Bible Review 7:6, December 1991

My View

What we learn from studying religion— and Judaism in particular

By Jacob Neusner

Bible Review

When we teach about a religion in a university, we do not advocate that religion. We simply place it on display as something interesting and important. One premise in teaching about religion is that religion is something that can be studied and analyzed. A second premise is that religion is an important force in the shaping of the social order and in the conduct of world affairs, so that, to understand the world as it is, any educated person will want to make sense of religion in its worldly expression.a

On the other hand, when teachers of religion, through their teaching, advocate the truths of a specific religion, they are engaged in a very different, though equally important task. But it is not one that the academic curriculum can accommodate in tax-supported higher education, and it is one that those of us who are in the academic study of religion, with all due respect, do not do.

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