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Religion & Theology
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Exploring Religious Studies Theories Religion & Theology Research (Research Paper Sample)


Now that you have been introduced to a number of theories, it is time to examine one of them in depth.
Please select one of the theorists listed below and write a 3-5 page paper including the following:
Provide a sketch of the theorist’s background – what historical timeframe did he write in, what events in his life led him to develop his theoretical understanding, what was his educational background?
Identify his key books and writings describing the main points he made in each book in a few paragraphs, using a paragraph for each main work he wrote.
Explain how this theorist falls in one of the categories we have examined (i.e. sociology, anthropology, psychology, history of religions, comparative religion, theology) and how he explains religious phenomena and ideas/beliefs.
Explain how other scholars refuted his theory, how and why did they disagree and what points did they make to argue against the theory.
Make use of library resources – encyclopedias of religion are a good place to start- also scholarly summaries of the theorist’s perspectives, locate at least two articles in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters that support or argue against the theories presented by this scholar. (Hint: several of these theorists are examined in Daniel Pals Nine Theories of Religion which is on reserve in the library)
Please use either the Chicago or Turabian style guide for footnotes that we discussed in class. A minimum of three citations from scholarly sources are required for this paper. (Wikipedia and other internet sites do not count- please use library databases or consult a librarian for assistance)
Please select of one the scholars below to Investigate:
Mircea Eliade
William James
Rudolph Otto
Emile Durkheim
Max Weber
Victor Turner
Clifford Geertz
Sigmund Freud
Remember to proofread your work. Spelling and grammar count, as does paper organization and flow.


Many theorists devoted themselves to the development of philosophical and psychological concepts that continue to influence peoples’ understanding of the social sciences. Emile Durkheim's indefatigable devotion to the development of systematic sociology through theories and scientific methodology earned him a spot on the list of theorists who promoted the comprehension of social facts. While Durkheim's overall contribution to modern sociology is irrefutable and criticized in equal measures, understanding his approach to social truths requires an individualized interpretation of his groundbreaking works and life biography.
Emile Durkheim’s biography reveals a determined young man from France, whose achievements transformed the nature of sociology. Born to a rabbi father in 1858, most people did not expect him to embrace being a rabbi. Durkheim's life changed when his father died, forcing him to assume responsibilities early in life, thereby informing his high levels of discipline. He established that joy and pleasure could not provide a conducive space for spiritual progress than balanced sorrow and effort. At a young age, he changed schools and led a secular life as he tried to prove the superiority of social factors over divine perceptions in determining the origin of religion. He also unearthed his desire to introduce scientific models to the social sciences to transform various sociological ideologies. Durkheim’s trilingual capability aided his studying of different philosophical and psychological ideas of authors from different regions. He analyzed the works of Aguste Compte and determined that social facts did not have a meaning unless they were grouped as a set of rules or regulations. Durkheim’s life in the 19th century touched on religion, social discourse in the society, psychological impressions, and life ethics. Emile Durkheim’s educational background is insightful because he studied in several schools from juvenile stages in life to his adulthood. He had a fulfilling life, education-wise, because he understood more than one language, thereby earning himself admissions to different schools in France and Germany from the elementary level of learning to the senior-most stage available at his disposal.[. "Emile Durkheim's Life and Works (1857-1917)," Durkheim Home Page, Accessed October 10, 2019.] [. "Emile Durkheim's Life and Works”.]

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