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Abstract

In this article we argue for an introductory course in the study of religion that proceeds through interactive interpretation as a responsible form of comparison. Interactive interpretation proceeds provisionally, and encourages students to formulate new questions of the materials instead of making final categories about the materials. We use examples from a typical classroom to show how we work with three pedagogical principles: (1) critical reading; (2) pluralism within religious traditions as well as between religious traditions; and (3) the use of the working hypothesis as a tool in analyzing religious texts. We also make an argument for textual reading as a form of living intellectual practice, which can work alongside of, and not in opposition to, other approaches to the study of religion, such as ethnographic or historical approaches.