Teaching Resources


Relg 344: Religious Conflict and Resolution among the Abrahamic Religions
Instructor: Prof. Peter Ochs
University of Virginia

Course Description: Against a backdrop of violence today among members of the three Abrahamic traditions, the course samples two different sources of theory about how political conflict and peace may emerge among members of these religions. One source is political theory in the modern west, as it addresses the theme of conflict and peace in international relations. The other source is the study of Scripture in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as that study addresses issues and practices of conflict and peace. Students will examine case studies of conflict among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The course will encourage dialogue among the methods and advocates of modern political theory and of scriptural religion, all in the interest of re-imagining models of inter-religious conflict resolution.

Course Readings:


  • The New Oxford Annotated NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Third Edition. ed. Michael D. Coogan et al. 0-19-528485-2
  • The Koran Interpreted: A Translation. trans. A. J. Arberry. 0684825074
  • F. E. Peters. The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition. 0691115613
  • Marc Gopin. Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence, and Peacemaking. 0195157257
  • H. Morganthau and K. Thompson, The Politics of Nations (abridged)

Websites of Scriptural Reasoning Practices:

Websites of Essays in Politics and Religion

  • "Symposium: The Impact of Religion on Global Affairs," SAIS Review 18.2, Summer-Fall 1998: link
  • Haasenclever and Volker Rittberger. "Does Religion make a difference?" Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2000. Vol. 29, Nr. 3, 641-674. link (PDF file)
  • "Interreligious Dialogue and Evangelism" by Terry C.Muck, Buddhist-Christian Studies, Issue 17 - 1997,p139ff.

Optional (5 cc):

  • Marc Gopin. Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East ISBN: 0195146506

PART 1: Introduction to Conflict and Resolution among the Abrahamic Religions

  1. Class 1 "Pain in the Tent"
    1. Regional conflicts in the news
    2. Course projects: South Africa, Balkans, Israel/Palestine.
    3. Western Political Theory and International Relations
    4. CHAI: Abrahamic Scriptural Reasoning and Western Political Theory in Dialogue
  2. Class 2 Religion as Source as well as object of Conflict Resolution
    1. UVA Students Address the issues: Rd. from Pain in the Tent: "Sudan" (Dana Weiss); "Nationalism" (Dustin Batson).
    2. Rd James Kurth in Orbis 45:2 (in course toolkit)
    3. Peruse the CHAI website: childrenofabrahaminstitute.org (access it on Netscape)

PART 2: How the Scriptural traditions work.

  1. Introducing the Three Traditions of Scripture

    Class 3 The Word of God and the Covenant: From Jewish Tradition to the other CHA
    Rd. Monotheists I.1 (covenant); II.1 (scriptures). Peruse table of contents of Tanakh/OT

    Class 4 The Good News:
    Reinterpreting Scripture in Christianity and the other CHA: Prof. Robert Wilken
    Rd. Monotheists I.2 (Jesus); II.2 (understand the word of God) + pp. 90-100

    Class 5 Tradition and Law: In Islam and the other CHAI: Jusuf Salih
    Rd. Monotheists I.3 (Muhammad); II.3 + pp.105-122.
  2. The Traditions in Society and Politics

    Class 7 Community, Authority, State in Islam:
    Prof Abdulaziz Sachedina note change of order of class
    Rd. Monotheists, I.5 (only pp.186-96); I.8.

    Class 6 Identity, Boundary, and Exclusion in Christianity and Judaism
    Rd. Monotheists I.4, 5 (only: pp.156-186; 197-210)

    Class 8: Illustrating the Conflict: The Balkans, Presented by Jusuf Salihu
    Rd. "Pain in the Tent": Balkans (Courtney Lodge), on TOOLKIT + tba

Part 3: Approaches in Contemporary International Relations: Theory and Diplomacy

  1. Foundations of IR

    Class 9: (Feb 12) The Realist Theory of International Politics: Guest: Prof. John Owen
    Rd Politics Among Nations: Part I, II: 3

    Class 10: The Struggle for Power: Guest: Prof. Gerard Alexander
    Rd Politics Among Nations: Part II: pp. 50-83; III: pp. 113-163(begin)

    Class 11: National Power and its Limits: Student Leaders, Ivi and Ellie
    Rd Politics Among Nations: Part III: pp. 113-163(finish); IV: 11; V: 15; VI: 18

    Class 12: International Restraints on the Nations: Guest: Ambassador David Newsome
    Rd Politics Among Nations: Part VII; VIII: 23

    Class 13: Peace and Negotiation:
    Rd Politics Among Nations: Part IX; X.

    Class 14: (Mar 2) Peace, Negotiation, and Diplomacy: The Case of Israel/Palestine Guest: Prof William Quandt
  2. Religions and/in Political Theory

    Class 15: Religion and Conflict Resolution
    Rd. Gopin, Between Eden

    Class 16: Religion and Conflict Resolution (March 16)
    Rd Gopin, Between Eden
    Begin Journal of SR #2

Wed March 17; Midterm (1 1/2 hrs) distributed in Dept of Religious Studies Office

PART 4: The Practice of Scriptural Reasoning and New Practices of IR Theory

  1. The Practice of SR

    Class 17: SR, Religion and Conflict Resolution: Guests Drs. Marc Gopin and Joe Montville
    Rd: Gopin, Between Eden; JSR #2

    4:00 -6:00 on Thursday, March 18th, 2004
    Minor Hall 125
    Panelists will include: Joseph Montville, Marc Gopin, Helena Cobban, Mustafa Abu-Sway...

    Class 18: SR, Pharoah and Moses (March 23)
    Rd: Journal of Scriptural Reasoning 2#2
  2. The Theory of SR and Religious Conflict
    1. Class 19: SR, Pharoah and Moses Continued (March 23)
      Rd: JSR #2; Mar 25
    2. Class 20: Mar 29 MORE SR: Joseph and his Brothers
      RD: Scriptures Handout (plus examine the textual context in the primary sources)
      Special event to attend if you would like: Monday Eve CHAI club 6:15
    3. Class 21: April 1: CHAI Healing the Pain in the Tent?
      RD: "The Tent of Meeting" (in Toolkit: Focus on pp. 1-19; (19-24 if you can or skim); 24-45; the rest is optional-also if you need to, read lightly the text readings of pp. 24ff...)

    APRIL 6 Passover, No class
  3. SR and Political Theory
    1. Class 22: April 8: The Case of South Africa: with Dustin Batson UVA '03
      Rd. Batson's two essays in "Pain in the Ten pt. 01 + pt. 13t" (Instructional Toolkit)
      Rd. Kepnes, SR Handbook (in the Toolkit-use this as you need it for general definitions for the last weeks of class).
    2. Classes 23-24: April 13,15: CHAI in New Theories of Religion and IR (with Prof Daniel Hardy as guest)
      Goal: to read new theories of IR+ religion and restate them in terms of CHAI: (hopefully!) generating new CHAI theories of Religion and International Politics.
      Rd: See essays listed above in "Websites of Essays in Politics and Religion."

PART 5: Class Workshop in Imagining CHAI Theories of Conflict Resolution

The goal of each week is to receive student presentations on one area of conflict and, in the process, to nurture, step by step, new models of CHAI and Conflict Resolution.

  1. Balkans: Class 25 Tues April 20.
  2. South Africa: Class 26 April 22
  3. Israel/Palestine: Classes 27 April 27
Other recommended Readings:

Michael A. Sells
Love Thy Neighbor : A Story of War by Peter Maass ( March 1997) :
Origins of a Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and Its Destroyers-America's Last Ambassador Tells What Happened and Why by Warren Zimmerman
Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation by Laura Silber, Allan Little (Contributor)
The Balkans: Nationalism, War & the Great Powers, 1804-1999 by Misha Glenny
The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Ethnic Conflict and International Intervention by Steven L. Burg, Paul S. Shoup

Wasserstein, Bernard, Israelis and Palestinians
Chacour, elias, We Belong to the Land
Fry, Ian, Trouble in the Triangle
Marc Gopin, Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East
Shimon Peres: The New Middle East
Idinapolis: Jerusalem Blessed, Jerusalem Cursed
Halliday, Islam and the Myth of Confrontation
Yossi Klein Holevi, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden
Kurzman, C., Liberal Islam

South Africa:
Boraine, A, A country Unmasked: Inside SA's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
de Gruchy, John, The Church Struggle in South Africa
de Gruchy, John, Liberating Reformed Theology (In SA)
de Gruchy and M. Prosesky, Living Faiths in SA
Mandela, Neslon, Long Walk to Freedom
Shain, Milton, Looking Back: Jews in the Struggle for Democracy... in SA
Tayob, A., Islamic Resurgence in SA
Thompson, Leonard, A History of South Africa
Tutu, Desmond, No Future without Forgiveness

Theory of IR + religion and peace:
Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft by Douglas Johnston (Editor), et al
Sachedina, Abdulaziz, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism
Sachedina, Abdulaziz, The Just Ruler in Shiite Islam
Martin Hollis and Steve Smith, Explaining and Understanding International Relations (Oxford U Press: Clarendon Paperbacks, 1990)
Chester Crocker et al., Herding Cats: Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World (US Inst. of Peace Press, 1999)
William Zartman and J. Lewis Rasmussen, Peacemaking in international conflict: methods and techniques (US Inst. of Peace Press, 1997).
The Ambivalence of the Sacred by R. Scott Appleby
When Religion Becomes Evil : Five Warning Signs by Charles Kimball (Author)
Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies by John Paul Lederach
Mark Juergensmeyer , Terror in the Mind of God:
Promise and peril : the paradox of religion as resource and threat / Lännström, Anna. (2003)
Religion, law, and the role of force : a study of their influence on conflict and on conflict resolution / Coffey, Joseph I. (2002)
Michael Waltzer: Just and Unjust War