Introduction to SCTR 19 Prof. Felix Just, S.J.: Introduction to SCTR 19 Prof. Felix Just, S.J.
Religion & Religious Studies What Is “Religion”?: What Is “Religion”? Theological Beliefs?
Communal or Individual?
Believing in God (or gods)? Defining “Religion”: Defining “Religion” Quality of Definitions (cf. Kessler, pp. 17-20)
Usefulness (applicable to reality)
Precision (not too broad, nor too narrow)
Lack of Bias (as much as possible)
Types of Definitions
Essential Defs. (Theoretical, Deductive)
Descriptive Defs. (Experiential, Inductive)
Thesaurus.com What are “Religious Studies”? : What are “Religious Studies”? “Insider” Perspectives
by adherents, believers, members
by scholars, observers, adherents of other religions
Qualities necessary for academic study:
Openness & Honesty
Critical Intelligence & Tolerance
Careful Reading & Listening Asking Questions /Seeking Understanding: Asking Questions / Seeking Understanding Religion
< Latin religio ("fidelity"); religare ("to bind fast, adhere to")
"adherence to someone (a god) or something (a belief)"
< Greek theos ("God") + logos ("word, sentence, speech")
"study of God; talking about God" & related topics
< Greek philos ("friend; lover") + sophia ("wisdom")
“love of wisdom” or quest for knowledge and truth Studying God & Religion through the Centuries: Studying God & Religion through the Centuries Ancient World: no specialized “theologians”
Israel: Prophets & Priests
Other Cultures: Magi, Physicians, Kings, etc.
Four Main Disciplines: Philosophy, Theology, Medicine, Law
Liberal Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Art, Business, Education, Religious Studies, etc.
More interdisciplinary: “Religion and XYZ” Religious Questions – vs. – Religious Studies Questions: Religious Questions – vs. – Religious Studies Questions Questions Religions seek to answer:
God? World? Humans? Life? Death?
Afterlife? Heaven / Hell? Good vs. Evil?
Holy / Sacred? Revelation & Prayer?
Questions scholars ask about Religion(s):
Anthropological, Psychological, Sociological, etc.
Comparative, or about particular religions, their:
Foundations, History, Beliefs, Practices, Structures Studying World Religions:: Studying World Religions: History & Development
Historical Foundations & Growth
Branches, Divisions, Demographics
Beliefs & Practices
Scriptural & other Foundational Texts
Theological & Ethical Teachings
Liturgical & Spiritual Practices
Structures & Relationships
Organization & Leadership
Internal Rules; External Relations World Religions:: World Religions: Main Eastern Religions
South Asia: Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism
East Asia: Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Shinto
Main Western Religions (“Religions of the Book”?)
Judaism; Christianity; Islam
Animist Practices, Ancestor Worship
New Religious Movements:
Cults, Sects, Splinter Groups “Religion” in Bible and Qur’an: “Religion” in Bible and Qur’an Judaism:
“Shema” (Deut 6:4-9)
“Decalogue” (Exod 20; Deut 5)
“Greatest Commandment” (Luke 10:27 & par.)
“Religion” in James (1:26-27)
“Fatihah” (Qur’an 1:1-7)
“Shahada” (cf. Qur’an 38:65; 33:40)
Questions for Group Discussion and/or Personal Reflection:: Questions for Group Discussion and/or Personal Reflection: What is religion? How would you define “religion”?
In what ways is religion important/influential in our world today?
…in our own country? …in your own community? …in your own family?
What are some of the positive effects or benefits of religion?
In what ways has religion helped people and/or improved our world?
What are some of the negative effects or downsides of religion?
In what ways has religion harmed people and/or impaired life?
In which religion were you raised, if any?
How well do you understand it? How actively do you practice it?
Have you chosen a different religion?
What aspects of your former religion did not satisfy you?
What aspects of the new religion most attracted you?