William Cenkner


It is not clear whether Hindu-Christian study is a new enterprise or something that has been in progress for some years. My four decade experience has confronted a set of problems clouding any self-identity. First is the problem of naming. My own preference has always been the written text and my training, likewise, has been textual. In fact every course in graduate school was the study of a particular Indian text, whether Hindu or Buddhist. That's what Indology was about in those years. We were wary of comparative religions done in Europe and further saw religionswisenchaft as generalist and even phenomenology as replete with problems. We felt more at ease with history of religions, until Wilfred Cantwell Smith taught more precisely what the study of religion and religious history was about. As a textualist the problem of naming became more complex with interdisciplinary work: anthropology, sociology, psychology. Further, Indologists did not seriously explore the historical, theological and philosophical contexts of a text and its rich interpretative past. Our mantra thus became from the text to context and back again to text. Hindu-Christian study embraces a similar process. A second problem is that of audience diversity: the academy, the greater public, and the church. Although few scholars have either the capacity or versatility to deal with all publics, there is a responsibility of the academy to all publics.

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