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The Encyclopedia of Religion: A Critique From the Perspective of the History of the Japanese Religious Traditions

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Chapter Summary

The Encyclopedia of Religion (ER) is a product of the well known "Chicago school" of Religious Studies. This chapter attempts to simply identify certain problems with the ER by way of some observations on some specific entries. Generally the entries analyze the Japanese religious traditions in a from-the-top-down perspective. The focus of the entries is predominantly doctrinal. The ER is mainly an encyclopedia of Western religions, with some excursi into other religious traditions. A major problem with the ER is that it treats the religious traditions and developments in the religious world as though they were politically/ ideologically neuter. There are problems with the ER's definitions of religion and Religious Studies. The ER appears to be oblivious of the fact that religion itself and the study of it are profoundly ideological. The ER makes some quantitative advances over the famous old Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics(ERE).

Keywords: Chicago school; Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ERE); Encyclopedia of Religion (ER); Japanese religious traditions; Religious Studies



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