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Adams, Hannah (02 October 1755–15 December 1831), historian of religions and writer, was born in Medfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Adams, Jr., a merchant of “English goods” and books, and Elizabeth Clark. She was a distant cousin of President John Adams. Adams lost her mother when she was eleven; her father remarried and had four more children with his second wife. Using the inheritance of her grandfather’s prosperous farm for capital, her father opened a store. By the time she was in her teens the business had failed and depleted the family’s resources to a level of need from which they would never recover. Although her father was never able to bring to his family any financial stability, he was able to share with his daughter an avid thirst for knowledge and his love of reading. In his youth, illness had prevented him from pursuing formal education, but, driven by personal ambition, he became extremely well read and mastered an exhaustive collection of facts....

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Eliade, Mircea (09 March 1907–22 April 1986), historian of religions and writer, was born in Bucharest, Romania, the son of Gheorghe Eliade, an army officer, and Ioana Stoenescu Vasile. Though handicapped by myopia, Eliade became a voracious reader at an early age. A lifelong patriotic sentiment was instilled in him during World War I when his father was at the front and Bucharest was occupied for more than a year by troops of the Central Powers. After the war his father was retired at the rank of captain with a small pension; thereafter the family lived in genteel poverty....

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Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling (02 February 1878–17 July 1965), scholar, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christopher Wentz, a German immigrant, and Mary Evans Cook. His education is particularly noteworthy because it essentially shaped the entire future of his professional and scholarly endeavor. Attracted to the religious tradition of Buddhism at an early age, he studied religion and philosophy and received an M.A. from Stanford University. He attained a Ph.D. from the University of Rennes in France and then proceeded to Jesus College, Oxford, where he earned a B.Sc. in folklore....

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Moore, George Foot (15 October 1851–16 May 1931), professor of religion, was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the son of William Eves Moore, a Presbyterian minister, and Harriet Francina. Moore’s early education was shaped by considerable tutoring from his father, enabling him to enter Yale as a junior (1870–1872, A.B.). While teaching after graduation, he studied theology independently, so that he was able to enter the senior class of Union Theological Seminary (1876–1877). He was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1878. That same year he married Mary Soper Hanford, with whom he had one son, and he began a pastorate in Zanesville, Ohio (1878–1883), while continuing his private study. The prodigious academic abilities of this largely self-taught man shaped his professional career for the next forty-five years. He was invited first to serve as professor of Hebrew and Old Testament literature at Andover Theological Seminary (1883–1902) and then as professor of the history of religion at Harvard University (1902–1928)....

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Nock, Arthur Darby (21 February 1902–11 January 1963), historian of religion and classical scholar, was born at Portsmouth, England, the son of Cornelius Nock and Alice Mary Ann Page. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, the college of William Robertson Smith and James G. Frazer, from which he received his B.A. in 1922 and his M.A. in 1926. He was Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, 1923–1930, University Lecturer in Classics at Cambridge, 1926–1930, and visiting lecturer in the history of religions at Harvard, 1929–1930, having probably obtained the latter position on the recommendation of Gilbert Murray to ...

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Smith, Henry Preserved (23 October 1847–26 February 1927), clergyman and professor of biblical literature and the history of religions, was born in Troy, Ohio, the son of Preserved Smith, a businessman, and Lucy Mayo. After attending Marietta College (1864–1866), Smith graduated from Amherst College (B.A., 1869) and Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati (B.D., 1872). He was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian church in 1871. After studying at the University of Berlin (1872–1874), he was ordained in 1875 by the Presbytery of Dayton. He was married to Anna Macneale in 1877; they had four children, of whom two survived to adulthood. After teaching church history (1874–1875) and Hebrew (1875–1876) at Lane, Smith studied modern biblical criticism under Franz Delitzsch at the University of Leipzig (1876–1877) in preparation to teach Old Testament literature. Between 1877 and 1893 he was a professor of Old Testament at Lane....

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Wach, Joachim (25 January 1898–27 August 1955), historian of religions, was born in Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany, the son of Felix Wach, privy councillor to the king of Saxony, and Katherina Bartholdy. As a child he was surrounded by a cultured atmosphere, stemming in part from the loving interest taken in him by his paternal grandparents, Adolf Wach, an esteemed professor of law at Leipzig, and his wife, Lily, daughter of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn. In fact, because his father married his own cousin, both Joachim’s mother and paternal grandmother were descended from the Mendelssohns, who traced their lineage back to the eighteenth-century Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Wach’s education was interrupted by World War I, and he saw service on the Russian front beginning in 1916. Eventually he took the degree of doctor of philosophy from Leipzig (1922) with a major in philosophy of religion and Oriental studies. His doctoral thesis was published under the title of ...

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Warren, William Fairfield (13 March 1833–06 December 1929), Methodist Episcopal minister and college president, was born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, son of Mather Warren and Anne Miller Fairfield, farmers. An 1853 graduate of Wesleyan University, he began his lengthy educational career by opening a private classical school in Mobile, Alabama. Ordained a Methodist minister in the New England Conference in 1855, he worked for a year as pastor in Ballardvale, Massachusetts, while attending Andover Theological Seminary. From 1856 to 1858 he studied at the Universities of Berlin and Halle, receiving a D.D. from the latter institution. During this period Warren traveled widely in Europe and the Near East, developing his distinctive global perspective in educational matters. On his return to Massachusetts in 1858 he worked as a pastor, first in Wilbraham and then at the Bromfield Street Church in Boston....