chapter  11
12 Pages

Christians do religion like other people

What if we (scholars of religion) had taken Judaism as the starting place for our project of understanding, analysing and debating religion and had only then researched among Christians? What if we had taken studying rather than believing texts as a core practice to examine? If lived Judaism (and not Judaism as imagined by Christians) was our denitional starting point, would we have looked for ways in which stories (rooted in and generative of texts) shape daily observances and world-structuring ceremonies as Neusner (2002: 256-60) shows them to do in Judaism? Would we have researched, written and taught more about the eating and drinking habits of Christians? To some degree we have done so, noticing, for example, that Christian denominational dierences are not always about doctrines and ideas but about styles of leadership, liturgy and ritualism. Sometimes, too, we have paid attention to the diversication of Christian practice and lifestyle as it relates to cultural and geographical location. However, some of us have ruined that eort by writing about syncretism and most of our textbooks tend to follow the lead of theological works, imagining that the key matters for attention should be famous names, canonical texts and correct doctrines.