Study of religion, attempt to understand the various aspects of religion, especially through the use of other intellectual disciplines.
The study of religion emerged as a formal discipline during the 19th century, when the methods and approaches of history, philology, literary criticism, psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and other fields were brought to bear on the task of determining the history, origins, and functions of religion. No consensus among scholars concerning the best way to study religion has developed, however. One of the many reasons for this failure is that each discipline enlisted to study religion has its own distinctive methods and topics, and scholars often disagree about how to resolve the inevitable conflicts between these different intellectual perspectives. Another reason is that questions about the origins and functions of religion have often been conflated with questions about the truth of religion, and this has led to controversies that tend to hinder the development of common concepts, methodologies, and problems.