This course is discontinued

RESA4207 – Jesus, Muhammad and Modern Identities

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In popular polemics between Christians and Muslims one often encounters comparisons between Jesus and Muhammad that are both stereotypical and derogatory of the “other”. In this course we will go beyond these simple stereotypes and do a serious study of the link between historical presentations of Jesus and Muhammad and the present question for identity among followers of Christianity and Islam. The hypothesis to be investigated is that historical presentations of the founder figures of the two religions are used to express meaning and identity in the present situation. Historical questions: “Who was Jesus/ Muhammad?” are therefore not des-interested, but always related to the question “Who am I/are we?”

The course has three main parts. The first will focus on the methods and questions in the study of the historical Jesus and how it is shaped by the search for meaning among Christians in various contexts, e.g. in Latin America, among feminists or in transcultural contexts. The second part will focus on presentations of Muhammad, historical questions and the quest for identity in modern, especially European Islam. The third part will study comparisons between Jesus and Muhammad in recent scholarship, both dialogical and confrontational comparisons. Teachers in the course are Halvor Moxnes, Oddbjørn Leirvik, Faculty of Theology, and Nora Eggen, IKOS.

Learning outcome

Upon completion of the course, the student should have

  1. gained insight in the methodological and hermeneutical issues involved in reconstructing the lives of Jesus and Muhammad
  2. established knowledge of some important presentations of Jesus and Muhammad
  3. developed skills to make comparisons between Jesus, Muhammad and their ideas in the context of inter-religious dialogue.


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Formal prerequisite knowledge

Bachelor degree with an emphasis in theology, Christian/religious studies, social sciences or arts, 80 credits or equivalent


Compulsory activities:

During the course,(1) a 1200-1300 word reflection on a specified part of the reading list and (2) one response to a reflection by one of the fellow students.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


At the end of the term there will be a three days take-home examination of 3-4000 words. The paper can either be in English or in Norwegian.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If you would prefer to have the exam text in English, you may apply to the course administrators.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Spring 2011


Spring 2011

Teaching language