Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1993 Lorin Obler. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religion Department

First Advisor

Donald K. Swearer

Second Advisor

Martin Srajek


In this thesis, I compare the models of interreligious dialogue set forth by Paul Griffiths and Leonard Swidler by applying their models to a conversation between the religious thinkers Jürgen Moltmann and Shinran. I also suggest a possible synthesis of, or middle path between, Griffiths' and Swidler's theories, and indicate how this synthetical model might be applied to a dialogue between Moltmann and Shinran. My primary goal in this thesis is to explore problems of the theory of interreligious dialogue; the application of the theories I examine to a specific example, however, is crucial to a thorough understanding of these theories.

In the introduction, I explain and contrast Griffiths' and Swidler's theories of dialogue, and I locate the contemporary Christian Moltmann and the Medieval Buddhist Shinran in their historical contexts. In chapter one, I explicate several of Moltmann's major texts, and attempt to show how Moltmann develops his theological perspective out of the Christian doctrinal tradition. In chapter two I examine Shinran's thought, and trace the development of his thought from the Buddhist doctrinal tradition. In chapter three I construct three dialogues between Moltmann and Shinran: one according to Griffiths' schema, one according to Swidler's theory, and one according to the synthetical model which I develop . . In this chapter, I focus on my explications of Moltmann and Shinran as reinterpreters of their respective doctrinal traditions; I attempt to build a case that an understanding of how the two theologians develop their perspectives out of their traditions has significant ramifications for the construction of a dialogue between them. Finally, in the epilogue, I reflect on my success in applying these three models of dialogue to the specific example of conversation between Moltmann and Shinran.