From the History of Religions to the Study of Religion in Denmark: An Essay on the Subject, Organizational History and Research Themes


  • Tim Jensen University of Southern Denmark
  • Armin W. Geertz Aarhus University



Study of Religion, Denmark


The history of the academic study of religion in Denmark resembles developments in other Nordic and European countries as it has moved from a primarily historical-philological and comparative ‘history of religions’ towards a broader ‘study of religion(s)’ that includes history of religions together with theories and methods from a wide variety of the human, social and today also natural sciences. Uppsala University was one of the three main centers of positivism at the end of the 19th century, and its influence was evident and long-lasting also in Denmark. By the end of the 1970s, debates and reflections on methods and theories slowly began to have a greater impact, and from the mid-80s and especially mid-90s, also due to conscious efforts not least in Aarhus, methodological issues gained in importance. A turn towards contemporary religion also became evident. Today it may be claimed that a kind of balance has been achieved whereby historical and empirical studies of religions go hand in hand with theoretical and methodological reflections, and where a balance between, on the one hand, more classical comparative history of religions materials and approaches, and, on the other hand, new and different areas of research, and new and different approaches and theories are of equal importance. With regard to individual research, research programs, and study programs, the history of the history of religions in Denmark cannot be described in detail here. This article presents the broad picture of important developments within and across the three Danish universities that have study of religion departments. Although the early histories are briefly touched upon, the focus will be on the past 50 years, from about 1960 until 2014, thus roughly the same period that Temenos has been in existence. 

Author Biographies

Tim Jensen, University of Southern Denmark

TIM JENSEN, Associate Professor (MSK), The Study of Religions, Institute of History, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

Armin W. Geertz, Aarhus University

ARMIN W. GEERTZ is Professor in the History of Religions at the Depart- ment of Culture and Society, Section for the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark. E-mail:




How to Cite

Jensen, T., & Geertz, A. W. (2014). From the History of Religions to the Study of Religion in Denmark: An Essay on the Subject, Organizational History and Research Themes. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 50(1), 79–114.