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From The History Of Religions To The History Of 'Religion': The Late Reformation And The Challenge To Sui Generis Religion

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Chapter Summary

In recent years the problem of defining religion has returned to center stage in the discipline of Religious Studies. For most of the postwar period, the so-called 'sui generis model' for religion generally prevailed. This paper argues that disputes over the shape and function of the liturgy, and over the authority to control it, offer an important window into the early modern development of a concept of religion closely akin to the sui generis' view. It argues that evidence from the 1540s and 1550s supports historicist critiques of the sui generis view, though it also suggests that such critiques must be further nuanced. The concepts of adiaphora and of resistance theory suggest that one can and should see early modern events as illuminating moments in the development of the modern, commonsense, sui generis notion of religion.

Keywords: adiaphora; resistance theory; sui generis religion



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