TTEARR008E  Interaction Course: Cognition and Embodiment: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

Volume 2017/2018

The Religious Roots of Europe


Mind and body constitute two dual factors in human life and thus also in religion. In the contemporary study of religion these two fundamental factors often appear as the termini technici ‘cognition’ and ‘embodiment’. In recent years the study of religion has been experiencing a surge of studies that investigate religion as a cognitive phenomenon and religion as highly bodily enterprise. One of the new emphases in these studies is the interrelatedness of mind and body, rather than the classic dualist distinction between the two. 

The course will introduce to cognitive science approaches to religion and to the topic of bodies and embodiment in religion as well as in the specific religious (con)texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Thus, the course will swing back and forth between introduction to 1) theories, methods, and research fields, 2) specific texts (mainly Qur’an and Bible), ritual performances and codes, and 3) religious behavior, emotions, body images and expressions. As regard the specific religions, Islam will provide the main part of the material and cases, such as, for instance, ritual ablution in Islam, the body of God in the Qur’an, blood and menstruation, ritual killing, the ritual prayer, and veiling.

Time period
Teaching: week 36-50. Allowance will be made for:
a) The compact seminar in Rome for students in their first term, September 19 to October 1 (a break) including their subsequent exam (until October 14)
b) The compact seminar in Oslo, September 26 to October 3 (a break) for students in their third term.
Thus there is no teaching from September 21 to October 16.

Compact seminar: Lund, November 2-4.

Exam: Paper to be handed in no later than January 20; those with a fixed exam will receive the question on January 16.

Responsible teacher and institution
Professor Thomas Hoffmann, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen

From the study plan
Interaction courses focus on the exchange of and/or parallelism and differences in ideas and practices. The main purpose of each of these modules is to study at least two religions together from a comparative perspective: How do they differ from each other? To what extent and how (if at all) did they influence each other? What exchanges (if any) can be seen between the different religious entities? etc. Students are prompted to compare at least two religions and/or analyse their possible interdependence with regard to ideas, theology and philosophy on the one hand and practices, rituals and institutions on the other. The twofold approach will also give students a thorough understanding of the importance of raising questions concerning different social and cultural segments.

By email to no later than September 9

If the student has participated regularly, actively and satisfactorily in a course, she or he may choose between a free and a fixed written examination. A student failing to fulfill these requirements must sit a fixed written exam.

In the free written examination, the student writes a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material chosen by the student and approved by the responsible teacher.

In the fixed written examination, the student is given four days to write a paper of between eight and ten pages on a subject, question or material provided by the responsible teacher.

Learning Outcome

The student will acquire:
• Knowledge of differences and parallelisms between at least two of the    three religious traditions pertaining to an important theme within these traditions.
• Skills in analysing and discussing such differences and parallelisms.
• The ability to demonstrate such skills in practice and to communicate such knowledge in writing both academically and to the general public. 

The syllabus will include approximately 1300 pages of secondary scholarly literature and primary texts in translation. Approximately 850 of these pages are defined by the teacher before the beginning of the term. Students doing free exams choose their remaining approximately 450 pages. The teacher will define for the students doing a fixed exam their remaining approximately 450 pages no later than one month before the deadline for submission of the exam paper (cf. article 5.9).

Required reading
The syllabus will include: to be announced.

Fixed syllabus

To be announced.

The teaching will combine:
* Compact seminar (see above for more details).
Distance learning
Type of assessment
Written assignment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28