Religion: The Modern Theories

Front Cover
JHU Press, 2003 - Religion - 232 pages

Over the course of the twentieth century, thinkers from Marx and Weber to Freud, Jung, and Campbell have transformed the way we understand the religious experience. Within the field of religious studies, various intellectual approaches -- from feminism to phenomenology -- have further shaped the ways in which scholars examine rituals, symbols, and belief systems. In Religion: The Modern Theories, Seth D. Kunin provides an accessible yet comprehensive introduction to the social-scientific theories of religion that developed during the twentieth century, explaining the most significant theories of religion and their precursors.

Kunin begins with a detailed discussion of the century's major theorists of religion, their ideas, and their influence, among them Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Freud, Jung, and Otto. He next explores how various disciplines -- sociology, psychology, phenomenology, gender studies, and anthropology -- have affected the study of religion. Kunin then analyzes the constituent elements of religion itself: ritual, symbolism, and myth. Throughout, the author emphasizes the need to question and reassess accepted theories and definitions of religion, and he concludes with suggestions for framing new definitions of religion that provide more culturally sensitive and open-ended ways of understanding.

 

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Contents

Karl Marx and Cultural Materialism
6
Emile Durkheim and Functionalism
16
Max Weber
35
Sigmund Freud and the Psychological Tradition
44
The Idea of the Holy
62
Introduction
71
Psychological Approaches
100
Phenomenology and the History of Religion
116
Anthropological Approaches to Religion
149
Some Final Words
171
Introduction
183
Symbolism
194
Myth
213
Last Words
220
Index
229
Copyright

Feminism Gender and Religion
137

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About the author (2003)

Seth D. Kunin is the head of the School of Divinity, Religious Studies, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He is coeditor of A Companion to Religious Studies and Theology; editor of Judaism: Themes in Religious Studies; and author of God's Place in the World and The Logic of Incest: A Structural Analysis of Hebrew Mythology.

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