Zolotukhin Vsevolod

The birth of religious studies from the spirit of theology

Zolotukhin Vsevolod (2020) "The birth of religious studies from the spirit of theology ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2020, vol. 92, pp. 76-97 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI202092.76-97


This article deals with a complicated question about the emergence of the methodology of knowledge about religion (primarily of comparative religious studies or history of religion and of psychology of religion) in the continental thought of the latter half of the 19th — early 20th centuries. It is this material that allows one to trace methodological transformations that took place in the Protestant liberal theology and favoured the fi nal formation of the institutionalised schientifi c knowledge of religion. The first part of the article studies early ideas of the theologian and religious scholar C. P. Tiele which pertain to the correlation between theology and religious studies: theology has an artifi cial structure, it has lost its ideological positions and, consequently, it is subject to radical transformations and must fi nally give way to the unbiased empirical and comparative religious science that would formulate its universal laws. These views of Tiele were actively discussed in the Netherlands within the framework of adopting the Dutch Higher Education Act of 1876 and were partly taken into account there. The second part of the article deals with the development of experimental psychology of religion in Germany which was accompanied by a discussion between the philosophising theologian G. Wobbermin and one of the pioneering theologiansexperimenters W. Stählin (the latter was later supported by F. Traub). Stählin and Traub insist on complete independence of psychology of religion from theology and philosophy; its material should only be data of psychological experiments. It cannot be guided by either the generalising philosophical interest or objectives of theological systematisation. Besides, psychology of religion cannot by any means substantiate the veracity of religious experience, its only aim being to observe and describe it. In conclusion, one can see that the scientifi c knowledge of religion is to a large extent rooted in the theological soil due to the fi nal methodological fracture related to the secularisation and emancipation of humanities-related studies under the infl uence of the positivist ideal of science. This change of paradigm does not, of course, imply the rejection of the personal religiosity, nor the necessity of abandoning one’s theological career.


history of religion, psychology of religion, theology, history of humanities, methodology of humanities, secularisation, C. P. Tiele, G. Wobbermin, W. Stählin


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Information about the author

Zolotukhin Vsevolod

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: National Research University “Higher School of Economics”; 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya Str., Moscow 105066, Russian Federation;
Post: assistant professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-4405-5543;
Email: vakis2011@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.