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Boston College

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Boston College

Spring, 2008-2009

Th 531 Toward an Abrahamic Family Reunion:

Issues of Religion and Identity*

Wednesday Afternoon: 3:00 – 4:50 PM

Room: Carney 205

Instructors: Raymond Helmick, SJ and Rodney Petersen

with colleagues from the BTI and community, particularly

Dr. Abdel-Rahman Mohamed and Rabbi Sanford Seltzer

I. Course Description

Jews, Christians and Muslims are commonly referred to as members of the Abrahamic family of faith since each faith claims Abraham as its progenitor.  Christianity and Judaism experienced a “parting of the ways” during the inception and development of Christianity.  Islam emerged as a further prophecy and self perceived clarification of earlier prophetic witness in the seventh century. (610 CE) The purpose of this course is to explore initial family relationships, what factors contributed to the emergence of separate communities of belief and practice often in conflict with one another despite their common ancestry and the role played by these conflicts in the shaping of critical historic periods.

Today deep issues of religious identity that are either specific to this family of faiths or particularly exacerbated by the nature of the relationships between them are at the heart of current political and military tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The course will explore many of the social and religious dynamics influencing the resolution these situations. It is clear that Abrahamic family relations will have enormous implications for the shaping of the 21st century for good or for ill.

* This course title is taken from the Fetzer Institute Project of this name and is being developed with their encouragement.

II. Grading

Students are to write three papers:

1.      First “Impressions” Paper (c. 5 pp. double-spaced with endnotes and bibliography as appropriate): How do you understand the role of your faith with respect to the other Abrahamic traditions? (Due on February 25.)

  1. “Case Study” Paper (c. 5 pp. double-spaced with endnotes and bibliography as appropriate): This paper should develop a case study of the role of religion in relation to a particular theological disagreement or conflict. Your case study should offer a brief narrative of the conflict, a summary of the main points of contention to date, and a proposal for how to work through the issues under consideration and with the parties in dispute, together with religious participation. (Due no later than April 8.)
  1. Final “Summary” Paper (c. 10 pp. double-spaced with endnotes and bibliography as appropriate). This paper can be a research paper of your choice on a topic to be worked out with one of the course instructors. (Due on May 6.)

Active participation in all aspects of the course and its readings is presumed.  Each week attention will be given to items from the suggested reading list for which class participants will write short content summaries for brief presentation in class.

III. Field Work

Class participants are expected to attend at least one of the following events. If unable to fulfill, alternative experiences will be developed with the course instructors. (A one page paper will be asked from each student with a summary of reflections on the nature of the event attended.)

  • February 27 (all day): “Mission and Multiple Religious Identity”; Annual Costas Consultation in Global Mission with speakers from throughout the BTI schools and elsewhere
  • March 15 (3:00 – 8:30 PM): “Talking To The Other Or Talking Past The Other. Addressing the Hard Questions of Interreligious Dialogue”; at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury (Conference of the Inter-Religious Center on Public Life)
  • Date TBA: Conference on Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, sponsored by Saint John’s Seminary as a part of its 125th Anniversary

IV. Websites and Related Organizations

V. Schedule of Classes – initial draft to be further  developed

1) 1/14             Introduction to the Course

(Petersen and team)

      • Course Syllabus
      • Basic Texts and Scripture: Thoughts on The Tanach, The Bible and The Qur’an
      • Methodologies of Faith Propagation (Historical, Conventional and Contemporary Models of Mission)
      • Thoughts on Genesis 25

Required Reading:

Many course readings may be obtained from the class website beginning in January 2008.

  • Montville, Joseph. “Toward the Abrahamic Family Reunion: The Political Psychology of Muslim-Christian-Jewish Reconciliation”

A book to be read through the context of the course:

  • Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Ballantine Books, 1994): Begin to read the book. See bibliography, “Basic Introductions,” for books you may wish to read through the context of this course and thereafter.
  • Scriptural material about Abraham; take any version of the Bible, Tanach or Qur’an or you may choose to read the new translation of the same as found in David Rosenberg, Abraham. The First Historical Biography (New York: Basic Books, 2006).

2) 1/21             Biblical Roots: Tendencies Toward Supersessionism: Understanding the Covenant. The Pauline Heritage – Romans 10: 5-8; 9-11; Genesis 17

(Seltzer and team)

  • Who are the Children of Abraham?
  • Tensions within “Judaisms”: “Pharisaic Movement-become-Rabbinic Judaism-become Judaism”
  • The Pauline Heritage (Jesus and Paul): “Jesus’ Movement-become-Christianity” of “Christianities”
  • A Muslim Perspective on Judaism and Christianity

Required Reading:

  • Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaism and Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Penn Press, 2006 ed.), pp. 1-86
  • Boys, Mary C. Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism As a Source of Christian Self Understanding (New York: Paulist Press, 2000), pp. 5-85.
  • Something from a Muslim perspective, tba
  • Raymond Helmick, “How Can A Catholic Respond, in Faith, to the Faith of Muslims”

Suggested Additional Reading:

TBA

3) 1/28             A Parting of the Ways: The Second to the Fourth Centuries

(Helmick and the team)

  • Texts: Romans 2:25-29; Acts 15
  • Orthodoxy and Heresy
  • Rabbinic Tradition

Required Reading:

  • Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaism and Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Penn Press, 2004), pp. 89-228.
  • Boys, pp. 138-148 (and balance of Part III as able; IV and V will be read for class #14).
  • Shaye J.D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), ch 2-5

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament; see also, We Jews and Jesus (Oxford, 1965).
  • Shaye Cohen, Why aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised: Gender and Covenant in Judaism (University of California Press, 2005).
  • Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt, 1999).

4) 2/4               The Politics of the Orthodox Empire and the Birth of Islam

(Petersen and team)

  • History and Interpretation: Acts 1:8
  • The Monophysite Controversy
  • The Politics of Empire

Required Reading:

  • Jeremy Johns, “Christianity and Islam,” in The Oxford History of Christianity, ed. John McManners (New York: Oxford, 1990/2002): pp. 167-204.
  • Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent. Responding to the Challenge of Islam (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2ned ed., 2007): 73-111, 127-148.
  • John Meyendorff, The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1982): 89-114.

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • George Every, Understanding Eastern Christianity (London: SCM Press, 1980): 53-84.
  • Steven Wasserstrom, Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem of Symbiosis Under Early Islam (Princeton, 1995).
  • Irfan Shahid, “Byzantium and the Islamic World,” in Byzanatium. A World Civilization, ed. by Angeliki Laiou and Henry Maguire (Washington, D.C,: Dumbarton Oaks, 1992): 49-60.

5) 2/11             Islamic Ummah, Carolingian idea of Christendom and the Jewish Diaspora: Issues of Community and Identity

(Mohamed and team)

  • Division and Unity in the Traditions
  • Bogomil and Catholic/Orthodox
  • Sunni and Shia
  • Jewish Equivalences
  • DVD: “Islam: The Empire of Faith”

Required Reading:

  • Abdurrahman Al-Sheha, Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (King Fahd National Library, 2005).
  • Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton, 1994).
  • Judith Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989): 445-480; if time see also pp. 390-444.
  • Miri Reuben: Gentile Tales – The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews (Philadelphia: University of Penn, 2004).

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press (April 26, 2006)
  • Jacob Katz, Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages (Schocken Books, 1971)
  • Hugh Kennedy, The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East. Variorum Collected Studies (Ashgate Publishing, 2006)
  • Ivan Marcus, Rituals of Childhood: Jewish Acculturation in Medieval Europe (Yale University Press, 1996)
  • “What the Bible Says About Muhammad”

6) 2/18             Faith and Europe: Confrontations and Encounters

(Helmick and team)

  • The Crusades – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Interpretation
  • The Inquisition and the Concept of Christendom
  • DVD: “The City of Lights”

Required Reading:

  • Bréhier, Louis. “Crusades.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 6 Jan. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm>.
  • Avraham Grossman, Pius and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Medieval Europe (Brandeis University Press, 2004), ch 9
  • Amin Maloof, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (New York: Schocken Books, 1989): read the introductory chapter.

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • David Biale, Culture of the Jews (Schocken Books, 2002), ch 1-2
  • James Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity (Oxford University Press, 1996).
  • Edward Peters, Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California, 1989): 11-74.
  • Edward Peters, Heresy and Authority in Late Medieval Society (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1980).
  • James Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity (Oxford University Press, 1996).

7) 2/25             The Reformation of Christendom; Jews and Muslims as the Antichrist

(Petersen and team)

  • Religious Dissent and Late Medieval Piety
  • The Problematic of Martin Luther: Jews, Saracens and the Antichrist
  • The Heritage of Protestant and Catholic Reformation

Required Reading:

  • Hans J. Hillerbrand, The Division of Christendom: Christianity in the Sixteenth Century (Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007), pp. 65-138.
  • Bernard Cooperman (Ed), Jewish Thought in the 16th Century (Harvard University Press, 1983). Essay by Heiko Oberman: Three 16th Century Attitudes to Judaism – Reuchlin, Erasmus, and Luther

Suggested Additional Reading:

March 2 – March 6 – BC Spring Vacation Break

8) 3/11             Continental Pietism, Kabbalah, and the Emergence of Hasidism and Sufi Mysticism

(Seltzer and team)

Required Reading:

      • Peter Erb, The Pietists: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1983): 1-28.
      • Ada Rappaport Albert, Hasidism Reappraised (Littmann Library of Jewish Civilization, 1997).  Parts 11 and 111
      • Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789. Cambridge History of Europe (Cambridge, 2006).
      • Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah (Castle Books, 1997).

Suggested Additional Reading:

      • Mary Fulbrook Piety and Politics: Religion and the Rise of Absolutism in England, Wurttemberg and Prussia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).
      • K. S. Pinson, Pietism as a Factor in the Rise of German Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934).
  • Idries Shah, The Sufis (New York: Anchor Books, 1971).
      • Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982).

9) 3/18             Reordering the State and Redefining the Other

(Mohamed and team)

  • Emergence of a Secular State
  • Consciousness of Religious Freedom
  • Identity of a People as an Issue/Orientalism

Required Reading:

  • Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1978).
  • Samir Amin, Eurocentrism (Monthly Review Press, 1989), pp 1-68
  • Philip Bobbit, The Shield of Achilles – War, Peace, and the Course of History (Anchor Books, 2002), Book 2 Parts 1-2

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • Harold Berman, Law and Revolution Volume 1: The Formation of the Western Tradition (Harvard University Press, 1983), Excerpts regarding Gregory VII and Dictatus Pape in 1075 to Henry IV and the Declaration of Boniface VIII in 1302: “He who denies that the secular sword is the power of Peter does not understand the word of the Lord.” The Doctrine of the Two Swords.

10) 3/25           Empires, Nationalisms, and the Religious and Political Aspects of Zionism

(Petersen and team)

  • Empire and its Undoing
  • Birth of Nationalisms
  • Religious and Political Aspects of Zionism
  • Adjusting a World View: Post-Millennialism, A-Millennialism and Pre-Millennialism

Required Reading:

  • Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (New York: Basic Books, 2004): 1-44.
  • Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea (New York: Doubleday, 1959).
  • Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (London: Owl Books, 2001): 13-56.
  • Rodney Petersen, Preaching in the Last Days (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993): 227-47.

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • David Rausch, Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism (Miller Press, 1979).
  • George Antonius, The Arab Awakening (Capricorn Books, 1965).
  • Aaharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1976).

11) 4/1             Road to Auschwitz: Persecution and Destruction of Communities of the Other

(Seltzer and team)

  • Destruction of the Other
  • Birth of Totalitarianism
  • Road to Auschwitz

Required Reading:

  • Paula Fredrickson and Adele Reinharz, Jesus, Judaism and Christian Anti-Semitism: Reading the New Testament after the Holocaust (Westminster, 2002).
  • John Klier and Shlomo Lambroza, Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Meridian Books, 1960), Ch 1-3
  • Michael Marrus, The Holocaust in History (University Press, 1987).

Suggested Additional Reading:

12) 4/8             Christian Social Ethics Since WWII and the Politics of Forgiveness

  • The World of Pope John XXIII
  • The Theologies of Vatican II
  • Liberation Theology and After: Moltmann, Miroslav Volf.

(Helmick and team)

Required Reading:

  • Geoffrey Adams, Political Ecumenism: Catholics, Jews, and Protestants in De Gaulles Free France, 1940-1945 (McGill-Queen’s University Press (November 6, 2006): 2-31, 239-263, 311-324.
  • Richard McBrian, Report on the Church: Catholicism After Vatican II (New York: HarperCollins, 1992): 1-22, 181-203.
  • Nostra aetate and other Vatican II documents
  • Donald W. Shriver, Jr. An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics (New York: Oxford, 1995): 218-234 and read widely as able.

Suggested Additional Reading:

      • Donald Shriver, Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember its Misdeeds (New York: Oxford, 2005).
      • Martha Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998)

13) 4/15           Islam is the Answer: The Post-Modern Emergence of Religious Fundamentalism Among Christians, Jews and Muslims

(Mohamed and team)

  • Islam is the Answer, the Christian Right, Divine Deed to the Promised Land.
  • Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Humiliation and the Woundedness of a People

Reading includes:

§  Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (updated 2002 version).

§  John L. Esposito, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Gallup Press, 2008)

§  Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, America‘s Battle for God. A European Christian Looks at Civil Religion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007): 11-48, 115-142.

§  Adnan A. Musallam, From Secularism to Jihad: Sayyid Qutb and the Foundations of Radical Islamism (New York: Praeger Publishers, 2005).

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Islam and the Secular State (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).
  • Paul Barrett, American Islam. The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion (New York: Picador, 2007).

14) 4/22           Trialogue in the 21st Century

(Helmick and Team)

  • Consensus statement literature, e.g.,: A Common Word Between Us. Document signed by 138 Muslim Scholars, (October, 2007): http://www.acommonword.com/;
  • Ecumenical dialogue among Christians and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue
  • Intra-Communal (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) dialogue

Required Reading:

  • Mary Boys, Has God Only One Blessing? pp. 175-278.
  • Consensus statement literature, e.g.,: A Common Word Between Us. Document signed by 138 Muslim Scholars, (October, 2007): http://www.acommonword.com/
  • Leonard
    Swidler, Khalid Duran and Reuven Firestone, Trialogue. Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue (New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2007): Part I (everyone) and we will divide up the rest of the book for presentations….

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • Will Herberg, Protestant – Catholic – Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1983).
  • Barrett, Paul M., American Islam. The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Picador, 2007).

15) 4/29           Politics in the 21st Century

(Petersen and Team)

  • Relevance of Religion: Daily Life and Socio-Political, Economic and Psychological Relations

Required Reading:

  • Abdul Aziz Sachedina, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism (New York, Oxford University Press, 2001): tba.
  • Robert Crane, Shaping the Future: Challenge and Response (Wayland, MA: Islamic Center of Boston, 1997): tba.
  • Amos Yong, Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian Practices, and the Neighbor (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2008): tba.

Suggested Additional Reading:

  • From the list below….

VI. Required Reading

Selections from texts for weekly reading will be available on the website in January 2009. Texts for purchase include the following:

  1. Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Ballantine Books, 1994).
  2. Blyden, Edward Wilmont, Christianity, Islam and the African Race (San Franisco, First African Arabian Press, 1992).
  3. Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaism and Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Penn Press, 2006 ed.).
  4. Boys, Mary C. Has God Only One Blessing?: Judaism As a Source of Christian Self Understanding (New York: Paulist Press, 2000).
  5. Abdul Wahid Hamid, Islam, the Natural Way (MELS Publishing, 1989).
  6. Leonard Swidler, Khalid Duran and Reuven Firestone, Trialogue: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue (New London, CT: Twenty Third Publications, 2007).
  7. Amos Yong, Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian Practices, and the Neighbor (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2008).