Prof. Langton was a recipient of the University of Manchester's Teaching Excellence Prize (£5000) in 2006 and a nominee for the Student Union's Humanities Best Lecturer award in 2017.
RELT21182: The History of Atheism (not running)
This course explores the intellectual and cultural history of atheism in Western thought, from ancient times to the present. The first part offers an historical overview of key episodes and developments. With a focus on Christian and Jewish contexts, we will consider how atheistic worldviews have evolved in symbiosis with religion, how the debates have shifted over time, and how wider societal attitudes towards atheism have changed. The second part offers a thematic overview of the key arguments, challenges, and controversies. Questions to be addressed will include: Can one disprove the existence of God(s)? What are the different species of doubt? Are science and religion compatible? How does one explain the power and tenacity of religion from a naturalistic perspective? How might a sceptic constitute a non-religious morality? Does life have meaning for disbelievers?
RELT21882: Religion and Evolution (not running)
Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is one of the most controversial and influential ideas of the modern era. For students of religious studies it is important for several reasons. Evolution has been at the centre of an historic conflict between scientific and religious worldviews that continues to this day, it has impacted on both Jewish and Christian modern theologies, and it has given birth to a range of scientific approaches for understanding the nature of religion itself. This course introduces the student to such contentious and ideologically sensitive ideas as Creationism and Intelligent Design, selfish genes, memes, and evolutionary psychology.
RELT20611: Intro to the History of Jewish-Christian Relations (not running)
The course provides an initial overview of the history of Jewish-Christian relations and highlights the development of the thought and theology of various individuals, concentrating particularly on the last hundred years or so. It examines Jewish approaches to Jesus and the apostle Paul, Christian approaches to Judaism and the study of Judaism, the history of Jewish and Christian attitudes to dialogue and to 'the other', and such controversial issues as the Holocaust, the State of Israel, Zionism, anti-Judaism in the New Testament, and conversion practices.
RELT30331: Holocaust Theology
The course surveys a number of Jewish and Christian theological responses to the Holocaust. It explores the differing ways that their religious concepts, beliefs, principles and practice have been affected by the theological challenge of the Holocaust, which has undoubtedly brought about a wide-spread crisis of identity and meaning for many religious thinkers. Among other areas of interest, it considers the wider context of Jewish-Christian relations (in particular Christian anti-Judaism), the question of the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the debate surrounding the phenomenon of Jewish self-definition in terms of the Holocaust, and the future of Holocaust theology itself.
RELT70812: Jewish Approaches to Jesus and Paul (not running)
The course outlines Jewish traditional and modern attempts to make sense of Jesus and Paul. The study of primary texts will focus on a selection of modern Jewish writings about these figures. The course will explore the writers' backgrounds and socio-religious agenda and will contextualise their works in terms of Jewish approaches to Christianity and to the development of Jewish-Christian relations in general. Questions that the course will consider include: Is there such a thing as a 'Jewish' approach to Jesus or Paul? Can Jewish writings on the New Testament be used to explore Jewish identity? Why has there been so much more Jewish interest in Jesus than in Paul until relatively recently? What are the psychological, social, historical and religious hurdles for a Jew studying 'the foundation stone of Christianity and/or 'the Apostle to the Gentiles'. Why are 'non-Jewish Jews' interested? How have mainstream New Testament scholars regarded such Jewish studies?
RELT71122: Darwinism and Jewish Thought (not running)
While much has been written about Christian engagement with Darwinian and other kinds of evolutionary theory, little attention has been paid to Jewish engagement. In fact, a wide variety of traditionalist and progressive Jewish religious thinkers wrote on how Judaism could and should respond to science in general and evolution in particular. And Social Darwinism, the application of a biological theory to social theory, led to highly significant developments in modern Jewish history, such as the emergence of ‘scientific’ anti-Semitism and some racial conceptions of Zionism. Thus an appreciation of the influence of evolutionary theory is vital for understanding the development of modern Jewish thought and identity. Key figures to be considered in this course include: Samson Raphael Hirsch, Isaac Meyer Wise, Mordecai Kaplan, and Hans Jonas.
RELT60111: Holocaust Theology and the Problem of Evil (not running)
The course surveys a number of Jewish and Christian theological responses to the Holocaust. It explores the differing ways that their religious concepts, beliefs, principles and practice have been affected by the theological challenge of the Holocaust, which has undoubtedly brought about a wide-spread crisis of identity and meaning for many religious thinkers. Among other areas of interest, it considers the wider context of Jewish-Christian relations (in particular Christian anti-Judaism), the question of the uniqueness of the Holocaust, the debate surrounding the phenomenon of Jewish self-definition in terms of the Holocaust, and the future of Holocaust theology itself. In particular, it considers the implications for the theodicy and the problem of evil.