“Of And and Of : The Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion”

“Of And and Of : The Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion” “Of And and Of : Th e Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion” Th omas B. Ellis Appalachian State University Abstract Grammatical constructions in course titles and research agendas refl ect particular theoretical orientations in the study of religion. Privileging one construction over the others amounts to a politics of grammar. Two constructions are examined here—the conjunction and the genitive: “Religion and . . .” and “. . . of Religion.” Whereas non-reductive methods such as theology/phe- nomenology and cultural anthropology endorse the conjunction, reductive methodologies such as biological anthropology invoke the genitive. With the evidence amassing in favor of natural, human universals ( pace cultural anthropology) and against supernatural realities ( pace theology/ phenomenology), the essay argues that only the genitive construction has a place in the study of religion. Keywords politics of grammar; theology; phenomenology; anthropology; methodological agnosticism; strong agnosticism; naturalism I’d like to begin with an anecdote. Th e academic year was 2001-2002 and I was laboring through my final two semesters as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Having had the opportunity to teach several courses over the many years spent in graduate school, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Method & Theory in the Study of Religion Brill

“Of And and Of : The Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion”

Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Volume 20 (3): 270 – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2008 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0943-3058
eISSN
1570-0682
D.O.I.
10.1163/157006808X317482
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

“Of And and Of : Th e Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion” Th omas B. Ellis Appalachian State University Abstract Grammatical constructions in course titles and research agendas refl ect particular theoretical orientations in the study of religion. Privileging one construction over the others amounts to a politics of grammar. Two constructions are examined here—the conjunction and the genitive: “Religion and . . .” and “. . . of Religion.” Whereas non-reductive methods such as theology/phe- nomenology and cultural anthropology endorse the conjunction, reductive methodologies such as biological anthropology invoke the genitive. With the evidence amassing in favor of natural, human universals ( pace cultural anthropology) and against supernatural realities ( pace theology/ phenomenology), the essay argues that only the genitive construction has a place in the study of religion. Keywords politics of grammar; theology; phenomenology; anthropology; methodological agnosticism; strong agnosticism; naturalism I’d like to begin with an anecdote. Th e academic year was 2001-2002 and I was laboring through my final two semesters as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Having had the opportunity to teach several courses over the many years spent in graduate school,

Journal

Method & Theory in the Study of ReligionBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2008

Keywords: STRONG AGNOSTICISM; POLITICS OF GRAMMAR; NATURALISM; THEOLOGY; METHODOLOGICAL AGNOSTICISM; ANTHROPOLOGY; PHENOMENOLOGY

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