The strange, familiar thing that is religion calls out for examination in today's world. But how should we interpret it? What are the foundations of a methodical approach to the academic study of religion, and what theoretical tools are available to the beginning student? A Beginner's Guide to the Study of Religion provides an approachable, comprehensive introduction theory and method in the field.Beginning with a discussion of the pressing need for understanding religion today, this lively, readable text moves on to describe the basic methodological, theoretical operations that students new to the discipline must comprehend and master. Then the book provides an accessible survey of the classic theorists in the modern study of religion, leading up to a concluding account of current, pressing issues in the field. Almost every course in religion includes theory and method, but time constraints often prevent a full account. A Beginner's Guide is designed to address this issue by offering a thorough but concise body of material suitable for a week (or less) of reading. Beyond the college or university setting, this book is also valuable for anyone interested in the way the academic study of religion makes sense of its rich, challenging subject matter.