Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!


"Nowhere have I seen the mystery of the transcendent expressed with more grandeur or fullness than in these three heads. ... From the spirit of the religion that lived here [at Elephanta] one can learn more in an hour of viewing than from all the books ever written."
purple ballon Elephanta  GermanDeutsch

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At this site you will find information about Rudolf Otto (1869-1937), pictures of Otto, a few selections from his writings, and the most complete bibliographies of Otto's works and Otto scholarship that I have been able to compile. Many pages are bilingual. On those pages the English text should follow the German. It should also be italicized.

Who was Rudolf Otto?

Otto was one of the most influential thinkers about religion in the first half of the twentieth century. He is best known for his analysis of the experience that, in his view, underlies all religion. He calls this experience "numinous," and says it has three components. These are often designated with a Latin phrase: mysterium tremendum et fascinans. As mysterium, the numinous is "wholly other"--entirely different from anything we experience in ordinary life. It evokes a reaction of silence. But the numinous is also a mysterium tremendum. It provokes terror because it presents itself as overwhelming power. Finally, the numinous presents itself as fascinans, as merciful and gracious.

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About Otto

Here are some bits and pieces about Otto that I've accumulated. Except for the brief biography, they are charts and lists.

As a student, then an instructor, in Göttingen, Otto had connections with the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, a group of theologians who emphasized the study of religious history. He was particularly close to Heinrich Hackmann, Wilhelm Bousset, and to a lesser extent Ernst Troeltsch.

In 1904 the Göttingen instructor in philosophy, Leonard Nelson, converted Otto to the views of Jakob Friedrich Fries, a successor of Kant. Later, Otto helped convert Bousset to neo-Friesianism, too.

The following links relate to these facets of Otto's life and thought.

purple ballOtto-page of the Archiv "Religionsgeschichtliche Schule", Göttingen [An amazing collection of material about members of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule and people, such as Otto, who were somehow associated with it.]
purple ballProceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series [electronic journal]

Selected Writings

Rudolf Otto's best known book was Das Heilige (1917) . It became a best-seller and was quickly translated into Swedish (1924), Spanish (1925), Italian (1926), Japanese (1927), Dutch (1928), and French (1929). In 1923 the English translation by John W. Harvey appeared: The Idea of the Holy.

The writings so far available at this site are less well known. The Vita of 1891 is the most important source for Otto's childhood and early development. It is preserved only in rough draft. No transcription has been previously published. The other two selections come from published letters. "Our Lady of the Candle" is especially interesting. It shows the direction of Otto's thought several years before the publication of Das Heilige. Indeed, it predates the event to which most commentators have ascribed Otto's discovery of the Holy, his encounter with the trisagion ("Holy, holy, holy ...) in a Moroccan synagogue.

purple ballVita zum 1. Examen (1891) - Abschrift der in der UB Marburg liegenden Handschrift 797:582
purple ballVita for the First Theol. Exam (1891) - Annotated translation of UB Marburg Hs 797:582
purple ball"Our Lady of the Candle" (1911)
purple ballÜber Elephanta (1928)
purple ballOn Elephanta (1928)

Bibliographical Materials

So far as I know, these are the most complete bibliographies relating to Otto available anywhere. They include all references to Otto's works and Otto scholarship in Wilhelm Haubold's Die Bedeutung der Religionsgeschichte für die Theologie Rudolf Ottos (1940), Hans Walter Schütte's Religion und Christentum in der Theologie Rudolf Ottos (1969), Religion Index 1 and 2, and the OCLC database. Suggestions and references are always welcome.
Otto's Works
Otto Scholarship
Otto in Translation

Other Sites of Interest

purple ballAssociations
indentpurple ballAAR (American Academy of Religion)
indentpurple ballCSSR (Council of Societies for the Study of Religion)
indentpurple ballIAHR (International Association for the History of Religions)
indentpurple ballNAASR (North American Association for the Study of Religion)
indentpurple ballSSSR (Society for the Scientific Study of Religion)

purple ballJournals
indentpurple ballInternet Journal of Religion
indentpurple ballMethod and Theory in the Study of Religion
indentpurple ballReligion
indentpurple ballDirectory of Open Access Journals

purple ballWebsites on Religion and Philosophy
indentpurple bullOpen Directory Project
indentpurple bullProject Gutenberg
indentpurple bullReligious Worlds
indentpurple bullStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
indentpurple bullVirtual Religion Index
indentpurple bullYahoo!--Religion

[For more links, see Archival Materials]

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Copyright © 1996-2012 by Gregory D. Alles.
All Rights Reserved.