Religious Studies and theology in the context of secular higher education: the problem of the “methodological offer”

Beckerlegge, Gwilym (2008). Religious Studies and theology in the context of secular higher education: the problem of the “methodological offer”. In: Warrier, Maya and Oliver, Simon eds. Theology and Religious Studies: An Exploration of Disciplinary Boundaries. London: T. & T. Clark, pp. 167–179.



[About the book]: Theology and Religious Studies seeks to explore the relationship between the disciplines of Religious Studies and Theology. In particular, it aims to examine whether the two disciplines are strange bedfellows sharing little in common but bedding together out of sheer habit, or whether there is something that the two share in an organic sense, which sustains the link between them.

These questions have important implications not just for how the respective disciplines define themselves and their boundaries, but also for their place in the secular context of higher education in modern universities. The question of how the two are related is one that concerns all scholars of religion, since it has important implications for approach and method in the study of religions. Particularly relevant are questions to do with subjectivity, objectivity, and reflexivity in the study of religion; 'insider' and 'outsider' approaches; 'scientific' and 'theological' methodologies; and 'public'/'private' dichotomies in defining the 'secular' and the 'religious'.

This volume is based on a seminar series conducted over 2005-06 in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, at the University of Wales, Lampeter, UK. It brings together papers presented by leading scholars of Theology and Religious Studies on various aspects of their respective disciplines. These include origins; history; founding premises; orientations; methodology; engagement with feminist and post-colonial critiques; and shifts in theoretical paradigms over time. The intended result is the generation of dialogue between the two disciplines, and a self-reflexive examination of what each is about. There is very little available literature attempting such a dialogue between Theology and Religious Studies, and this book will fill a crucial gap in this area.

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