Dr Joshua Ralston (BA, MTh, MDiv, PhD)

Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations

Background

Joshua Ralston is Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh and director and co-founder of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.  He has  published widely on Reformed Theology, Christian theological engagements with Islam, Arab Christianity, and on political theology.  His monograph, Law and the Rule of God: A Christian Engagement with Shari'a was pubslished by Cambridge University Press (2020)  and he has co-edited two books, Church in an Age of Global Migration: A Moving Body (Palgrave, 2015) and Religious Diversity in Europe: Comparative Political Theology (Ferdinand Schöning, 2020). He is  currently working on a monograph tentatively entitled, Witness and the Word: An Approach to Christian-Muslim Dialogue. Prior to moving to Scotland, he was Assistant Professor of Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Wake Forest University, before going on to study World Christianity at Edinburgh (MTh with distinction), divinity at Candler School of Theology (MDiv), and Christian Theology and Islamic Thought at Emory University.  

Qualifications

BA, MTh, MDiv, PhD

Responsibilities & affiliations

External appointments

Co-Chair of the AAR Reformed Theology and History Steering Committe 

Associate Editor, Political Theology 

Editorial Board, Journal for the Study of Interreligious Relations

Editorial Board Member for Book Series,  Ferdinand Schöningh's Beiträge zur Komparativen Theologie

Editorial Advisory Board for Book Series, Islamic Scripture and Theology (Edinburgh University Press)

 

Undergraduate teaching

Christian-Muslim Relations

Jesus in Christianity and Islam

Jews and Muslims 

Islamic Law: From Prayer to Politics

Comparative Political Theology: Islam, Christianity, Secularism

The Theology of Karl Barth

Postgraduate teaching

Christian-Muslim Relations: Global Perspectives

Islamic Law

Contesting Secularism: Christian and Islamic Political Theologies

Readings in the Church Dogmatics

Jesus in Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

Dr Ralston teaches and writes on the following, and would be happy to receive inquires from postgraduate students interested in any of these areas:

-  Christian theological engagements with Islam and Muslim understandings of Christianity

-  Comparative Theology and Theologies of Religious Diversity, particularly in Protestant and Reformed thought.

-  Protestant Theology, particularly Christology, ecclesiology, doctrine of God, and political theology

-  Islamic Theology (kalam) and Law (fiqh) 

-  Political Theology

-  Arab Christianity

-  Migration, Theology, and Religion

Current research interests

His book, Law and the Rule of God: A Christian-Muslim Comparative Theology (Cambridge, 2020) , leverages political theology and comparative theology to engage longstanding debates over the place and function of law in Muslim-Christian relations. By adopting a comparative approach, the work avoids two routes that dominate most discussions of political theology in Christian-Muslim exchange. One leans strongly on the legal apparatuses of secularism, and thus too quickly silences religious commitments and their critiques of modernity; and the other attempts to reassert the ultimacy of religious community over and against the secular state largely through reinscribing old battle lines between Christendom and the dār al-Islām. Instead, the book argues that debates regarding Sharī‘a, secularism, and law can be productively reframed by attending to the history of debate over the law in Christian-Muslim encounter and also the nuanced perspectives regarding public law within the theo-legal discourse of both Islam and Christianity. He is currently working on two monographs. The first, Witness and the Divine Word, develops a methodological approach to Christian theological engagement with Islam and then deploys this methodology to the question of the divine Word in key areas of Christian-Muslim debate (revelation, the divine attributes, Christology, Qur'an, and prophetology). The second and longer term project considers the place of political theology in 20th and 21st century Arab intellectual thought and attempts to offer a comparative political theology that draws Arab debates into conversation with European and North American arguments on the secular.

Knowledge exchange

Dr Ralston is a regular contributor to public forums including ABC's Religion and Ethics Portal, and is an editor in the theology and interreligious studies section of Syndicate Network, an online forum for scholarship in the humanaties. He regularly speaks on themes of religion, secularism, Islam, and migration and is currently serving on the World Communion of Reformed Churches' European Task Force on Migration. 

Recent public scholarship include:

The Same God, or the One God: On the Limitations and Implications of the Wheaton Affair

How Political Theologians Should (Not) Engage Islam

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

Henry Luce Foundation for Theology Education, 3 year project (2017-2019) to develop and launch the Christian-Muslim Studies Network.

View all 28 publications on Research Explorer