On Comparison<sup>†</sup>

Jonathan Z. Smith

in Roman Religion

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780748615650
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650989 | DOI:
On Comparison†

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This chapter deals with the question of the ‘unique’. The ‘unique’ is an attribute that must be disposed of, especially when linked to some notion of incomparable value, if progress in thinking through the enterprise of comparison is to be made. The most frequent use of the terminology of the ‘unique’ in studying religion is in relation to Christianity; its most frequent within Christianity is in relation to the so-called ‘Christ-event’. The uniqueness of the ‘Christ-event’, which usually encodes the death and resurrection of Jesus, is a double claim. On the ontological level, it is a statement of the absolutely alien nature of the divine protagonist (monogenes) and the unprecedented (and paradoxical) character of his self-disclosure; on the historical level, it is an assertion of the radical incomparability of the Christian ‘proclamation’ with respect to the ‘environment’.

Keywords: comparison; religion; Christianity; Christ; event; uniqueness; death; resurrection; protagonist; environment

Chapter.  6887 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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