Geo Widengren

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Widengren (1962)

Geo Widengren (born April 24, 1907 in Stockholm ; † January 28, 1996 ibid) was a Swedish orientalist and religious scholar who primarily devoted himself to research into ancient oriental and Iranian religions , but also studied Judaism , Islam and religious phenomenology.


Widengren was promoted to Dr. theol. obtained his doctorate and taught from 1940 until his retirement in 1973 as professor of religious history at Uppsala University . From 1950 to 1960 he was Vice President, then President of the International Association for the History of Religion (IAHR) until 1970 .


Widengren's work was philologically accurate and was carried out in the field of Iranian religions using all Iranian dialects and other languages ​​from the Iranian environment, such as Sanskrit , Akkadian , Arabic or Syrian . Nevertheless, he took the view that philology alone does not make a scientist a historian of religion: religions must be viewed and evaluated as such. That is why he always firmly rejected the various evolutionist theories in religious studies: In his view, religion begins with itself and cannot be derived from something that is alien to it, i.e. neither from impersonal forces of a pre-religious nature ( mana , totem ), but also not from magic , which is to be regarded as something which is essentially different from religion. The Holy was not an impersonal size, but a property that the Widengren for divine vitiated sphere.

His research is of great importance for the understanding of the belief in high God in the religions. He represented the High God as creator , lord of heaven, giver of fertility and the power of destiny elevated above good and evil. Widengren is of particular importance for archeology because his language and interpretation have a historical research background.

Widengren represented an entanglement of phenomenological considerations and historical deductions.

Fonts (selection)

  • High god belief in ancient Iran. A phenomenological study of religion . Uppsala 1938
  • The Great Vohu Manah and the apostle of God: Studies in Iranian and Manichaean Religion . Uppsala 1945
  • King and Savior II. Mesopotamian Elements in Manichaeism. Studies in Manichaean, Mandaean, and Syrian-gnostic religion. Uppsala 1946
  • King and Savior III. The Ascension of the Apostle and the Heavenly Book. Uppsala 1950
  • King and Savior IV. The King and the Tree of Life in Ancient Near Eastern Religion . Uppsala 1951
  • King and Savior V. Muhammad. The Apostle of God and his Ascension . Uppsala 1955
  • Sacred royalty in the Old Testament and in Judaism . Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 1955
  • Iranian-Semitic cultural encounter in the Parthian period. West German publishing house, Cologne 1960
  • The Mandaeans . In: Handbuch der Orientalistik , I, VIII 2, Brill, Leiden 1961, pp. 83-101
  • Mani and Manichaeism. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1961
  • Iranian spirit world from the beginning to Islam. Holle, Baden-Baden 1961.
  • Tradition and Literature in early Judaism and in the early Church . Brill, Leiden 1963
  • The religions of Iran. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1965
  • Feudalism in ancient Iran. Men's association, followers, feudalism in Iranian society with regard to Indo-European conditions. Westdeutscher Verlag, Cologne / Opladen 1969
  • Phenomenology of Religion . De Gruyter, Berlin 1969
  • The Gnostic Attitude . University of California, Santa Barbara 1973


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