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Lecture 1 & 2

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Ben Wood

RLG 200 Lecture 1 September 13 Religion –Relegere = to read again –religare = to bind or to connect –religiens = careful –Historical use –monastic life (5 cent) th –“state of life bound by monastic vows”, “conduct indicating a belief in a divine power” (13 cent) –“Particular system of faith” (14 cent) Theology –The study of God (ancient greek) –the systematic study of religion [from within a religion] –from an insider's point of view –defends or justifies a religion –does not challenge the “truth” of a religion –not only Christian, could be buddhist theology or hindu theology Religious studies –can challenge a religion's “truth” –involves “secular” or “neutral” methodologies –involves “third-party” research –the study of religion outside of a religious viewpoint –Began in the 1800s –context: –historical analysis of the bible –Translation of hindu and buddhist texts into European languages –Max Muller (1823 – 1900) –first professor of comparatic religion at oxford –introduction to the science of religion (1873) –it is “the duty of those who have devoted their life to the study of the principal religions of the world in their original documents, and who value and reverence it in whatever form it may present itself, to take possession of this new territory in the name of true science” Religious studies –draws on multiple disciplines and their methodologies –history, phychology, sociology, literature, anthropology, etc Theories of religion's –integral aspect of religios studies –ask about the origins of religion –ask about the functions of religions –attempt to explain universal characteristics of a religios thought and practice –Substantive theories = describes the contents of religions and their impact on people –Functional theories = describes what functions religions perform for society Week 2: THE SAME QUESTION What is religion? –There is no one true definition of religion –There is not one common set of characteristics of religion Ninian Smart's seven dimensions: –1)ritual 2)mythical 3)doctrinal 4)ethical -Good and bad 5)social – social configurations 6)experiential 7)material – physical holy or sacred things Emile Durkheim 1858-1917 –first free our minds from preconcieved notions of religions –Don't ask what is the most important characteristic of religion but look for what is common in all religions –Religion is not universally characterized by the supernatural, or divine beings –all religions have Two categories: beliefs and rites –all religions have two characteristics: the sacred and the profane –He believed that sacred objects are in all religions and are central –durkheim was considered to have a sociollogical approach to religion –the divine is society; societ is God/ the idea of the divine comes from society –religion is a projection of our social world –religion is created by man –Karl Marx 1818-1883: –Historical/political approach to religion –religion is used to control the working class and maintain social divisions –Rudolf Otto –phenomenologist approch to religoin –religion is inspired by an encounter with the holy and powerful encounter with terror –other analogous terms: –dharma (in hinduism): duty, righteousness, law etc –Dharma (in buddhism): the buddhist teaching the truth of existence –In Japan: –ho = buddhist truth or law –d
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