Latest Issue: Vol 47, No 1 (2018): Bulletin for the Study of Religion RSS2 logo

Bulletin for the Study of Religion

Philip L. Tite, University of Washington

Managing Editor
Arlene MacDonald, University of Texas Medical Branch

Book Review Editor
Adam T Miller, University of Chicago

Blog Editors
Matt K Sheedy, University of Manitoba
Stacie Swain, University of Ottawa

The Bulletin began life in 1971 as the CSSR Bulletin when it was published by the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (CSSR). In 2009 the Council disbanded and the journal moved to Equinox. It remains affiliated with the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR), a CSSR successor and NAASR members receive The Bulletin as part of their annual membership. 
The Bulletin publishes articles that address religion in general, the history of the field of religious studies, method and theory in the study of religion, and pedagogical practices. Articles featured in the Bulletin cover diverse religious traditions from any time period (from ancient religions to new religious movements), but are typically distinguished by their social scientific methods (e.g., historical, sociological, anthropological, cognitive scientific) or critical theory apparatus (i.e., post-colonialist, post-structuralist, neo-marxist). The Bulletin is unique in that it offers a forum for various academic voices to debate and reflect on the ever-changing state of the field, and insofar as it encourages scholars continually to engage meta-level questions at the leading edge of inquiry.

Since 2010 (volume 39), the Bulletin has been published in print and online, with a print frequency of 4 issues per volume. The associated Bulletin Blog has been active since 2010 and has approximately 2,500 followers.


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new Bulletin App, launching in March 2017 offers easy access to Bulletin issues as well as supplemental content not appearing in the print or electronic editions including interviews, book excerpts, and virtual issues drawing on content from across other Equinox books and journals as well as special offers for members and subscribers.

Publication Frequency (Print Edition)
March, June, September and December

ISSN: 2041-1863 (Print)
ISSN: 2041-1871 (Online)

Editorial Address
Philip Tite
c/o Equinox Publishing Ltd
Office 415, The Workstation
15 Paternoster Row
Sheffield, S1 2BX

Recent Blog Entries


Studying Religion in the Age of a ‘White-Lash’

by Tenzan Eaghll On the evening of November 9, 2016, as Trump’s victory over Clinton seemed inevitable, CNN commentator Van Jones made a statement that would prove true not only about the results at the polls, but the many things … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-08-10More...

On Byzantine Apocrypha and Erotapokriseis Literature

by Tony Burke This post originally appeared on the author’s blog. As I work through the contributions to the second volume of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, I am struck by how many of them are related to a … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-08-06More...

Discourses of Religion and the Non-Religious/Secular in Islamic Contexts: Call for Expressions of Interest

CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST Proposed New Network: Discourses of Religion and the Non-Religious/Secular in Islamic Contexts Please send expressions of interest to Dr Alex Henley ( A critical school has emerged in the Study of Religion that identifies the … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-08-01More...

A Review of Emily Ogden’s Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism

Editor’s note: Bulletin Book Reviews is the newly developed book review portal for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, associated with NAASR and published by Equinox. We are interested in reviewing titles of wide relevance to the academic study of religion, … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-07-26More...

Name it and Disclaim it: A Tool for Better Discussion in Religious Studies

by Joseph P. Laycock and Natasha L. Mikles Anyone who has led discussion in an introductory undergraduate Religious Studies class has experienced frustrating comments from students such as, “Jews practice empty ritual,” or “Buddhists are more spiritual than other religions.” … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-05-24More...

So You’re Not a Priest? Scholars Explain What They Do To Outsiders: Merinda Simmons

In this series with the Bulletin, we ask scholars to talk about how they describe what they do to outsiders by sharing a story or two, and reflect on how this has affected their identity as scholars of religion. For other … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-05-02More...

So You’re Not a Priest? Scholars Explain What They Do to Outsiders: James Crossley

In this series with the Bulletin, we ask scholars to talk about how they describe what they do to outsiders by sharing a story or two, and reflect on how this has affected their identity as scholars of religion. For other … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-04-20More...

CFP: Sovereignty & Strangeness Graduate Conference, Northwestern Department of Religious Studies

The Northwestern Department of Religious Studies graduate students invite young scholars to submit paper proposals for “Sovereignty & Strangeness,” a graduate conference to be held October 19-21, 2018 in Evanston, IL. Proposals are due May 6, 2018. You can get … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-04-17More...

So You’re Not a Priest? Scholars Explain What They Do to Outsiders: Sher Afgan Tareen

In this series with the Bulletin, we ask scholars to talk about how they describe what they do to outsiders by sharing a story or two, and reflect on how this has affected their identity as scholars of religion. For other … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-04-13More...

So You’re Not a Priest? Scholars Explain What They Do to Outsiders: Zachary Braiterman

In this series with the Bulletin, we ask scholars to talk about how they describe what they do to outsiders by sharing a story or two, and reflect on how this has affected their identity as scholars of religion. For other … Continue reading
Posted: 2018-04-10More...

Recent Articles


Urban Pareidolia: Fleeting but Hypermodern Signs of the Sacred?

Urban settings have long been considered by scholars in religion as one of the main sites of the weakening of religion in the past decades, if not the main one. Indeed, according to the master narrative of modernity, urban life and the social and cultural mixing it implies, the quick transformations of traditional institutions that used to rule entire societies, changes in the frames and in the forms of social relationships, cultural intermingling and métissages, the diffusion of lay and rationalistic ideals in the urban populations, among many other factors, are supposed to have played a crucial role in what was labelled the “fading away” of ancient religious traditions, or at least, in the “withdrawal” of religion from the so-called “public sphere” and its relocation in a “private sphere” where it is now subject to individualization processes . But the context has dramatically changed in the recent years. Almost unexpectedly, urban settings have become the main site for the return of religion, and have revealed the other side of modernity: the revival of religious beliefs and practices that modern and industrialized societies, from North to South, from the West to the East, have witnessed, has mainly taken place in urban settings – although rural areas, for different reasons, have also been concerned by the “return of the sacred” (the reinvention of rural and remote “sacred sites”, the installation of many new religious movements in the countryside, in a dual location, half urban – half rural).
Posted: 2018-03-07More...

Visiting the Holy Sepulchre: Is Emotion Permitted?

Catholicism is difident about emotions felt by worshipers when they visit sacred places except when the place is Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. This study is based on the works of Chateaubriand, Loti....
Posted: 2018-03-07More...

Fleeting Sentiment of the Sacred: Between Public Space and Religious Territories

According to the contemporary master narratives, globalization processes entail transformations of territories such as deterritorialization , transnationalisation , and even dissolution since it affects the traditional patterns of spatiality. In the context of globalization, indeed, space might become fluid and rhizoid, but it also can be mineralized by means of frontiers . Such an empirical context requires a revision of the commonly accepted models of culture and social change, and of religious dynamics. Religions are indeed logically affected by the changes in their material, social and symbolic environments, which are reshaped by the forces of globalization and of modernization. Yet, social scientists and scholars in religion have, however, put primary emphasis on the transformations observed in the moral, social and symbolic aspects of religion, but undoubtedly, new patterns in the spatial forms and dynamics of religion are profoundly changing our perspectives on these topics .
Posted: 2018-03-03More...

The Torero during the Franco Regime: A “Soldier-Monk” in the Arena?

During the Franco regime between 1939 and 1975, when Spain was under the grip of an official national-catholic ideology whose keystones were the army and church, the torero was used as a vector for Francoist ideology. Courageous, full of national pride and a stout Christian, the torero seemed to incarnate all the virtues of the Spanish, elevated in the Francoist model into the glorified image of the “soldier-monk”. Little research has so far been conducted into parallels drawn between the torero and the “soldier-monk”. Drawing on the analysis of media documents from the Franco period, this paper sets out to address the following question. How does the correlation between the torero and the “soldier-monk” fit with the sad-faced, austere knight-like figure of the matador Manolete (1917-1947) during the 1940s? Within the bullring, spectators (aficionados) and toreros share in intense emotions and a boundless sense of religious devotion that bind them to life while passing close to death.
Posted: 2018-01-28More...

From Protestant Temple to Ancestral Ox Park: Ostentatious Travels and Practices of the Malagasy Protestant Movement Exorcists

This article proposes to question the movements and the practices of groups of lay exorcists (mpiandry) of the Malagasy Protestant movement of Revival (fifohazana). These groups of a decade of exorcists dressed in white pastoral robes walk through urban neighborhoodsn from the treatment and prayer rooms located in the reception centers of the movement, and the hamlets or rural villages, to the patient's home to take care of. The performance of exorcists fits not only outside the institutional space, but also outside of temporality usually reserved for hunting demons. At the time of exorcism and the burning of magical-religious protection charms, religious takes center stage, and the residential area of the patient's family is temporaly infiltrate by mpiandry. Therefore, the emotions engendered take a more complex dimension that support or rejection of exorcists practices. Exorcists move and surround the hamlet, and religious interferes in the houses of the ancestral village, the court, cultivated land and the ox park (family representations of the Betsileo region and also the economic resources). The neighborhood (sometimes distant) approaches. The exorcists are moving away from their reasons for coming (the illness of a family member) to impose practices on religious territory of ancestor worship. Through this ethnographic case, we will seize religious events in the public space, and the confrontation of secular Protestantism practiced outside institution and ancestor worship. Lutheran Protestantism then come into the ancestral religious territoriality, to its deterritorialization.
Posted: 2018-01-28More...

Most Viewed Articles


Current Trends in the Study of Early Christian Martyrdom

This paper investigate recent scholarship on early Christian martyrdom. It discusses the shift away from the study of the origins of martyrdom to an interest in martyrdom and the body, Christian identity formation, and martyrdom and orthodoxy. It further discusses the need for a reappraisal of the evidence for early Christian martyrdom and the renewed attention that questions of dating, authorship, and provenance have received.
Posted: 2012-08-12More...

Theoretical Challenges in Studying Religious Experience in Gnosticism: A Prolegomena for Social Analysis

Several theoretical impediments face the ancient historian who wishes to embark on the study of religious experience within ancient cultures. While many of these difficulties face other religious studies scholars, the historical quality compounds these challenges. This paper explores several of these theoretical difficulties with a specific focus on the Valentinian, Sethian, and other so-called “Gnostic” groups in late antiquity. Specifically, the study of religious experience tends to give privileged interpretative position to insiders (evoking the etic/emic problem) and psychological analyses due to the “personal” or “individual” quality of such experiences (typified by perennialist approaches) (Otto, Wach, Eliade, Smart), or, following James and Jung, focus on the initial charismatic moment’s effect upon subsequent social structures. In contrast to such tendencies I suggest, by building on Fitzgerald’s lead in the Guide to the Study of Religion and largely agreeing with constructivist approaches, that we re-direct our focus toward the external social forces at play that discursively facilitate, shape, and direct experiential moments within the confines of social identity construction. This article builds on attachment theory from social psychology. Such analysis will allow us to better appreciate the experiential aspects of “Gnosticism” while appreciating the individual, communal, and (most importantly) discursive quality of the intersection of the individual and communal. Specific examples of such social facilitation will be briefly explored from Nag Hammadi, where ritual, narrative, and mythological discourse function to enable, and thereby define, religious experience.
Posted: 2012-12-18More...

Reinventing Religious Studies: An Interview with Scott Elliott

I interviewed Scott S. Elliott in December 2013, where we discussed his recent book (as editor) Reinventing Religious Studies: Key Writings in the History of a Discipline (Acumen 2013). Our conversation ranged from the history of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion to how articles appearing in its journal, the CSSR Bulletin, over some 40-odd years have been at the leading edge of advancing debates in the study of religion, from problems in theory and method and the definition of religion, to issues of identity politics and the study of Islam.
Posted: 2014-03-05More...

Romania’s Saving Angels: ”New Men”, Orthodoxy and Blood Mysticism in the Legionary Movement

In Romania, a Christian, ultranationalistic movement known as The Legionary Movement has before and after the Communist period called for a national, spritual revolution. Perceiving themselves as front fighters protected by the Archangel, Legionaries endeavour to purify the nation so that it can live in its God-given fatherland. In order to assure national resurrection, Legionaries want to create a “New Man”, understood as a new male. This ideal combines the qualities of a Christian martyr, a working hero, a monk and a militant and as such both complex and ambiguous. In practice, Legionaries have a lot in common with other European “boot boys”. Based on field studies, this article discusses the role of men in this movement: their role models, male bonding, rituals and myths, as well as their concepts of family, brotherhood and blood relations, all with reference to a particular ethnonationalistic, christocentric worldview.
Posted: 2012-03-15More...

Religion Snapshots: On the Uses of “Data”

Religion Snapshots is a new feature with the Bulletin for the Study of Religion blog, where a number of contributors are asked to briefly comment on popular news items or pressing theoretical issues in the field, especially those topics relating to definitions, classification and method and theory in the study of religion more generally. Below is one such roundtable discussion, focusing on the problematic notion of “data” in the study of religion. The editors of the Bulletin encourage readers to follow Religion Snapshots on our blog (and, of course, we welcome responses to the topics discussed by other scholars).
Posted: 2014-01-10More...


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