Studying Religion: An Introduction Through Cases / Edition 3

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More About This Textbook


Through the use of thought-provoking case studies, summaries, and review questions, this introductory level text shows students how to engage in the academic, objective study of religion and helps instructors address some of the typical problems they encounter when introducing students to the study of religion. Kessler guides students through an unbiased and varied study of religious beliefs and practices such as sacred power, myths and rituals, religious art, the problem of evil, and the relationship between religion and morality. The text also addresses issues of gender and religious institutionalization.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780073386591
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • Publication date: 11/9/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 97,289
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface     xiii
Thinking about Being a Student of Religion     1
Insider's and Outsider's Perspectives     1
Qualities Worth Having     4
Openness     4
Honesty     4
Critical Intelligence     5
Careful Observing, Reading, and Listening     7
Critical Tolerance     8
Why Study Religion?     10
Review Questions     12
Explorations     12
Suggestions for Further Reading     13
Internet Resources     13
On Defining and Studying Religion     14
Marks of a Good Definition     14
Usefulness     14
Precision     15
Freedom from Bias     18
Two Definitions     21
Is Secular Humanism a Religion?     22
A Simple Map of the Field     24
Goals and Methods     28
Description     28
Interpretation     30
Explanation     31
Evaluation     32
Fieldwork     33
A Controversy     35
Review Questions     35
Explorations     36
Suggestions for FurtherReading     36
Internet Resources     37
Sacred Power     38
Two Case Studies     38
Dao (Tao)     38
Anselm on God     41
Comparison     43
Forms of Sacred Power     45
Spirits, Ancestors, and Totems     46
Goddesses and Gods     47
Monotheism and Deism     49
Dualism Divine     51
Pantheism and Monism     52
Agnosticism and Atheism     54
Review Questions     55
Research Case-Ganesha     56
Questions on the Case of Ganesha     58
Suggestions for Further Reading     58
Internet Resources     59
Myth as Sacred Story     60
Two Case Studies     61
Enuma elish     61
Moses     63
Comparison     67
Types and Functions     68
Theories of Myth     71
Myth and Science     74
Review Questions     78
Research Case-The Primal Man     78
Questions on the Case of the Primal Man     80
Suggestions for Further Reading     80
Internet Resources      81
Ritual as Sacred Action     82
Two Case Studies     83
Akitu Festival     83
Her Alone They Sing Over (Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan)     87
Comparison     92
Types and Functions     93
Sacrifice and Violence     94
Myth and Ritual     97
Review Questions     98
Research Case-Seder     98
Questions on the Case of the Seder     101
Suggestions for Further Reading     102
Internet Resources     102
Sacred Space and Time     103
Two Case Studies     105
Mount Kilimanjaro     105
The Dreamtime     108
Comparison     110
Features of Sacred Space and Time     112
Glimpsing the Sacred     115
Architecture     116
Music     120
Review Questions     121
Research Case-The Cathedral of St. Andrew     121
Questions on the Case of the Cathedral of St. Andrew     125
Suggestions for Further Reading     126
Internet Resources     126
Experiencing the Sacred     127
Two Case Studies     129
Muhammad      129
The Buddha     133
Comparison     138
Debates About the Nature of Religious Experiences     140
Shamanic Ecstasy     143
Mystical Techniques and States     144
Typologies of Mystical Experiences     144
Mystical Experience: Pure or Culturally Conditioned?     145
Mystical Techniques     146
Psychoanalytic Theories     148
Review Questions     152
Research Case-St. Teresa of Avila     152
Questions on the Case of St. Teresa of Avila     156
Suggestions for Further Reading     157
Internet Resources     158
Explaining Evil     159
Two Case Studies     162
Karma     162
The Mahdi     164
Comparison     166
Types of Theodicies     167
Karma Theodicies     167
Eschatological Theodicies     169
Theodicies of Participation     171
Dualistic Theodicies     173
The Theological Problem of Evil     174
How Theodicies Work     179
Review Questions     181
Research Case-Manichaeism     182
Questions on the Case of Manichaeism     183
Suggestions for Further Reading     184
Internet Resources     185
Religion and Morality     186
Two Case Studies     188
Divine Command Theory     188
Confucian Virtue     191
Comparison     195
Identifying and Legitimating Moral Norms     197
What are the Elements of a Religious Morality?     199
Retribution     201
Overcoming Moral Failure     202
Review Questions     203
Research Case-Jain Nonviolence     203
Questions on the Case of Jain Nonviolence     208
Suggestions for Further Reading     208
Internet Resources     209
Religion and Politics     210
Two Case Studies     212
Inside the Mind of a Religious Terrorist     212
Separation of Church and State     217
Comparison     222
Patterns of Political Engagement     224
Just War and Holy War     226
Civil Religion     227
Theocracy     229
Review Questions     233
Research Case-The Truth and Reconciliation Commission     234
Questions on the Case of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission     238
Suggestions for Further Reading     238
Internet Resources     239
Organizing the Sacred     240
Two Case Studies     242
Tibetan Buddhism     242
Jonestown     246
Comparison     252
The Dilemmas of Institutionalization     257
Types of Authority     259
Scripture     261
Gender     264
Review Questions     268
Research Case-Shinto     268
Questions on the Case of Shinto     274
Suggestions for Further Reading     274
Internet Resources     275
Human Existence and Destiny     276
Two Case Studies     279
Sikhism     279
Christianity     282
Comparison     287
Religions of Salvation and Society     288
Where are We Going?     291
Review Questions     295
Research Case-Zen Buddhism     296
Questions on the Case of Zen Buddhism     298
Suggestions for Further Reading     298
Internet Resources     299
Religious Diversity and Truth      300
Why Can't We All Get Along?     301
Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Pluralism     303
Exclusivism     303
Inclusivism     306
Pluralism     308
Can We Determine Religious Truth?     311
Language Games     314
Critical Tolerance and the Principle of Charity     314
The Blind People and the Elephant     315
The Elephant Principle     316
Review Questions     317
Research Case-Baha'l     317
Questions on the Case of Baha'i     323
Suggestions for Further Reading     324
Internet Resources     325
Notes     N-1
Glossary     G-1
Credits     C-1
Index     I-1
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013


    This review is more of the actual edition of this book - don't bother purchasing or renting it if you planned on using it on your Nook because it won't work. You are forced to read this textbook (and virtually all others that are labeled as 'textbooks' by BN) on the computer and cannot access them on the Nook. I am sure there are ways to do so, but in the case of this book I cannot figure it out. Complete waste of money, for both the Nook and the textbook since I can't use the Nook to read my textbooks. Fair warning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013


    I read this book completely for a comparative religion class. This book teaches you how to study religion in general. It does not compare all the major religions to each other. All the chapters are arranged in a similar manner with two different religions compared to each other for the topic under discussion and then followed by a case study. As such it tends to bounce around from the Lakota Sioux to St. Anselm to something else. The book has end-notes and not footnotes. I much prefer footnotes so I'm not flipping back and forth all the time. Kessler also makes some statements that could use a note where none are given. Some religious topics are not covered that I would like to have seen such as the economic side of things. But maybe this is not the book for that. Kessler knows his stuff but there tends to be a bias toward obscure religions and even though "secular humanism" is beefed up from the previous edition, it is still given short shrift in my opinion. Finally, a big drawback is the cost for a book of only 325 pages. But I do recommend the book if you can afford it.

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