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Semester 1

God of the Oppressed: Liberation Theologies in Christianity and Islam (DIVI10048)







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Although this course does not have any pre-requisites, it is designed for students who have studied two full years of Divinity/Religious Studies beforehand. If you have not studied this subject area to that level, it is your responsibility to ensure the course is an appropriate level for you during the first week of teaching, and you must drop this course (before the Course Change Deadline) if you do not have the required background knowledge/skills.

Course Summary

Using a comparative framework, this course offers a thematic overview of liberation theology's development in Christianity and Islam, asking how socially concerned Christians and Muslims have (re)read their respective faith traditions to confront the problem of oppression.

Course Description

Academic Description: In an unjust world, what role can religion play in the struggle for human rights and the alleviation of suffering? This is the question that drives liberation theology, one of the most influential theological movements of the twentieth-century. Using a comparative framework, this course offers a critical overview of liberation theology's development in Christianity and Islam. After analyzing the historical origins of liberation theology, we will examine a number of thematic categories, including class, race, and gender. Throughout the course, students will reflect on the following larger questions: How does social context shape our understanding of God, scripture, and religion as a whole? Whose lived experience gets to become 'the norm', the point of departure for theological reflection? How is religious authority construed and what are its social ramifications? Finally, how have Christians and Muslims (re)interpreted the Bible and Qur'an, respectively, through a liberating lens? That is, which new methods are they using, how do they depart from inherited, traditional methods, and what are the possibilities and potential pitfalls of these new methods? Syllabus/Outline Content:This course is based on comparative analysis, encouraging students to draw linkages (and discrepancies) between Christian and Muslim contexts. The weeks alternate between Christianity and Islam - rather than having half of the course devoted to Christianity and the other half to Islam - precisely to encourage such comparative reflection. Hence, it is the categories of analysis (namely: class, race, and gender) which are the driving frameworks of the course, contrasting Christian and Islamic perspectives. The course concludes by assessing criticisms of liberation theology by the Vatican and mainstream Islamic seminaries. A Note on Teaching Format: The lectures will be in-person and all students are expected to have completed the weekly readings before the lecture. This will be particularly important for the tutorial that will directly follow the lecture, as the tutorial will be discussion-based and students should be prepared to engage the issues, questions, and perspectives raised in the readings. If any students need to self-isolate, the lectures will be recorded and the tutorials will be streamed live (though not recorded). This digital option is only a last resort; unless they are sick or self-isolating, students must be present at both the lectures and tutorials.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 90%, Practical Exam 10%

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