Ways of Studying   Religion
The Academic Study of Religion           - Assumptions -   One religion is neither better nor worse than    another relig...
The Academic study of religion “is a secondary activity that attempts to  discover, describe, and explain the  primary ex...
Theology   “words about [study of] God”   Generally done from within a [theistic] religious    tradition (e.g. Christian...
Literary Criticism   Asks questions regarding sacred texts    or scriptures:    –   Who is the author?    –   When was th...
History of Religion     click link to see 5000 years of religion play out in 90 seconds Historians seek to find out “what...
The Anthropological Study of               Religion “words about human beings” and human  societies… as both creators an...
Sociology of Religion “words about social behavior” Generally concerned with the life of  modern , developed, literate s...
Psychology of Religion   “words about the psyche [mind]”   The psychologist explores the psychological    dimensions of ...
Philosophy of Religion   “Love of wisdom”   Philosophers of religion reflect on the logic,    meaning and truth value of...
Phenomenology “words about phenomena” – that which  appears Concerned only with description Goal: to portray religion i...
The Phenomenologist suspends judgment, does not seek to  explain (as do the other disciplines) must remain detached and ...
The relationship between the disciplines                           Literary Criticism         Philosophy                  ...
“insiders” vs. “Outsiders”   Hermeneutics: how we “interpret”   The “inside” believer and the “outside” observer    unde...
If religion were a house…                             The one who lives inside the                                house (t...
Review Questions   Who studies God?                       •The anthropologist   Who studies sacred texts?   Who studies...
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Ways2studyreligion

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Ways2studyreligion

  1. 1. Ways of Studying Religion
  2. 2. The Academic Study of Religion - Assumptions - One religion is neither better nor worse than another religion; they are simply different There are core similarities that are shared by all religions There are differences between, within and among all religions Religion is a powerful influence on a person’s approach and response to life experiences All individuals have the right to be respected for their religious heritage Not all people are religious – they too have the right to be respected
  3. 3. 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…”
  4. 4. 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 communityDiscuss: difference between studying religion in church vs. in the classroomBut religion is more than just thinking about God
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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)
  8. 8. 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 (1864-1920)But religion is more than just a fact of social life
  9. 9. Psychology of Religion “words about the psyche [mind]” The psychologist explores the psychological dimensions of religious phenomena William James (1842-1910) Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) – “religion is an infantile dependency, a neurosis” Carl Jung (1875-1961) – religion is a projection of “archetypes of the unconscious”But religion is more than just a fact of psychic life
  10. 10. 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 (1225-1274) (theologian) Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)But religion is more than just ideas to be analyzed and often goes beyond the limits of logic
  11. 11. 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 (1859-1938) Mircea Eliade (historian of religion)
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. The relationship between the disciplines Literary Criticism Philosophy History Theology Phenomenolgy Religion Psychology AnthropologyEach discipline studies Sociology Phenomenologyreligion from a limited studies the whole, perspective as it is
  14. 14. “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?
  15. 15. If religion were a house… The one who lives inside the house (the committed Are you an “insider” believer) will know all the nooks and crannies - the(a committed believer) details up close or an “outsider”? How might your position affect yourOne has to be outside the study of religion?house to see it as a whole - to see the big picture
  16. 16. Review Questions Who studies God? •The anthropologist Who studies sacred texts? Who studies the facts within the • The historian larger context of history? Who studies religion as a part of •The literary critic human culture? •The phenomenologist Who studies the way religion interacts with other dimensions of our social •The philosopher experience? Who explores the psychological •The psychologist 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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