The phenomenological method in the study of religions has provided the linchpin supporting the argument that Religious Studies constitutes an academic discipline in its own right and thus that it is irreducible either to theology or to the social sciences. This book examines the figures whom the author regards as having been most influential in creating a phenomenology of religion. Background factors drawn from philosophy, theology and the social sciences are traced before examining the thinking of scholars within the Dutch, British and North American "schools" of religious phenomenology. Many of the severe criticisms, which have been leveled against the phenomenology of religion during the past twenty-five years by advocates of reductionism, are then presented and analyzed. The author concludes by reviewing alternatives to the polarized positions so characteristic of current debates in Religious Studies before making a case for what he deems a "reflexive phenomenology."
'This book is a timely and important analysis for all those studying and researching religions as it examines both the historical and cultural dimensions of some key stages and issues in this academic field. The focus on phenomenologists acknowledges their importance in the development of the religious studies as an interdisciplinary field and highlights the way they have engendered important contemporary and cutting edge debates. The work is both scholarly in its rigor and has balance in the way it engages with criticism. There are many original and very up to date suggestions about possible ways in which debates about methods, scholarly perspectives and the the issue of the social engagement of academics might be viewed.'
Peggy Morgan, Lecturer in the Study of Religions, Mansfield College, University of Oxford