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HEROISM, SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT, AND TRIADIC BONDS IN JAIN AND CHRISTIAN MENDICANCY AND ALMSGIVING

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Despite first impressions to the contrary, religions as radically different as Jainism and Christianity can shed light on each other's practices of mendicancy and almsgiving. They can do so because of a trio of general categories under which certain elements of Jain and Christian practices can be subsumed. The categories are heroism, spiritual development, and triadic bonds among mendicants, almsgivers, and one or more supernatural or superhuman beings. There are at least two reasons why scholars of comparative religion, students of spirituality, philosophers of religion, and others should care whether it is possible to compare Jain and Christian mendicancy and almsgiving. First, the categories used to examine Jain and Christian practices reveal an underlying structure that might be used to analyze other varieties of religious mendicancy and almsgiving. Second, demonstrating similarities between Jainism and Christianity provides empirical evidence that even quite different religions and cultures are not so self-contained that it is impossible to compare them. The demonstration undermines one sort of relativism in anthropology.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156852701300052348
2001-01-01
2016-12-02

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