Secrets, Lies, and Consequences

Secrets, Lies, and Consequences
The tale of a legendary scholar, an unsolved murder, and the mysterious documents that may connect them

In early 1991, Ioan Culianu was on the precipice of a brilliant academic career. Culianu had fled his native Romania and established himself as a widely admired scholar at just forty-one years of age. He was teaching at the University of Chicago Divinity School where he was seen as the heir apparent to his mentor, Mircea Eliade, a fellow Romanian expatriate and the founding father of the field of religious studies, who had died a few years earlier.

But then Culianu began to receive threatening messages. As his fears grew, he asked a colleague to hold onto some papers for safekeeping. A week later, Culianu was in a Divinity School men's room when someone fired a bullet into the back of his head, killing him instantly. The case was never solved, though the prevailing theory is that Culianu was targeted by the Romanian secret police as a result of critical articles he wrote after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

What was in those mysterious papers? And what connection might they have to Culianu's death? The papers eventually passed into the hands of Bruce Lincoln, and their story is at the heart of this book. The documents were English translations of articles that Eliade had written in the 1930s, some of which voiced Eliade's support for the Iron Guard, Romania's virulently anti-Semitic mystical fascist movement. Culianu had sought to publish some of these articles but encountered fierce resistance from Eliade's widow.

In this book, author Bruce Lincoln explores what the articles reveal about Eliade's past, his subsequent efforts to conceal that past, his complex relations with Culianu, and the possible motives for Culianu's shocking murder.

Publication Date: 
December 1, 2023