Eliade’s Theory of Religion and the African Experience

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Hierophany, the sacred, symbolism, and myth

Mircea Eliade has made meaningful contributions to the academic debate in the field of religion and comparative religious studies.

As much as he had scholastic opinion that would find synthesis with, support and defend his thought patterns and argument, so too he had, of almost equal proportions, those who would criticize his scholarship, accusing it of being, amongst others, biased and “revealing uncritical unverifiable generalizations”.

The scope of this study is to enter that debate, with the intention to specifically focus on and unpack some of the most important concepts that underlie Eliade’s thinking and deliberations, rather than focusing on the holistic theory of religion as purported by him.

These concepts will be measured against the African Religious experience, to see if it finds resonance or stands in conflict with it.

In the process, this study attempts to reveal some aspects of Eliade’s theory of religion that could be saved to fit an African religious perspective.

It also attempts to identify some aspects or conceptions of Eliade’s theory that are lacking if read through an African lens.

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