Inter-religious Relations as a New Foundation for Comparative Religion

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    This article argues that the problems that comparative religion encountered in the 1980s and onward did not arise from the comparative project as such, but rather from the fact that comparative religion was founded on an analytical strategy that relied on defining religion. In order to overcome these problems and critique of Jonathan Z. Smith, Talal Asad and others, it is proposed that the comparative study of religion could be re-established on the basis of a different analytical strategy and more specifically on the basis of a relational perspective, in which the crucial point of departure is the finding that religions in many periods and cultural settings seem to constitute themselves in relation to at least one significant other religion. In periods and cultural settings, where religions relate to each other, we do in fact have a commonality between all religions, namely the inter-religious relation. This relation can ensure that we are not comparing things that have nothing in common. If the inter-religious relation is the point of departure, the comparative study of religion can be transformed in such a way that it is not overturned by the social constructionism or post-modernism of J. Z. Smith, Talal Asad and others.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMethod and Theory in the Study of Religion
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)47–73
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Comparative Religion
    • Theory
    • Relational Sociology


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