Documentary theology: Testing a new approach to texts in religious communities

Rachel Muers, Rhiannon Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Scholars of religion have much to gain by studying texts, produced and used within religious communities and institutions, as documents. Documents, as theorized in a growing body of literature in the social sciences, offer distinctive perspectives on the dynamics within religious communities, and in particular on theological development. We demonstrate this approach through a study of an early twentieth-century document, “Foundations of a True Social Order,” which constitutes a turning-point in British Quaker approaches to social justice. We show how treating documents, firstly as effects of practice with effects in practice, secondly as spaces or places, and thirdly as “transitional objects,” can disclose aspects of their religious significance that are otherwise obscure. Indicating directions for future development, we suggest ways to explore critically the implicit theologies of religious documentary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-641
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Issue number3
Early online date2 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2018


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