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HIS5010: Theoretical perspectives: The historical study of religion

Time schedule | PDF-version for print

General information | Overlapping courses | Course requirements | Final assessment | Course objective and content | Literature 

Person responsible for the course:Brent Nongbri (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Autumn
Study programme:Master's degree (2 years) - Master in History of Religions
Department:Department of Education, Religion and Society

Examination dates/written assignment deadlines

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1 Final deadline to withdraw from examination

Examination typeDate / DeadlineWithdrawal deadline 1
Home exam2021-12-02 2. Dec 20212021-11-01 1. Nov 2021
Hand-out date:29. Nov 2021
Time for hand-out:09:00
Submission date: 2. Dec 2021
Submission deadline:12:00
Duration:3 dayER
Release date for results:22. Dec 2021
Home exam – New and postponed - N.B. Own rules for access.2022-01-20 20. Jan 20222022-01-10 10. Jan 2022
Hand-out date:17. Jan 2022
Time for hand-out:09:00
Submission date:20. Jan 2022
Submission deadline:12:00
Duration:3 dayER
Release date for results:10. Feb 2022

General information

The course aims to provide a brief introduction to some of the disciplines related to and subsumed under the large umbrella term 'history of religions' as well as to the main theoretical and methodological developments in these fields. The areas explored include: sociological and anthropological theories of religion; culture theory and cultural studies; cultural memory; philology, and translation. The course has a strong theoretical component aimed at providing the students with the analytical tools necessary to and required for the completion of the programme.
HIS5010 consists of two parts:
Part A (5 ECTS), “Approaching Religion”, addresses perspectives and debates of importance for all academic study of religion, whether historical or in contemporary society. Part A is a shared component with SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society.
The areas explored are:
  • Theories and definitions of religion: major turns
  • Key concepts in the study of religion
  • Categorizations and religion: gendering, racializing, othering
  • Present usages of the past
Part B (5 ECTS), “Multidisciplinarity in the study of religion”, is a specialised component focused on various fields relating to and used in the history of religions.
HIS5010 The historical study of religion: Multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives is an obligatory course in the Master's programme in History of Religions.

Overlapping courses

HIS5010 Theoretical perspectives: The historical study of religion overlaps partly with SAM5010 Theoretical Perspectives: Religion in Contemporary Society:
  • Students who have already completed SAM5010 will receive 5 credit points (ECTS) for HIS5010 on their transcript of records or diploma.

Course requirements

In order to receive a final assessment, the student must:
  • Attend at least 75% of the lectures and seminars that are part of the course.
  • Pass one written assessment task (800-1000 words) to be set by the course convener.
  • Participate in the electronic evaluation of the course if such evaluation is stipulated in the relevant term.
When course requirements are not fulfilled, this will count as one examination attempt, unless the student withdraws before the set deadline (1 May/November).

Final assessment

To gain credit for the course the student must fulfill all the requirements and pass a three day home exam (2500-3500 words). The course is assessed with grades A-F.

Course objective and content

The aim of this course is to provide the students with an introduction to the main theoretical and methodological developments in both religious studies generally and history of religions in particular.
The student has:
  • a good knowledge of central concepts, principles and phenomena in the listed under General information
  • a good command of specific technical terminology in these disciplines
  • a good understanding of the history and evolution of these disciplines
The student can:
  • critically assess the evolutionary processes within these disciplines
  • identify adequate theoretical approaches and analytical methods to particular research topics
  • write an exam essay in accordance with the academic standards introduced in the course


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:

  • Buell, D. K. & Hodge, C. J. (2004). The politics of interpretation: The rhetoric of race and ethnicity in Paul. Journal of Biblical Literature, 123(2), p. 235-251. Library. Hentet fra
  • Bush, S. S. (2012). Are religious experiences too private to study?. The Journal of Religion, 92(2), p. 199-223. Library. Hentet fra
  • Gorski, P. (2018). The origin and nature of religion: A critical realist view. Harvard Theological Review, 111(2), p. 289-304. Library. Hentet fra
  • Mahmood, S. (2001). Feminist theory, embodiment, and the docile agent: Some reflections on the Egyptian Islamic revival. Cultural Anthropology, 16(2), p. 202-236. Library. Hentet fra
  • McCutcheon, R. (1995). The category "religion" in recent publications: A critical survey. Numen, 42, p. 284-309. Library. Hentet fra
  • McCutcheon, R. T. (2015). The category "religion" in recent publications: Twenty years later. Numen, 62(1), p. 119-141. Library. Hentet fra
  • Meeks, W. A. (2004). A nazi New Testament professor reads his Bible: The strange case of Gerhard Kittel. I H. Najman & J. H. Newman (Ed.), The idea of biblical interpretation: Essays in honor of James L. Kugel (p. 513-544). Leiden: Brill. Library (Compendium)
  • Nye, M. (2019). Race and religion: Postcolonial formations of power and whiteness. Method and theory in the study of religion, 31, p. 210-237. Library. Hentet fra
  • Pals, D. L. (2015). Nine theories of religion (3. ed., p. 15-48, 81-184). New York: Oxford University Press. Library
  • Schilbrack, K. (2020). A metaphysics for the study of religion. Critical research on religion, 8(1), p. 87-100. Library (Compendium).
  • Sharf, R. (1998). Experience. I M. C. Taylor (Ed.), Critical terms for religious studies (p. 94-116). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Touna, V. (2017). Fabrications of the Greek past: Religion, tradition, and the making of modern identities (p. 116-139). Leiden: Brill. Library (Compendium)
  • Woodhead, L. (2012). Gender differences in religious practice and significance. Travail, genre et sociétés, 1(27), p. 33-54. Hentet fra


  • Assmann, A. (2010). Canon and archive. I A. Erll, A. Nünning & S. B. Young (Ed.), A companion to cultural memory studies (p. 97-108). Berlin: de Gruyter. Library (Compendium)
  • Assmann, J. (2010). Communicative and cultural memory. I A. Erll, A. Nünning & S. B. Young (Ed.), A companion to cultural memory studies (p. 109-118). Berlin: de Gruyter. Library (Compendium)
  • Bagnall, R. S. (2019). Reading papyri, writing ancient history (2. ed., p. 1-14). London,New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Library. Hentet fra
  • Bruun, C. & Edmondson, J. (2015). The epigrapher at work. I C. Bruun & J. Edmondson (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of Roman epigraphy (p. 1-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Library /9780195336467 (Compendium)
  • Dever, W. (1997). Biblical archaeology. I E. M. Meyers (Ed.), The Oxford encyclopedia of archaeology in the Near East: Vol. 1: [Abba-Chue] (Vol. Vol. 1, p. 315-319). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Greene, K. & Moore, T. (2010). Archaeology: An introduction (5th ed., p. 89-147). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Hall, J. M. (2014). Artifact and artifice: Classical archaeology and the ancient historian (p. 1-16). Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Merrill, C. (2013). Postcolonial translation. I C. Millán & F. Bartrina (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of translation studies (p. 159-172). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Munday, J. (2009). Issues in translation studies. I J. Munday (Ed.), The Routledge companion to translation studies (Rev. ed., p. 1-19). London: Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Reynolds, L. D. & Wilson, N. G. (2013). Scribes and scholars: A guide to the transmission of Greek and Latin literature (4. ed., p. 208-242). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Rowlandson, J. (1998). J. Rowlandson & R. S. Bagnall (Ed.), Women and society in Greek and Roman Egypt: A sourcebook (p. 193-217). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Library (Compendium)


  • Larsen, M. D. C. (2017). Accidental Publication, Unfinished Texts and the Traditional Goals of New Testament Textual Criticism. Journal for the study of the New Testament, 39(4), p. 362-387. Library. Hentet fra

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