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Lectures on Comparative Theology

The study Of Vaishnava and Christian Theology

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
27 Oct 2000

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Vaisnava

Developing the study of comparative theology

Professor Keith Ward
30 Jan 2002

Two seminars focusing on the developing field of comparative theology and its possibilities, directions and relevence.

Related: Comparative Theology

Developing the study of comparative theology

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
20 Feb 2002

Two seminars focusing on the developing field of comparative theology and its possibilities, directions and relevence.

Related: Comparative Theology

Hindu goddesses and Christian theology: With special attention to two Tamil hymns in the antati style

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
25 Feb 2003

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Goddesses

A Christian theology of religions in light of Hinduism (ten lectures)

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
1 May 2003

These lectures aim to delineate the methods and goals of a Christian theology of religions informed by the faith, practice, and theologies of another religious tradition. In the limited space of these lectures, the Christian tradition will be discussed primarily in its Roman Catholic form; (certain strands of) Hinduism will serve as the example of another religious tradition.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Understanding Hindus as an educational exercise in understanding self and other

Peggy Morgan
22 Jan 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Christian and Indian traditions in historical perspective (part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series)

Dr Dermot Killingley
29 Jan 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Authority and scripture in Hindu and Christian thought

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
5 Feb 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Text

Violence and peacemaking in Hindu and Christian tradition

Rev. Dr Stephen Finamore
12 Feb 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Violence and peacemaking in Hindu and Christian tradition

Dr Kenneth Valpey
12 Feb 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Christian theological responses to Hinduism (part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series)

Dr Ravi Gupta
19 Feb 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

The truth(s) of translation

Hindu-Jewish seminar
Professor Julius Lipner
19 Feb 2004

This is the third of our joint seminars. We began with two sessions entitled, "Around the Table: A conversation on Jewish and Hindu dietary and dining customs". Dr Miri Freud-Kandel and Prof. Ramaratnam led these seminars, in Trinity term 2003. This term we hope to journey from the kitchen to the temple and delve deeper into both traditions and their approaches to truth and interpretation

Related: Comparative Theology, Judaism, Text

The truth(s) of translation

Hindu-Jewish seminar
Dr Norman Solomon
19 Feb 2004

Presented by the Centre for Hindu Studies & the Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Related: Comparative Theology, Judaism, Text

Christian theological responses to Hinduism (part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series)

Rev. Dr Michael Barnes
19 Feb 2004

Part of the 'Relating to the other: Hindu and Christian perspectives' series.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Christian nuptial mysticism and parallels with Indian mystical trends

Dr Daniela Rossella
25 Feb 2004

Related: Bhakti, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

The Apirami Antati and Mataracamman Antati: Hindu and Christian theological hymns in a Tamil style

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
5 Mar 2004

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Literature

Islamic monotheism and Islamic piety: In conversation with Hindu perspectives

Professor Christopher Melchert
13 May 2004

Related: Comparative Theology, Islam

A Jewish understanding of monotheism in the Hebrew bible: In conversation with Hindu perspectives

Hindu-Jewish seminar
Madhavi Nevader
18 May 2004

Related: Comparative Theology, Judaism

A conversation on Western and Indian perspectives on reading a Hindu text: The case of the Bhagavad-gita.

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
20 May 2004

Related: Bhagavad-gita, Comparative Theology

A conversation on Western and Indian perspectives on reading a Hindu text: The case of the Bhagavad-gita.

Professor S. Ramaratnam
20 May 2004

Related: Bhagavad-gita, Comparative Theology

A Christian understanding of monotheism: In conversation with Hindu perspectives

Professor George Pattison
27 May 2004

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Fifty years of ashram life: Reminiscences from jyotiniketan

Rev. Dr Murray Rogers
11 Jun 2004

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Professor Keith Ward
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Dr Dermot Killingley
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Dr Ulrike Roesler
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

Icon and murti (four seminars)

Icon and murti (four seminars)
Dr Matthew Steenberg
25 Jan 2007

This seminar series will examine the issue of representation of the divine in Christian Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism. Given that God is unknowable and beyond all representation in these traditions, questions will be raised about how a transcendent reality can be represented, the function of such representations, and the degree to which such mediations are thought to be required by tradition. The first two seminars will offer theological backgrounds to Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism and the remaining two will examine in more detail conceptual and historical problems in the history of the traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology, Iconography

Icon and murti (four seminars)

Dr Kenneth Valpey
25 Jan 2007

This seminar series will examine the issue of representation of the divine in Christian Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism. Given that God is unknowable and beyond all representation in these traditions, questions will be raised about how a transcendent reality can be represented, the function of such representations, and the degree to which such mediations are thought to be required by tradition. The first two seminars will offer theological backgrounds to Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism and the remaining two will examine in more detail conceptual and historical problems in the history of the traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology, Iconography

Towards a comparative theology of the person

Graduate seminar
Nicholas Bamford
27 Feb 2007

Comparative theology is an important area of research in the contemporary world. This paper will develop the idea of the person as a fruitful category for comparative theological inquiry. The seminar will raise questions about the person as an ontological category and its possible future development with particular reference to Saiva theology in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Saiva

Beyond love and love beyond: Hindu and Western ideas of love

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Sangeetha Menon
3 May 2007

The seminar will examine Hindu ideas of love and the idea of divine love ('love beyond'). The seminar will pay particular attention to the Narada Bhakti Sutras.

Related: Comparative Theology

Comparative theology as intellectual and spiritual practice

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
17 May 2007

The study of great religious texts demands much of the scholar, in part because such texts require professional linguistic and historical expertise, familiarity with the tradition in which the text arose, and a sense of the wider and often unstated context. But such religious texts also make demands on the reader, drawing him or her into thinking and feeling in specific ways about the topics discussed in the text. The reader then has to make choices about where, if anywhere, to draw a line between scholarly detachment and engaged participation. If the reader comes from a religious tradition, then he or she also brings the expectations of that tradition to the reading process, complicating even the initial scholarly learning practice. Prof. Clooney will illustrate the complexities of this learning with respect to his current study of the Srimad Rahasyatrayasara of Vedanta Desika (fourteenth century, South India).

 
Professor Frank Clooney, SJ, is Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard. Prof. Clooney is the author of numerous articles and books in the area of Hindu Studies and comparative theology, including Fr. Bouchet's India: An 18th-Century Jesuit's Encounter With Hinduism (2005), Divine Mother, Blessed Mother (2005), and Hindu God, Christian God (2001).

Related: Comparative Theology

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Discussion

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Dr Yahya Michot
24 Jan 2008

Related: Comparative Theology

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Discussion

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Professor Keith Ward
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Comparative Theology

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Discussion

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Professor Julius Lipner
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Comparative Theology

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Dr Michot Talk

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Dr Yahya Michot
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Comparative Theology, Islam

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Professor Lipner Talk

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Professor Julius Lipner
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Professor Ward Talk

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Professor Keith Ward
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session One - Islamic mystical traditions‚ Sufis in India

Dr Talib Muhammad
29 Jan 2010

Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction ‘mysticism’ is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of ‘mysticism’, particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan’s claim, among others, that the east is ‘spiritual’ while the west is ‘material’. Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category ‘mysticism,’ this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.

Related: Comparative Theology, Islam, Mysticism

Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session Two - Buddhist Meditation

Dr Sarah Shaw
5 Feb 2010

Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction "mysticism" is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of "mysticism", particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan's claim, among others, that the east is "spiritual" while the west is "material". Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category "mysticism" this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.

Related: Buddhism, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session Three - Christian mystical traditions 1 ‚ The Relevance of Christian Mysticism

Professor Oliver Davies
12 Feb 2010

Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction ‘mysticism’ is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of ‘mysticism’, particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan’s claim, among others, that the east is ‘spiritual’ while the west is ‘material’. Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category ‘mysticism,’ this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.

Related: Categories, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session Four - Christian mystical traditions 2 ‚ Understanding Apophaticism

Professor George Pattison
19 Feb 2010

Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction ‘mysticism’ is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of ‘mysticism’, particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan’s claim, among others, that the east is ‘spiritual’ while the west is ‘material’. Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category ‘mysticism,’ this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Mystical Traditions in Comparative Perspective: Session Five - The Jewish Roots of Christian Mysticism

Professor Guy Stroumsa
5 Mar 2010

Mysticism is a term that has fallen out of use in recent years, partly due to the critique of essentialism in the history of religions, partly due to the recognition that mysticism is particular to tradition and culture and partly due to the orientation to understand religion in terms of a politics of culture that sees religion purely in constructivist terms. The abstraction ‘mysticism’ is a problematic category that has been developed from Christian mystical theology (in contrast to dogmatic or natural theology). Viewing other religions through the lens of ‘mysticism’, particularly the religions of India and China, has tended to give a distorted picture to the West, underlined by Radhakrishnan’s claim, among others, that the east is ‘spiritual’ while the west is ‘material’. Of course, the historical reality of religious traditions is much more complex than this. Nevertheless, religious traditions are interested in, and develop, keen senses of inwardness that lay stress upon a direct understanding or experience of transcendence. While acknowledging the problematic nature of the category ‘mysticism,’ this series of seminars intends to explore the mystical traditions of specific religions in dialogue with Hinduism. The series is seen as an exercise in comparative theology. Short lectures on the mystical traditions would be followed by a response from a Hindu perspective and general discussion.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Judaism, Mysticism

Mysticism in Comparative Perspective: Sufi Mysticism

Dr Samer Akkach
29 Apr 2010

Dr Samer Akkach is Associate Professor of Architecture and Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He was born and educated in Damascus before moving to Australia to complete his PhD at Sydney University. As an intellectual historian, Samer has devoted over twenty years to the study of Ibn 'Arabi's mystical thought and intellectual legacy, and especially to their later revival by 'Abd al-Ghana al-Nabulusi (d. 1731). His Cosmology and Architecture in Premodern Islam: an Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (SUNY 2005), traces the influence of Ibn 'Arabi's thought on the spatial sensibility of premodern Muslim architects; while his 'Abd al-Ghan al-Nabulusi: Islam and the Enlightenment (Oneworld 2007), and Letters of a Sufi Scholar: The Correspondence of 'Abd al-Ghana al-Nabulusi (Brill 2010), examine the intellectual contributions of an influential and prolific Sufi master who considered Ibn 'Arabi to be his spiritual master and source of inspiration.

Related: Comparative Theology, Islam, Mysticism

Is there a Hindu monotheism? (five lectures)

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
1 May 2010

In light of Biblical and Christian reflections on monotheism (week 1), an inquiry, by way of four examples (weeks 2-6), into the nature of Hindu belief in one supreme divinity, asking whether such belief can be termed "monotheistic." No background in Hindu studies required.

 
Week 1: Refining the question - Biblical and Christian monotheism, Hindu traditions, and the problem of a comparative study of monotheism
 
Week 2: The case for Krsna and Siva as the one true God - early resources in the Bhagavad-Gita and Svetasvatara Upanisad
 
Week 3: No lecture.
 
Week 4: Narayana alone, in medieval Tamil Vaisnavism - Tiruvaymoli 4.10 and Vedanta Desika's Srimat Rahasyatrayasara c. 6.
 
Week 5: Is the Goddess a monotheist? Reflection on three Goddess hymns and the Devi Gita
 
Week 6: In dialogue with the West: Rammohun Roy and 19th century Hindu monotheisms.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Comparative Theology in Global Perspective

Professor Keith Ward
10 May 2010

Professor Keith Ward has developed comparative theology and religion in many of his publications over the years. He is particularly interested in comparative theology, the dialogue between religions and the interplay between science and faith. Keith has had a renowned and rich academic career; he taught at Glasgow, St Andrews, London, he was Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he was the F.D. Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology at the University of London, Professor of History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College London, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. He was also visiting professor at the Claremont Graduate University, he has delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow, and was the Gresham Professor of Divinity at Gresham College. In this seminar Keith will share some of his thoughts on comparative theology and its future direction.

Related: Comparative Theology

Radical Monotheism of the Qur’an and Equitheism of the Bhagavata Purana: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Allah and Krishna

Wahlstrom Lecture
Professor Carl Olson
17 May 2010

This narrowly focused essay proposes to compare the Islamic god Allah as depicted in the Qur’an with the Hindu deity Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana. This paper concentrates on how these two respective texts define the two deities. More precisely, this essay focuses on such issues as transcendence and immanence, creative power and play, obedience and love, and the relationship between God and humans. These various themes are examined from the perspective of comparative theology, which can be defined as an articulation of truths and a realization of a more complete knowledge of God in so far as it is possible by means of theology conceived broadly as inter-religious, comparative, dialogical, and confessional. This paper proposes to use a hermeneutical dialogue, which is an interpretative approach that is intended to lead to better cross-cultural understanding. Such a dialogue is risky because it entails entering the margins between oneself and the other. When the interpreter brings together the representative texts of different traditions, she forms a triadic relationship and dialogue with the context of a marginal situation.

 
Professor Carl Olson teaches Religious Studies at Allegheny College where he offers courses on Hinduism, Buddhism, Religions of China, Zen Buddhism, and comparative phenomena, such as the self and death. Besides over a hundred and eighty reviews and essays in journals, books and encyclopedias, he has published over a dozen books on such topics as the goddess, Mircea Eliade, methodology, comparative philosophy, the Indian renouncer, and the Indian holy man Ramakrishna. His more recent books include the following: Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from Representational Mode of Thinking (SUNY Press, 2000); Indian Philosophers and Postmodern Thinkers: Dialogues on the Margins of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2002); The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction (Rutgers University Press, 2005); Original Buddhist Sources: A Reader (Rutgers University Press, 2005); The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-Historical Introduction (Rutgers University Press, 2007); Hindu Primary Sources: A Sectarian Reader (Rutgers University Press, 2007); Celibacy and Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 2008), Historical Dictionary of Buddhism (Scarecrow Press, 2009), and Religious Studies: The Key Concepts (Routledge, forthcoming 2010). While at Allegheny College, Professor Olson has been appointed to the following honors and positions: Holder of the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair, 1991-1994; Holder of the Teacher-Scholar Chair in the Humanities, 2000-2003; Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, 2002; and elected Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge 2002.

Related: Bhagavata, Comparative Theology, Islam

Comparative Mysticism Seminar 1: Flowing Milk. A Lost Meditation, Tradition from the Silk Road

Lance Cousins
22 Oct 2010

This lecture examines a Buddhist meditation tradition exemplified particularly by visualisation text from central Asia. This is a seminar in our series on Comparative Mystical Traditions.

 
Lance Cousins is an expert in Buddhism, particularly the Theravada tradition and Pali commentarial literature, and Buddhist meditation traditions. He taught for many years at the University of Manchester where, among other things, he taught a course in comparative mysticism.

Related: Buddhism, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Comparative Mysticism Seminar 2: Tasting God: The Ascetical and Mystical Theology of Rupa Gosvami

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
5 Nov 2010

This seminar explores Jiva Gosvamin’s theology and raises the question of whether he could be described as a mystic.

 
Dr Lutjeharms holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oriental Studies (Indology) from the University of Ghent, Belgium and a DPhil from the University of Oxford (Theology). His DPhil was on the poet and theologian Kavikarnapura.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology, Mysticism

Comparative Mysticism Seminar 3: Unsayability and Meditative Ascent in Esoteric Hindu Traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
19 Nov 2010

In this seminar we examine two tendencies or spiritual languages in esoteric medieval Hindu traditions. On the one hand we have a style of mysticism that emphasizes a realisation or awakening in the world, usually accompanied by a monistic metaphysics, on the other we have a style and language of meditative ascent; that there is a journey from this world to the state of liberation through stages of development, often conceptualized as occurring within the body. The seminar will examine these tendencies with reference to particular texts. 

 
Gavin Flood is academic director of OCHS. Among his publications are The Tantric Body (2006), The Ascetic Self (2004), and The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (2003).

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology, Mysticism

Mysterium Horrendum: Mysticism & the Negative Numinous

Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Study of Religions/Mysticism Seminar
Dr Simon Podmore
28 Jan 2011

According to Rudolf Otto’s ‘Idea of the Holy’, while elements of a so-called ‘mysticism of horror’ are well-acknowledged in Hindu traditions, this remains an under-recognised, yet undeniably present, strain in Western Christian mysticism. This paper explores Otto’s account of the ‘negative numinous’ with specific reference to the under-examined notion of the mysterium horrendum: a variant of the mysterium tremendum et fascinans in which the element of dread is ‘cut loose’ and ‘intensified’ to the point of ‘the demonic’. Drawing particular attention to accounts of the darkness, absence, and wrath of God in Western Christian mysticism, the lecture questions the essential relation between the demonic and the divine elements encountered in the numinous.

Dr Simon D. Podmore is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Theology and Gordon Milburn Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College. He is author of Kierkegaard & the Self Before God: Anatomy of the Abyss (Indiana University Press, 2011). His current research explores notions of ‘spiritual struggle’ in Western Christian mysticism.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Religious Experience in Early Buddhism

Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Study of Religions/Mysticism Seminar
Professor Richard Gombrich
18 Feb 2011

This seminar examines accounts of religious experience in early Buddhism as gleaned from our textual sources. Of particular importance here has been the role of meditation and living an upright and ethical life. 

Professor Gombrich was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit for many years. He is a world authority on Buddhism and has written definitive works on early Buddhism and the Theravada tradition. Among his publications are What the Buddha ThoughtHow Buddhism Began andTheravada Buddhism

Related: Buddhism, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Naming the divine: A History of the Concept of God

God Across Cultures
Dr Philip Kennedy
28 Feb 2011

Wittgenstein once asked, ‘How do I know that two people mean the same when each says he believes in God?’ This seminar will respond to Wittgenstein’s query by sketching the history of the noun ‘God’, and illustrating how, over time, the noun has accrued some strikingly different meanings.

 
Dr Philip Kennedy is fellow of Mansfield College and Lecturer in Theology in the Theology Faculty. He is author of A Modern Introduction to Theology: New Questions for Old Beliefs. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006; ‘God and Creation’, in Mary Catherine Hilkert and Robert J. Schreiter, eds; ‘The Praxis of the Reign of God: An Introduction to the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx’ (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), pp. 37–58. His research interests include the History of Modern Christian Thought; Christology and the Quests for the Historical Jesus; Liberation Theologies. He is currently working on a book on the history of the idea of God.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

The Relationship Between Religious Experience and Religious Belief: Essentialism, Scholarly Naivety, or Logical Positivism?

Mysticism Seminar/Interdisciplinary Seminar for the Study of Religions
Dr Gregory Shushan
9 May 2011

In recent decades, the study of ‘religious’ or ‘mystical’ experiences has been criticised by postmodern scholars who argue that because all experience is dependent upon language and culture, it is unintelligible to speak at all of some cross-culturally comparable event called ‘religious experience’. Because experience cannot precede culture, such scholars assert that it is ‘naive’ or otherwise methodologically or theoretically unsound to claim that the origins of religious beliefs can lie in ‘religious’ experience. Furthermore, the argument goes, in claiming that there is such a thing as cross-culturally comparable ‘religious’ experience, we leave the realm of the (ostensibly) objective Study of Religions, and cross the boundary into a kind of universalist theology. The issue thus intersects with various other theoretical problems at the core of the Study of Religions, including comparison per se, and views that the term ‘religion’ itself is a theologising construct. In defence of the study of ‘religious’ experience, this paper attempts to demonstrate the weaknesses in these arguments, firstly by showing that they are based upon a number of mutually-reliant but unproven axioms (themselves culturally-situated within a particular anti-scientific academic paradigm); and by giving cross-cultural examples which show a clear connection between ‘religious’ experience and religious beliefs (with particular reference to near-death experiences). 

Dr. Gregory Shushan is Perrott-Warrick Researcher at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford, researching comparative afterlife beliefs in small-scale societies worldwide in the contexts of shamanic and near-death experiences. His book, Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations: Universalism, Constructivism, and Near-Death Experience (Continuum Advances in Religious Studies, 2009) was nominated for the 2010 Grawemeyer Award. 

Related: Comparative Theology, Mysticism, Religious Studies

The Problem of Evil and Western Theodicy: But what says Indian Theism and Non-theism to the challenge?

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Purushottama Bilimoria
17 Oct 2011

Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University in Australia and Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. Visiting Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Dominican University, San Anselmo, and Shivadasani Fellow of  Oxford University. His areas of specialist research and publications cover classical Indian philosophy and comparative ethics; Continental thought; cross-cultural philosophy of religion, diaspora studies; bioethics, and personal law in India. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Sophia, Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Springer. He also edits a book series with Springer on Sophia: cross-cultural studies in Culture and Traditions, Recent publication is Indian Ethics I, Ashgate 2007; OUP 2008, and Sabdapramana: Word and Knowledge (Testimony) in Indian Philosophy (revised reprint), Delhi: DK PrintWorld 2008; ‘Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and Asia’s Superman, Sophia, vol 47/3 2008; Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (with Andrew Irvine, Ken Surin et al) Springer 2009. Teaches and publishes on Hindu religious philosophies. Also works on political philosophy, pertaining to ethics of rights, theories of justice, capabilities, education and gender issues in third world, particularly South Asian, contexts.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

God, Being and Beyond: Outlines of a Comparative Theology

Majewski Lecture
Professor C. Ram-Prasad
27 Feb 2012

While the differences between Sankara's and Ramanuja's systems as found in their respective commentaries on the Brahmasutras are relatively well-known, much commented on and highly influential in the living traditions, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to a comparative understanding of their Bhagavad Gita commentaries. Yet, in those works, they offer interpretations particular to the nature and structure of the Gita that do not map directly onto their other standard works. Using an interpretive vocabulary that engages with currents in postmodern Christian theology, I offer readings of each of their treatments of the relationship between the self-declared nature of the divine person, Krsna and his diverse mentions of the mysterious brahman. I suggest that strikingly original views of theology and its connections to metaphysics are found in these great commentaries - views that can contribute to the actual content (and not just the metatheory) of comparative theology.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Bishop Appasamy and Comparative Theology in India

Graduate Seminar
Brian Dunn
31 May 2012

A.J. Appasamy (1891-1975) was a Harvard, Oxford and Marburg trained Tamil Christian theologian who served as an Anglican priest and seminary professor in India before Independence, and post-Independence, as the first Bishop of Coimbatore in the Church of South India. Working from the premise that doctrines and theological systems are largely cultural and linguistic negotiations, and therefore provisional rather than permanent constructs, Appasamy’s earliest interest was in recasting Christianity as a living bhakti (‘devotional’) tradition in the Subcontinent. As his comparative practice matures there is a noticeable shift in his thinking away from larger generalized groupings of ‘religions,’ such as ‘Christianity’ and ‘Hinduism,’ and increasingly towards particular interaction with specific thinkers, texts and traditions. Concurrent to this he began to develop a methodology by which to do so that employs the Vedantic epistemological categories known as pramanas (‘evidences’). This paper will consider how Appasamy’s theological project and method might fruitfully be applied to the field of scholarship known today as ‘comparative theology,’ especially as it pertains to the Indian context. Building on Appasamy’s use of the pramanas, I will add my own proposal that comparative theologians from all traditions might draw further benefit from the clarity of the dialectical structure of the Vedantic commentarial tradition.

 
Brian Dunn is currently pursuing his doctoral research in the field of comparative theology at the Theology Faculty, Oxford. His present focus is on the life and writings of a South Indian Christian theologian, Ayadurai Jesudason Appasamy, and his particular comparative interaction with Hindu philosophical and theological conceptions of divine embodiment. 

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology