It may seem curious to publish a little colloquium on method and theory in a journal that is, as a matter of course, devoted to these terms. Nonetheless, a stock-taking pause before these terms that are now ubiquitous in the academic study of religion and other fields of the humanities is worthwhile, not in the least because “theory,” once, not long ago, a rare concern in our field (“method” less so) is now all too familiar. Anecdotally, I recall that about twenty years ago, Russell McCutcheon in a serious prank at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion distributed large lapel buttons that asked “Got theory?” to members of the North American Association for the Study of Religion. Those of us who wore the button were amused at the many non-plussed, puzzled, or sheepish glances cast our way. It appeared to be a strange question at the time. Prior to the 1980s, “theory” was not a pressing, central concern in the study of religion (a lack that the founding of this very journal sought to alleviate in part). In Walter Capps’ Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline (1995), for instance, neither “theory” nor “method” appears
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Dec 2, 2016
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