1st Edition

Dialogues on Religion—and its Study A Critical Edition

By Russell T. McCutcheon Copyright 2025
    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    Dialogues on Religion presents the reader with a selection of key, field-wide and, importantly, ongoing debates coupled with some of the most important up-and-coming voices now on the scene. It is designed to orient readers in an engaging and readable format, to the debates that have long defined—and some would say, plagued—the academic study of religion.

    Such topics include those issues/debates that have animated the field place since its exception, such as the tension between religious studies and theology. The volume will also include more recent issues now under debate, such as the place of scholarly activism as well as efforts to decolonize the field.

    Taken as a collection, the volume lays out the basis of each issue, the various voices that debate it, and the specific, even wider, issues that are at stake. Each chapter fairly represents the competing views and does so in a way accessible even to the relative newcomer. It is a must-read for all students of religion, as well as all those seeking to understand more about contemporary religious debates.

    Introduction to the Critical Edition

    On Dating the Dialogues and Identifying the Speakers

    1. The Definition of Religion

    2. The Description of Religion

    3. The Comparison of Religion

    4. The Explanation of Religion

    5. The Category of Religion

    Critical Notes

    A Truthful Postface



    Russell T. McCutcheon is Department Chair and University Research Professor at the University of Alabama, USA.

    "A prolific and provocative thinker on method and theory in the study of 'religion', Russell McCutcheon does not disappoint with Dialogues on Religion and Its Study. As though eavesdropping on a series of lively and smart conversations, the reader is taken through key frameworks in the study of religion, but in accessible and entertaining ways. The book lends itself well to undergraduate teaching from a number of vantage points. I plan to assign it."

    Jennifer A. Selby, Professor, Memorial University, Canada

    "If studying religion is not really about religion, then also these dialogues on religion and its study are really about something else; they investigate how we define, describe, compare, and explain whatever gets our attention in our everyday life and in serious scholarship. In classical but currently experimental and rarely utilized form, these dialogues demonstrate how we actively construct knowledge about religion and everything else, while often pretending as if we simply discover things as they are."

    Teemu Taira, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religion, University of Helsinki, Finland

    "The philosophical dialogue has a long and venerable history as a means of exploring challenging concepts, not least religion. In these Dialogues on Religion and its Study, Russell McCutcheon remakes the genre for the twenty-first century, using contemporary examples to throw into relief the often unspoken assumptions that undergird our systems of classification. The book will be very useful in the religious studies classroom and beyond."

    Brent Nongbri, Professor of History of Religions at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society