Collaborative Research Communities: The Example of Zoroastrian Studies
Prof. Bryan Rennie.
Zoroastrianism was influential upon later religions, although there is controversy regarding this influence. There are undeniable parallels to its conception of an adversary to God, eschatology, a future savior, and a final judgment involving the resurrection of the dead. Studies of these inter-relations peaked in the 1970s and have since declined, although no resolution was reached. It seems credible that the major factor in this decline is the complexity of the topic, involving archeology and textual criticism, philological skills from Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan, and Hebrew, to Greek, and wide-ranging historical research.
It is not my purpose to make any specific progress in this area but to suggest that the most feasible resolution of this impasse provides a salutary model for renewal in the humanities in general. The problems are dwindling that can be resolved by the independent scholar working under the watchful eyes of the academy. As shown by this case, problems involving inter-cultural studies have become so complex as to require research by collaborative teams of specialists drawn from several areas and disciplines. Collaborative teams are not currently unknown. However, such as already exist are modeled on scientific research teams: groups of specialist from closely related areas focus on a single theme. What is proposed here would be a different direction for the humanities: groups of specialists from widely different areas with potential to contribute to an identifiable group of problems. It is my contention that such collaborative research communities would not only advance the humanities in areas currently lacking progress, but could identify entirely new areas of research.
Prof. Bryan Rennie (United States)
Vira I. Heinz Professor of Religion
Department of Religion, History, Philosophy, and Classics
Westminster College Pennsylvania
Born in Ayr, Scotland. Raised in Hartlepool, north-east England. Education, at Brinkburn Grammar School and the University of Edinburgh with a doctorate in theory and method in the study of religion concentrating on the thought of Mircea Eliade. Taught at Youngstown State University and Allegheny College and Westminster College. Work on Eliade has been published by the State University of New York Press.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)