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From Gods To Idols: The Expansion Of Heathendom

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Chapter Summary

For those who believed in the reconciliation of Christian confessions—and a fair number of intellectuals professed to do so—paganism was a very useful instrument to represent otherness, as it reminded readers of Europe?s shared Christian heritage. Christians on all sides of the religious divide employed sharply delineated boundaries between truth and error: stressing the heathendom of the aboriginal populace abroad, therefore, provided comfort in troubled times. As a means of calling attention to the otherness of South-East Asian beliefs, the engraving was unquestionably highly successful. Several textual and terminological modifications were less obvious, but at least complementary to more gross alterations and additions. When Jose de Acosta described how the Aztecs found solace in their religious convictions, he maintained that ?their God comforted them in their tribulations and their despondency?. The De Brys replicated the Jesuit?s statement, but replaced the word ?God? with ?idol?.

Keywords: Christian confessions; De Brys; God; heathendom; idol; Jose de Acosta; paganism; South-East Asian beliefs



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