cover art
224 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878407514 (0878407510)

May 1999
LC: 99-18216
Sales Rights: Only for sale in U.S. and Canada



The Classical Theories
James Thrower

This comprehensive introduction to theories of religion is the first single-volume exploration of ideas put forward by both believers and non-believers.

James Thrower analyzes the different types of explanations of religion, not just the thoughts of individuals, advanced primarily—but not exclusively—from within the Western tradition. He begins by looking at religious explanations of religion, which define religion as revelation, experience or philosophy (Plato, Kant, and Hegel). He then examines the naturalist, or nonreligious, explanations, from the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, and sociology, including the "masters of suspicion" (including Feurbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Tylor, Frazer, and Freud). The scope of this book ranges from the classical, Semitic, and Indian religious traditions through contemporary thinkers.

Thrower concludes by considering the future of the religions of the world in light of the increasingly close inter-religious encounters that are becoming a feature of the global village of the twenty-first century.

James Thrower is a professor in the history of religions and director of the Centre for the Study of Religions at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
"This book offers a rare bridge across an artificial disciplinary divide which too often separates theorists of religion into two distinct groups: the social scientists and historians of religion on the one hand, and the philosophers, on the other..a quality introduction to the truly wide range of major theories and theorists in the analytical study of religion."—Scott C. Alexander, Indiana University

"Thrower's unusually broad survey..ranges from ancient times to modern and from theological approaches to social scientific ones. His expertise in an array of religious traditions enhances the value of this book. A lucid and incisive overview of the course of theorizing about religion."—Robert A. Segal, University of Lancaster