THE2210 - Encounters between Religions

2018/9 Module description

StaffDr Brandon Gallaher - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

For all of its history, Christians have encountered other religions and in many cases entered into dialogue with them. Sometimes less than successfully, with acrimony and violence. Other times constructively, clarifying Christian teaching and leading to a cross-fertilisation between different religious traditions. This module draws on a variety of disciplines to examine the history of interreligious encounters and the differing theologies of religion, and the contemporary turn towards a sympathetic comparative theology that aligns different traditions theologically while drawing on the practices of interreligious dialogue. Emphasis will be placed on the changing role of comparative theologies in the post-secular public sphere.

Module aims

This optional module will explore

  • Explore the history of interreligious encounter from a Christian perspective as well as the differing Christian theologies of religion (including the relatively new discipline of ‘comparative theology’)
  • Explore the different practices of interreligious dialogue with a strong emphasis on its place in the public sphere.
  • The category of ‘religion’ will be discussed in relationship to how it is used in the construction of the religious Other.
  • Explore the history of Christian encounter with other religious traditions from the New Testament encounters of Earliest Christianity to the then nascent Judaism down to the contemporary period with formal initiatives in Islamic-Christian dialogue as well as informal encounters between Christians and other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam) in the West and the developing world.
  • Christians have long asked whether members of other religions might be ‘saved’ or whether other religious traditions (or none) could be redemptive apart from Jesus Christ. We will, therefore, explore critically all the standard ‘models’ in the theology of religion that look at redemption in relation to other religions including exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism as well as post-liberal critiques of these models and the contemporary turn to ‘comparative theology’ moving away from abstract soteriological issues to a close textual engagement (informed by inter-religious dialogue) of Christian scholars with other religious traditions’ texts and rituals.
  • Explore a number of case studies of inter-religious encounter including the Building Bridges Seminar, Inter-religious worship in the World Council of Churches and monastic inter-religious dialogue.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically evaluate the difference and similarity between inter-religious dialogue and theologies of religion and/or comparative theology
  • 2. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the different historical and contemporary constructions of ‘religion’ and the ‘religious’
  • 3. Describe and critically assess the history of Christian encounters with other religious traditions from Earliest Christianity to the contemporary period
  • 4. Demonstrate critical understanding of the different models in the theology of religion as well as the substance of the critiques of these models
  • 5. Analyse the differing roles of interreligious encounter in the contemporary public sphere

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Demonstrate knowledge of, and critical reflection on, contrasting and even contradictory scholarly and historical perspectives
  • 7. Demonstrate proficiency in some core methods of study: Christian historical analysis, systematic theological reasoning and philosophical analysis
  • 8. Discuss and demonstrate an ability to analyse and then put into dialogue different religious traditions
  • 9. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the multi-faceted history of Christian encounters with other non-Christian traditions

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Communicate clearly in articulating one’s point of view in written and oral forms
  • 11. Assimilating in a relatively short span complex and detailed arguments and being able to both understand and analyse them but also to communicate this knowledge to others
  • 12. Participating with sympathy and good humour in class discussions

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Theories and constructions of the ‘religious’ and ‘religion.’
  • Religion, inter-religious encounter and the public sphere 
  • The history of inter-religious encounter and Christian theologizing on the religious Other from Earliest Christianity to the contemporary period
  • Models of the theology of religion
  • Post-liberal critiques of Christian models of the theology of religion and contemporary ‘comparative theology’
  • Case-studies of inter-religious encounter: Scriptural reasoning, worship and contemplative practices

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching22Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching11Seminars
Guided independent study267Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan (for summative assessment)200-300 words 1-8Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay503000 words1-8Written and oral
Examination502 hours1-8Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Refer/Defer period
ExamExam1-8Refer/Defer period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Race, Alan & Paul M. Hedges, eds. Christian Approaches to Other Faiths (London: SCM, 2008)
  • The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Inter-Religious Dialogue, edited by Catherine Cornille (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

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