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Comparative theology as intellectual and spiritual practice

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Thursday, 17 May 2007 - 4:15pm

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).