Forgotten Bibles: Friedrich Max Müller’s Edition of the Sacred Books of the East

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    Abstract

    Max Müller’s edition of the Sacred Books of the East (1879-1910) is doubtless one of the most ambitious and daring editorial projects of late Victorian scholarship. This essay examines the claim that these translations ratify a whole taxonomy of concepts and procedures that will characterize the academic study of religion well into the twentieth century. I argue that is more appropriate to see the edition as a monument of the emerging comparative study of the religious Orient. The series textualized and religionized (if this word is permitted) the East. The edition ratified the idea that religious oriental texts function as scriptures in ways analogous to the Hebrew and Christian Bible. This type of orientalism was no one-way street, but the conditions of the conversation were determined by the discursivity of a textualized understanding of religion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-169
    Number of pages11
    JournalPublications of the English Goethe Society
    Volume85
    Issue number2-3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), The Sacred Books of the East (1879-1910), ‘big science’, textualization of religion, method of comparison

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