Essays in the Study of Religion
Smith first explains how he was drawn to the study of religion, outlines his own theoretical commitments, and draws the connections between his thinking and his concerns for general education. He then engages several figures and traditions that serve to define his interests within the larger setting of the discipline. The essays that follow consider the role of taxonomy and classification in the study of religion, the construction of difference, and the procedures of generalization and redescription that Smith takes to be key to the comparative enterprise. The final essays deploy features of Smith's most recent work, especially the notion of translation.
Heady, original, and provocative, Relating Religion is certain to be hailed as a landmark in the academic study and critical theory of religion.
"Jonathan Z. Smith is one of the two or three most widely read and discussed living theorists of religion. He has been publishing in that field for almost forty years. . . . An excellent sense can be had from this volume—and most especially from its opening autobiographical chapter—of the state of play in the academic study of religion."