The study of religion is commonly divided into two sides. On the one side is the descriptive approach, including social scientific and historical scholars who seek to account for religion as it has been practiced. On the other side is the prescriptive approach, including religious ethicists, philosophers of religion, and theologians who seek to evaluate and prescribe religious practices and beliefs. But is this divide desirable or even tenable? Some scholars believe so, holding that the proper aim of religious studies ought to be delimited to the analysis and description of religious phenomena. Such a view, however, excludes those who pursue prescriptive inquiry. The contributors to this focus issue are trained primarily in either descriptive or prescriptive methodologies. Through their respective contributions, they highlight how they understand and may offer ways past the seemingly ossified division within religious studies, focusing especially on the nature and place of value in the study of religion.
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