Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity
By Jonathan Z. Smith
University of Chicago Press: 1990

Reviewed by T Polyphilus

Jonathan Z. Smith's Drudgery Divine is fairly brief, and consists of five lecture texts:

Smith writes, "The Protestant hegemony over the enterprise of comparing the religions of Late Antiquity and early Christianities has been an affair of mythic conception and ritual practice from the outset." Aleister Crowley's Gospel According to St. Bernard Shaw is a "comparison of Christianity to the religions of Late Antiquity," and it still deserves that valuation, despite its opposition to the Protestant hegemony. Crowley was fighting fire with fire. It was not "a thorough revaluation of the purposes of comparison" in service to "the scholarly imagination of religion," as Smith would prefer. But Crowley's tack adds an additional dimension to the history of the enterprise, and for those who wish to soldier on in the mythic and ritual battlefields, Smith's book is a stone that will sharpen any sword that can hold the edge.

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