A Relational Approach to the Study of Religious Survival Units

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Niels Reeh Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies Section for the History of Religion Artillerivej 86, Copenhagen S Denmark

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The article departs from the finding that religious texts and actors relate to other religions as for instance The Old Testament relates to Canaanites, the New Testament to Jews, Pagans etc. A consequence of this inter-relatedness of religion is that religion can be studied as a relational phenomenon and that religions are engaged in a more or less intense struggle against other competing religions. Further, using John Searle’s notion of collective subjectivity, the article posits that religions are in fact an example of such collective subjectivity (Searle ). In this perspective, a religion can be defined and studied as the result of complex set of dynamic relations, where a central tenet of a religion is that it relates to the significant religious other. As such religion is not a stable phenomenon but embedded in a dynamic historical process, which can explain the difficulties scholars have had in defining religion.

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