ways2study - Ways of Studying Ways of Studying Religion The...

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Unformatted text preview: Ways of Studying Ways of Studying Religion The Academic Study of Religion The Academic Study of Religion ­ Assumptions ­ One religion is neither better nor worse than One another religion; they are simply different another There are core similarities that are shared by all There religions religions There are differences between, within and There among all religions among Religion is a powerful influence on a person’s Religion approach and response to life experiences approach All individuals have the right to be respected for All their religious heritage their Not all people are religious – they too have the Not right to be respected right The Academic study of religion The Academic study of religion “is a secondary activity that attempts to discover, describe, and explain the primary expressions of the religious life of a community…” “requires the use of many disciplines and methods…” Theology Theology “words about [study of] God” Generally done from within a [theistic] religious tradition (e.g. Christian theology) To describe and transmit the teachings of a particular religious tradition or community Discuss: difference between studying religion in church vs. in the classroom But religion is more than just thinking about God Literary Criticism Literary Criticism Asks questions regarding sacred texts or scriptures: – – – – – – Who is the author? When was this text composed? Where was it written and to what audience? What was the author’s reason for writing this? What type of literature is used? How has this text been received, edited, interpreted? But religion is more than just what is contained in a sacred text History of Religion History of Religion click link to see 5000 years of religion play out in 90 seconds Historians seek to find out “what really happened” – the facts about a given religion Explores how social, economic, cultural or environmental factors may have influenced a religion’s: – Beginnings, development, spread Using “tools” such as: – Archaeology, geography, demography, population statistics The Anthropological Study of The Anthropological Study of Religion “words about human beings” and human societies… as both creators and creations of cultures Religion, as a part of human culture, is thus studied by anthropologists as a “powerful factor in any culture” Edward B. Tylor (1832 – 1917) Sociology of Religion Sociology of Religion “words about social behavior” Generally concerned with the life of modern , developed, literate societies (in contrast to anthropology) Explores the social origins and function of religion in human society The sociologist studies “the way religion interacts with other dimensions of our social experience” – How human social life changes religion – How religion transforms human social behavior Max Weber (1864­1920) But religion is more than just a fact of social life Psychology of Religion Psychology of Religion “words about the psyche [mind]” The psychologist explores the psychological dimensions of religious phenomena William James (1842­1910) Sigmund Freud (1856­1939) – “religion is an infantile dependency, a neurosis” Carl Jung (1875­1961) – religion is a projection of “archetypes of the unconscious” But religion is more than just a fact of psychic life Philosophy of Religion Philosophy of Religion “Love of wisdom” Philosophers of religion reflect on the logic, meaning and truth value of religious stories and beliefs Analyzing religious language Thomas Aquinas (1225­1274) (theologian) Immanuel Kant (1724­1804) But religion is more than just ideas to be analyzed and often goes beyond the limits of logic Phenomenology Phenomenology “words about phenomena” – that which appears Concerned only with description Goal: to portray religion in its own terms rather than reduce or explain it in terms of some other discipline Edmund Husserl (1859­1938) Mircea Eliade (historian of religion) The Phenomenologist The Phenomenologist suspends judgment, does not seek to explain (as do the other disciplines) must remain detached and impartial to avoid explaining, interpreting or judging what he or she studies remains skeptical of explanatory theories that claim to completely account for the complex origins or nature of religion itself, or of any religious tradition The relationship between the disciplines Literary Criticism History Philosophy Theology Phenomenolgy Religion Psychology Each discipline studies religion from a limited perspective Anthropology Sociology Phenomenology studies the whole, as it is “insiders” vs. “Outsiders” Hermeneutics: how we “interpret” The “inside” believer and the “outside” observer understanding of religion will differ Either may be a partial, distorted or even wrong understanding These different scholarly disciplines are not mutually exclusive; they may be complementary – each providing insight to both “insiders” and “outsiders” What can the academic study of religion do for you? If religion were a house… If religion were a house… Are you an “insider” (a committed believer) or an “outsider”? One has to be outside the house to see it as a whole ­ to see the big picture The one who lives inside the house (the committed believer) will know all the nooks and crannies ­ the details up close How might your position affect your study of religion? Review Questions Review Questions Who studies God? •The anthropologist Who studies sacred texts? • The historian Who studies the facts within the larger context of history? •The literary critic Who studies religion as a part of human culture? •The phenomenologist Who studies the way religion interacts with other dimensions of our social •The philosopher experience? •The psychologist Who explores the psychological dimensions of religious phenomena •The sociologist Who reflects on the logic, meaning and truth value of religious stories •The theologian and beliefs? Who merely describes, without trying to explain, interpret, or judge religion? Which discipline might appeal most to you? (why?) ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/19/2011 for the course REL 101 taught by Professor Ernst during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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