Herling is a Professor of Religious Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. This is a great, brief introduction to the academic study of religion and the theories used by the discipline presented in a way that beginners can understand.
How should we understand and interpret the strange but familiar thing that we call “religion”? What are the foundations of a methodical approach to this subject, and what theoretical tools are available to students who are new to this area of inquiry? A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion provides an accessible, wide-ranging introduction to theories and basic methodology in the field. Now in its second edition and updated throughout, this concise but comprehensive book includes:-
- A case for the urgency and relevance of studying religion today
- Discussion of the role and perspective of the student of religion
- Description of the nature of theory and its function
- An accessible survey of classic theorists in the modern study of religion
- Feature boxes highlighting essential quotations and guiding principles for application of theories
An expanded consideration of contemporary issues in the field, including gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, globalization, violence, science, and new media.
- Recommended further reading
A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion offers a thorough but concise body of material suitable for introductory courses on the study of religion, or to provide theoretical context for survey courses. Study questions and worksheets can be found on the book's webpage.
“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
Bradley L. Herling is Professor of Religious Studies at Marymount Manhattan College, USA.
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