Comparative Scripture, Interpretation and Practice

Faculty: Ahmed Al-Rahim, Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Asher Biemann, Larry Bouchard, Shankar Nair, Vanessa Ochs, Peter Ochs

Affiliated Faculty: Maya Boutaghou (French), Elizabeth Fowler (English)

UVA's Graduate Program in Comparative Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice prepares students for advanced research and teaching about the phenomena of scriptural study, textual interpretation, and religious practice in all three of the Abrahamic traditions. The first goal of the program is to examine the Bible, the Qur'an, and other scriptures as literatures that accompany communities of religious practice: practices of study, of interpretation and philosophy, of ritual, and of social life. The PhD prepares students for teaching positions in departments of Religious Studies, where they will be able to offer advanced courses in their primary tradition of study and more general courses in Abrahamic and other traditions.

Coursework in SIP focuses primarily on the three Abrahamic traditions. There are foundational courses on the languages, texts, and histories of the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an; and in the interpretive traditions of rabbinic Judaism, of early and Patristic Christianity, and of classical Qur'anic exegesis and interpretation. There are ethnographic and comparative courses in the religious practices of individual traditions, from reading practices to ritual and prayer practices, in the past and today. There are courses on interpretation theory, on ritual theory, and in semiotics and philosophical hermeneutics, pertinent to each of the traditions and to broader, comparative studies. And there are courses on the practice and theory of “scriptural reasoning,” our term for modes of study, fellowship, and analysis that bring Abrahamic and other text-traditions into sustained dialogue.