I found this to be an incredibly useful and interesting book, both as an introduction and as an anthology. In my readings I'd come across the term "Phenomenology of Religion" a number of times, but nobody really defined it, and based on inference alone it seemed to mean different things at different times. This book clarified the whole thing, outlining early usages of the term, discussing phenomenology of religion's relation to and difference from Husserl's (philosophical) phenomenology, and then analyzing three divergent forms of phenomenology of religion itself (which could be thought of as phases since one follows the other in roughly chronological order, but there are enough exceptions to justify avoiding a strictly linear a>b>c timeline): Essential, Historical-Typological, and Existential-Hermeneutical. The aims, methods, and problems of each are described in an orderly fashion. <br />And that's just the introduction. Next comes the bulk of the book, a collection of articles and essays that the editors organize according to their tripartite typology. So under Essential we have the founding figures Rudolf Otto and Max Scheler as well as William Earle, Katsuki Sekida, Carol P. Christ, and Louis Dupre; Under Historical-Typological we have C.J. Arthur, W. Brede Kristensen, J.M. Kitagawa, Mircea Eliade, and Ake Hultkrantz; and under Existential-Hermeneutical we have Paul Ricoeur, John E. Smith, Merold Westphal, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Paul W. Pruyser. None of these articles and essays are new. Rather, they are representative works by key scholars of this approach to religious studies, works otherwise scattered all over the place in books and academic journals. <br />Typifying the tone and mood of the book as a whole is a critical, scholarly concern to take religion and religious experience across different cultures and times very seriously, not reducing them to political smoke & mirrors or socioeconomic opiates of the masses. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in questioning and examining humankind's religious experience(s) in such a spirit, and graduate students in religious studies should definitely have a copy by all means.
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