The Social Scientific Study of Religion: A Method for Constructive Theology

By Paul S. Chung and Ulrich Duchrow (Foreword)

An overview of social scientific accounts of religion, providing a model for comparative theology.

ISBN: 9780227177662


In this study, Paul S. Chung charts the history of social scientific study of religion from the axial age to the present day, and thereby lays a foundation for a new model of constructive theology in the comparative study of religion, culture and society. Analysing the thought of Max Weber, Alfred Schutz, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Edmund Husserl, Max Horkheimer and others, Chung deals effectively with material interests, power relations and the history of race, gender and sexuality. The result is a synthesis that is at once innovative, critical, and applicable to current methodology in theology and the social sciences.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 256

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Paul S. Chung (Dr Habil.) specialises in theology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and in sociology of religion at the University of California, Berkeley, CA. He is Distinguished Professor of Public Theology at HanShin University, South Korea, and has been nominated to be distinguished professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Chicago. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Historians’ Debate – Public Theology website and teaches in Berkeley.


Foreword by Ulrich Duchrow


1. Sociological Enquiry and World Religion
2. Hermeneutics of Life-world, Religion, and Constructive Theology
3. Sociological Hermeneutics, Power Relations, and Immanent Critique
4. Phenomenology and Social Construction of Reality
5. Social Construction of Religion, Schleiermacher, and Constructive Theology
6. Sociological Enquiry into Hinduism and Comparative Theology




Endorsements and Reviews

The range and depth of Chung’s analysis is an original contribution to the construction of comparative theology. The hermeneutical lens that informs his work draws upon interdisciplinary perspectives from sociology, critical theory, phenomenology, and religious studies to disclose creative new facets of theological investigation. Incorporating insights from Luther, Troeltsch, and Barth, among others, this project boldly joins rigorous ethical commitment to the imperative of interreligious engagement.
Craig L. Nessan, Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.A.

Comparing multiple theological explanations of reality requires crossing over and coming back enriched. Paul Chung takes us on this journey and brings us home again, richer.
Ted Peters, author of God – The World’s Future: Systematic Theology for a Postmodern Era

This interdisciplinary theological inquiry into ‘constructive theology of comparative religions’, more widely known as comparative theology, takes interfaith engagement in a whole new level. Skillfully combining resources from a plethora of disciplines, Chung works out a comparative theological resource capable of tackling complex pluralities of the third millennium. Breathtaking in its scope, this work, part of a two-volume project, has the promise of becoming a current classic on all things interfaith issues.
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Docent of Ecumenics, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki