Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline

Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline

Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline

Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline

Synopsis

Since its inception almost 200 years ago, the study of religion has informed, enlightened, provoked, and challenged our notions of humanity's deepest beliefs and longings. Now Walter Capps, nationally recognized for the quality and depth of his teaching, has written the first full-scale introduction to the history and methods of religious studies. To assess the many points of view in this mature but diffuse discipline. Capps uses the idea that four basic of fundamental questions and three enduring interests have given formal structure to the study of religion: the essence of religion; the origin of religion, descriptions of religion; the function of religion, the language of religion, comparisons of religion and, the future of religious studies. In this way Capps relates the chief insights and theories of philosophy, anthropology, phenomenology, sociology, and theology of religion, and spotlights theorists from Immanuel Kant to Mircea Eliade. His valuable text unites in a single narrative and conceptual framework the major methodological proposals for the academic study of religion; treats all the major theorists in their respective disciplines, schools of thought, and intellectual movements; treats the whole discipline as a dynamic and evolving tradition. Religious Studies constitutes not only an erudite introduction to the field, exhibiting vast scholarship and careful assessment, but also a bold synthetic proposal for its future.

Excerpt

This book is guided by an assertion that the academic study of religion has been inspired and shaped by a single argument, the development and articulation of which can be approached and traced as a continuous narrative. This assertion has been influenced by recognition that religion is coterminous with human life, while understanding of religion is of rather recent origin. In certain critical respects, what understanding of religion there is is a product of the workings of the distinct methods and traditions of scholarship that came into being during and following the period of the Enlightenment. That is, little objective understanding of religion existed before inquirers learned how to make it intelligible. The means of intelligibility belonged to the methods of description, analysis, and interpretation that were designed for this purpose, and that have been tested, modified, and embellished through the academic study of religion.

Thus the book is directed toward isolating and elucidating the specific argument to which such intelligibility was ascribed, then toward tracing the elaboration and extension of this argument into the several modalities that had been set in motion. The modalities were evoked by virtue of the fact . . .

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