A Religious Studies Approach

How does a religious studies approach differ from a theological or a historical one? Are there dangers inherent in a religious studies approach when examining Mormonism? Mormon Studies scholars discuss these questions, and how to invite dialogue across disciplines.

Terryl Givens

Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond

“I think a religious studies approach is one that asks questions that don’t run from or ignore the question of historicity and truthfulness but are just interested in other things.”

Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Washington University

“If there is any one thing that I would identify as being essential to a religious studies approach it’s to think about a religious tradition in comparative terms.”

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

300th Anniversary University Professor of History, Harvard University

“I deeply value people who engage in interdisciplinary research of any kind, and I think religious studies is one of those dynamic fields which invites dialogue across disciplines. However, I as a historian and increasingly as a narrative historian, am deeply concerned with chronology….We can’t just read backwards and forwards from one era to another without attending to the larger framework of change.”

Ann Taves

Virgil Cordano Chair of Catholic Studies, UC Santa Barbara

“For me a religious studies approach is a little more detached than a theological approach….Usually in the academic game you don’t write things as if you think that God is an active player in the history that you’re writing about.”