Academic Programs 
      

Pluralistic Monotheism And The Abrahamic Faiths    (TH-636)
Fall 2008

This course will explore theological questions posed by religious plurality, especially the diversity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. If God is One, how can different understandings of that Oneness be valid? Could the One Lord of nature and history have chosen to covenant with different faith communities? And if different communities are, in fact, “chosen” by God through Divine election and revelation, can they come to see themselves as spiritual allies, rather than adversarial rivals for God’s favor? Finally, how would a multiplicity of covenants enhance the prospects for the “messianic” transformation of history that our various traditions anticipate? On three occasions, guest teacher/facilitators will be invited to address these questions, drawing on perspectives from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Mondays from 6 to 8:20 p.m., beginning September 15

Yehezkel Landau
Faculty Associate in Interfaith Relations

Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9538
email: ylandau@hartsem.edu

 

Course Syllabus



Course Overview:

This course will explore theological questions posed by religious plurality, especially the diversity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. If God is One, how can different understandings of that Oneness be valid? Could the One Lord of nature and history have chosen to covenant with different faith communities? And if different communities are, in fact, “chosen” by God through Divine election and revelation, can they come to see themselves as spiritual allies, rather than adversarial rivals for God’s favor? Finally, how would a multiplicity of covenants enhance the prospects for the “messianic” transformation of history that our various traditions anticipate? On three occasions, guest teacher/facilitators will be invited to address these questions, drawing on perspectives from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Goals of the Course:

(1) to expose the student to different theological perspectives on the subject, from all three Abrahamic traditions, with arguments for exclusivism, inclusivism, and varieties of pluralism engaged and critiqued;
(2) to encourage open discussion among the participants about these diverse viewpoints, helping them to develop their own positions and approaches to the problems addressed;
(3) to enable students to express their own ideas and questions, through assigned reflections and a final paper; and
(4) to cultivate greater interreligious sensitivity and appreciation, through critical engagement of the assigned texts and in-class dialogues with the professor, guest teachers, and other students.

Pedagogical methods: The course will be conducted as a seminar; class sessions will feature presentations by the professor and guest teachers, critical text summaries by students, facilitated discussions, and occasional role play exercises.

Methods of Assessment: Class participation (20%), in-class summaries of assigned readings (30%), and quality of the course paper (50%). Depending on the number of students, each member of the class will be asked to introduce (at least) one session with a critical summary of that week’s readings. A course paper, approximating 15 double-spaced pages, is due by the last session, December 15. A one-page preview of the paper, with preliminary bibliography, should be submitted by November 17.

Course Schedule and Readings
(readings indicated should be read for that session)

Essays, articles, and selected chapters will be on reserve in the Hartford Seminary Library, where they may be photocopied. Books recommended for purchase (in bold italics followed by an asterisk*) are those authored or edited by Knitter, D’Costa, Heim, Ayoub, Greenberg, and Sacks.

N.B.: The essays by Avi Sagi, Raphael Jospe, and Alon Goshen-Gottstein are draft chapters of a book-in-progress co-edited by Alon Goshen-Gottstein and Eugene Korn. These essays are for use in this course only and are NOT to be disseminated.

September 15: The Challenge of Religious Plurality--Theology and Praxis

Readings:

Martin Jaffee, “One God, One Revelation, One People: On the Symbolic Structure of Elective Monotheism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 69, No. 4 (2001), pp. 753-776.

Mary C. Boys, “Introduction” and “Part V: Ecclesia Changing” in Has God Only One Blessing?: Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding, New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press (2000), pp. 5-14, 245-278.

Yehezkel Landau, “God as Multiple Covenanter: Towards a Jewish Theology of Abrahamic Partnerships,” unpublished paper, Fall 2006

Rev. Dr. Francis Tiso, “A Closer Look at Swidler’s ‘Dialogue Decalogue’” in Rev. Bud Heckman (with Rori Picker Neiss), InterActive Faith, Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing (2008), pp. 231-239.

September 22: Religious Plurality and Christian Witness

Guest teacher/facilitator: Rev. Bud Heckman, editor of InterActive Faith

Readings:

Krister Stendahl, “Why I Love the Bible,” Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Winter 2007, pp. 20-28.

Confessing Christian Faith in a Pluralistic Society, Collegeville, MN: Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, 1995, pp. 1-11.

John Hick, “The Pluralistic Hypothesis” and “The Post-Modernist and Other Critiques, and Conflicting Truth-Claims” in A Christian Theology of Religions: The Rainbow of Faiths, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press (1995), pp. 11-30

Lesslie Newbigin, “Two Kinds of Pluralism,” The New Zealand Christian, November/December 1997; reprinted in Net Results: New Ideas in Church Vitality, December 1998, p. 11.

September 29: Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Pluralism Revisited

Readings:

Paul F. Knitter, “Introduction”; John Hick, “The Next Step Beyond Dialogue”; Perry Schmidt-Leukel, “Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism: The Tripolar Typology—Clarified and Reaffirmed”; and Paul F. Knitter, “Is the Pluralist Model a Western Imposition?—A Response in Five Voices” in Paul F. Knitter, ed., The Myth of Religious Superiority: A Multifaith Exploration*, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (2005), pp. vii-42.

October 6: Christian Critiques of Pluralistic Theology

Readings:

Gavin D’Costa, “Preface”; Rowan Williams, “Trinity and Pluralism”; Gavin D’Costa, “Christ, the Trinity, and Religious Plurality”; Christoph Schwobel, “Particularity, Universality, and the Religions”; John B. Cobb, Jr., “Beyond ‘Pluralism’”; & Monika K. Hellwig, “Christology in the Wider Ecumenism” in Gavin D’Costa, ed., Christian Uniqueness Reconsidered: The Myth of a Pluralistic Theology of Religions*, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (1990), pp. viii-46, 81-95, 107-116.

October 13: A Deeper Pluralism--Multiple Religious Ends

Reading:

S. Mark Heim, Salvations: Truth and Difference in Religions*,
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (1995).

Recommended (on reserve): S. Mark Heim, “Many True Religions, And Each An Only Way,” Ars Disputandi [http:www.ArsDisputandi.org]3(2003)

Paul J. Griffiths, “Beyond Pluralism” (review of Heim’s Salvations), First Things, 59, January 1996, pp. 50-52.

October 20: Islam and Christianity--Theological & Spiritual Challenges

Guest teacher/facilitator: Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub, Faculty Associate

Reading:

Mahmoud Ayoub, A Muslim View of Christianity: Essays on Dialogue*, Irfan A. Omar, ed., Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (2007).

October 27: Islam and Religious Pluralism

Readings:

Ashgar Ali Engineer, “Islam and Pluralism,” and Mahmut Aydin, “A Muslim Pluralist: Jalaluddin Rumi,” in Paul F. Knitter, ed., The Myth of Religious Superiority*, pp. 211-236.

Lloyd Ridgeon and Perry Schmidt-Leukel, “Introduction”; Jacques Waardenburg, “Islam in a World of Diverse Faiths—A Historian’s View”; Mahmut Aydin, “Islam in a World of Diverse Faiths—A Muslim View”;

Waardenburg’s “Response to Aydin” and Aydin’s “Response to Waardenburg” in Perry Schmidt-Leukel and Lloyd Ridgeon, eds., Islam and Inter-Faith Relations, London: SCM Press (2007), pp. 1-63.

November 3: Judaism and Religious Pluralism

Guest teacher/facilitator: Rabbi Or Rose, Hebrew College, Newton, MA

Readings:

Amy-Jill Levine, “Settling at Beer-lachai-roi” in Daughters of Abraham: Feminist Thought in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John L. Esposito, eds., Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida (2001), pp. 12-34.

Michael S. Kogan, “Toward a Pluralist Theology of Judaism” and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, “Judaism and Other Faiths” in Paul F. Knitter, ed., The Myth of Religious Superiority*, pp. 105-132.

Or N. Rose, “In the Footsteps of Hillel: A Jewish View of Religious Pluralism,” paper submitted for publication

November 10: Jewish Pluralism vs. Relativism

Readings:

Avi Sagi, “Justifying Inter-Religious Pluralism”

Raphael Jospe, “Pluralism Out of the Sources of Judaism: The Quest for Religious Pluralism without Relativism”

(two chapters in a forthcoming book edited by Alon Goshen-Gottstein and Eugene Korn)

November 17: Towards a Jewish Theology of World Religions

Readings:

“Towards a Jewish Theology of World Religions: Meeting the Challenges of Interreligious Pluralism” by Alon Goshen-Gottstein (chapter of forthcoming book)

David Hartman, “Celebrating Religious Diversity”; “Revelation and Creation: The Particular and the Universal in Judaism”; and “Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Heroic Witness to Religious Pluralism” in A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism, Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing (1999), pp. 135-192.

**PREVIEW OF COURSE PAPER DUE – NO CLASS NOV. 24

December 1: Covenantal Pluralism and Visions of Redemption

Readings:

David Hartman, “Introduction” and “Fundamentals of a Covenantal Anthropology” in A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism, New York: The Free Press (1985), pp. 1-41.

Irving Greenberg, “On the Road to a New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity: A Personal Journey”; “Covenantal Partners in a Postmodern World”; “Covenantal Pluralism”; “Pluralism and Partnership”; “Covenants of Redemption”; plus “Responsive Essays” by James Carroll, David Novak, Michael Novak, Mary C. Boys, and Krister Stendahl in For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity*, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society (2004), pp. 3-102, 185-234, 247-266.

December 8: Covenants of Hope

Reading:

Jonathan Sacks, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11 of The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations*, London/New York: Continuum Books (2002).

December 15: Looking Forward

Reading:

Chapter 6 on “Pluralism” with Norman Solomon’s Jewish perspective, Keith Ward’s Christian perspective, and Tim Winter’s Muslim perspective, plus a reflection on pluralism in the three traditions by Solomon, Richard Harries, and Winter, in Abraham’s Children: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Conversation, New York: T&T Clark (2005), pp. 180-215.

Students should come prepared to discuss how their theological views have been affected by the course and to participate in role-play exercises, representing different Jewish, Christian, and Muslim positions on religious diversity within the Divine Plan.

**COURSE PAPER DUE

 


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