There are two big issues to be very clear about–how did religious studies become a historical discipline? What does that mean? What does that involve?

Paden will give a close reading of how the discipline emerged. You need to understand that for the rest that follows.

Second big deal: What are the ordering categories that Paden uses to sift through traditions from near and far. Remember–he is not arguing that they are saying the same thing. He is looking at the structural elements that show up, now this way, now that way, in traditions. Pay attention to them–you will need them for reading Prothero.

It is important to understand how and why religious studies emerged slowly from the history of theological debate to become a historical discipline. It is easy to assume that religious studies is about what I happen to believe in. Not quite–Paden is helpful in sifting through those questions. And then, in the longer section of the book, providing the reader with conceptual guide–what to bring with you when you are looking are particular traditions. What do they share? How do they differ? What do those differences mean?


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