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ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE

In all three men, there seems to have been a strange relationship between antisemitism and their views of the unconscious, myth, and mysteries. It is difficult to account for this, but it seems to have been somehow bound up with their romanticism.

Karl Jasper

Another generalist worthy of mention is Karl Jasper, a Swiss philosopher of history. His The Origins and Goals of History (1953), a history of world religions, presents a useful temporal pattern for both the history of religion and that of esotericism and the occult. According to Jasper, the era of prehistoric religion was followed by the era of priestly religion from around 3000 to 1000 B.C.E. During the era between 1000 and 300 B.C.E., there was a world-wide spiritual revolution that he calls the Axial Age. During this time, prophets and reformers arose in China, India, and the Near East such as Confucius, Gotama Sakyamuni, Zoroaster, and the prophets of Israel. Thereafter, until the present day, the world has elaborated and drawn upon the great spiritual contributions of the Axial Age. (I have never understood why the Axial Age is not extended to around 1000 C.E. in order to include Jesus and the rise of Christianity, and Mohammed and Islam.) The Post-Axial Age extends from 300 B.C.E. to the present, and is characterized by consolidation and expansion.

While Jasper’ schema is easily faulted for its simplicity, it is useful as a kind of shorthand view of world religion.

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