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While this is an accessible volume that will be welcomed by students and their teachers, it is also a remarkably comprehensive work, rooted in careful scholarship and a prodigious theoretical and empirical knowledge of the field. Those of us teaching religious studies will be indebted to the authors for many years to come. The book offers a full, detailed, scrupulously balanced presentation and assessment - not of religions themselves but of approaches to the study of religion. The approaches considered range from classical to recent. The writing is exceptionally clear and precise.

The many blocked-off examples from actual religions bring the theorizing down to earth. Unlike so many other books that tout the same claim, this book is genuinely written for students who come knowing little about religion. A terrific volume. It constantly invites students and other readers to reflect on their own positions and presuppositions in approaching the multi-coloured phenomenon of religion. Chryssides and Ron Geaves have produced a volume with a number of significant differences to the usual run of the mill textbook. This book is distinguished by its admirable clarity of language, which renders even complex methodological debates clear and relevant, and its wide-ranging case studies and examples of religions old and new, mainstream and fringe.

It is highly recommended to both senior high school students and undergraduates in general religious studies programmes, and in social and cultural studies. Overall, The Study of Religion 2nd edition is an excellent resource and contribution to the field. Topics such as Gender and Religion and Field Work are becoming more and more important to the undergraduate students.

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A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion

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Existing Customer Sign in Sign In to access your account information and digital media. Email Address. Forgot Password? Remember Me. I am a New Customer — Create an Account. Looking for The Great Courses Plus subscription service? Click here to login. Password Assistance Please enter your e-mail address associated with your Great Courses account. Send Email. Create Your Account Email Address. Please enter a password that is between 5 and 20 characters long. Enter Your Email Address. Cancel Submit. Look for exclusive offer emails and new course releases from The Great Courses!

Please visit My Account to manage email preferences. Priority Code Enter Priority Code. Cancel Apply. Apply a new Code? The Great Courses. Sign In. Cart 0. Your cart is empty. Wish list 0. Your Wish List is empty. Existing Customer Sign In Email. Create Your Account Already have an Account? Create Account. Introduction to the Study of Religion. Course No. Professor Charles B. Share This Course. Choose a Format. Audio Streaming Included Free. Learn How Scholars Have Grappled with the Study of Religion Itself Like the discipline it examines, Introduction to the Study of Religion is not about the beliefs of any one religion, nor is it a comparative look at familiar faiths.

You'll see how "functional" anthropologists like Malinowski and A. Radcliffe-Brown helped pull their discipline out of the drawing room—where their Victorian predecessors had practiced "armchair anthropology," gazing at compiled data to construct their theories—and put it into the field to study a given culture, where observations might be made over a long period.

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But you'll also see the flaws that persisted in this approach, which often failed to recognize not only the impact of neighboring cultures but also that of the anthropologist himself, as Malinowski's own field diaries, printed soon after his death, dramatically revealed. You'll learn how philosopher Immanuel Kant—no great friend of religion—theorized that we can never make actual contact with the external world, but can know it only from the internal images our minds construct from the raw data pulled in by our senses.

A Fascinating Look at Belief and What It Means—For Believers and Nonbelievers Alike By the end of this course, you'll have a solid grasp of the major thinkers and ideas that have contributed to this fascinating field of study, including their strengths and weaknesses, as well as insights into many aspects of religious life, belief, and practices—insights that may well have applications in your own life, whether or not you adhere to a religious faith. Average 29 minutes each. This lecture examines the idea of definitions—including why definitions of "religion" vary so widely—and introduces the four approaches to religion used in this course: sociology, psychology, anthropology, and phenomenology.

Before the emergence of religious studies, discourse about religion was theological. During the Reformation and the Wars of Religion in Europe, a few intellectuals began to think about religion in broader terms. David Hume embarks on a study of religion from a purely secular standpoint, paving the way for the British tradition of religious studies, which tends to see religion as a kind of primitive and inadequate science.

This lecture begins a look at religion from the perspectives of specific academic disciplines. Auguste Comte was a pioneer in sociology, and his theory of religion influenced many whose works Professor Jones will consider later in the course. None of the thinkers covered in these lectures is more hostile to religion than Karl Marx.

He analyzes religion as a tool of owners to keep workers compliant and calls for an assault on the political economy that makes religion necessary.

Often regarded as the father of sociology, Durkheim sees society as the primary actor in human life and believes that the religious totems observed in tribal cultures are a symbol of society itself and the means by which society imposes itself on its members. Max Weber differs from both Durkheim and Marx in that his theories are not reductionistic. Not only does society produce and influence religion, he believes, but religion affects society as well. Peter Berger rearranges many of the social theories of religion put forward by his predecessors, showing that society mediates a total worldview to its members.

Ultimately, Berger assigns a positive role for religion as a social and historical force. The sociological study of religion assumed from its inception that religion is a regressive force that brainwashes its followers. Beginning in the late s, many sociologists, led by Rodney Stark, proposed that religion, like any other human activity, is fundamentally rational. Although William James made contributions to American intellectual life on several fronts, this lecture focuses on his use of both psychology and philosophy in formulating his theory of religion.

Widely recognized as the father of psychiatry, Freud offers a theory of religion based on a model of pathology: religion as neurosis. We consider several fronts in his attacks on religion. Jung started his career as one of Freud's most promising disciples. As he began to reflect more independently on human psychology, however, he found himself increasingly convinced that religion is a necessary component of mental health.

Kant's ideas—particularly about phenomenology, which turned the eye of philosophy away from the world we seek to know and toward the mind that seeks to know it—set the stage for many of the thinkers who follow. We look at the two men most important to the birth of anthropology: Edward Tylor and James Frazer, who subjected phenomena from around the world to comparative analysis to distill commonalities in human nature.

Teaching that all cultural forms, religion included, serve a societal function, Bronislaw Malinowski and A.

A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion - CRC Press Book

Radcliffe-Brown assert that the task is not to learn the meaning of a cultural form but to identify its function. We begin our study of symbolic anthropology with the work of the linguist who conceived a new way of understanding the relationship between culture and cultural acts. Saussure's work leads symbolic anthropology in two directions. Clifford Geertz represents Pragmatism, the second trend in symbolic anthropology, which presents religion as a network of symbols requiring a contextual explanation—a "thick description"—to tease out its meanings.

A deeper look at the phenomenological approach leads us to the work of Rudolf Otto, who identifies as "the holy" the religious reality to which human beings respond, the experience of which represents the foundation of religion. What Otto calls "the holy" Mircea Eliade calls "the sacred. Starting in the s, such writers as Valerie Saiving and Rita Gross begin to critique the study of religion as seen through the eyes of the all-male academy. Generalized theories of religion are vital to understanding it, but is there a point at which observations in the field are bent to fit those theories?

This lecture uses two case studies to highlight the real-life difficulties of observing religious behaviors without influencing them. Once data have been gathered, how does theory tell us what it means?

Introduction to the Study of Religion & Bible

Two notable examples help answer the question: Albert Raboteau's study of slave religion in the antebellum South and Rodney Stark's reinterpretation of the rise of Christianity in the late Roman empire. As religious groups themselves begin to find uses for the methods and theories of religious studies, Professor Jones explores the always-tentative reunion of theology and religious studies in contemporary life. Clone Content from Your Professor tab. What Does Each Format Include? Course Guidebook Details: page printed course guidebook Suggested readings Questions to consider Timeline.

Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract. About Your Professor Charles B. Charles B. He earned his Ph. Professor Jones has focused his teaching and research on Chinese Buddhism, theories and methodologies of religious studies, and interfaith relations. Previously, he taught at Carleton College and was a Set Religion Super Set - 11 courses.

Introduction to the Study of Religion is rated 4. Rated 5 out of 5 by Jason T from Nice History of the Academic Field Some reviewers seem to have expected a slightly different course: "A History of Religious Studies" might have been a more precise title. With that said, I thought the professor did a heroic job of condensing centuries' worth of thought into a collection of mostly chronological threads showing how different disciplines bring their tools and methods to the study of religion.

This course may not tell the student how to do the work of religious studies, but it provides a broad survey of past efforts and points to ample material for further study of whatever raises one's curiosity. Date published: Rated 5 out of 5 by stevemasters from Exactly what I was hoping for I am not sure why so many people are disappointed with this course. I thought it was excellent and is one of my favorite course so far. This is NOT the study of any specific religion, it is an introduction to the study of religion itself.

I think the presenter did exactly that.. It covers a lot of ground, and done in a very logical way. Many have complained about the presenter's speaking skills. Maybe I am too fascinated with the content to notice, but it seemed fine to me If you want to learn about any specific religion, then you will need to look elsewhere. Rated 4 out of 5 by bob33 from Leaves out important aspects of religion The course was interesting as far as it goes and the speaker was clear and thoughtful.

But it says almost nothing about the way human nature interplays with religion's continued existence. Nothing is said about how religion is a product of tribalism, political exploitation, power and greed. Nothing is said about how religious organizations use fear, guilt, and terror to intimidate and exploit people and to maintain their positions of power and control. Nothing is said about how religious organizations in the guise of serving God fleece their followers of their resources to enrich themselves. To be fair, if the course were to do that, there would be a deluge of outrage directed at the teaching company.

So, maybe I am hoping for too much. Still, I regret that this can't be discussed in an adult course on religion. Rated 3 out of 5 by Philvish from Great introduction-but not the study of religion Prof. First, his style is less than engaging. First, Professor Jones is not a particularly engaging speaker. He is no Childers, or Allitt, or McWhorter. Second, this course is less an introduction to the study of religion than it is an introduction to the social sciences that have offered theories of religion. To be fair, Prof. Jones does go through a history of theorists who have offered theories of religions, grouping them by the larger social science discipline into which each fell.

And he does broadly discuss each of their theories of religion. However, there is very little here that is in reference to today's study of religion. Instead this is a historical overview of the area with almost no connection to a theory of religion that can be applied today. Jones does take the last lecture to give a something like a modern perspective on where some of the various historical theories stand today. However, this is a very confusing lecture more on this problem in a moment. He discusses the fact that the modern approach treats the study of religion as less of an explanatory effort and more of an interpretive tool.

Had this lecture been given at the beginning maybe as lecture 2 rather than as the last lecture, and had he then tried to bring hermeneutics into the last five or ten minutes of each lecture, so that we are given an introduction to have each theory is used in the study of religion today, I would have been far more satisfied with the course as a whole. I listened to the last lecture twice, just to try to come to grips with what he was saying.

I may not have conveyed what he said faithfully, but I sure could not get my mind around what he was trying to convey. He explains that this statement is easy to disprove experimentally. Just interrogate people you see walking around. If enough of them say that they are not going to Paris, then the statement is disproved. However, he says if you take this as a lens through which you view everyone walking around, you can never look at them the same way again. What does this mean?

John Corrigan

What is the example meant to convey? As I said, I listened to this lecture twice and the last lecture is the second time he uses this example. I just do not get what this is meant to illuminate. I do not understand the modern approach to the study of religion any better as a result of this example.

LBRL 231 - Introduction to the Study of Religion

But he treats this as highly illustrative. And I still do not get it. He did not explain hermeneutics in a way that I understand. So, even with the last lecture, I still don't feel any better informed about the modern study of religion. To be fair, the course is an interesting course. He covers a lot of historical ground about which I knew nothing. Parenthetically, Prof. Jones tells us at the end of lecture 24 that he is a religious Christian. He does to church weekly and actually apparently attended seminary for a period of time. I was surprised by this as he presents without any religious bias at all.

His religiosity word? It is nice to see that, even today, a person can be both a religious scholar and a religious person at the same time. Luke Timothy Johnson is another nice example of this, but his religiosity is much more on display in his lectures that Prof. Overall, three stars, but no recommendation. It provides many diverse perspectives about religion, culture, and reality, relating each perspective to others over time and conceptually.