Religion as such does not exist. It is a concept developed in the West as a label for a wide variety of human ideas and behaviour, which are centered around human interaction with postulated (non- or meta-empirical) realities. The programme in Comparative Religion tackles this wide variety and attempts to analyze, interpret and explain it. This is done by focusing on classical and modern approaches in the study of religion and by having students work on selected aspects of religion, such as ritual, purity laws, magic, and the mechanics of “tradition”. The methods used can be both historical-literary and social-scientific, i.e. they can focus on past as well as living realities, or combine the two. The ‘comparative’ aspect does not mean that students have to acquire specialized knowledge of at least two traditions with their entire historical and literary heritage. It expresses the fundamental notion that one way to make sense of the bewildering variety of expressions of the various religions, is to analyze them as manifestations of basic human intellectual and practical strategies. This means that students of comparative religion do not only attempt to understand the finesses of individual rituals or ideas in ‘internal’ terms, but also aim at interpreting or explaining them by showing how they are linked – historically, socially, conceptually – with similar expressions in other religions or cultures. From this it follows that it is not admissible to privilege any particular religion, whether on the basis of current numerical strength or perceived historical importance. Whether dead and long forgotten or newly founded, whether minute in numbers or carried by millions, each and every religion in human history can contribute to this project. Topics chosen in recent years and suggested for the present include secrecy, religion and violence, clothing and hair-dress, the making of amulets and the consecration of divine images.
In addition to the general rules set for admission to the master’s programme students are expected to possess a basic knowledge of Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, and of Philosophy of Science.
Please contact: Prof.dr. A.F. de Jong, email: firstname.lastname@example.org