Issues of method and methodology continue to occupy center-stage with no shortage of attempts to decisively lay out the correct meanings and spheres of relevance for both concepts. Here, first of all, the focus will be on charting, describing and analyzing the whole variety of meanings these concepts have acquired in the study of religion. Secondly, some of the noteworthy attempts to make sense of the diversity of meanings will be discussed. And thirdly, I will propose and explain a three-dimensional model that I consider more helpful both for describing as well as for analyzing the whole discussion than any of the current proposals. Importantly, this model also makes it easier to highlight substantial similarities with certain other topics and discussions which are oftentimes not using the concept of method(ology) at all, but which should nonetheless be seen as discussing the same general issues.
This article aims to analyze how scholars of religions have studied the history of the discipline itself, with particular emphasis on the question of its beginning. Although situating the beginning of the discipline in the late 19th century is prevalent, there are dissenting voices in this debate. Interestingly, a similar discussion exists in the history of science. There, Andrew Cunningham has argued in favor of understanding scientific practice as a human activity and thus writing histories of science as histories of an activity. The latter part of this article explains how implementing Cunningham’s approach can be useful for the study of the history of religious studies, making it possible to study the intellectual and institutional aspects as parts of one whole. I will draw attention to how this approach can help us analyze the question of the beginnings of the discipline.