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A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion


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Table of Contents

Preface for Students and Teachers 1. Beginnings in the Study of Religion 2. Theory: An introduction 3. Classic Theories:Part 1 4. Classic Theories: Part 2 5. Contemporary Trends in the Field 6. Conclusion: Talking about Religion Additional reading Index

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A clear and accessible introduction for students to all aspects of the study of religion, which provides guidance on the theoretical framework of the field.

About the Author

Bradley L. Herling is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Marymount Manhattan College, USA.


In this second edition of a book designed primarily to introduce students to the academic study of religion, Herling (Marymount Manhattan College) defends the role that theory plays in opening religious studies to academic inquiry. Focusing on theoretical literacy as a way to advance the understanding of religion in general, the author reviews with discernment and cogency classic theories of religion-Otto, James, Durkheim, Geertz, Turner, Marx, Freud, Jung, Eliade, Smart, Tillich, W. C. Smith-then turns his attention to women's experiences, religion and violence, religion and science, race and ethnicity, globalization, and material culture as these topics today affect methodological developments in religious studies as a field. Herling addresses the difficulty of defining religion, the insider/outsider problem in studying religion, the need for students to defamiliarize objects of study, and issues related to the separation of theology from the academic study of religion. Well written and accessible, this book will be a welcome resource in introductory academic religion classes. The insightful review of theoretical and methodological issues in the contemporary study of religion will no doubt prove beneficial to specialists. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. * CHOICE *
This second edition updates information on issues such as globalisation ... There is also a good amount of further reading to help the new student. * Reference Reviews *
Students of religion, from the novice to the professional researcher, will find many points of resonance in this clear and compassionate representation of religion as an exceptionally broad and immensely important field of inquiry. Ideal for classroom use or personal study, this book offers a marvellous invitation to carefully consider the most crucial issues of our time. -- On the first edition - Davina C. Lopez, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Eckerd College, USA
Herling packs a lot of information into this beginner's guide to the study of religion-not only classical theories and contemporary approaches but also fundamental and controversial methodological principles and objectives-and he does so in a manner that beginning students will find eminently engaging and accessible. Here lies everything that introductory students will need to know and think about as they begin their journey into the academic study of religion. * Timothy D Knepper, Professor of Philosophy, Drake University, USA *
My students appreciate Herling's accessible approach to the complex history of the study of religion. I appreciate having such a brief, well-conceived, and beautifully-written book that I can use among both lower- and upper-level students, whether as an introduction or a review. * Kathryn D. Blanchard, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Alma College, USA *
An indispensable introduction to the study of religion, Herling's clear, intelligent, and eminently readable book is a gift for the religion instructor who seeks to infuse theory into a religion class and to the curious reader interested in learning more about religion, the religious, and religious studies. Herling makes evident that the study of religion is timely and relevant-even urgent. He brings central concepts in religious studies to life, situates classical theories of religion in a contemporary context, and helps the reader make sense of the wide and varied actions, beliefs, and experiences we call religion. This work will help readers understand lived religion in familiar and unexpected places, in secular and sacred spaces, in the United States and around the world. * Lesleigh Cushing, Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard Associate Professor in Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Religion, Colgate University, USA *
The book is clear, well-written and accessible and is very useful as an introductory text. * Ann Christie, York St John University, UK *
Herling writes in the comfortable, conversational voice of an experienced teacher who knows his students well. He provides clear explanations of the significance for the field of authors and ideas that can be difficult for students to understand on their own, and he does so with welcome concision...Herling should be commended for writing a welcoming book that many students and general readers will find a helpful companion through the early stages of understanding this multifarious thing we call religion. * Reading Religion *

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