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Bulletin for the Study of Religion

Philip L. Tite, University of Washington

Managing Editor
Arlene MacDonald, University of Texas Medical Branch

Blog Editors
Adam Miller University of Chicago
Matt Sheedy, University of Manitoba

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. See below for NAASR 2017 Call for Respondents, annual AAR program.

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.


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


A Warm Welcome to a New Addition to the Bulletin’s Staff: Stacie Swain as New Co-Editor of the Blog

We are delighted to welcome Stacie Swain to the editorial board of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion. Over the past year, Adam Miller has been working with Matt Sheedy to oversee the daily work on our blog and … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-28More...

On the Usefulness of Reza Aslan

by Matt Sheedy The launch of Reza Aslan’s Believer on CNN has, not surprisingly, garnered a fair bit of attention since its release earlier this month, from both popular websites as well as from scholars of religion. For example, The Huffington … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-23More...

Theorizing Religion in the Age of Trump: Matthew Baldwin, Part II

The election of Donald Trump has given rise to new kind of politics that has already increased tensions between competing groups, including religious groups over issues such as public education, science funding, and a travel ban impacting several Muslim majority … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-21More...

Theorizing Religion in the Age of Trump Series: Matthew Baldwin

The election of Donald Trump has given rise to new kind of politics that has already increased tensions between competing groups, including religious groups over issues such as public education, science funding, and a travel ban impacting several Muslim majority … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-16More...

The Upside Down World: Shadows of Cold War Ghosts in Stranger Things

by Ting Guo This post originally appeared on the LA Review of Books. With Stranger Things, Netflix produced an original science fiction drama that went viral. But for me, it is also offered up a political drama that illuminated elements of our … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-14More...

Notes from FSU’s 16th Graduate Student Symposium

(photo: Thomas Whitley) by Tim Burnside and Haley Iliff With the timely theme of Religion & Conflict, and during one of Tallahassee’s scarce weekends of tolerable weather, the Florida State University’s Department of Religion hosted its 16th annual graduate symposium. … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-09More...

On Reza Aslan’s “Believer”

  by Andrew M. Henry [special thanks to my colleagues and fellow premiere-goers Derek Knox and Kate Soules for their contributions to this review] Still riding the wave of his bestselling book Zealot and a few high-profile interviews, Reza Aslan … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-07More...

What’s in Your Religion Syllabus? Lucas Johnston

In this series with the Bulletin, we ask scholars of religion to share with our readers what’s in their religion syllabus, from a new class or a class they’ve taught for years, reflecting on what has worked, what has been modified, … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-03-02More...

When We Forget Our Roots

by Aaron Hughes I have been asked to respond to Rachel Fulton Brown’s piece at the University of Chicago Divinity’s School Sightings. I’ll leave it to others to adjudicate her political leanings or apparent support for Milo Yiannopoulos’ cross-country speaking … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-02-28More...

Comparative Approches to Religion and Violence: Call for Papers, AAR/SBL 2017

The Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Group is affiliated with the Journal of Religion and Violence. Please note that conference papers presented through this AAR program unit will be considered for publication in the journal.  Submission due dates: March … Continue reading
Posted: 2017-02-27More...

Recent Articles


The Worm in the Pudding Cup: Violence, Disgust, and Mimetic Theory

Drawing on insights offered by Richard Beck in Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality (Beck 2011), I explore several categories of disgust. Girard incorporates sociomoral disgust into his theoretical reflections; however, core disgust and animal-reminder disgust are discrete forms of revulsion not recognized as such by Girard. Arguing that these merit special attention, I argue that Girard’s theory is made more compelling, not less, when we attend to foul elements that ooze from around the edges of his theory despite his effort to contain them under the sign of sacrifice. Making this seepage a topic of discussion is like taking the lid off a carton long forgotten at the back of the refrigerator. Yes, the mold so revealed is repulsive; however, as Alexander Fleming found when he discovered penicillin in mold growing in a neglected petri dish in his lab, that which disgusts us can also save us.
Posted: 2016-07-29More...

On Girard: Mimesis and Cosmic War

Much of what Freud and Girard have said about the function of symbolic violence in religion has been persuasive. Even if one questions, as I do, Girard’s idea that mimetic desire is the sole driving force behind symbols of religious violence, one can still agree that mimesis is a significant factor. One can also agree with the theme that Girard borrows from Freud, that the ritualized acting out of violent acts plays a role in displacing feelings of aggression, thereby allowing the world to be a more peaceful place in which to live. But the critical issue remains as to whether sacrifice should be regarded as the context for viewing all other forms of religious violence, as Girard and Freud have contended.
Posted: 2016-07-28More...

The Study of Evil and Violence Without Girard

A critique of the usefulness of Girard for the study of religious violence and the demonization of the Other
Posted: 2016-07-27More...

Something Bigger than Girard

René Girard’s works on religion and violence remain important, above all, for having called attention to the question of religious violence well before the significance of this problem seemed obvious. Despite Girard’s insistence on the scientific nature of his project, various religious aspects of his work can be identified, and his work is often treated religiously by his followers. Mimetic theory will have to accept its limitations if it is to win over its critics.
Posted: 2016-07-27More...

Whither Girard and Islam? Reflections on Text and Context

Despite attempts to bring scholars of Islam into dialogue with Girard’s theories of mimetic desire, scapegoating, and religious sacrifice, the scholarship on this topic is still extremely limited. In this article, Avery first expands on Wolfgang Palaver’s assertion in his short piece on Girard and Islam for The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence that declares Islam as part of the Abrahamic revolution against sacrifice. Avery then offers two reasons for why Girardian theory has not gained more interest from scholars of Islam, addressing biblical parallels in the context of the Qur’an, and Islam’s seeming departure from a sacrificial paradigm. Avery offers Girard’s mimetic desire as the discrete portion of Girard’s theory that resonates with the nature of Islamic texts, and also avoids the possible pitfalls of colonizing Islam with Judaic or Christian presumptions.
Posted: 2016-07-27More...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...


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