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Ten Theories of Religion

Fourth Edition

Daniel Pals

Publication Date - 01 July 2021

ISBN: 9780190935085

448 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches

In Stock

Systematic, accessible, and succinct: The bestselling textbook on the major theories of religion


Why do human beings believe in divinities? Why do some seek eternal life, while others seek escape from recurring lives? Why do the beliefs and behaviors we typically call “religious” so deeply affect the human personality and so subtly weave their way through human society?
Ideal as a supplementary text in introductory religion courses or as the main text in theory and method in religious studies or in sociology of religion courses, Ten Theories of Religion, Fourth Edition, offers an illuminating treatment of this controversial and fascinating subject.

New to this Edition

  • Chapter 10, surveying the work of Mary Daly
  • Updated Introduction
  • Updates to the concluding chapter, which offers a comparison and appraisal of theories: It now brings Mary Daly's work into the conversation and includes references to noteworthy new contributions to the literature on religious theory


  • A consistent chapter structure: Each chapter presents biographical background, a discussion of key ideas, comparison with other theories, and main objections raised by critics, allowing for easy comparison and evaluation of theories
  • Clarity: Accessible presentation of difficult concepts
  • Flexibility: The chapters are connected by strong overarching framework but are designed to stand alone as necessary to fit instructors' needs
  • Ideal for use as a supplementary text in introductory religion courses or as the main text in theory, methods, and sociology of religion courses
  • Can be used as a stand-alone text or with Pals' companion reader, Introducing Religion

About the Author(s)

Daniel L. Pals is Professor of Religious Studies and History at University of Miami. He is the author of Introducing Religion: Readings from the Classic Theorists (OUP, 2008).

Table of Contents

    1 Animism and Magic: E.B. Tylor and J. G. Frazer
    2 Religion and Personality: Sigmund Freud
    3 Society as Sacred: Émile Durkheim
    4 Religion as Alienation: Karl Marx
    5 A Source of Social Action: Max Weber
    6 The Verdict of Religious Experience: William James
    7 The Reality of the Sacred: Mircea Eliade
    8 Society's “Construct of the Heart”: E. E. Evans-Pritchard
    9 Religion as Cultural System: Clifford Geertz
    10 Sexism and the Sacred: Mary Daly

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