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Unit 1
Methodology and Introduction

Unit 1 comprises two parts. Part 1 introduces important methodological issues that provide a more informed basis for the study of religions. A short passage by Jean Holm addresses some preliminary concerns. A more substantial excerpt from Anatomy of the Sacred by James C. Livingston introduces various methodologies commonly employed to conduct research into religions. Next, seven “dimensions” of religious expression are presented in a passage by Ninian Smart, thereby acquainting you with the many facets of religious phenomena. Finally, you are asked to read the brief “Introduction” in one of the course texts, Sacred Texts of the World. This assignment will familiarize you with issues related to the development of religious texts and the significance of these texts for their traditions.

Part 2 of Unit 1 involves the material in Chapter 1 of The Sacred Paths. The author, Theodore M. Ludwig, alludes to some of the same things that Livingston and Smart discuss in Part 1. In particular, by way of offering a broad definition of religion, Ludwig introduces some of the themes that will be repeatedly encountered in subsequent study; for instance, the nature of the sacred and the function of symbols. Also, Chapter 1 provides a useful presentation of the threefold organization of the material in the textbook. Accordingly, Ludwig discusses at some length what is entailed in his chapter designations: “Sacred Story and Historical Context,” “Worlds of Meaning,” and “Ritual Practices and the Good Life.” Discussion of these three designations allows you to consider further the things you should attend to in a study of religions and familiarizes you with the manner in which the textbook presents subsequent material.