University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Religion

Faculty - William E. Paden

William E. Paden

William E. Paden,Professor

Area of expertise

Cross-cultural patterns of religious behavior.

Contact Information
Email: William E. Paden

Professor Paden had been a member of the Department from 1965 until his retirement in the Spring of 2009. He served as Chair from 1972-78 and 1990-2005. His M.A. and Ph.D. (1963, 1967) in comparative religion are from Claremont Graduate University, and his B.A. (1961) from Occidental College (philosophy). He has been a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford (1999, 1992), and spent time as a research fellow and lecturer in Japan (1999, 1992).

Publications include the books, Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion (Beacon Press, 1988; 1994, 2d ed), and Interpreting the Sacred: Ways of Viewing Religion (Beacon Press,1992; 2d ed. 2003), both translated in numerous foreign language editions.

Recent articles related to theory and method include:

  • "Tracks and Themes in a Shifting Landscape: Reflections on 50 Years of the Study of Religion," in Religion, 43/1 (Jan. 2013), 89-101
  • "Reappraising Durkheim for the Study and Teaching of Religion," in Peter Clarke, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008), 31-47
  • "Connecting with Evolutionary Models: New Patterns in Comparative Religion?," in Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon, eds., Introducing Religion: Essays in Honour of Jonathan Z. Smith (Equinox, 2008), 406-417
  • "Theaters of Worldmaking Behaviors: Panhuman Contexts for Comparative Religion," in T. Idinopulos, B. Wilson, and J. Hanges, eds., Comparing Religions: Possibilities or Perils? (Brill, 2006), 59-76
  • "Comparative Religion in the State of Nature," in Wilson and Light, eds., Religion as a Human Capacity (Brill, 2004), 121-133
  • "Comparative Religion and the Whitehouse Project: Connections and Compatibilities?," in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 16:3 (2004), 256-265
  • "Universals Revisited: Human Behaviors and Cultural Variables," in Numen 48/3 (July, 2001)
  • "Durkheim's Revenge: Trajectories and Ironies in the American History of Religions Traditions during the Cold War," in I. Dolezalova, L. H. Martin, and D. Papousek, eds., The Academic Study of Religion during the Cold War: East and West (Peter Lang, 2001), 253-266
  • "Elements of a New Comparativism," in Patton and Ray, A Magic Still Dwells (2000), 182-192
  • "The Concept of World Habitation: Eliadean Linkages with a New Comparativism," in Bryan Rennie, ed., Changing Religious Worlds (SUNY Press, 2000), 249-259
  • "World," in Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon, eds., Guide to the Study of Religion (Cassell, 2000), 334-348
  • "Religion, World, Plurality," in Mikael Rothstein and Tim Jensen, eds., Secular Theories on Religion: Current Perspectives (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000), 193-210
  • "Sacrality and Worldmaking: New Categorial Perspectives," in Tore Ahlbäck, ed. Approaching Religion, Part I (Donner Institute, 1999), 165-180
  • "Sacrality as Integrity: `Sacred Order' as a Model for Describing Religious Worlds," in Thomas A. Idinopulos and Edward A. Yonan, eds., The Sacred and its Scholars (Brill, 1996), 3-18
  • "Before ‘The Sacred’ Became Theological: Durkheim and Reductionism," in Idinopulos and Yonan, eds. Religion and Reductionism (Brill, 1994), 198-210.

Recent survey articles include:

  • "Comparative Religion," in The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2d edition (2005)
  • "Comparative Religion," in The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, J. Hinnells, ed. (Routledge, 2005), 205-222
  • "Comparison in the Study of Religion," in New Approaches to the Study of Religion, Vol. 2, Antes, Geertz and Warne, eds. (Verlag de Gruyter, 2004), 77-92.

"I am particularly interested in the cross-cultural patterns of religious behavior and am most recently studying ways of relating those patterns to processes of human evolution."