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Bulletin for the Study of Religion

The Bulletin began life in 1971 as the CSSR Bulletin when it was published by the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion. In 2009 the Council disbanded and the journal moved to Equinox.

Historically the journal has published 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. From 2010 (volume 39), the Bulletin is published in print and, for the first time, online, with a print frequency of 4 issues per volume.

The online edition includes supplemental content not appearing in the print version including interviews, book excerpts, blogs, and profiles of key thinkers in the study of religion. The new Bulletin also includes open access features and offers enhanced search and access functions across the full range of Equinox books and journals in religious studies, biblical studies, ethics and theology.

Publication Frequency (Print Edition)

Feb, April, September and November

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


“All of the evil that he represents for me…”

by Russell McCutcheon This post originally appeared on the Studying Religion in Culture blog. Seeing cheering crowds in Miami celebrating Fidel Castro’s death, made me think a little about our disdain when there were rumors of people cheering after the twin … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-12-06More...

Why I was scared to attend the AAR Conference this year

by Hussein Rashid Like many scholars of religion, I normally make my plans to attend the annual national meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). This year, I decided I would not attend. Some of my friends and colleagues … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-12-01More...

Revolutionary Love, and the Colonization of a Critical Voice: An Outsider’s Reflections

by Laura Levitt I attended a recent plenary session at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) national meeting in San Antonio where I heard Michelle Alexander, the 2016 recipient of the Heinz Award for Public Policy, civil rights attorney and … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-29More...

Trump and the Tyranny of Authenticity

by Matt Sheedy In the preface to his book Islam and the Tyranny of Authenticity (2016), Aaron Hughes writes: Rather than judge the Islamic bone fides of such groups as Boko Haram and ISIS, why not attempt to explain and understand such groups … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-24More...

Better Know a Religion Blog: Leviathan and You: A Blog About Big Things

In this series with the Bulletin–whose title is a play on Stephen Colbert’s “Better Know a District” segment, and whose alternate title is “Religious Studies Blogs: What do they talk about? Do they talk about things? Let’s find out!” (from BoJack Horseman)–we ask blog authors/curators to tell us a … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-17More...

Trump, Barthes, and the Triumph of Wrestling

by Tenzan Eaghll I don’t know if Donald Trump is a sexist, racist, misogynist, bigot, or even if he is a neo-fascist, but he sure played one in this year’s election. Just like the World Wrestling champion Hulk Hogan, who … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-15More...

American Gods, Chapter One: Setting the Themes

by Eliza Rosenberg For other instalments in this series, see here. [Entries will avoid spoilers for future chapters. The references cited, however, may contain spoilers, whether in discussions of American Gods or of the traditions on which it draws.] Introduction … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-11More...

Religion, Sociology, and Identity: The Contemporary Relevance of Hans Mol

by Adam J. Powell  Over the past five years, a number of academic organisations have expressed growing concern for the state of sociology of religion in the 21st century. Whether from the American Academy of Religion, the British Sociological Association, or … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-08More...

Introduction: René Girard’s Legacy

                The following is the introduction to the special double-size September-December 2016 issue of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion (the full table of contents having already been posted). The introduction to … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-04More...

Now Published – Bulletin for the Study of Religion 45.3-4 (September-December 2016)

                A special double-size issue of the Bulletin has now been published and is available both online and in print. We are pleased to published this special memorial issue focused on a significant, … Continue reading
Posted: 2016-11-02More...

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...

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...

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...

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...



Letter from the President, Council of Societies for the Study of Religion

Russell T. McCutcheon' s announcement that appeared in the September 2009 issue of the CSSR Bulletin  
Posted: 2009-10-07 More...
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