REL100 Exam 1 Review

Your first exam will cover content from Russell T. McCutcheon’s introductory essay on the study of religion in culture and the first three chapters of Craig Martin’s textbook. This is a multiple choice exam that will test your foundational understanding of social constructionism, the study of religion in culture, and the historical tensions in which we critically study human beings.

As you prepare for this exam I recommend that you check that you’ve met the learning objectives underneath each unit header below.

  • Reading the material and participating in class is the first step, and to help you reify that material, I’ve posted review videos.
  • I would then make sure I can define the vocabulary terms and concepts under each unit heading. Make flashcards to test your recall of the concepts.
  • Finally, I’d make sure I could tutor a classmate on the learning objectives using my mastery of the key words and concepts.

Beyond this, the participation quizzes (required) will help you focus in on areas you may need to review or ask questions. And the interactive notebook assignments (optional) can help you sharpen your understanding.

Unit 0

  • Read over the syllabus and watch the orientation video to get a sense of the course.
  • Get familiar with the layout of Blackboard.
  • Introduce the study of “religion in culture.”

Make sure that you’ve read Russell T. McCutcheon’s piece on studying religion in culture, “A Tale of Prepositions and Conjunctions.”

Unit 1: Religion and the Problem of Definition

  • Create a genealogy of “religion” (as a term applied in a range of historical contexts),
  • Present possibly etymologies (or word histories) for definitions of religion, and
  • Introduce the principle of deconstruction, distinguishing it from destruction.
This is a review video for this unit.

Make sure that you’ve read Ch. 1 of Martin. As you study it, you’ll want to have command of the following terms:

  • religio/ones and religare (religion in Ancient Rome and the Mediterranean)
  • Din (religion in antique Arabia)
  • anachronism
  • ethnocentrism
  • Christocentrism
  • deconstruction
  • 16th century Protestant v. Catholic debates on religion 
  • Martin Luther 
  • 17th century Enlightenment debates about true v. false religion 
  • John Locke 
  • 18th, 19th, and 20th century debates about the evolution of religion 
  • E. E. Evans-Pritchard and “primitivism” 
  • science v. irrationality 
  • organized religion v. spirituality 
  • religion and the primitive v. civilized 
  • Rudolf Otto 
  • Craig Martin (our author and his point about “Christianity as an ideal type”)
  • Willi Braun (and the anthropocentric)
  • anthropology (as the study of culture)

Unit 2: Functionalism and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion

  • Distinguish functionalist and essentialist approaches to the study of religion,
  • Discuss the analytical merits and drawbacks of the family resemblance approach to the study of religion
  • Examine the insider/outsider problem in the study of religion.
This is a review video for this unit.

Make sure that you’ve read Ch. 2 of Martin. As you study it, you’ll want to have command of the following terms:

  • essentialist
  • functionalist
  • family resemblance
  • hermeneutic of suspicion
  • Russell T. McCutcheon and his discussion of social systems (p.32)
  • Methodological atheism/agnosticism
  • Bruce Lincoln
  • Timothy Fitzgerald
  • E. E. Evans- Pritchard and “primitivism”
  • Mary Douglas

Unit 3: How Society Works–Classification

  • “words create worlds”
  • social construction(ism)
  • insider/outsider and etic/emic
  • “Classification is a political act.”
This is a review video for this unit.

Make sure that you’ve read Ch. 3 of Martin. As you study it, you’ll want to have command of the following terms:

  • “words create worlds”
  • social construction(ism)
  • insider/outsider and etic/emic
  • “Classification is a political act.”

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