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Religious Studies

This guide provides an overview of resources for the academic study of religion.


This research guide is intended primarily for students taking the course “Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion,” which is taught by the Department of Religious Studies at NYU. The guide might also be helpful for those looking to connect their research in other disciplines to the study of religion as a social scientific category.

Specific information is provided about the major academic approaches to religion—just select one of the topics under "Approaches to Religion" on the left.  Other tabs provide information about important dictionaries and encyclopedias, databases, and online journals, as well tips for finding scholarly articles and some suggestions for further reading.

Religion is not a static entity with a universal definition, but rather has been understood in many different ways.  In his essay, “Religion, Religions, Religious,” Jonathan Z. Smith provides a history of the many ways in which the term "religion” has been defined and redefined. The essay can be found in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, edited by Mark Taylor.

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This research guide was originally produced by Fred Folmer, a graduate of the dual master's degree program, with an M.A. in religious studies from NYU and an MLS from Long Island University.  Subsequent additions by Evelyn Ehrlich and W. Gerald Heverly.