Talk:Religious studies

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earlier comments[edit]

Visit, where you can read the German article about religious studies, which is currently under construction. Maybe there is someone who could translate the article into perfect English. --Mephisto-DE 17:25, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Other than adding information on the history of Religionswissenschaft as a university department in European universities, I see nothing in the German article that is not already covered in the English religion article. Unless Britain and other English speaking countries follow the continental lead, is there any reason to expand this stub? If I were to expand it, I simply would add that this article is a history of the development of "Religious science" departments at many European universities, then make links to the German and any other language article that describes it in greater detail.

In U.S. universities, it is still part of philosophy, and I think rightly so.



As a Religious Studies major and enthusiast, I can definitely say that Religious Studies is, in most institutions, its own department and discipline. (In a minority of U.S. universities, it is under the Philosophy or History departments. Sometimes it is called the Department of Religion.) Religious Studies is distinct from Theology or Biblical Studies.

" there any reason to expand this stub? If I were to expand it, I simply would add that this article is a history of the development of "Religious science" departments..."

Yes we should expand it! Religious Studies, although a multi-disciplinary field of study, is an academic field with its own history, methodology, intellectual figures, etc. The history of Religious Studies as a discipline definitely deserves its own article.

The main difficulty in doing this is the fact that there are very few sources, that I can find at least, detailing the development of Religious Studies as a discipline. One of the reasons for this may very well be that it is relatively young, having been developed in the mid-20th century.

Dws 20:39, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)

My own two cents on this subject for what my Master's is worth in Religious Studies is that the field as a whole is not well developed because many of the early great contributors to the field were actually specialists in other fields. On top of that the academic study of religion has refused/been unable to agree upon on a coherent and unifying definition of religions and therefore what exactly people are trying to study when they say talk about 'religious studies'. How can there really be an academic discipline over a topic that there is no agreement over what is being studied? Instead each major contributor basically tries to offer up on of a dozen or so different commonly used definitions that have been tweaked in one way or another to suit their inclinations and research.

I mean seriously. Calling something the 'history of religion' is not religious studies; it is 'history' with an emphasis on religion. Just like a Civil War historian is not a 'Civil Warist' but really a HISTORIAN with an emphasis on the Civil War. Likewise, somebody who specializes in the 'Psychology of Religion' is still a Psychologist with his or her emphasis on religion. The same can be said for Sociologist and Anthropologists. They are still just Sociologist and Anthropologist with their emphasis on religion. Just because a Sociologist, Anthropologist, Psychologists, or Historian uses all their disciplinary methods for studying religion, disciplinary methods that have set methodological schools and well defined meanings of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, and History I mind you, choose to focus on religion, this does not make them all of a sudden an academic in the field of Religious Studies. But this is what seems to be happening time and time again in the field from my impression.

Jeff.t.mcdonald 16:27, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Jeff, I think you hit upon some important points. Remember, the RLST field had to fight a bit to make itself recognized, and many in related fields saw/see it as nothing more than a hodgepodge of theories form those fields. Not a compeletly inaccurate view.
What I've seen as 'mainstream' RLST (if there is such a thing) includes history of religion, ritual, and textual studies, and theory work. Now, to your point, one can address all of those from other disciplines. And in fact, that's why I'm moving out of RLST into sociology: I'm more concerned with people, communities, and identity, and less with ritual/practice, text or theory.
I don't think the fluid nature of RLST is a bad thing. Just makes it a bit more open-ended. Which of couse, the "hard-sciences/tists" don't exactly enjoy. Oh well, their problem!--Jonashart 17:43, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
I definitely agree with you that the vast majority of RLST work being done fits into one of the areas of history of religion (to me still just a historian with an emphasis on religion as any good historian has an emphasis), textual studies, ritual, and theory work. The field as whole needs textual studies, ritual studies, and theory work but this is the way I see it. The theory work is where the field as a whole is really falling short. Lots of different theories, nobody really agrees and supports one as a good theory that everyone can gather around. As for ritual work, it seems mostly descriptive. While this is very interesting and very informative and much needed, in the end descriptive work is only descriptive and does not validate a whole field of study. Textual studies also partly fall under this unfortunate status. They are very helpful but in themselves cannot comprise a general field of RLST. Now if there was a good theory that would help to incorporate and connect certain areas of focus like history, textual studies, and ritual studies, now that would be something that a group of academics could really get behind. Unfortunately for me, as a person who is actually interested in RLST, I don't have any such theory. What I see a lot of instead is one person offering a theory and lots of others dismantling it before it has a chance to really start. I understand this needs to be done and academics are a process of steps forward and backwards so things can be right and that this happens in all disciplines but the field of RLST has unfortunately taken just about as many steps forward as it has backwards in my opinion which gives us a lot of interesting material to review but none to really rally behind. A main issue with this as I mentioned before is that there is not even a clear definition or theory of what 'religion' is in the field of RLST. Jeff.t.mcdonald 04:26, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Ah, Jeff...that's part of RLST's charm! Kidding. Perhaps the issue is with the nature of "religion" itself. It's not science. It's almost history. It's alot of things. If nothing else, it's at the very least highly subjective and very personal. So, definition becomes a different thing. The problem is that academics can't agree on what it is, but rather, practioners/adherents don't have a universal definition. Thus, the academic world has to be light on it's feet and move with the movement. I know, that's really a soft, touchy-feeling vision. However, religion is different from other subject matter. It's not suprising then that RLST doesn't look like other fields. And perhaps it can't.
But, can we really expect an academic field to have even semi-rigid structure when examining people's understanding of the sacred? I'd almost hope not.
I'm with you so far, though. Let's keep kicking this one around.--Jonashart 13:17, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Sciences de la religion[edit]

Are we sure we don't want to use les études religieuses?--Jonashart 20:26, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Order of entries in the recently added diagram "Image:ReligijneSymbole.png"[edit]

It looks like little thought was given to the apparently random order of entries in the "Image:ReligijneSymbole.png" diagram (added to this page today). Because we're talking about symbols, the symbolic importance of position within the diagram may not be ignored by everyone. Some may even be offended by what they perceive to be the symbolic meaning of their religion's position in relation to another religion or in relation to some geometric feature (e.g., "highest" row, "foundational" row, "central" or peripheral). As far as I'm concerned, any order will do, but it should be explicit, i.e., order by age of the religion, alphabetical order, arrangement by geographic origin, etc. -DoctorW 15:11, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree that there needs to be some kind of order to the pics. I think that alphabetical order might be best instead of oldest or most adherents because those ways of organizing religions may convey a meaning of importance to some. Alpabetical order is kind of scientific and neutral. Jeff.t.mcdonald 04:46, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Sciences de la religion (response to Jonashart)[edit]

Hello. I'm sure because in french, this formulation is ambivalent (Is this sciences wich are religious or sciences wich study the religious ?). It's the reason why French scientists changed their designation from "sciences religieuses" to "science de la religion" or "sciences des religions". Pierre.

List of influential figures[edit]

I doubt whether Diana Eck is influential. The bar for inclusion in this list is very high. Only people who have influenced the whole field for a long period of time should be listed there. Andries 15:31, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Eck is not nearly as influential. Jeff.t.mcdonald 03:39, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

May be we should move Diana Eck and other listed people, except the most influential to list of religious scholars. Andries (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 20:21, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Minor changes[edit]

  • a.) I find the distinguishment from theology characteristical and fundamental enough that I think it ought to be mentioned early on.
  • b.) In what way is only one of the approaches scientific? I'd rather say the one described is a neurological apprach, and what follows is a comparison of modern science with myticism.
  • c.) Anthropology, the interdisciplinarian study of man, does not equal cultural anthropology, the study of human cultures on earth. --Tlatosmd 21:32, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Indian vs. Hindu[edit]

why is the word "Indian", eg "Christian, Jewish and Indian tradition" used to refer to the Hindu faith? the links are to the article on Hinduism anyway. I feel it devalues Hinduism to simply group it as "Indian". even if the vast majority of Hindus live and worship in India it makes little sense to use the name of a place for something pertaining to a religion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:53, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Removed Science and Religion section[edit]

I removed this short section because it is off-topic. Proving whether there is harmony or not between science and religion is not the purpose of Religious Studies as an academic discipline, which is devoted to the study of religions per se and not about their plausibility or accordance with scientific theories. --jofframes 22:29, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

"biblical" or "Biblical"?[edit]

Biblical or biblical? Should Wikipedia adopt a style guideline favoring one over the other when used as an adjective referring to the Bible (e.g., Biblical scholar, biblical exegesis, Biblical foundation, biblical support, etc.)?

Please comment on the RFC at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Bible#RFC: "biblical" or "Biblical". Thanks — DIEGO talk 18:18, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

An opinion of a non expert and a book suggestion. - by C.S.[edit]

Greetings I am from portugal and just started in my first year of Religious Studies, in Portuguese “Ciência da religião.”

I am making this post to give my opinion about the article an suggest a book for the people working on it to read, it is by a german professor now residing in brazil. The title translates as “Constituents of a Science of Religion, five essays defending an autonomous discipline” I believe. I mention this book because it was the first I was told to read and it has alot of references to the evolution of the discipline in the European case, focusing mainly on Germany. In the book it is mentioned that the very first Religious Studies department was founded on Switzerland.

Also in the book there are references to a struggle between different approaches or methods in Germany. During the early years of the discipline, Rudolf Otto and others defended a now very contested approach that stated the main focus of the Religious Studies researcher was to make a connection with a certain aspect of the “sacred” that according to him was common to all religions and creeds, of course this was a very subjective approach very dangerously similar to the one of a believer of a particular faith would take when having or attempting to have a “religious experience” of some kind. In opposition to this approach according to the book by Frank Usarski a purely historical-empirical approach was defended and it’s the one that’s more consensual today. This does not seem consistent with the current article because Otto was described as a Phenomologist but perhaps these terms have different meanings in the American context.

Also just to give a personal opinion I would like to say I am aware that the independent status of “Religious Studies” as an academic discipline is contested and I can understand the reasons why, but I believe the aspects that clearly distinguish Religious Studies from Theology already make a strong case for its existence. Plus there are other recognized disciplines that rely on methods from other disciplines to carry out their work.

Please note I am no expert in any matter related to Religious Studies I am just trying to help. (talk) 19:59, 8 January 2009 (UTC)CS

Religion Icons Change of Image Recommendation[edit]

If such an image is available, I recommend that you replace the current religious icons image (top-right of Religious studies article) to a circular image to avoid bias.

--Don Zaloog (talk) 01:33, 25 November 2010 (UTC) Don Zaloog

Poles in mythology[edit]

Now we have a new article Poles in mythology, Please see and include suitable improvements , if any, in article Poles in mythology.

Rgds Mahitgar (talk) 09:01, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

Missing Bibliography[edit]

Hi, I am not a specialist of history of Religions. I hold a PhD in Indo-European Linguistics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Hebrew University has a department of History of Religions and we had in the past several internationally famous and important scholars, whom I do not see mentioned in the article. The most eminent specialist in history of Religions was the late Prof. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, who passed away in 2015. He left behind several hundreds of publications - articles and books. (talk) 14:29, 28 May 2016 (UTC) Ingrid Velleine

good point, i added two of his articles on historiography. Rjensen (talk) 15:03, 28 May 2016 (UTC)