Our Faculty

Jonathan Paul Sydnor

Chair, Department of Theology & Religious Studies, Associate Professor of Theology & Religious Studies


Contact Information

617-264-7735


Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 465

Office hours: Monday- Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Education

Ph.D., Boston College; M.Div., Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary; B.A., University of Virginia


Bio

Dr. Sydnor enjoys teaching world religions as lived realities. Hinduism, for example, is not an abstract bundle of ideas but a way of life for almost a billion people. So, students in Dr. Sydnor's classes don't just learn about a religion. Instead, they encounter it both sympathetically and critically. Through lectures, discussions, readings, films, and documentaries Dr. Sydnor tries to engage his students' imaginations and make the religion come alive.

Academic Interests
Comparative Theology; Aesthetic Theory; Critical Theory; Theology of Religion; Theology of Religions; Interreligious Cognition; Liberation Theology; Feminist Theology; World Christian Theology


Courses I Teach

  • FYS 1101.67 God at the Museum: World Religions through Religious Imagery
  • THRS 1101 Exploring Religion
  • THRS 2135 World Religions
  • THRS 2116 Science and Religion
  • THRS 2202: Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices
  • THRS 2212: Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices
  • THRS 2221: Radical Christianity
  • THRS 2154 India: Religion, Culture, Justice
  • THRS 3203 World Religions in Conflict and Dialogue


Publications + Presentations

Ramanuja and Schleiermacher: Toward a Constructive Comparative Theology

Can the comparison of two theologians vastly separated in space and time help contemporary theologians to think better? Ramanuja and Schleiermacher: Toward a Constructive Comparative Theology argues that it can. Specifically, this book argues that the novel and burgeoning discipline of comparative theology is a powerful method for gaining critical insight into our inherited worldviews. More important, it argues that the critical insights gained through comparison can produce constructive theology or, in other words, revised and renewed worldviews.


Articles and Chapters (Refereed)

  • "The Dance of Emptiness: A Constructive Comparative Theology." In Comparative Theology: Insights for Christian Systematic Reflection. New York: Fordham University Press. Forthcoming.
  • "Jaimini, Sankara, and the Alvars: Ramanuja's Enduring Synthesis."Journal of Vaishnava Studies 22.2:2014.
  • "Ramanuja and Schleiermacher on Language: Comparative Theology for Constructive Theology." Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies 22:1:2009 (32-38).
  • "Ramanuja's Philosophy of Divinity: From Brahman to Narayana."Journal of Vaishnava Studies 16:2:2008 (3-26).
  • "Beyond the Text: Revisiting Jacques Dupuis' Theology of Religions." International Review of Mission 96:380/381:2007 (56-71).
  • "Complementarity Reasoning in Interreligious Dialogue." Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 15:2:2005 (165-181).
  • "Shaivism's Nataraja and Picasso's Crucifixion: An Essay in Comparative Visual Theology. "Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 15:1:2005 (86-100).

Publications (Non-refereed)

  • Book review. The Divine Body in History: A comparative study of the symbolism of time and embodiment in St Augustine and Ramanuja by Ankur Barua. Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies. Volume 27, article 22. 2014.
  • Essay. "Science, Religion, and the Galileo Affair." Newsletter from the Values-Based Education Program. Emmanuel College. Spring 2014.
  • Book review. Journal of Vaishnava Studies 20.2 (Spring 2012). In Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, vol. 26, article 18. 2013.
  • Essay. "Faith and Science at Emmanuel." Newsletter from the Values-Based Education Program. Emmanuel College. Fall 2012.
  • Guest Editorial. "Jefferson's University on Path of Deterioration." The Daily Progress (Charlottesville). www2.dailyprogress.com. June 24, 2012.
  • Book review. Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry by Hugh Nicholson. Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies. Volume 24, article 20. 2011.
  • "Paul Tillich as Proto-Comparative Theologian." Bulletin of the North American Paul Tillich Society 35:1:2009 (19-24).
  • "Religion as Art." Dialogue and Alliance 16:2:2002 (67-88).

Presentations

  • Panelist. "Networks of Resistance: Nagarjuna's Emptiness and Moltmann's Sociality as Resources for a Relational, Dynamic, Embodied, Egalitarian Concept of the Soul." Panel: The Divine and Human Image in Many Mirrors: Comparative Perspectives on Theological Anthropology. Conference: American Academy of Religion (San Diego, 2014).
  • "Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama: What is their appeal?" Panel: Pope Francis (The First Year). Emmanuel College, Boston. March 4, 2014.
  • Lecture. "The Dance of Emptiness: A Constructive Comparative Theology of the Social Trinity." Conference: The Promise of Pluralism. Wake Forest University. March 1, 2014.
  • Keynote Speaker. "Comparative Theology in the Bible: On the Interreligious Nature of Revelation." Engaging Particularities Conference. Boston College. March 22, 2013.
  • Speaker. "Religious Diversity in American Culture." Massachusetts Facilities Administrators Association. Fall Conference: Connecting Maintenance with Diversity. September 27, 2012.
  • Panelist. "Ritual as the Expression of Theological Commitments." Panel: Interreligious Ritual Participation: Reverence, Flippancy, or Betrayal? Conference: Society for Hindu-Christian Studies of the American Academy of Religion (Chicago, November 19, 2012).
  • Lecture. "The Dance of Emptiness: Sunyata and Perichoresis in a Constructive Comparative Theology." Center for the Study of World Religions. Harvard Divinity School. March 30, 2012.
  • Panelist. "The Beauty of Religions: Art Critical Theory for Comparative Theology." Panel: Art and Non-Textual Media as Paradigms for Comparative Theology." Conference: Comparative Theology and Art, Literature, and Religion session of the American Academy of Religion (San Francisco, November 20, 2011).
  • Section and Guest Speaker. "Social Issues in Religious Organizations." Invited by Prof. Braja Bihari Dasa. University of Wales (Lampeter). May 20, 2010 (Teleconference).
  • Conference Paper. "Transsexualism: A Christian Medical Ethical Analysis." Conference: Ethics of Sexuality/Gay and Lesbian Issues of the Society of Christian Ethics (San Jose, California, January 9, 2010).
    Panelist. "Documentaries and Films in the Online Religion Course." Panel: Online Learning? An Oxymoron? Conference: Teaching Religion Section of the American Academy of Religion (Montreal, Quebec, November 10, 2009).
  • Conference Paper. "Paul Tillich as an Advocate of Comparative Theology." Conference: North American Paul Tillich Society of the American Academy of Religion (Chicago, Illinois, October 31, 2008).
  • Panelist. "Shaivism's Nataraja and Picasso's Crucifixion: An Essay in Comparative Visual Theology." Panel: Pushing the Boundaries: Exploring New Methods and Theories in Comparative Theology. Conference: Comparative Theology Group of the American Academy of Religion (San Diego, California, November 17, 2007).
  • Conference Paper. "Comparative Theology in Abraham Kunnuthara's Schleiermacher on Christian Consciousness of God's Work in History." Conference: International Schleiermacher Society of the American Academy of Religion (San Diego, California, November 16, 2007).
  • Conference Paper. "Interreligious Dialogue for Mission." Conference: Mission Congress 2005 of the Catholic Mission Forum (Tucson, Arizona, October 13-16, 2005).
  • Panelist. "Let No One Join What God Has Put Asunder: Cognition and the Religions." Conference: Engaging Particularities: New Directions in Comparative Theology, Interreligious Dialogue, Theology of Religions, and Missiology (Boston College, April 1-3, 2005).
  • Conference Paper. "Beautiful Other: The Promise of Schleiermacher's Theology of Religion." Conference: Engaging Particularities: New Directions in Comparative Theology, Interreligious Dialogue, Theology of Religions, and Missiology (Boston College, April 4-6, 2003).
  • Respondent to Francis X. Clooney: Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries Between Religions. Meeting: Society for Comparative Theology (Andover Newton Theological School, February 7, 2003).

Grants + Recognition

  • Marion and Jasper Whiting Fellowship - 2011

Research Focus

Dr. Sydnor practices comparative theology, or theology which draws on more than one religious tradition. In particular, Dr. Sydnor enjoys studying Hinduism and Buddhism both in their own right and as dialogue partners with Christianity. He attempts to produce new Christian theology informed by a broadened religious conversation.