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Conceptualizing The Study Of Esoteric Discourse

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Chapter Summary

Against the background of the two-fold pluralism of European history of religion and the rhetorical or even polemical functions of religious narratives of tradition, this chapter turns to the place of esoteric discourse within this conceptual framework. One argument of the chapter is that esoteric discourse is a useful term for addressing structural elements of European culture in historical perspective, structures that include the role of scholarly concepts in the formation of modern Western identities. The neologism esotericism, however, has a relatively short history. The concept of secrecy is a delicate one in the study of Western esotericism. The chapter argues for a model of esotericism that is capable of describing the dynamic and processuality of identity formation, as well as the discursive transfers between religions and societal systems, including the academy.

Keywords: esoteric discourse; secrecy; Western Esotericism



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