CT Seminar

Schedule, 2013-2014

The CT PhD colloquia focus on historical and methodological questions relevant to Comparative Theology as a whole, as well as texts and themes specific to a particular religious tradition but with broader comparative implications. Faculty rotate in leading the seminar but participate actively every year. This year, the seminar will be led by John Makransky, and will focus on Buddhism.

All CT PhD majors are required to participate in the seminar in each year of their program (unless the student is away from campus as part of his or her PhD program). Second year PhD CT majors register to receive pass-fail credit (3 credit hours total, received in spring semester). The course is required but non-credit for all other CT PhD majors. Minors are also welcome to participate in this annual seminar.
Texts are provided to participants free of charge.

Fridays 10-12 AM
Location: TBA


9.13, Readings:

  • John Makransky, “Buddhist Perspectives on Truth in Other Religions” (Theological Studies 2003), concisely introduces basic understandings of Buddhism and some representative Buddhist theologies of religions.
  • Two readings drawn from the book The New Comparative Theology, edited by Frank Clooney. 
    • Jim Fredericks (just ten pages) introduces the concept of comparative theology (CT), whose purpose is to learn from a different religious tradition in enough depth and specificity to shine new light on some area(s) of one’s own tradition.
    • Kristin Kiblinger, relates comparative theology instrinsically to theology of religions (TR): an understanding of other religious systems that explores their potential truth from within the framework of one’s own religious system.  Kristin discusses this relation between CT and TR with examples from Buddhism-Christian studies.
    Assignment: please study first the Makransky article as a basic introduction to Buddhist concepts and theologies of religions.  Please prepare to share with the seminar one or more questions or issues that any part of this article raises for you, including questions seeking more clarity on any Buddhist topic.  Then please read Fredericks, then Kiblinger, selecting at least one passage from each that raises a question or issue that you would like to discuss. Each student is expected to respond to these points.

Please hold these questions in mind for this class and throughout the year, and bring your initial, even tentative, first thoughts on them to our first class discussion: 

  • What, in essence, is comparative theology in your own understanding or practice? 
  • Why do comparative theology—what is the motivation for you? 
  • What is needed to do it, in terms of knowledge of traditions, theoretical issues in making comparisons, attitudes or skills that we need to cultivate for inter-religious learning, or other things?   
  • What considerations, and potential pitfalls, should be kept in mind in doing comparative theology (e.g. fraught historical relations between traditions, power differentials, hidden agendas, tendencies to construct “traditions” too homogeneously, etc.). 



11.8 (Paul Knitter comes as guest presenter), 





3.14 (John Thatamanil comes as guest presenter),


(4.25 extra if needed).

Updated: 22-Aug-2013
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