The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion is a book edited by Robert A. Segal, who edited a book on Myths that I had reviewed before. The aim of the book is to give people who are studying religion an idea about the different approaches to the study of religion and the topics that are important to it.
The book itself is a group of essays written by people who know what they’re talking about since each writer is a specialist on the subject he/she is writing about. The book is divided into two parts; the first part is approaches to the study of religion and it is made up of nine essays and the second part is topics of religion and that is made up of fifteen essays.
Segal begins by asking why we need a field of study called religious study and gives us the arguments for and against it. Then he gives is his view on it.
The approaches discussed in the first part were really interesting because it showed me that the same people who formulated theories on culture, society and mythology are the same ones to formulate theories on religion.
The section concerning the topics related to religion was interesting in that it didn’t just tell me about the topics but it showed me that when talking about different religions some components come to the forefront while others recede. In other words what component is important depends on the religion. Also there are some components that are universal to all, things like ethics, ritual and belief.
The book has an extensive bibliography at the end but each essay also has a bibliography that serves as a further reading section. The book is a good place to start when talking about how to study religion as well as giving you a nice introduction to the theories of religion and where they came from.