This collection illustrates the spectrum of ideas that people throughout history have had when considering how to understand and study religion. The editors present a selection of key writings that reflect a broad range of voices on the nature and practice of the discipline. Religious studies draws on works by anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, theologians, and others, which notably impact our understanding of the concept of religion, of particular religious ideas, and on how religion should be studied. The Study of Religion: A Reader contains both classic and contemporary perspectives, including material from non-Western traditions. It provides students of religion with an understanding of how the discipline developed, some of the current issues and lines of thought, as well as future prospects.
Introduction Part One: The Discipline: Its History and Fundamental Perspectives Part Two: The Older Strata: Early, Classic, or Foundational Writings A. Philosophy and Theology B. Classic Social Scientific Perspectives (Sociological and Anthropological) C. Classic Phenomenological and Psychological Perspectives Part Three: The Newer Strata: Contemporary Voices in the Scholarly Study of Religion A. Contemporary Philosophy, Theology, and/or Religious Studies B. Contemporary Social Scientific Perspectives (Sociological and Anthropological) C. Contemporary Phenomenological and Psychological Perspectives Part Four: The Discipline: Contemporary Practices and Positions A. Critical Stance for Secular Study of Religion B. Positions and Practices in the Discipline Part Five: Religious Studies: Prescriptions and Prospects A. Disciplinary Boundaries B. Religious Studies in the Academy.
"What sets The Study of Religion: A Reader apart is not only its scope, the inclusion of influential contemporary readings, and its discussion questions, but also that it includes critiques of the field and invites readers to take them seriously as well." - Russell T. McCutcheon, University of Alabama, USA
"I can think of no better selection of scholarly texts with which to introduce students to the breadth of approaches to the academic study of religion. Like its complementary volume, Introduction to the Study of Religion, this balanced collection of old and new is guided by pedagogy rather than ideology." - Michel Desjardins, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
"The Study of Religion is an excellent reader—a thoughtful and creative selection of works on religion and ritual from a variety of disciplinary, historical, and cultural perspectives. It will give students in particular a clear sense of why religion still matters to our understanding of the social world. Highly recommended." - Matthew Engelke, London School of Economics , UK
"In this volume the editors have collected a set of absolute ‘must-reads’ for anyone interested in religion and the study of it. The contributions range wide across time and academic disciplines. Harding and Rodrigues are to be commended for having assembled with an open mind a broad scope of essays, leaving space for positive voices as well as for those critical and sceptical." - Jeppe Sinding Jensen, Aarhus University, Denmark
Why do people study religion? How have they studied it in the past? How do we study religion today? Is the academic study of religion the same as religious education? These and many other questions are addressed in this engaging introduction to the discipline of religious studies, written by two experienced university teachers. The authors have crafted this book to familiarize novice students with key concepts and terminology in the study of religion. More advanced students will find a varied array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to the field. Topics include:
definitions of religionperspectives in the study and teaching of religionhow religion began to be studied: traditional perspectives – philosophical and theologicalhow people experience religion: perspectives in the study of religious consciousness and perception – phenomenological and psychologicalstudying religion within communities: Social and cultural perspectives – anthropological, sociological, political and economicjudging religion: critical perspectives –feminist approaches, the interaction of popular literature and religioncontextual perspectives – historical and comparative.
The book encourages students to think critically about the theories and methods presented. Students will find arguments for the strengths and limitations of these approaches, understand connections among religious studies and other intellectual movements, and develop their own ideas of how they might want to go about the study of religion. Summary boxes, a timeline, a glossary and other pedagogic aids help students grasp key concepts, along with a companion website at www.sastor.com.
1. Defining Religion 2. How Religion Began To Be Studied: Traditional Perspectives 3. Studying Religion Within Communities: Social and Cultural Perspectives 4. How People Experience Religion: Perspectives in the Study of Religious Consciousness and Perception 5. Judging Religion: Critical Perspectives and Evaluations 6. Studying Religion in Context: Perspectives and Conclusion. Chronology of Significant Persons and Seminal Texts. Glossary