The Catholic University of America Press

Religion and Culture

Christopher Dawson
Introduction by Gerald J. Russello

Works of Christopher Dawson

Paper 978-0-8132-2133-5 $24.95
August 2013 In Print Add to Cart
E-Book 978-0-8132-2134-2 $24.95
August 2013 In Print Add to Cart

Religion and Culture was first presented by historian Christopher Dawson as part of the prestigious Gifford Lecture series in 1947. It sets out the thesis for which he became famous: religion is the key of history.

The book makes two parallel arguments. First, Dawson argues that religion is, and should be treated as, a separate category of human experience. Second, Dawson claims that religion has a unique place in human culture and has defined and developed different cultures in identifiable ways. Without understanding both premises, he argues, one cannot understand cultural development.

Drawing on his profound and sympathetic reading in anthropology, sociology, comparative religion and the literatures of Western and non-Western cultures, Dawson seeks to bridge the gap between religion and the sciences through the tradition of natural theology. His approach respects the natural sciences and their power to plumb the mysteries of the natural world, while recognizing that they cannot, alone, explain religious intimations of the transcendent.

Religion and Culture was written and published in a time not unlike our own, when the very distinctiveness of religious experience has been denigrated, and religious belief is considered in some circles as an atavistic holdover. And yet, the existence of a purely technocratic culture and its ability to embody and transmit moral or cultural norms remains in doubt. Dawson, who in his day was respected well outside Catholic circles, is an important voice in this continuing debate.


"Dawson has succeeded in reminding us of the immense importance of religion in the history of civilization."--Journal of Modern History

"Dawson's writings are unified and consistent in point of view, and it is the breadth and perspective shown in such works as this that give profundity to his analysis of the specific problems of our age of transition and anxiety."--Journal of Bible and Religion


Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) is recognized as one of the most important Catholic historians of the twentieth century, authoring numerous books, articles, and scholarly monographs. Dawson was lecturer in the History of Culture, University College, Exeter; Gifford lecturer; and Charles Chauncey Stillman Chair of RomanCatholic Studies at Harvard University from 1958 to 1962.

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Pages:168 pages

Dimensions:5.5x8.5 inches

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