Saturday, March 7, 2015


Mark Juergensmeyer, Reza's dissertation advisor who studies religion from a sociological point of view weighs in on the meaning of being a "scholar of religions":
Since I was Reza's thesis adviser at the Univ of California-Santa Barbara, I can testify that he is a religious studies scholar. (I am a sociologist of religion with a position in sociology and an affiliation with religious studies). Though Reza's PhD is in sociology most of his graduate course work at UCSB was in the history of religion in the dept of religious studies. Though none of his 4 degrees are in history as such, he is a "historian of religion" in the way that that term is used at the Univ of Chicago to cover the field of comparative religion; and his theology degree at Harvard covered Bible and Church history, and required him to master New Testament Greek. So in short, he is who he says he is. *
Here we have a reference to the German school of Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, which is referred to in America as "history-of-religion" or "History of Religion," a comparative religion approach as stated by Juergensmeyer, as opposed to simply being a historian specializing in religious aspects of human history, such as, say, early Christianity. 

Aslan seems to have relied almost completely on a sociological approach to religious phenomena, as his degree would indicate.  Does this approach reflect the comparative religions approach as taught at Harvard or Univ of Chicago?