Religious studies Information

Religious studies, or Religious education, is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically-based, and cross-cultural perspectives.

While theology attempts to understand the intentions of a supernatural force , religious studies tries to study human religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion.

Religious studies originated in the nineteenth century, when scholarly and historical analysis of the Bible had flourished, and Hindu and Buddhist texts were first being translated into European languages. Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Müller, in England, and Cornelius P. Tiele, in the Netherlands. Today religious studies is practiced by scholars worldwide. In its early years, it was known as Comparative Religion or the Science of Religion and, in the USA, there are those who today also know the field as the History of religion . The field is known as Religionswissenschaft in Germany and Italy and Sciences de la religion in the French-speaking world.

Wikipedia, Religious studies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_studies (as of Apr 7, 2010)

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