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 religion
- perspectives in the study and teaching of religion
- how religion began to be studied: traditional perspectives – philosophical and theological
- how people experience religion: perspectives in the study of religious consciousness and perception – phenomenological and psychological
- studying religion within communities: Social and cultural perspectives – anthropological, sociological, political and economic
- judging religion: critical perspectives –feminist approaches, the interaction of popular literature and religion
- contextual 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.
Table of Contents
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
Hillary P. Rodrigues received his PhD in Religious Studies from McMaster University. He is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he has been honored with a Distinguished Teaching Award. His books include Introducing Hinduism (2006) and Studying Hinduism in Practice (2011).
John S. Harding received his PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. His books include Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada with Victor Sogen Hori and Alexander Soucy (2010), and Studying Buddhism in Practice (2011).
"Accessibly, clearly, firmly, and kindly written, this book reliably introduces students to the history of the study of religion, focusing on its most defining approaches and controversies and highlighting the difference between 'insider' knowledge of religion(s) and 'outsider' study of religion... This book is a fine introduction to the study of religion that manages at the same time to be an important intervention in how that study is widely practiced." - Willi Braun, University of Alberta, Canada
"This book will help orient undergraduates to the field of Religious Studies, and will be a handy reference for graduate students and scholars of religion." - E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania, USA
"Rodrigues and Harding provide a critical overview of various approaches to the study of religion, past and present, that is insightful as it is accessible. This still largely undefined field would benefit greatly from its wider adoption in its undergraduate (and graduate) courses of study." - Luther H. Martin, University of Vermont, USA