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On the Transformation of “Belief” and the Domestication of “Faith” in the Academic Study of Religion

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Chapter Summary

This essay by Donald Wiebe is about the transformation of "belief" and domestication of "faith" in the academic study of religion. He refers to the difference of opinion between him and Smith about the nature of the academic study of religion. The essay "Smith's Discovery and the Ethics of Belief" by Colin Grant is discussed in the context of their differences. Attention is directed to the matter of exegesis and interpretation of Professor Smith's work. The main concern is that the concept of belief is not merely useless in the task of interpreting and explaining the meaning of religion but is misleading. Belief was not an element of religious traditions, and does not stand as an argument against the claim that there are religious traditions in which it plays a central role. Wiebe and Smith agree about the nature of the academic study of religions with some sharp divergences.

Keywords: Colin Grant; domestication; Donald Wiebe; religion; Smith; transformation



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