Sheffield Talk

11 May 2019

I'll be speaking on Wednesday, May 15th at 12pm at the University of Sheffield in Jessop West G.03. The talk abstract is below:


Analysing Religious Discourse: Inspiration, authority, and interpretation

 Stephen Pihlaja, Newman University
 This presentation focuses on the ways in which sacred texts are used as authorities in debates between Muslims and Christians. Within both Islam and Christianity, the concept of the ‘Word of God’ is central to establishing right belief and practice. However, the relationship of the ‘Word of God’ to sacred texts can be problematic, particularly when there are disagreements about their meanings. Although the authority of the Bible and Qur’an are undisputed within Christianity and Islam respectively, discursive work is often involved in establishing their meaning, and arguments about what a text means is a regular feature of religious discourse. Using positioning analysis of debates between the Muslim scholar Shabir Ally and several Evangelical Christians, this presentation looks at discourse around sacred texts and how those texts are used to make claims and position speakers and others. Findings show that although the debates suggest a binary opposition between different faiths and their sacred texts, in actuality, positions that speakers take are much more dynamic, with speakers adapting to the changing conditions of each argument.