Gods and demons, priests and scholars: the science of religion according to Bruce Lincoln
Source document: Religio. 2017, vol. 25, iss. 1, pp. -84
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The article introduces the work of Bruce Lincoln – modern American historian of religion and prominent specialist in Indo-European traditions. Among the experts within the latter field, Lincoln's work became remarkable mainly due to the combination of his literary productivity, linguistic skills, detailed orientation within the literature, and ability to present original and well-argued explanations, based usually on sensitive (post)structuralist methods and insights into the socio-historical background of Indo-European myths, pantheons, or religious institutions. During the 1980s Lincoln drew attention for getting into a direct clash with a contemporary authority in the Indo-European studies, Georges Dumézil, because of the supposed ideological (fascistic) background in the latter's work from the Interwar period. Since this event, Lincoln's attention to the influence of political or other ideological factors in the academic discourse has been increasing. This accent is very notable in one of his recently published monographs Gods and Demons, Priests and Scholars (2012). The book represents a systematized collection of the author's critical observations in the methodology of religious studies. Its chapters deal with a variety of topics – from deconstructions of terms used in the science of religion to the study of the ideological background of the processes by which myths and histories were/are to be created. Especially for his ideas on the latter topic, Lincoln has received notable evaluations from present-day academic scholars. In a positive contrast with most of his predecessors in the field of methodology of religious studies, Lincoln never omits the application of his theoretical contemplations to concrete historical examples. While his work in the field of Indo-European religions became significant without the creation of any interpretative "general model" (like Dumézil's "tripartite ideology"), his work in the methodology of religious studies may serve as an optimal general pattern because of the above-mentioned qualities.