This essay returns to the origins of the phenomenology of religion, offering an introduction to and a discussion of seminal contributions to the field. Three figures are examined: Max Scheler, Adolf Reinach and the early Martin Heidegger, who are presented as the ‘German Fathers’ of the phenomenology of religion. Each conducted a radical foray into the religious life-world, sometimes in accord with the project of their Master Edmund Husserl, sometimes opposing or radically revising his project, but typically developing new methods and proposing radical insights. They attempted to define the proper attitude a phenomenologist – who might possibly also be a religious person – should adopt in the face of phenomena and lived experiences clearly beyond the ordinary. This enterprise led to heated debates and a rich analysis described here.