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Essentialism or an Anthropological Approach: The Role and Function of the Scientific Study of Religion in a Historical Perspective

Hjärpe, Jan LU (2015) In Numen 62(2-3). p.301-320
Abstract
The study of religion has its historical origin in the confessional education of religious functionaries, which has influenced the structuring of the study. The order of the topics studied has been, as a rule, first, languages relevant for the study of the normative texts, then the interpretation of these texts, followed by the historical development within the religion, its doctrines (systematic theology), and its practical application (ethics, practical theology). This order of the study is very relevant for priests, pastors, and preachers. It has a certain normative purpose. But it is problematic when the same structure is followed in the empirical study, description, and analysis of how religious tradition is selected and functions in... (More)
The study of religion has its historical origin in the confessional education of religious functionaries, which has influenced the structuring of the study. The order of the topics studied has been, as a rule, first, languages relevant for the study of the normative texts, then the interpretation of these texts, followed by the historical development within the religion, its doctrines (systematic theology), and its practical application (ethics, practical theology). This order of the study is very relevant for priests, pastors, and preachers. It has a certain normative purpose. But it is problematic when the same structure is followed in the empirical study, description, and analysis of how religious tradition is selected and functions in the contemporary, modern, globalized society. A more appropriate structuring is a combination of psychological, sociological, and political approaches, taking into account that religions constitute very changing phenomena, that religious belonging is only one of an individual's many "identities," and that religious leaders and their pronouncements are not very representative for the actual functions of religion for the individual, the society, and the political life. The problematic is illustrated by a number of doctoral dissertations from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
accommodation, authority, comparative religion, discourse, essentialism, flow, function of religion, ideology, knowledge, norms, perception, prognostic value, Schleiermacher, societal changes, structure of the, study of religion
in
Numen
volume
62
issue
2-3
pages
301 - 320
publisher
Brill Academic Publishers
external identifiers
  • wos:000352694000008
  • scopus:84926195689
ISSN
0029-5973
DOI
10.1163/15685276-12341367
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
af6b7461-dc69-4d10-ab76-d4e7c117668f (old id 5402783)
date added to LUP
2015-05-19 13:28:44
date last changed
2017-01-01 05:23:29
@article{af6b7461-dc69-4d10-ab76-d4e7c117668f,
  abstract     = {The study of religion has its historical origin in the confessional education of religious functionaries, which has influenced the structuring of the study. The order of the topics studied has been, as a rule, first, languages relevant for the study of the normative texts, then the interpretation of these texts, followed by the historical development within the religion, its doctrines (systematic theology), and its practical application (ethics, practical theology). This order of the study is very relevant for priests, pastors, and preachers. It has a certain normative purpose. But it is problematic when the same structure is followed in the empirical study, description, and analysis of how religious tradition is selected and functions in the contemporary, modern, globalized society. A more appropriate structuring is a combination of psychological, sociological, and political approaches, taking into account that religions constitute very changing phenomena, that religious belonging is only one of an individual's many "identities," and that religious leaders and their pronouncements are not very representative for the actual functions of religion for the individual, the society, and the political life. The problematic is illustrated by a number of doctoral dissertations from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.},
  author       = {Hjärpe, Jan},
  issn         = {0029-5973},
  keyword      = {accommodation,authority,comparative religion,discourse,essentialism,flow,function of religion,ideology,knowledge,norms,perception,prognostic value,Schleiermacher,societal changes,structure of the,study of religion},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2-3},
  pages        = {301--320},
  publisher    = {Brill Academic Publishers},
  series       = {Numen},
  title        = {Essentialism or an Anthropological Approach: The Role and Function of the Scientific Study of Religion in a Historical Perspective},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15685276-12341367},
  volume       = {62},
  year         = {2015},
}