Information in the Degree Programme Tables may still be subject to change in response to Covid-19

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Theology and Ethics

Postgraduate Course: Political Theologies: Current Controversies (THET11065)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPolitical theology is interested in the intersections of theological thinking with politics, interpreting a vast array of issues that reach from tolerance through climate change to terrorism. Where does theological thinking intersect with politics? Where does politics intersect with theological thinking? And why are these intersections important? Questions like these are asked and answered in the increasingly interdisciplinary field of political theology that draws on philosophy and theology as well as political, cultural, legal, and literary studies. This course examines key thinkers and key themes in political theology, concentrating on global challenges in the 20th and the 21st century. It aims to enable students to evaluate and engage with theological thinking in politics both critically and constructively.
Course description Academic Description
Political theology is interested in the intersections of theological thinking with politics, interpreting a vast array of issues that reach from tolerance through climate change to terrorism. Where does theological thinking intersect with politics? Where does politics intersect with theological thinking? And why are these intersections important? Questions like these are asked and answered in the increasingly interdisciplinary field of political theology. The field connects philosophy and theology to political, cultural, legal, and literary studies, thus offering robust and radical accounts of the roles of religion in pluralising and polarising political contexts. This course examines key thinkers and key themes in political theology, concentrating on global challenges in the 20th and the 21st century. It aims to enable students to evaluate and engage with theological thinking in politics and politics in theological thinking both critically and constructively.

The course is organised around key thinkers and key themes in political theology. Framed by 'Introduction' and 'Conclusion' that cover the emergence and the evolution of the increasingly interdisciplinary field, the course will
(1) examine the formations of political theology in classic 20th-century debates (in weeks 2 to 4),
(2) explore the frontiers of political theology in contemporary 21st-century debates (in weeks 5 to 7), and
(3) evaluate the fallout of political theology as it continues to stir up controversy in the political sphere today (in weeks 8 to 10).

Student Learning Experience
The course is structured around a lecture of one hour that introduces students to the topic of the week. The lecture is complemented by a seminar session of one hour dedicated to the discussion of set texts. The texts are selected to show the spectrum of thinkers and themes studied in political theology. The seminar sessions include student presentations of around ten minutes with a view to initiating discussion. These presentations can cover either a classic political-theological publication or a current political-theological problem. In addition to their presentation in class, students will be assessed by an essay that demonstrates the achievement of the learning outcomes of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are welcome.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the interdisciplinary field of political theology in the 20th and the 21st century.
  2. Compare and contrast key thinkers and key theories in political theology.
  3. Evaluate the significance of theologies for the political sphere critically and constructively.
  4. Pursue and present independent research in the interdisciplinary field of political theology.
  5. Engage in constructive and critical debate with peers.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography

Essential Reading:
Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West, The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
Elizabeth Phillips (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Elizabeth Phillips, Anna Rowlands, and Amy Daughton (eds), T&T Clark Reader in Political Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).
Rubén Rosario Rodríguez (ed), T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).
Hent de Vries and Lawrence E. Sullivan (eds), Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006).

Non-Essential Reading:
Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics (London: Routledge, 2000).
Marcella Althaus-Reid, The Queer God (London: Routledge, 2003).
Matilda Arvidsson (ed), The Contemporary Relevance of Carl Schmitt (London: Routledge, 2015).
Carles Boix and Susan Carol Stokes (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
Luke Bretherton, Christianity and Contemporary Politics (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Luke Bretherton, Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship, and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Mark G. Brett, Locations of God: Political Theology in the Hebrew Bible (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019).
Wendy Brown, Politics Out of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
Wendy Brown, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010).
Wendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Anti-Democratic Politics in the West (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019).
Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (London: Routledge, 1997).
Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004).
Judith Butler, Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2009).
Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015).
Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, Who sings the Nation-State? Language, Politics, Belonging (New York: Seagull, 2007).
Judith Butler, Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2009).
Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj ¿i¿ek, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left (London: Verso, 2000).
William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998)
William Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination (London: T&T Clark, 2002).
William Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey, and Craig Hovey (eds), An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012).
William Cavanaugh and Peter Manley Scott (eds), The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).
Creston Davis, John Milbank, and Slavoj ¿i¿ek, Theology and the Political: The New Debate (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).
Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Catherine Keller, and Elias Ortega-Aponte (eds) Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).
Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, trans. Peggy Kamuf (London: Routledge, 1994).
Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (London: Verso, 1997).
Faisal Devji, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (London: Hurst, 2005).
Faisal Devji, The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics (London: Hurst, 2008).
Seergey Dolgopolski, Other Others: The Political after the Talmud (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018).
Michel Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (London: Routledge, 2002).
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (London: Penguin, 2019).
Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at Collège de France 1975-76, trans. David Macey (London: Penguin, 2003).
Emmanuel Katongole, The Sacrifice of Africa: A Political Theology for Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, 2010).
Emmanuel Katongole, Born from Lament: The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017).
Catherine Keller, Mayra Rivera, and Michael Nausner (eds), Postcolonial Theologies: Divinity and Empire (St. Louis: Chalice, 2004).
Catherine Keller, God and Power: Counter-Apocalyptic Journeys (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005).
Catherine Keller, Political Theology of the Earth: Our Planetary Emergency and the Struggle for a New Public (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018).
Michael Jon Kessler, Political Theology for a Plural Age (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).
Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr (New York: Harper, 1991).
Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson (New York: Warner Books, 2000).
Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God (New York: Knopf, 2007)
Vincent Lloyd (ed) Race and Political Theology (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012).
Vincent Lloyd, Black Natural Law: Beyond Secularism and Multiculturalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
Vincent Lloyd, Religion of the Field Negro: On Black Secularism and Black Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017).
Péter Losonczi, Mika Luoma-Aho, and Aakash Singh (eds), The Future of Political Theology: Religious and Theological Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2012).
Thomas Lynch, Apocalyptical Political Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).
Malcom X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. With the assistance of Alex Haley (New York: Grove, 1965).
Malcom X, Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements, ed. George Breitman (New York: Merit, 1965).
Malcom X, The End of White World Supremacy: Four Speeches by Malcolm X, ed. Benjamin Karim (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971).
Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).
Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason, trans. Laurent Dubois (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).
Johann Baptist Metz, Theology of the World, trans. William Glen-Doepel (New York: Seabury, 1969).
Johann Baptist Metz, Faith in History and Society: Toward a Practical Fundamental Theology (New York: Seabury, 1980).
Johann Baptist Metz, Poverty in Spirit (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).
John Milbank, The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology (London: SCM Press, 2009)
John Milbank, Beyond Secular Order: The Representation of Being and the Representation of the People (Chichester: Blackwell, 2013).
Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology (London: SCM, 1967).
Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ As the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology (London: SCM, 1973).
Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology (London: SCM, 1975).
Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God (New York: Harper, 1981).
Michael Northcott, Place, Ecology and the Sacred: The Moral Geography of Sustainable Communities (London: Continuum, 2015).
Michael Northcott, A Political Theology of Climate Change (London: SPCK, 2014).
Oliver O¿Donovan, The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Oliver O¿Donovan and Joan Lockwood O¿Donovan, From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).
Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Introducing African Women¿s Theology (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001).
Elizabeth Phillips, Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury, 2012).
Shadaab Rahemtulla, Qur¿an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Joshua Ralston, Law and the Rule of God: A Christian-Muslim Comparative Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020).
Carl Raschke, Force of God: Political Theology and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).
Carl Raschke, Neoliberalism and Political Theology: From Kant to Identity Politics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).
Saskia Sassen, Losing control? Sovereignty in An Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).
Saskia Sassen, Globalization and its discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money (New York: New Press, 1998).
Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2014).
Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europeaneum, trans. Georg Ulmen (Candor: Telos, 2003).
Dorothee Sölle, Christ the Representative: An Essay in Theology after the Death of God (London: SCM, 1967).
Dorothee Sölle, Suffering (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975).
Dorothee Sölle, The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990).
Dorothee Sölle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001).
Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Klaus Tanner, and Michael Welker (eds), Political Theology: Contemporary Challenges and Future Directions (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013).
Gayatri Spivak, Can the subaltern speak? (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988).
Gayatri Spivak, In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (London: Routledge, 1998).
Gayatri Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a history of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).
Elettra Stimilli, Debt and Guilt: A Political Philosophy, trans. Stefania Porcelli (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).
Kristina Stoeckl, Ingeborg Gabriel, and Aristotle Papanikolaou (eds) Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).
Kathryn Tanner, The Politics of God: Christian Theologies and Social Justice (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992).
Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2013).
Delores S. Williams, Black Theology in a New Key: Feminist Theology in a Different Voice (Maryknoll, Orbis, 1996).
Graham Ward, Cities of God (London: Routledge, 2000).
Graham Ward, The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens (London: SCM, 2009).
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Understanding Liberal Democracy: Essays in Political Philosophy, ed. Terence Cuneo (Oxford: Oxfod University Press, 2012).
Nicholas Wolterstorff, The Mighty and the Almighty: An Essay in Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Ability to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue.
- Ability to interpret primary and secondary literature in an interdisciplinary context.
- Ability to analyse and synthesise evidence from a variety of sources.
- Ability to think systematically.
- Ability to pursue and present independent research.
Keywordstheology,philosophy,political theory,critical theory,cultural studies,political studies,legal
Course organiserDr Ulrich Schmiedel
Tel: (0131 6)50 8918
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information