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Aesthetics and Analysis in Writing on ReligionModern Fascinations$
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Daniel Gold

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520236134

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520236134.001.0001

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Relating Stories about Religious Traditions

Relating Stories about Religious Traditions

(p.97) Chapter 6 Relating Stories about Religious Traditions
Aesthetics and Analysis in Writing on Religion

Daniel Gold

University of California Press

Religious writing demands imagination and reason, but interpretive writers must give scientific reason to convince readers of the truth in their stories. Discussing stories shifts readers' attention to the element of believability that makes the aesthetic work. This chapter examines the scientific truths of interpretive writing in light of its aesthetic ones, exploring relationships between the two truths. Interpretive writing is limited in the degree of scientific truth it can attain, and its most appropriate range is a middle ground between isolated statements about particulars and grand generalities. Most interpretive writers tell two kinds of stories at once, each serving truths both scientific and aesthetic. Treating problems of truth and knowledge in religious studies brings forth awareness of the imperfections inherent in scholarly discourse, of the difficulty of making statements about religious traditions.

Keywords:   imagination, religious traditions, religious stories, element of believability, middle ground

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