Introduction to the Study of Religion : The Great Courses: Comparative & World Religion

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Charles B. Jones
  • Series: The Great Courses: Comparative & World Religion
  • 11 hrs and 57 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The religious experience is an extraordinarily powerful force that can define and shape the communities it creates. Over the course of 24 lectures, Professor Jones takes a vibrant first look at the discipline known as religious studies and shows how other fields - sociology, psychology, anthropology, and phenomenology - have tried to explain the complex relationship between individuals, cultures, and faith.
This relationship is as old as the first human quest for answers to fundamental questions of life, death, and what may lie beyond. Here you'll trace the idea of studying religion itself, drawing not only on the challenging and provocative collection of theories from the many disciplines that have influenced the development of religious studies, but also on revealing anecdotes and illuminating case studies that make this course a surprising delight.
You'll explore the way "functional" anthropologists such as Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown helped pull their discipline out of the drawing room and into the field to study a given culture. You'll also study Immanuel Kant's phenomenology, his theory that we can never make actual contact with the external world but can know it only from the internal images our minds construct from the raw data pulled in by our senses.
By examining belief and what it means - for believers and nonbelievers alike - you'll come away with a solid grasp of the major thinkers and ideas that have contributed to this fascinating field of study, including their strengths and weaknesses, as well as insights into many aspects of religious life, belief, and practices - insights that may well have applications in your own life, whether or not you adhere to a religious faith.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good overview

Would you consider the audio edition of Introduction to the Study of Religion to be better than the print version?

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What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The lecturer's thinking seems very clear. The lectures are, I thought, well organized. The structure and progression is determined on the one hand by people (e.g., a lecture on one particular thinker) and on the other by approach (e.g., all the lectures about approaching religion from the standpoint of psychology are grouped together).


Have you listened to any of Professor Charles B. Jones’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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Any additional comments?

The title should make it clear that this is about the (academic) study of religion and NOT about the content or this or that religion, so anyone who wants to learn about this or that religion should look elsewhere. There is a lot about anthropology, sociology, and psychology. I only point this out because there's always a chance that someone will mistakenly think that this course includes much about the content of the various religions, though as I said the title should make it clear that that this is about Religious Studies, not theology.

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- Luke

Interesting Introduction to Religious Studies

I enjoyed this multifaceted and interesting introduction to the study of religious philosophy. These lectures held my attention and inspired me to further study of religion from several different disciplines.
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- Thomas A. Morgan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses