Religions of Ancient China


Book Details

Author  Herbert Allen Giles
Publisher  Library of Alexandria
Publication Date   December 27, 2012
Pages  40


The growing interest both in this country and abroad in the historical study of religions is one of the noticeable features in the intellectual phases of the past decades. The more general indications of this interest may be seen in such foundations as the Hibbert and Gifford Lectureships in England, and the recent organization of an American committee to arrange in various cities for lectures on the history of religions, in the establishment of a special department for the subject at the University of Paris, in the organization of the Musée Guimet at Paris, in the publication of a journal—the Revue de l'Histoire des Religions—under the auspices of this Museum, and in the creation of chairs at the Collège de France, at the Universities of Holland, and in this country at Cornell University and the University of Chicago,[1] with the prospect of others to follow in the near future. For the more special indications we must turn to the splendid labors of a large array of scholars toiling in the various departments of ancient culture—India, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia, China, Greece, and Rome—with the result of securing a firm basis for the study of the religions flourishing in those countries—a result due mainly to the discovery of fresh sources and to the increase of the latter brought about by exploration and incessant research. The detailed study of the facts of religion everywhere, both in primitive society and in advancing civilization, and the emphasis laid upon gathering and understanding these facts prior to making one's deductions, has succeeded in setting aside the speculations and generalizations that until the beginning of this century paraded under the name of "Philosophy of Religion." Such has been the scholarly activity displayed and the fertility resulting, that it seems both desirable and timely to focus, as it were, the array of facts connected with the religions of the ancient world in such a manner that the summary resulting may serve as the point of departure for further investigations. This has been the leading thought which has suggested the series of Handbooks on the History of Religions. The treatment of the religions included in the series differs from previous attempts in the aim to bring together the ascertained results of scholarship rather than to make an additional contribution, though the character of the scholars whose coöperation has beep secured justifies the hope that their productions will also mark an advance in the interpretation of the subject assigned to each. In accord with this general aim, mere discussion has been limited to a minimum, while the chief stress has been laid upon the clear and full presentation of the data connected with each religion

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