Ways To Study Religion


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Ways To Study Religion

  1. 1. WAYS TO STUDY RELIGION <ul><li>Religion, not discipline or methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Vehicle, field of study, or text. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes many disciplines, scholarly methodologies; each must answer basic questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Several tools must be used in the study of religions </li></ul>
  2. 2. Theology and Religious Studies <ul><li>Identify theology with religion, not accurate. </li></ul><ul><li>Academic study, look at Scripture and scriptural texts in academic critical study. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Theos Logos <ul><li>Greek words theos, god/gods; logos, speech, inquiry, science, or knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all religions are theistic. </li></ul><ul><li>Theology, academic discipline, academic pursuit; involves critical analysis, does not seek to indoctrinate proselytize or convert. </li></ul><ul><li>As science cannot stay at level of transmitting teachings; must offer explanatory questions at different levels. </li></ul><ul><li>No solution based on privileged beliefs; religious beliefs called into question, rational discourse given priority. </li></ul><ul><li>Must question everything critically; scientific beliefs treated as hypotheses, must be internally coherent and clearly criticizable. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Fides quaerens intellectum <ul><li>Rational discourse vis-à-vis beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>Theology, what it does: “Faith seeking reason/understanding.” </li></ul><ul><li>Theologians engaged in critical analysis of own religious tradition; committed and objective, willing to use different tools to critique, analyze religion, even questioning own religious beliefs. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Tools used in the analysis of religion <ul><li>Historical-Critical Method, approach to study of Scriptures, </li></ul><ul><li>Utilizes historical research, literary analysis of texts, findings of archeology and other sciences, i.e.: anthropology. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What does the Historical-Critical method seek to discover? <ul><li>Shed light on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Political reality of time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural setting </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What tools does the Historical-Critical Method use? <ul><li>Literary Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Textual Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Source Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Form Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Redaction Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Reader Response Criticism </li></ul><ul><li>History </li></ul>
  8. 8. Literary Criticism <ul><li>Sacred writings, records of events and authoritative teachings. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand, interpret sacred texts. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand original meaning, purpose of writing. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Literary Criticism must look for clues that will answer: <ul><li>Is translation based on original, oldest or most authentic, reliable text? </li></ul><ul><li>What was intention of author(s) of text? </li></ul><ul><li>When was text written? </li></ul><ul><li>Where was it written? </li></ul><ul><li>To whom was it addressed? </li></ul><ul><li>How was work received? </li></ul><ul><li>How was it edited, transmitted, interpreted? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Textual Criticism <ul><li>Must ask following question: authentic, original version of text? </li></ul><ul><li>Use number of methods, procedures to answer such basic question. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Source Criticism <ul><li>Looks at authorship of particular document. </li></ul><ul><li>Is document whole composition? </li></ul><ul><li>Most books, compilations from different sources; may include different genres, oral traditions, etc. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Source Criticism seeks to answer: <ul><li>Does text have more than one author? </li></ul><ul><li>Does text have more than one editor? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Form Criticism <ul><li>Many sacred texts, oral sources. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Was this text an oral text? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are these pre-literary forms discernable in written texts? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do hymns, laments, laws, wisdom and blessings say about context or culture that produced them? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Redaction Criticism <ul><li>Not interested in components of text, </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at entire text. </li></ul><ul><li>Addresses following issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What sources were used or rejected? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How were texts arranged? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How have they changed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have they been revised? </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Reader Response Criticism <ul><li>Interested in interaction between text/ reader. </li></ul><ul><li>Who were original authors of texts, original readers or audience? </li></ul><ul><li>Was there unintended reader? </li></ul><ul><li>What are different levels of meaning in text? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Importance of Reader Response Criticism <ul><li>Each readers brings with him/her to text: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>own experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>own preconceptions </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Historiography <ul><li>History of religion recent academic development: IXX Century. </li></ul><ul><li>Historians select accounts, evidence available through different sources </li></ul><ul><li>Based on principles of selectivity, choice of relevant data depend on kind of questions historians put to past. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Questions historians ask: <ul><li>Who wrote what, when, why and to whom? </li></ul><ul><li>What did writer borrow, and what were distinctive contributions to text? </li></ul><ul><li>Must look at non-written texts, i.e., archeology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc. </li></ul>
  19. 19. What must a historian discover in history? <ul><li>Historians must distinguish historical occurrences from other genres: </li></ul><ul><li>Myth </li></ul><ul><li>Legend </li></ul><ul><li>Saga </li></ul><ul><li>Religious Traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Role religion, religious experiences in individual/community? </li></ul><ul><li>Influence on development of culture </li></ul><ul><li> society and nation? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Anthropology <ul><li>Study of human beings </li></ul><ul><li>Studies social functions of religion. </li></ul><ul><li>What functions particular institutions or beliefs serve in life of community? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Functionalism <ul><li>Most widely used method by anthropologists. </li></ul><ul><li>Tries to determine what functions particular institutions or beliefs serve in life of community. </li></ul><ul><li>How do beliefs elicit acceptance, sanction certain behaviors? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they affect society? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Sociology <ul><li>Focuses on group social behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at how religion interacts with other dimensions of social experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with religious life of contemporary, developed, literate societies. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Psychology <ul><li>Looks at how religion affects behavior of individual. </li></ul><ul><li>What benefits does individual receive from practice of particular religion? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Philosophy (The Love of Wisdom) <ul><li>Examines religious experience and belief. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks to establish logical status, meaning, truth of religious narratives and doctrines. </li></ul><ul><li>Scrutinizes reason to demonstrate limits of rationality. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Philosophy: Handmaiden of Religion <ul><li>Complimentary, at service of religion. </li></ul><ul><li>Modern critical philosophy scrutinizes reason </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate limits of rationality. </li></ul><ul><li>Attempts to reveal boundaries, contradictions found in religion. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Phenomenology <ul><li>Not concerned with exploring experience, but description itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Suspension of judgment, bracketing from inquiry is necessary in all attempts to explain truth, value. </li></ul><ul><li>Portrays religion in its own terms as unique expression. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks not to reduce it or explain it in other terms. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Interpreting and Explaining Religion <ul><li>Religious experience and meaning are expressed through symbol, sounds, gestures, rituals, dramas, artifacts, architecture, and texts. </li></ul><ul><li>These vehicles for religious experience require interpreter to convey mysterious meaning that they hold. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Hermeneutics <ul><li>Act of explanation, elucidation. </li></ul><ul><li>Means to interpret. </li></ul><ul><li>Makes use of all methods described above to accomplish task of interpretation. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Human as Interpreters <ul><li>Reading-off meaning of sacred texts, not easy. </li></ul><ul><li>Hermeneutics: presuppositions of interpretation and understanding. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks necessary preconditions to make interpretation possible, valid. </li></ul><ul><li>Expressions of human spirit not subject to laws, explanations of natural sciences. T </li></ul><ul><li>Require understanding, not explanation. </li></ul><ul><li>Human meaning in its own terms to be understood from within. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Summary <ul><li>Study of religions, secondary activity, reconstruct, describe, explain primary expression of religious life i.e., rituals, sacred texts, institutions, beliefs, behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of disciplines, methods, i.e., history, linguistics, literary scholarship. </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropological, sociological, psychological research, philosophical analysis, phenomenology, other sub disciplines. </li></ul><ul><li>Universal and enduring character of religion/belief in human history. </li></ul><ul><li>Religion embedded in behavior, history and culture of people. </li></ul>