The doctoral students and candidates in Comparative Theology at Boston College are hosting the 16th annual Engaging Particularities conference. It is the longest-running, student-run conference dedicated to theology/religious studies in the Northeastern sector of the United States. It seeks to foster at the level of graduate and post-graduate inquiries the possibility of interreligious enrichment and cooperation.
In 2003, under the graduate student leadership of Tracy Tiemeier, Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkowski, and Adrianne Nagy, and with the advisement of Francis X. Clooney, S.J., the conference aimed to fulfill the vision of the 1995 General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, particularly Decree 5 on mission and interreligious dialogue. It remains dedicated space for the development of graduate students and young scholars refine their comparative methodologies and test comparative categories, due to the support of the Theology Department and the U.S. Jesuit Assistancy for Mission and Interreligious Dialogue,
This is a conference that is not addressed exclusively to students of Christian theology. Numerous participants from previous conferences are scholars non-affiliated, -associated, -identified with a religious community/tradition. Furthermore, this conference is continuously enriched with the participation of non-Christian students of religion.
For a fuller account of this history and an assessment of the prospects for Engaging Particularities in 2007, see Tracy Tiemeier’s keynote address here.
The discipline of comparative theology is steadily growing and diversifying beyond its origin within Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic theological circles. Practitioners of comparative theology are now increasingly Christians of other denominations as well as those in other non-Christian religious traditions. Comparative theologians, as scholars of another religious tradition, are open to recognizing other religions as possible sources of truth and revelation that might inform and enhance truth through theological reflection, while maintaining the basic and meaningful commitments to the moral matrix of the scholar’s point of inquiry. The discipline has developed a diversity of approaches and methods, while leading by its very nature to wide theological diversity.
We also recommend Michelle Voss Robert’s introduction to the discipline and its import as an introductory means to the study of theology in Comparing Faithfully: Insights for Systematic Theological Reflections, eds. M. Voss Roberts (New York: Fordham University, 2016), 1–22.
For the pioneering survey of the contemporary field, see Francis X. Clooney, S.J., “The Emerging Field of Comparative Theology: A Bibliographical Review (1989-95),” Theological Studies 56.3 (September, 1995): 521–50.