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RE207 (6)
Chapter 2

Hinnells - Chapter 2

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Religion & Culture
Alexander Damm

The study of religion in historical perspective  motive, material, method o academic study of anything requires asking why, what and how  why - motive  what - material, what we consider factual  how - method, how we deal with information o Study of Religion  history of the study of religion can be broken into many parts  no one can cover the entire area  means different things to different people  study - uncommitted view of anything, cultivated by philosophers  religion - right way to please and not offend the otherworldly o supernatural beings  ancient world - viewed them in human terms  hierarchical system  power key to world, ability to control the power made one powerful  proto-shaman - ruler and servant of spirits, controller of rituals, interpreter of laws and customs  ability to establish and maintain contact with spirit-world  functions of shaman have multiplied and diversified o in many cultures - law and religion almost synonymous  habits became customs and eventually into laws o “study” was only concerned with family’s traditions, history, sacred places and rituals associated with them  as more oral material was written down, study of writings assumed central place in student’s apprenticeship o three alternatives to look at other religions  ignore them  observe them as curiosities  condemn them as evil o Hebraic attitude - Israel trusted none of the other nations and their deities  appears in Old Testament under black cloud o gods of nations were imposters, incapable of any act of creation  man-made and powerless  “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens” (Jer. 10:11) o Christianity, Judaism and Islam  one god who created, and will judge, the world o Hindu/Buddhist tradition  study religion  place oneself under spiritual guidance with guru, a monk or nun  to be accepted as a disciple, one must show unquestioning obedience to the guru in everything o submission to faith to a teacher will begin process of teaching  one way of learning, from guru to disciple o End of first millennium  West divided religion into four categories  Christendom  Jewry  Islam  Paganism (anything that did not fit into the first 3)  one studied religion with framework from their own religion  described other people’s customs with exaggeration and concentration on unknown and bizarre  discoveries are not inventions, can only discover what is already there  discovery - the finding of something that was once common knowledge byut which the world has forgotten o enlightenment about China  information came from Jesuit missionaries  idealized religion as system without priestcraft and in possession of high moral virtues o the noble savae  antithesis of modern urban man o natural religion - deism  five common notions  a surpreme power  power to be worshipped  disposition of facutlies is best part of divine worship  vices and crimes must be eliminated through sorrow and repentance
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