Religious studies in Scotland: A persistent tension with divinity

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This article treats the history of the study of religions in Scotland as a chapter in the history of the academic study of religions in the UK and Continental Europe. After sketching traditions of 'Scottish comparative religion' from the late nineteenth century to the interwar period, the authors map out an institutional history of 'Religious Studies' as a distinctive disciplinary formation in Scotland since 1970. The emergence, consolidation and in some cases decline of this relatively new academic field are charted at the five main contemporary university sites in Scotland where religion, as a distinct subject, is taught: Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and the Open University. In the cases of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the authors argue that 'Religious Studies' has had to fashion its niche in the context of the ecclesiastical authority enjoyed by Scottish Divinity faculties, resulting in an ongoing 'tension' between Religious Studies and Theology. The development of the subject at Stirling and the Open University underscores the historical alignment of Religious Studies with non-Presbyterian educational values in Scotland, whereas the persistence of Religious Studies in Schools of Divinity at the other Scottish universities may veil the traditionally 'religionist' stance of most scholars of religion working in these institutions. © 2006.




Cox, J. L., & Sutcliffe, S. J. (2006). Religious studies in Scotland: A persistent tension with divinity. Religion, 36(1), 1–28.

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