A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion

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9780826495310: A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion
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The strange, familiar thing that is religion calls out for examination in today's world. But how should we interpret it? What are the foundations of a methodical approach to the academic study of religion, and what theoretical tools are available to the beginning student?

A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion provides an approachable, comprehensive introduction theory and method in the field. Beginning with a discussion of the pressing need for understanding religion today, this lively, readable text moves on to describe the basic methodological, theoretical operations that students new to the discipline must comprehend and master. Then the book provides an accessible survey of the classic theorists in the modern study of religion, leading up to a concluding account of current, pressing issues in the field.

Almost every course in religion includes theory and method, but time constraints often prevent a full account. A Beginner's Guide is designed to address this issue by offering a thorough but concise body of material suitable for a week (or less) of reading. Beyond the college or university setting, this book is also valuable for anyone interested in the way the academic study of religion makes sense of its rich, challenging subject matter.

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About the Author:

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

Review:

"With its cogent case for the importance of theory in the study of religion and its lucid exposition of a wide array of theories, Herling's Guide should be a trusted companion for any undergraduate who embarks on the academic study of religion. Herling offers an articulate and persuasive account of why the study of religion matters, how it can be pursued, and what the consequences of any particular viewpoint about religion might be. Deftly blending examples from his own career as a student of religion, his experience as a teacher, and a thorough familiarity with the full range of modern and contemporary theories about religion, Herling effectively evokes the power of theoretical insights to open up new understandings of perplexing or challenging dimensions of human religious activity."

Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, New London, CT



'In a world where public discussion about religion often fosters sensationalism, scapegoating, and profound misunderstanding, Brad Herling skilfully offers resources for thinking through basic questions about the study of religion's functions, manifestations, prospects, and challenges. A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion is a work of substantial breadth and depth that does not sacrifice complexity and contemporary relevance. Its organization and style encourages readers to remember what we know while examining what we don't know — and what we thought we knew. 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.'

Davina C. Lopez, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Eckerd College, USA



"...A through and masterfully written introduction, it should be as easy to comprehend for novices as it is a refresher for professors...A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion is thoroughly recommended to all future students of theology and for community library theology shelves." - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review, May 2008 (James A. Cox)

"Herling's useful book begins with an apologia presenting reasons why religion is a valid area of concern and scholarship...Sprinkled with references from the major theological theorists and pop culture, Herling, in his second chapter, constructs a theory of religion systematically and with clarity, keeping in mind that this book is intended for beginning students...The bibliography is a fine listing of materials, not just on the narrower subject, but the author expands it to include religion from non-western perspectives. An excellent index concludes the book. The book is recommended for classroom use and for libraries with Theory of Religion collections." - Arnold Rzepecki, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Arnold Rzepecki Catholic Library World)

"With its cogent case for the importance of theory in the study of religion and its lucid exposition of a wide array of theories, Herling’s Guide should be a trusted companion for any undergraduate who embarks on the academic study of religion. Herling offers an articulate and persuasive account of why the study of religion matters, how it can be pursued, and what the consequences of any particular viewpoint about religion might be. Deftly blending examples from his own career as a student of religion, his experience as a teacher, and a thorough familiarity with the full range of modern and contemporary theories about religion, Herling effectively evokes the power of theoretical insights to open up new understandings of perplexing or challenging dimensions of human religious activity."

Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, New London, CT



“...A through and masterfully written introduction, it should be as easy to comprehend for novices as it is a refresher for professors...A Beginner’s Guide to the Study of Religion is thoroughly recommended to all future students of theology and for community library theology shelves.” - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review, May 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“Herling’s useful book begins with an apologia presenting reasons why religion is a valid area of concern and scholarship...Sprinkled with references from the major theological theorists and pop culture, Herling, in his second chapter, constructs a theory of religion systematically and with clarity, keeping in mind that this book is intended for beginning students...The bibliography is a fine listing of materials, not just on the narrower subject, but the author expands it to include religion from non-western perspectives. An excellent index concludes the book. The book is recommended for classroom use and for libraries with Theory of Religion collections.” - Arnold Rzepecki, Catholic Library World, September 2008 (Sanford Lakoff Catholic Library World)

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