What is religion? Can it be defined at all? Or is it too easily defined in far too many ways so as to make a "religion" a drifting signifier or whatever one's pleasure is? Does the study of religion require special, perhaps religious, tools of analysis and explanation? What is the difference between a knowledge of religion derived from practicing it and a knowledge about religion derived from nonreligious modes of inquiry? Sooner or later, any serious student of religion must face these questionsif religious practices are to be investigated in the light of the terms and aims of the social and human sciences in the modern university.The Guide to the Study of Religion provides a map of the key concepts and thought-structures for imagining and studying religion as a class of everyday social practices that lend themselves to no more or less difficult explanation than any other class of social phenomena.
Scholars of comparative religion, theology, geography, philosophy, and, of course, religion, present essays that answer some of the most basic questions in the study of religion and help shape the key concepts necessary to explore religion as a class of everyday social practice. Organization is in three sections discussing ways to define, classify, interpret, and compare religions; describe and evaluate theories used to study religious practice; and understand Western conditions that have encouraged the growth of the modern study of religion. Distributed by Continuum. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)