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Chasing Down Religion

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Whether as a historian finding solutions to unresolved problems or as a scientist finding the causes for events and actions, Luther Martin’s primary focus has been to get to the roots of the religious impulse in human existence. This collection of essays from scholars of his own generation and from his best students cover the three major strands of his work: the Greco-Roman world, cognitive science approaches to explaining religious phenomena and methodological issues in the academic study of religions. The contributions build on the work of Luther Martin and further the ongoing discussion and debate within these areas of religious studies.

Published: Dec 8, 2014

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Contents Panayotis Pachis
Contributors Panayotis Pachis
Abbreviations Panayotis Pachis
Luther H. Martin Publications Panayotis Pachis
Preface Panayotis Pachis
Chapter 1
Ancient and Modern Approaches to the Representation of Supernatural Beings: Dio Chrysostom (Oration 12) and Dan Sperber (Explaining Culture) Compared Roger Beck
Chapter 2
Gnosis in European Religious History Ulrich Berner
Chapter 3
The First Shall be Last: The Gospel of Mark after the First Century Willi Braun
Chapter 4
Comparative Religion Scholars in Debate: Theology vs. History in Letters Addressed to Ugo Bianchi Giovanni Casadio
Chapter 5
Why did the Greeks and Romans Pray Aloud? Anthropomorphism, 'Dumb Gods' and Human Cognition Aleš Chalupa
Chapter 6
Reflections on the Origins of Religious Thought and Behaviour Armin Geertz
Chapter 7
Why is it Better to be a Plant Than an Animal? Cognitive Poetics and Ascetic Ideals in the Book of Thomas the Contender (NHC II,7) Ingvild Gilhus
Chapter 8
Miracles Memory and Meaning: a Cognitive Approach to Roman Myths Alison Griffith
Chapter 9
'Whatever Story Sings, the Arena Displays for You' Performance, Narrative and Myth in Græco-Roman Discourse Gerhard Van Den Heever
Chapter 10
Religion and Violence a Psychoanalytical Inquiry Marsha Aileen Hewitt
Chapter 11
Disciplinary Clans Steven Hrotic
Chapter 12
The Social Capital of Religious Communities in the Age of Globalisation Hans Kippenberg
Chapter 13
Towards a Cognitive Historiography - Frequently Posed Objections Anders Lisdorf
Chapter 14
How Science and Religion are more like Theology and Commonsense Explanations than they are like each other: A Cognitive Account Robert McCauley
Chapter 15
The Transmission of Historical Cognition William McCorkle
Chapter 16
Religion Before 'Religion'? Russell T. McCutcheon
Chapter 17
The Discourse of a Myth: Diodorus Siculus and the Egyptian Theologoumena During the Hellenistic Age Panayotis Pachis
Chapter 18
The History of Religions and Evolutionary Models: Some Reflections on Framing a Mediating Vocabulary William Paden
Chapter 19
Religion and Modern Culture Petrou Ioannis
Chapter 20
Do Relics Do? Making a Comparative Place for 'Presence' in the Comparative Study of Relics Douglas Robinson
Chapter 21
Mithras in the Magical Papyri Religio-Historical Reflections on Various Magical Texts Ennio Sanzi
Chapter 22
The Use of Egyptian Tradition in Alexandria of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods: Self-Display and Identity of Rulers, Ideology and Further Political Propaganda Kyriakos Savvopoulos
Chapter 23
Buddhist Hymns and Medieval Plainsong: Some Reflections on the Links Between Neuroscience, Music and Religion Kevin Trainor, Anne Clark
Chapter 24
Citations of Biblical Texts in Greek, Jewish and Christian Inscriptions of Late Antiquity: A Case of Religious Demarcation Ekaterina Tsalampouni
Chapter 25
Memorable Religions: Transmission, Codification, and Change in Divergent Melanesian Contexts Harvey Whitehouse
Chapter 26
Recovering 'Religious Experience' in the Explanation of Religion Donald Wiebe
Chapter 27
Can the Study of Religion be Scientific? Dimitris Xygalatas
General Bibliography Panayotis Pachis
Index of Authors Panayotis Pachis
Index of Writers Panayotis Pachis
General Index Panayotis Pachis


An antidote to the conventional handling of religion and a prolegomenon to any future religious studies.
Anthropology Review Database

While the academic tradition from which this book emerges has, at times, been at odds with and even antagonistic to, the broad-umbrella approach to religious studies which is inclusive of theology and philosophy of religion by keeping a much narrower focus on the study of religion and restricting it only to those empirical social sciences,
Chasing Down Religion demonstrates that even from within that much narrower focus a wide offering of very eclectic—some quite speculative and theoretical—essays can be merged within one volume. Truly there is something for everyone in this assemblage even though it keeps its commitment to historiography, and the cognitive sciences. In Chasing Down Religion, editors Panayotis Pachis and Donald Wiebe extend a surprisingly varied, multidisciplinary-methodological lens upon religion and its study, and in its own way, this volume mediates some of the tensions found more broadly within academic studies of religion, most particularly the reductionist (science) vs non-reductionist (humanities) tension. How so? By adding the human touch.
Reading Religion