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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Eugene Webb
RELIG 380
Seattle Campus

The Nature of Religion and Its Study

Study of religion as a general human phenomenon. Manner in which different methods of inquiry (phenomenology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, archaeology, philosophy, theology) illuminate different aspects of religion and help to shape our conceptions of its nature. Recommended: RELIG 201 or RELIG 202. Offered: jointly with CHID 380.

Class description

The purpose of RELIG 380/CHID 380, The Nature of Religion and Its Study, is to introduce students to the different ways the study of religion can be approached using the variety of methods of study available in the modern social sciences. The course begins with a phenomenological and philosophical study presented in Dale Cannon, Six Ways of Being Religious. We then proceed to an examination of sociological approaches as represented in Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed, and Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy. The latter includes both an extensive exposition of theory based on the sociology of knowledge, and an application of that theory to the understanding of the religious history of Europe and North America. We will end with a work on contemporary hermeneutic theory by the philosophical theologian David Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the different ways the study of religion can be approached using the variety of methods of study available in the modern social sciences. The course begins with a phenomenological and philosophical study presented in Dale Cannon, Six Ways of Being Religious. We then proceed to an examination of sociological approaches as represented in Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed, and Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy. The latter includes both an extensive exposition of theory based on the sociology of knowledge, and an application of that theory to the understanding of the religious history of Europe and North America. We will end with a work on contemporary hermeneutic theory by the philosophical theologian David Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, with student questions encouraged

Recommended preparation

At least one prior course in the history of religious traditions (e.g., RELIG 201 or 202)

Class assignments and grading

At least one prior course in the history of religious traditions (e.g., RELIG 201 or 202)

Mid-term 30%, Final exam 50%, participation 20%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Loryn R. Paxton
Date: 02/04/1999