Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Rise of Religious History

'Church History' or 'Ecclesiastical History' sound rather old-fashioned these days. Increasingly, historians of Christianity classify their work under the category 'Religious History', partly to distance themselves from the older denominational or confessional history, and also to indicate their interest in fresh historical approaches (the study of popular religious culture, gender, race and ethnicity etc). But a recent survey of members of the American Historical Association suggests that 'Religious History' has now overtaken its inspirational twin, 'Cultural History', as the most popular topical category:

Cultural History has reigned supreme since overhauling Social History as the most popular category fifteen years ago, so this new development has sparked some debate. Jon Butler of Yale University offers one explanation: “I think the category [of Religious History] has become more popular because historians realize that the world is aflame with faith, yet our traditional ways of dealing with modern history especially can’t explain how or why. In short, the ‘secularization thesis’ appears to have failed and so we need to find ways to explain how and why it didn’t die as so much written history suggests.”

For further comment by leading historians see The Immanent Frame website, which features high-level debate about secularism, religion and the public sphere:

No comments:

Post a Comment