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By Marjorie Wheeler-Barclay

Marjorie Wheeler-Barclay argues that, even if the lifestyles and value of the technology of faith has been slightly noticeable to trendy students of the Victorian interval, it used to be an issue of energetic and broad debate between nineteenth-century readers and audiences. She indicates how an previous new release of students in Victorian Britain tried to reach at a dispassionate knowing of the mental and social meanings of non secular ideals and practices―a subject now not with no modern resonance in a time whilst such a lot of humans consider either empowered and threatened by way of non secular passion―and presents the type of historical past she feels has been neglected.

Wheeler-Barclay examines the lives and paintings of six students: Friedrich Max Müller, Edward B. Tylor, Andrew Lang, William Robertson Smith, James G. Frazer, and Jane Ellen Harrison. She illuminates their makes an attempt to create a scholarly, non-apologetic examine of faith and religions that drew upon numerous diversified disciplines, together with anthropology, sociology, the classics, and Oriental reports, and relied upon contributions from these outdoor in addition to in the universities. This highbrow enterprise―variously often called comparative faith, the historical past of religions, or the technological know-how of religion―was essentially considering non-Christian religions. but in Wheeler-Barclay’s examine of the background of this box in the wide contexts of Victorian cultural, highbrow, social, and political background, she lines the hyperlinks among the emergence of the technological know-how of faith to debates approximately Christianity and to the heritage of British imperialism, the latter of which made attainable the gathering of loads of the ethnographic facts on which the students relied and which legitimized exploration and conquest. faraway from selling an anti-religious or materialistic time table, the technology of faith spread out cultural area for an exploration of faith that was once no longer constricted by way of the phrases of up to date conflicts over Darwin and the Bible and that made it attainable to imagine in new and extra versatile methods in regards to the very definition of religion.

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