Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Relative to his significance and his contribution to the intellectual life of the twentieth century, the thought of the Dutch scholar Gerardus van der Leeuw (1890-1950) has not been much investigated. This lack of study, along with the failure to situate van der Leeuw in his Dutch context and the failure to explore the various sides of his versatile career and vast corpus, has led to much misunderstanding of his life and thought. Van der Leeuw is most often thought of by scholars as a phenomenologist of religion - the side of his work for which he became internationally famous. Little, however, is generally know about his other pursuits, especially his devotion to Christian theology. In light of this situation, this study attempts to contextualize and investigate van der Leeuw's thought by asking the question: How did van der Leeuw conceive the study of religion, the nature of theology and their relationship? It argues that although he has been widely assumed to be principally a phenomenologist of religion, van der Leeuw should be understood first and foremost as a Christian theologian, which entails paying close attention to his virtually ignored book Inleiding tot de theologie (Introduction to theology), where he most carefully articulated his conception of Christian theology as well as his view of the integral relationship between Christian theology and the study of religion. As both a scholar of religion and a Christian theologian, moreover, van der Leeuw's conception of theology stands out - especially in terms of his view of the relationship between theology and the study of religion, which is one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated such views set forth in the twentieth century.
Plantiga, Richard John, "Seeking the Boundaries: Gerardus van der Leeuw on the Study of Religion and the Nature of Theology" (1990). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3550.