What is Religious Studies: A Compelling Overview
by James Tabor
I have taught Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism the past 20 years in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte, a North Carolina state university. Prior to that I taught in the Dept. of Religion at the College of William and Mary, a Virginia state school. Even earlier, my first job was teaching in a Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Although some of the methods and approaches to the study of early Christianity are the same, what goes on in the distinctive field we call “Religious Studies” is quite different from that of Theology. I studied and wrote my dissertation under Jonathan Z. Smith of the University of Chicago, who perhaps as much as anyone one single person of our generation has contributed to the developing enterprise we call “Religious Studies” in our various state and private schools throughout America.
Our UNC Charlotte Department of Religious Studies was recently profiled in a very nicely done cover story in UNC Charlotte Magazine, which is a nice slick color publication for alumni and friends of the University, but fortunately also appears on-line. I highly recommend this insightful article and I am honored to serve as Chair, for the past six years, of this wonderful and thriving department with such a great history. I think what is said about us can be rightly said for many such departments around the country, and indeed for the study of Religion in the academic study of the Humanities in general.
You can read the story here or download as a PDF file: