Guy Stroumsa, Professor Emeritus at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Oxford University, on "Teaching the Abrahamic Religions: A Subversive Discipline"

Oddly enough, the comparative study of the three main monotheistic religions is nowadays not a common epistemological stance among historians of religions. We should reflect on the reasons for the relative dearth of serious comparative studies, and on the implicit and explicit entailments of such studies.

A methodological assumption demands that the so-called major religions should not be perceived as distinct monolithic blocks which are then to be compared with each other. Rather, we should conceive the development of these major religious and ethical traditions as a result of constant processes of exchange, adaptation, and demarcations.

The talk will seek to identify the conditions for a heuristically fruitful comparative approach to monotheistic systems. In order to do so, we shall seek to approach our topic through the main categories of any religious system, theoria versus praxis, or myths and doctrines versus rituals and institutions. In order to avoid hypostatizing "the three monotheisms" as a singular unit, rather than three individual religions, the structural and phenomenological approach should remain anchored in the specific historical and cultural contexts.

About the Speaker

Guy Stroumsa is the Martin Buber Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Emeritus of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions and Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. Professor Stroumsa’s research addresses the religious history of the Mediterranean world and the Near East in late antiquity. He has published eleven books, edited or co-edited nineteen, and authored more than one hundred and thirty articles. His most recent book is The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2015).

Thu Mar 10, 2016
6:30 PM - 7:50 PM SGT
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