Comparative Religion

Many paths to one goal

A new era began in the study of religions in the middle of the nineteenth century: the search for the meaning of religion and the laws underlying its development received a new boost in the western world thanks to the translation of sacred texts and the availability of religious artefacts yielded by archeology. The chart illustrating the ‘Sources and streams of the faiths of man in all lands; showing the evolution of faiths from the rudest symbolisms to the latest spiritual developments’ accompanying James Forlong’s Rivers of Life (1883) is an eye-catcher in the entrance hall of the Embassy of the Free Mind; in addition to works like James Frazer’s highly influential The Golden Bough (1890), the BPH offers comparative religious studies dealing with Egyptology, pre-Christian cults and early Christianity. From books exploring the relationship between the Hermetica, ancient Egyptian religion and magic and the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria to works which are illustrative of the appeal which the culture of ancient Egypt exerted and still exerts on modern Western esoteric authors and currents, from studies of the parallels to Christianity in pre-Christian cults and myths to works on the diversity of early Christianity, all these books show that there are ‘many paths to one goal’, expressing the best of our common humanity.