Thinking About Religion: A Reader / Edition 1

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Matching pivotal theorists and theories of religion alongside cutting-edge criticism from a team of leading contemporary scholars, this vibrant collection enables students to gain a balanced understanding of the diverse methods, theories, and theorists involved in the historical and methodological development of the study of religion. It can be used alongside Ivan Strenski’s textbook, Thinking about Religion: An Historical Introduction to Theories of Religion, to offer a complete resource for introductory students of religious studies.

  • Creates a useful mix of classic and contemporary responses to issues in the study of religion, ideal for those coming to the subject for the first time.
  • Traces the major historical and methodological development of the study of religion in the modern West, enabling students to gain a balanced understanding of the diverse methods, theories, and theorists involved.
  • Primary theorists featured include Cherbury, Durkheim, Eliade, Frazer, Freud, Hume, Brede Kristensen, Malinowski, Max Müller, Ninian Smart, Robertson Smith, Spinoza, Tylor, and Weber.
  • Contemporary contributors include Winston Davis, Sidney Hook, Robert Alun Jones, Karl Menninger, Sam Preus, Philip Rieff, Robert Segal, Georges Sorel, George Stocking, and William Dwight Whitney.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an extremely useful collection of readings which in combination with Strenski's companion volume would be recommended reading to undergraduate students in religious studies requiring access to 'bitesize' pieces of the formative works in their discipline."
Theological Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405121675
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. His previous publications include Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth-Century History (1988), Religion in Relation: Method, Application, and Moral Location (1993), Durkheim and the Jews of France (1997), Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (2002), Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (2003), and The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (2006).

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Table of Contents


Part I: The Quest for Natural Religion.

1. Herbert’s Prayer: Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

2. Common Notions concerning Religion: Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury.

3. The Natural History of Religion: David Hume.

4. Hume's Natural History of Religion and the Beginning of the Social Scientific Study of Religion: Robert A. Segal.

Part II: Biblical Criticism and the Critique of Religion.

5. The History of the Origins of Christianity. Book I. Life of Jesus: Ernest Renan.

6. The Historical System of Ernest Renan: Georges Sorel.

7. A Theologico-Political Treatise and a Political Treatise: Baruch de Spinoza.

8. The Bible and Religion in a Century of Genius: Part III: The Hidden Dialogue of Spinoza's Tractatus: J. Samuel Preus.

Part III: The Shock of the Old: Max Müller’s Search for the Soul of Europe.

9. Preface to Chips from a German Woodshop: Friedrich Max Müller.

10. On the Philosophy of Mythology: Friedrich Max Müller.

11. Forgotten Bibles: Friedrich Max Müller.

12. Müller on the Science of Religion: William Dwight Whitney.

Part IV: The Shock of the “Savage”: Edward Burnett Tylor, Evolution and Spirits.

13. Anahuac: Or Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern: Edward Burnet Tylor.

14. The Religion of Savages: Edward Burnet Tylor.

15. Primitive Culture: Edward Burnet Tylor.

16. Edward Burnett Tylor and the Mission of Primitive Man: George W. Stocking.

Part V: Evolution in the Religion of the Bible: William Robertson Smith.

17. Lectures on the Religion of the Semites: William Robertson Smith.

18. Renan's Histoire du Peuple D'Israel: William Robertson Smith.

19. William Robertson Smith: James George Frazer.

Part VI: Setting the Eternal Templates of Salvation: James George Frazer.

20. The Golden Bough: James George Frazer.

21. Outcast from the Islands: Frazer, The Golden Bough, and Modern Anthropology: George W. Stocking.

Part VII: From Evolution to Religious Experience: Phenomenology of Religion.

22. The Meaning of Religion: Lectures in the Phenomenology of Religion: William Brede Kristensen.

23. Argonauts of the Western Pacific: Bronislaw Malinowski.

24. The Idea of the Holy: Rudolf Otto.

25. Towards a Theory of the Configurations of Religion: Ninian Smart.

Part VIII: Religious Experience Creates the World of the Modern Economy: Max Weber.

26. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Max Weber.

27. Capitalism and Protestantism: Sidney Hook.

28. Religion and Development: Weber and the East Asian Experience: Winston Davis.

Part IX: Tales from the Underground: Freud and the Psychoanalytic Origins of Religion.

29. The Future of an Illusion: Sigmund Freud.

30. Sigmund Freud: Karl Menninger.

31. The Neurosis of Civilization: Henry Hazlitt.

32. Freud: The Mind of a Moralist: Philip Rieff.

Part X: Malinowski and Functionalism: Religion is What Religion Does.

33. Magic, Science and Religion: Bronislaw Malinowski.

34. Souvenir of Malinowsky: Claude Lévi-Strauss.

35. Anthropology and the Science of the Irrational: Malinowski's Encounter with Freudian Psychoanalysis: George W. Stocking.

Part XI: Seeing the Sacred with the Social Eye: Émile Durkheim’s “Religious Sociology”.

36. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: Émile Durkheim.

37. Concerning the Definition of Religious Phenomena: Émile Durkheim.

38. Contribution to Discussion “Religious Sentiment at the Present Time”: Émile Durkheim.

39. Individualism and Intellectuals: Émile Durkheim.

40. Pragmatism and Protestantism in the Development of Durkheim's Sociology of Religion: Robert Alun Jones.

Part XII: Mircea Eliade: The “Worm of Doubt” Turns.

41. Patterns in Comparative Religion: Mircea Eliade.

42. Crisis and Renewal: Mircea Eliade.

43. Cosmogonic Myth and "Sacred History”: Mircea Eliade.

44. Mircea Eliade: Apolgia pro Opere suo: Bryan Rennie.


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