Religious studies as a field has moved away from a “world religions” approach. The field is text-based to a large degree but the idea of “text” has expanded to include aspects of lived religion in addition to sacred texts. At Penn this concept has begun to focus especially, among other things, on material religion.
Penn has been teaching religion for over 100 years. Collections have focused on texts and are especially strong on those springing from Christianity and Islam. Medieval Christianity is well represented. The Judaica and Middle East collections dovetail with the religious studies collections.
The Henry Charles Lea papers include this famous 19th Century historians work on the inquisition among other religious subjects. The Yarnall Collection focuses on the Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism. Codex manuscripts of various important medieval texts are also represented. One of the oldest manuscript fragments of the New Testament is held in the University Museum.
Though there are some standard boundaries set for religious studies as a discipline it often looks to other fields such as history, ethnography or phenomenology as adjuncts.