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Some Foundational Considerations on Taxonomy: A Case for Hagiography

Department of English, Modern Languages and Philosophy, Carroll University, 100 N East Ave, Waukesha, WI 53186, USA
Religions 2019, 10(10), 538; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100538
Received: 27 August 2019 / Revised: 16 September 2019 / Accepted: 18 September 2019 / Published: 20 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Comparative Hagiology: Issues in Theory and Method)
Since its now notorious mid-1800s historiographical positivist critiques, the term hagiography was often contested as a valid and valuable category for the comparative study of religious phenomena. This essay argues for the perpetuation and careful use of the term hagiography and its cognates in comparative contexts. Drawing from my work on the narrative traditions of the medieval Christian Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) and the Tibetan Buddhist Milarepa (c. 1052–1135), I offer a revised definition of hagiography that reflects the nexus of behaviors, practice, beliefs, and productions through which a community constructs the memory of a human being it considers to have embodied religious perfection. I then suggest that the category, so redefined, allows us to more readily and accurately characterize these kinds of narratives. Consequently, we can easily apprehend them as emic historiographical creations that situate a given community between past and future in light of a given theory of truth, embodied in the literary saintly figure. This, eventually, orients individuals and communities, doctrines, and practices within a historical timeframe. View Full-Text
Keywords: comparative religions; definition; disciplinary innovation; hagiography; hagiology; religious studies; sacred biography; sainthood; theory and method in religious studies; taxonomy comparative religions; definition; disciplinary innovation; hagiography; hagiology; religious studies; sacred biography; sainthood; theory and method in religious studies; taxonomy
MDPI and ACS Style

Rondolino, M.A. Some Foundational Considerations on Taxonomy: A Case for Hagiography. Religions 2019, 10, 538.

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