced by the work of Schule. according large number of other scholars.With the help of data about the Aryan/Indo-European mythology Schroederand his discipleswere to identify "thealien"elementswith which the Church 15 Anotherschool that shouldbe mentionedin this contextis the so called Religionsgeschichtlische referencesin Rudolph).however. "Originally of nearly everything it took from the race. MYTH AND AUTHENTICITY The identificationand isolation of Aryanand Semiticelementsin the sphereof religion continued. Unfortunately. that the the Third demanded Reich.not to be found in Christianity but in Islam." To be banished were such stories. Thereforethe "sublimemission" had to be taken over by Aryan tribes who could carryon the torch of monotheism.Christianitywas unimportantuntil it was conceptualizedin Indo-European languages. Paulre-Semitizedthe gospel of Jesus. Jones and Pennick: 196-220).48 on Tue. among other places. tify "raciallyalien" elements in the Habsburg-Germanculture (Bockhorn).consolidated in the 1890s (Sharpe:150.
oped by the Grimmbrothersand Wilhelm Mannhardt(1831-1880): customs. but to the deepest foundationsof the human soul. since the peasantway of life was supposed to be untouched by the changesof the last millennia. This this something. the collected materialgave evidence of ancient Aryanculture.past and coming.the dissolution of the family. or the blood. the regeneration of the people'ssense of community (nationalism). It is not necessarily the psychologyof C. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at riskof becomingdisillusionedandtherebyeasytargetsfor foreign influences. of national characteristicsand of racial factors conditioning these nationalcharacteristics" The rebirthof the myths.the guarantee and meaning.In theirsearchfor "thegenuine (own) tradition" the Viennesemythologistsemployedthe philological study of Indo-Europeantexts as well as the folkloristic method develtales. Gtintherwrote: "The spirit of the ages has deprived present-day people of all sense of being destined. to be sure. Characteristicof these times was the use of the notion of myth to designate something unchangeablein the individual. the land.48 on Tue.WolfgangSchultz. The disciples of Schroeder(Karlvon Spiess."wrote the Nazi philosopherAlfredBaumler(quotedin Lukics:192).as Scienceand Ideology Arvidsson: AryanMythology 343 or StatehaddefiledAryan-German tradition. (quotedin Madsen:94). thing-in-itself. the affinity between Jungand Baumlercould instead be explainedby the fact that they both took part in similarreactionarysocieties.and so forth-there had to be somethingdeterminate. in the people.112.42. aiming to find somethingso solid that it could not melt into air and something so holy that it could not be profaned. Rosenberghimself was one of the foremost among thinkerswho-with DerMythusdes20. someout of reach of modern human who from the of throne God thing beings re-evaluate all values. Without myths people were said to be deprived of their roots. F. Zinser). Beyond the historical courseof events-industrialization. "Mythnot only reaches back to prehistoricaltimes.K. and.was constantly often some romantic idea about the soul of the people. born into a mighty chain of generations.somethingneitherhistorynor culturecould reshapecompletely and.The leadingGermanrace-theoretician H. Jung(see below) that echoesin this quotation. Myth was supposedlythe genrethat could expressthis rulingprinthatthe worldcouldbe understandable andhaveorder ciple. changinggenderroles. should not try to change.Matthes Ziegler)were in the 1930senlistedin the NationalSocialistapparatus of indoctrination directed by Alfred Rosenberg(1893-1946). G. or in humankind. In Rosenbureauthey continuedSchroeder's projectof purifyingGermanculberg's ture and education.would This content downloaded from 94.and art from the German-speaking peasantrywere documented. Jahrhundert (1930)reactionary made the interwar period one of the peaks in the craze for everything mythic (cf.
a ritual revealed This is why it constiheroes. bythegodsortheculture tutes anactthat is atoncereal andsignificant.on the other(on Eliade.likeMuiller's gistof religion. feelings meaninglessness. the readershould bear in mind that Eliade himself never seemed to have had any difficultyin associatingwith fascists:in his youth in RomaniaEliade was sympathetictoward the fascist movement.48 on Tue.344 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion to credeclared: "Itis themissionof ourcentury: this. ahistorical is an to do historical research without into the attempt religion) falling in humans' Theeternal. the Iron Guard.Such social. unchangeable relativizing counter withtheworld becomes theobject forthescientist/phenomenoloThephenomenology of religion science was. toward theworld universal. Here. it makes noopening toward the possible hausting. thereby methodof Eliade(the phenomenology of The comparative. Asweshall soonsee. theycan no longersituatetheirlivesin mythicstoriesaboutthe origin. Aryanvirtues. entrapof historicism. of spirit. ground theendpursued andfood.between 1959 and 1979 he edited eine FreieWelttogetherwith the fascistErnstJiinger(the chief ideologistof the Antaios: Zeitschrift~fir Italianfascists. a methodof protecting from the influence of moderreligion rationalist has.who like Evola.in the 1970she took part in a Festschrift to the germanistOtto H6fler.andhistoricism andthe linearview of A historicist see Ricketts.agricultural work is bymyth.Thedenialof the mythicdimension by the western to struck with of since people according Eliade. strange 16 If anybodytakesoffenseat the transitionfrom fascistphilosophers to "thechampionof a New Humanism"(that'sEliade accordingto Cave). Thephenomenologist of religion Mircea Eliade(1907-1986) devoted his scientificachievements to the construction of a universal conflict betweenmyth.JuliusEvola.112. This content downloaded from 94. notparticipate fortheprofane was notontologically established hasnoperfect model.andcultural nomena)as determined by historical. time. structure. of religion. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Whatever to thesphere of theprofane does eminently belongs inbeing. profane justified by profit brings. ligious agricultural it reveals nomeaning.42. 1959:95-96) (Eliade In his eagerness to depreciate modernsocietyEliade endsup in this with the kind of armchair rather conclusion that romanticism.'6 sees all other concrete (and phenomenon approach everyreligious phefactors. Rennie). isprofit work becomes at onceopaque andexsymbolism. andfuture of theworld.Rosenberg change in Madsen: atea newmanout of a newmythof life"(quoted 94). the economic that it The is act.on the one hand. anapproach threatens to relativize allreligious or spiritual values. Researchabout Eliade's Until their resultsare published one might look at by CristianoGrotanelliand StevenWasserstrom.was a diligent collaborator). Rennie'ssummaryof the on-going debateabout Eliade(143-177). nity. Let usthink. Obviously thereal. Cave.Emptied of retilled to beexploited. agricultural society.spent WorldWarII teachingSS soldiersabout connections with Evolaand Jiingeris now carriedout heroic. bycompariin of a it become work a desacralized a son. these realities are sacred foritisthesacred that isprerealities. a scholar.
Arguably.WalterOtto. theyactualized mythic his hostility towards Eliade wasa follower of the "traditionalist" andSufiRen6 Guenon optimism. implies that all attempts at explanation-be they psychological.112. In the phenomenologyof religion (comparativestudies). 18 in a re-enchantment Around Eliade a groupof scholars who shared his interest of gathered the world. in fact.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 345 secularizedpeople do not reallyhave any existence.who in the interwarperiod brought the ideas of Schleiermacher up to date." 17It is perhaps forEliade's viewof religion thathe couldnot imagine significant peopleto be in anything unlessit wasa religious issue. a discipline in which Eliade is the best-known name. of Religion). The same theory of religion that the liberal scholars of the nineteenth century had employed in orderto increasetolerancetowardsnon-Christianreligionsand to give Christianitya place in a modern world ruled by science is thus a generationlaterused by scholarswith stronganti-modernistviews:peovan der Leeuw.'7 The theoreticalinto such a conclusion was the German spiration daring theologian Rudolf Otto (1869-1937).Canick).42." which. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . accordingto this group of scholars.Therefore.By means of the militantpietism that saturates Otto'sbest-sellerDas Heilige(1917) all possibilitiesto workout a dialogue between religious and non-religious individualsare cut off-those who havenot had anyreligiousexperienceareexhortedto put the book awayand "theSacred" becomes the most basic categoryin the discourseabout religion.48 on Tue.sociological.possibleto describebut impossibleto explain.Thepurpose of the comparativestudy of religionswas.or historical-defile religionand thereforemust be rejected.Thegroupincluded esteemed scholars suchas Gershom Scholem (Jewish mysticism). of black andsheer of religion Hisattitude toward thespiritual magic travesty awakening of the 1960s and70swasambivalent. religion and the Sacredhave been claimedto be "irreducible. and Jander Vries (cf. " (1959:206). structures." "sacredplaces. There-enchanting newcultswereconsidered as goodinsofar In butsincetheywereoptimistic Eliade alsofoundthemrepulsive.""rites of regeneration. Giuseppe Danidlou friends of Eliade werepeoplesuchas Julius (Christianity)." etc. most books readtodayby the average westernreaderabout non-Christian religionsbelong to this tradition. he thought thatcommunists mustbe engaged andnudists andadvocators of freesexhelabelled of "hybrid followers forms unconsciously religious. (Eliade 1976:47-68).to inculcatethe unique and indispensablequalityof religiousexperience.the only solution for the re-enchanters was to present adequate descriptions and classificationsof the differentelementsin the world'sreligions: "sacredstones. Kipple such Gerardus penberg and Luchesi.Among these scholarsthe pietism of Schleiermacher servesas a platformfrom which they can lectureabout the inevitable meaninglessness of the modern way of life-inevitable since it is secularized(strippedof myths and holiness). Rafaele Pettazzoni Tucci Paul Tillich Jean (Buddhism).Sinceeveryexplanation of religious experiencewas thought of as distorting the experience. (History (Christianity). Amongthe moreperipheral This content downloaded from 94.
Even beingsto reach to the romantic view of mythsareevident. when withhis/her herself/himself totally e. (William psychologists hamMaslow.48 on Tue. the individual emphasized importance every Jung of his or her own people.If the individual losescontact the humanspecies. Jung'sEranos meetings in Ascona.LouisMassignon (all wrote mainly about Islam. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . T." Aryan ownTeutonic ancestors. in Europe active sincethelatenineteenth to be ableto bearliving century: in themodern.Nae Ionescu (Philosophy). Togetherwith the ideas of two other loosely formed schools.this thoughthe connections Evola (Fascism. claimed thatthefunctionof religion wasnot to workassocialdiscipline orto secure a goodlifeafter death butrather to be a meansforhuman self-reliance andself-fulfilment.. andothers).The Vilkische intellect.meaning-giving.according the raceandthe tribe.or who followed in their footsteps: Heinrich Zimmer(Indianreligion). to Jung. other circlesare a school of orientalists-Rend Guenon. Ernst Jtinger(Fascism). godson earth. identifying of Jung occurs.g.Similar to connectwith the gods/archetypes ideaswereat the sametimebeingformulated amongneo-pagan groups. Suzuki(Zen Buddhism).archetypal occurswhenreasonsubordinates itselfto the sphere.and essentiallyunexplainable.Henry Corbin. This content downloaded from 94. a mental storeroom handed downthrough thereexists.psychicdisorder psychoanalysis a division with between the rational and the operates mythic.112. liketheAmerihealing Jung.19 is themainsource behindthecontemporary tradition of mythiJung cal hermeneutics wheremythsarethoughtof as storiesto aid peoplein of spiritual theirprocess andself-discovery. with special emphasis on Sufism and Shiia).346 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion MYTH AND WISDOM of mythsas storiesexpressing The interwar period's understanding the andof thetransformations of of men independent something doings in the of CarlGustav of nature met Freud's theories Jung psychoanalysis wasthetheoryof thecollective uncon(1875-1961) (Noll).Theoutcome In eachandeveryindividual sciousandits instruments. Withtheconceptof archetype influenced Jung.transported psychology.42."Germanic yoga.Hinduism). by movement's flirtation withthe heritage of the ancientTeuthe Vilkische Thelifetheold pagan deitiesintomodern tons. FrithjofSchuon. G. for mind. fraternity Noll:passim). and Ananda K. canhumanistic Gordon AbraJames. W. the Eliadeancircle of friendshave thoroughlyshapedour The comprehensionof religionas somethinginterior. attack on the idea of transcendence effected the resurrection philosopher's in eachandevery of theancient individual or.ErichNeumann and JosephCampbell(both "spiritual" psychologists). Switzerland. the archetypes.moreexactly.KarolyKerenyi(Greekreligion).D. 19The best-known"ariosophic" mysticismwas developedby Guidovon List(1848-1919)and his of Armanen(see Schnurbein:87ff.Allport. Spiritual maturity callof the archetypes.Furthermore. disenchanted worldone hasto contact-throughheathen or thelike-the ancient divinities or one's rites. withthesestrata. Coomaraswamy(Indianreligion)-and a third circlewith differentscholarswho used to assembleat C..
42. R.at night."Nor are the Aryan/Indo-European anylongerthe sole mastersof mythicaltales.48 on Tue.and RobertBlyhavesince the 1960sproclaimedthat myths are storiesby which wisdom may be attainedand that myths help us to reach the experience of living fully.Rollo May. The same is true for the structuralist way of explainingmyths.20The work of the historianof religionGeorgesDumdzil(1898-1986)on Aryan/IndoEuropeanmythology. in each and everyperson an archetypalmyth can be born. contemporary neo-pagan Dumezil's encehasmostly beenspread workon Norsereligion Turville-Petre. attitudes thisJewish scholar's however. theories aboutIndo-European In theso called Dumezil's arebeingusedasa conceptual antidote to Judeo-Christian andtheAmerican tradition ideology way of life (seeWegierski).however.2' 20 When to modern it comes studies of myth. the hermeneutic of the is. seeKaplan works). AlsoGermanic haslistened to Dumdzil the (see.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 347 kind of hermeneutichas become a distinct traditiondue to the impulses from psychology and the psychology of religion. seems to havehad some impact outside scholarlycircles.Ellis Holt.112. neo-paganism mostinfluential Edred influGermanic Thorsson writer. (E.Their worksand views have. is thelackof dataconcerning structures.on the other hand. unquestioned contemporary spiritual and neo-paganmovement(on the roots of the New Age in humanistic psychology.Rinehart [NewYork: 1964]andseveral of theNorth. Mtiller'sand Renan'sideas about myths as proto-scientific speculations have today been displacedby the life-philosophicaland humanistic peoples psychologicalfocus on "life. Today.forexample.). to a Davidson's buthisownbookshavealsobeendiscussed.G by otherscholars' Myth andReligion andWinston.O. towards studies. THE REBIRTH OF THE ARYAN MYTHOLOGY While psychologists and phenomenologists of religion once again altered the meaning of the concept of myth. it is more "personally utopian. (233)forreferences in theneo-pagan debate aboutDum6zil Mountain Thunder.see Alexander).this view of myths-I would like to proposeto call it the biosophical interpretation-has become in dominant the about what myths are (and public opinion completely It makesit possibleto publishbooks entitled TheBestMythsof the World)." In the same fashion spiritual psychologists such as Joseph Campbell. of H. (27ff. magazine This content downloaded from 94.thereader thinks of Claude LUvi-Strauss probably I do notinclude Onereason theories is thathe does LUvi-Strauss's (1908-)andhisstructural analysis. Instead.had little if any impact outside academia. Aryan/Indo-European 21 NewRight in France andGermany. other twentieth-century scholars-mainly anthropologists and sociologists-have followed the sophists of antiquity and interpretedmyths as allegoricalrenderingsof societal ethos determined by historical and social circumstances. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . not linkmythsespecially to Indo-Europeans butinstead fortheuniversal of mythic existence argues Themainreason. furthermore.
42.In the Vedas.348 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion When the influence of Miller and the school of nature-allegorical interpretationdeclined at the turn of the century.into the nineteenth century. accordingto Dumdzil.warriors (ksatriyas).and priests (brahmands)and correspondingdivinities: the Gods of production (Nasatyas).Dumezil in his later works chose to place the Indo-European"essence" in a Platonicworld of ideas. 195) the Indo-Europeanideology has existed from 1380B. The three different "functions" in the tripartite structure appeared..C.in Romantexts.The Semitic/ and Islam-still aregivenno Abrahamic religions-Judaism.or somethingelse? A similarontologicalambiguityis seen in the effortsof the historians of the French Annales school who during the interwarperiod tried to 22Accordingto the Danish historians of religion Hans JorgenLundagerJensenand JensPeter Schodt (45.E.cultural.e. for example. why select languagesratherthan myths grounded myths recordedin Indo-European in similar socio-political systems?Therefore.in the Eddas. due to the similarity between the structure occurring in different sources. why then should linguisticcriteriadeterminethe field of study. as we sawabove. and in othertextswritten in Indo-Europeanlanguages. however.48 on Tue.due to protractedand intense criticismfrom the anthropological camp. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . had since the 1930sargued shareof it.i.Africans or Chinese were now supposed to have an equal share of this ability.Dumezil detected a special "tripartite ideology" that he claimed.Wasit the languages.the God of War(Indra)and the Gods of Sovereignty(Mitra-Varui.the race. Dumezil found tracesof the threepositions:farmersand artisans(vailyas). What it is exactlythat should have supported the existence of Pinotti). which made it possibleto restorethe tarnished Aryan mythology and to make it appearmore relevantto contemporary scholarly concerns. Christianity.the Aryanslost theirstatus as prime exponents of mythopoetic creativity. it has survivedfor more than 3000 years! This content downloaded from 94. threatens the entire project: if mythology is determined by social organization. however.22 this "ideology" so firmlythat it was ableto continueits existenceovercenturies of geographical.and economical changewas neverestablished.that is. The sociological approach.na).in the socialorganizationas well as in the pantheon of the Indo-Europeans.In the Vedas. had been transmittedfrom a primordial proto-Indo-Europeanpeople and thus could properly be called IndoEuropean.112.Dumezil. since he clamed that an Indo-European"ideology"had existed that determinedboth the pantheonandthe socialorganization(see Littleton:3-5. was the drift view to this perspectivethat could awayfrom Mfiller'snature-allegorical be calledsocial-allegorical. that the mythology of the Aryan/Indo-Europeanpeoples is altogether unique. In his earlyworksDumezil used a sociologicalperspective in which the It pantheon was conceivedas a reflectionof the social order.
Even the division of "the sovereign function" into two distinct parts-the power of magic and the power of legislation-which.soldiers.Littleton et al.which Dumezil admired. Lincoln 1997."' On the other hand.MirceaEliade.hierarchicalsociety consisting of workers.and insteadof leavingthe matterat that.without any respectfor a deceased89 year old recognizedscholar. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In defense of Dumezil's work.romanticism. This content downloaded from 94.Lincoln 1986 (reprinted in Lincoln 1991.] from some writerswho neitherknew nor readthe man (Dumezil). Polom6 and Puhvel in Polom6 1996. and so forth). publishedin December1986 [that is.warriors. fascism.The book of Lundager continues in the hagiographictradition of Littelton (1982).and inducedLincolnto turn on his own teacher. 268).but when it rides a flippantand corruptZeitgeist takeson especialvirulence"(147f.Arvidsson: as Scienceand Ideology AryanMythology 349 uncover "mentalities" more or less untouched by time.23 in nature-with the help of his theory about the Indo-Europeans' ground order of unique producers. The more refineddefensesof Dumezil have tried to demonstate that he could not havebeen some kind of right-wingextremistbecausehe had friendswho were Jews (SylvainLevi. and leaders. in Littleton et al.which also contains a couple of other texts criticalof Dum6zil'swork: 244Jensenand Schodt (1994). It is part of a largertrend. see also Dumezil 1985a. Lincoln 1997). as Dumezil'sfamilyprivatelydid.the last yearsof Dumezil'slife were marredby the paralysisof his wife and by an unfairand vicious set of attacksby Marxisthistorians"like "the Italian essayist"(!) Arnaldo Momigliano and BruceLincoln." is their observationthat a good point of departurefor a discussion about Dumezil'sviews and theories is DidierEribon's interviewwith Dumezil. be nothing but a reflection of Dum zil's enthusiasm for Mussolini'sdecision not to crush the magical power flowing from the Vaticanbut instead to reach an agreement about the distributionof power (the Lateran treaty)(Lincoln 1997).MarcelMauss)and socialists(MarcelGranet). the scientificstudy of Indo-European mythologyhas been permeatedwith differentideologies (Christianliberalism.writes about "thesneakattacks[. Ginzburg.42. 1986] JaanPuhveland three other AmericanScholarsstressedthe defamatorybias of Lincoln's scurrilousattack.Dumezil thought of himself as un hommede la droite.And Puhvel. Today it is disputed whether or not the 23 For criticism of Dum6zil's scholarly work.48 on Tue. trait. on the contrary.with his venomous condemnationsby implication"(8-10).Deviit ated [sic]criticismhas been a blight throughages.and Grotanelli. 1985b. see Momigliano. Lincoln persisted.might. if we areto accordingto Dumezil is a typical Indo-European believe the historian of religions Bruce Lincoln.one of America's leading scholarin Indo-European studies. Hereone can read(Eribon: 119-144)how Dumezil paid homage to Mussolini'sfascist Italy under the pseudonym GeorgesMarcenay(cf.). the kind that led BrendanGill and others to the posthumous blackeningof JosephCampbell. faultless Jensenand Schodtfind that "thewhole discussionis utterlysuperfluous...It has for good reasonsbeen suggestedthat the "tripartiteideology" of the Aryans/Indo-Europeans owes its origin as much to the politics of fascist Italy. POSTSCRIPT As we haveseen.112. In contrastwith most of these sociologicallyorientedhistorians.and sovereigns-the fascist dream about an integrated.as to the In his scholarlywork Dumezil seems to havetried to Vedasor the Eddas. The heat of the debatemight be illustratedby some quotationsfrom Polom6:"Unfortunately. LundagerJensen'sand Schodt'snote (22:10)about the discussionwhetherDum6zil'swork was influencedby fascistideas is annoying:the and discussion is whisked awaywith "in Francemonarchistsare considered to be 'right-wingers.."Ina letterto the editor [=Polome].
1988 Dumezil. is still not closed. Martin BlackAthena:TheAfroasiatic Rootsof Classical CivilisaBernal."AnnalesEconomies CivSociedts ilisations. Lewis and J. In TheNazificationof Bockhorn.350 Journal of the AmericanAcademyof Religion downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with "Aryan" religions. Aschheim.Mircea TheSacredand theProfane:TheNatureof Religion."' 1994 an AcademicDiscipline: Folklore in the ThirdReich. the discussion of Dumezil's Indohis political sympathies. Paris: 1985a Gallimard. by JamesR.Hedemora:GidlundsBokfirlag.David MirceaEliade's for a New Humanism. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Stuttgart: der Weimar Canick.Berkeley 1992 and London:Universityof CaliforniaPress.40. 1982 Dtisseldorf:PatmosVerlag. best researchthe discipline has produced.Peter Den hemligakiillan. 1987 tion.42.Hubert.StevenE. Reclam.San 1959 Diego: HarcourtBraceJavanovich. This content downloaded from 94.New York: 1993 Oxford UniversityPress. Albany.Ed. Gordon Melton. Scholar Extraordinary: 1974 Friedrich Max Miller. London:Chatto& Windus. Perhapsit will lead to the ragnarik(twilight of the Gods) of the concept of Aryan/ Indo-European mythology. Religions-und Gesistesgeschichte Republik. London:FreeAssociationBooks. REFERENCES on theNew Alexander. TheLifeof theRightHonourable Chaudhuri. Georges L'oubli de l'homme et l'honneuer des dieux.112. Vision Cave. Dieter Borchmeyer.StateUniversityof New YorkPress.48 on Tue. Kay "TheRoots of the New Age. Das Theater Richard Wagners: Idee-Dichtung-Wirkung.Nirad C. by James R. 1. 1985b "Scienceet politique.vol.Bloomington: IndianaUniversityPress. Cornell."In Perspectives 1992 Age. which historians of religion have lauded as some of the scholarlyworks. Ed.ed. and their impact on his Europeanmythology. 1982 Eliade.Olaf "The Battle for the 'Ostmark. TheNietzscheLegacyin Germany1890-1990. Dow and Hannjost Lixfeld.
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Berkley: of the Theories of Georges of California Press.London:Long1873 manns.C. War. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Momigliano. by G.Arnaldo "Premisseper una discussione su Georges Dumezil.FriedrichMax Introductionto the Scienceof Religion. Lundager kampenogfrugtbarheden: Georges Hans Jorgen. Mosse. Richard TheJungCult:TheOriginsof a Charismatic 1997 London:FontanaPress. trans.Maurice TheLanguage Race. Politics and Scholarshipin the Late 1930s. Suverceniteten.MA: Harvard UniversityPress.Berkeley: Universityof CaliforniaPress. Scott.48 on Tue. cember. JaanPuhvel.and Philology of Paradise: 1992 in the Nineteenth Century.London:Weidenfeldand Nicolson."In TimesLiterary 1986 Supplement. in A.352 Journal of theAmerican Academy of Religion Lincoln. Ed. Eng.Religion.42."Historyof 37/3. University TimesLiterarySupplement.Detroit: McGart 1978 PublishingCompany. W Bowersockand T J. J. Historyof Religions "Rewritingthe GermanWar-God:Georges Dumdzil. Momigliano:Studies in Modern Scholarship.D. Religions An Anthropological Littleton. 1994.Gordon Encyclopedia of AmericanReligions. cago "GenderedDiscourses: The Early History of Mythos and Logos. Green& Co. 1991 1996 1997 Death. "GeorgesDum6zil." 36/1:1-12.and Udo Strutynski 1986 Lund:ArkivFdrlag.Bruce "Shapingthe Past and the Future. Lukaics.C. Mtiller. The Crisis of GermanIdeology:IntellectualOrigins of 1966 the ThirdReich.112. Cornell.and Sacrifice. Georg Fbrnuftets banemiin.Esbjerg:Arhus JensPeterSchodt Universitetsforlag. A. 1985 DuJensen." D. Noll. This content downloaded from 94.5 DeLittleton. Olender. Scott The New Comparative Mythology: 1982 Assessment Dumezil. Movement.and mdzil og den indoeuropeiskeideologi. Miller. Madsen. 1994 ResPublica21." 1983 Opus 2. 3 October.Sven "Kanjungianismenvaraantinazistisk?" 1992 Melton. Chicago:Universityof ChiPress.Cambridge. GeorgeL.
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This content downloaded from 94.New York: ShockenBooks. de Vries." In Telos: 98-99.Jean-Pierre Myth and Societyin Ancient Greece.42. 1994 Zinser. Ed by Hans G.112.48 on Tue. Baboon.Stockholm: Natur 1961 och kultur.Jan Religionshistoriai f4gelperspektiv. 14 May 2013 19:07:01 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Hartmut "Der Mythos der Mutterrechtsin der Zeit zwischen 1991 den Weltkriegen. Wegierski.354 Journal Academy of theAmerican of Religion Vernant." In Religionswissenschaft und Kulturkritik.Marburg: Diagonal-Verlag. Kippenberg and Brigitte Luchesi.Peter MadameBlavatsky's 1993 Mark "TheNew Rightin Europe.New York:Zone 1990 Books. Washington.
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