The Epistemological Opposition of Mircea Eliade and Jonathan Z. Smith in the Study of Religions

Muhsen Oveisi / PhD Student of Religions and Mysticism, Islamic Azad University of Qum
* Mehdi Lakzaei / Assistant Professor at the Department of Eastern Religions, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom
Abolfazl Mahmoudi / Associate Professor at the Department of Religions and Comparative Mysticism, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran
Received: 2021/02/04 - Accepted: 2021/06/12

Researchers in the field of comparative religions aim to understand religions based on correct descriptions, not based on advice and belief. The ontological, epistemological, and methodological aspects as well as the method dimension are four interrelated areas of the basic concepts of research. Different situations of ontology (justification of reality and researcher's view of the world), epistemology (justification of knowledge), methodology (justification of method) and method (practice of research) produce different discourses that create a new understanding in the world of religions. Research theories are rooted in the epistemological assumptions of researchers, and the more they are studied in terms of their epistemological positions, the more it will be possible to understand and compare theories and other basic elements of research. The two later discourses that have played a greater role in systematizing the academic discipline of the history of religions and dominate the contemporary theological realm are Mircea Eliade’s phenomenological and hermeneutic discourse of the creator with the undisputed authority and Jonathan Z. Smith’s method of historical comparison, "Going beyond Eliade" (1938-2017). Although there are many works on Eliade, studying Eliade’s and Smith’s theories from an epistemological point of view is a new area of research. In Iran, unfortunately, not much research has been done on Jonathan Z. Smith, and despite his great importance, he is still unknown and absent in religious circles.

Keywords: the epistemology of religions, the phenomenology of religion, the methodology of religions, comparative study of religion.

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