Reconstructing Eliade

Making Sense of Religion

By Bryan Rennie

Subjects: Anthropology Of Religion
Paperback : 9780791427644, 293 pages, January 1996
Hardcover : 9780791427637, 293 pages, January 1996

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Table of contents


by Mac Linscott Ricketts


Part One. The Implicit Meaning of Religion


1. Hierophany

2. The Sacred

3. The Dialectic of the Sacred and the Profane

4. The Coincidentia Oppositorum

5. Homo Religiosus

6. Symbols and Symbolism

7. Myths and Mythology

8. Illud Tempus —Time by Any Other Name

9. History and the Historical

10. Some Initial Conclusions

Part Two. Previous and Potential Criticisms


11. Relativism

12. The Retreat to Commitment

13. Eliade's Political Involvement

14. Scholarly Criticism of Eliade

15. Some More Specific Criticisms

Part Three. Beyond Eliade


16. The Religious Creativity of Modern Humanity

17. Archaic, Modern, Postmodern

18. Some Final Conclusions


Author Index

Subject Index

Provides a coherent and defensible interpretation of Eliade's thought which allows less familiar readers to approach Eliade with a greater clarity and precision. Foreword by Mac Linscott Ricketts, a leading translator of Eliade's writings.


Reconstructing Eliade is a concept-by-concept analysis of the thought of Mircea Eliade and a re-evaluation of his analysis of religion. It illustrates how a thorough familiarity with Eliade's work can produce an interpretation of his thought as systematic, coherent, and fully rational. Part One provides an analysis of the terms of Eliade's understanding of religion--hierophany, the sacred and the dialectic of the sacred and profane, homo religiosus, myths and symbols--and thus of the meaning of religion implied throughout his work. Part Two inspects various problems which arise in light of this analysis, particularly relativism and the role of commitment. Part Three applies this analysis to certain problems--religion in the modern world and Eliade's unfinished analysis of the modern, the postmodern phenomenon, implicit religion, and various related problems in the study of religion. Far from being outmoded and inadequate, Eliade's thought is suggested to be fertile ground for the reconception of religious realities in the contemporary world.

Bryan S. Rennie is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Westminster College.


"This is one of the very best overall defences of Eliade's ideas I have read. The outstanding scholarly value of this work is that Rennie has very well done for Eliade what the latter did not, or could not, do. Rennie 's treatment of the so-called 'Hidden Theological Agenda' and the 'Ontological Assumptions' of Eliade are of crucial significance to the distinction of this work among others. A ll this is especially important in light of what has seemed a parade of would-be jack-the-giant-killers over the past two decades. The author has not only shown Eliade to be hard to dismiss among the great thinkers of the age on the subject of religion. Rennie has also practically transformed 'the Eliade problem' into 'the Eliade prospect'. " -- Wendell Charles Beane, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh