Introducing religion: readings from the classic theorists

New York: Oxford University Press (2009)
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Abstract

What is religion? How did it originate? How does it operate? How can it be explained? Introducing Religion: Readings from the Classic Theorists presents the key writings of eleven theorists that explain the phenomenon of religion - its origin, historical growth, and world-wide variations - without relying on the authority of the Bible or the articles of dogma. With the hope of uncovering core principles, these influential theorists sought to understand and to discover what makes peoplefrom a variety of cultures believe and behave as they do when it comes to religion. An ideal companion to Eight Theories of Religion, Second Edition, also by Daniel L. Pals, which shares its organization, Introducing Religion begins with a look at the ideas of Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer - two Victorian pioneers in anthropology and the comparative study of religion. It continues with the "reductionist" approaches of Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx, still very much alive in current debates. Countering these approaches are the writings of philosopher-psychologist William James, theologian Rudolf Otto, sociologist Max Weber, and comparativist Mircea Eliade. Finally, the book ends with the newer methods and ideas arising from the African field studies of ethnographer E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the interpretive anthropology of Clifford Geertz.

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