Body and Blood: Religious Cultures and Conflicts c.50-1650


"Body and Blood" offers an examination of Christianity, Islam and Judaism mainly in the late antique and medieval periods, and considers the conflicts which shaped the three faiths.

We will examine the roots of Christian and Muslim religious thinking, their interaction with Jewish and Pagan traditions, the Crusades, aspects of the Jewish-Christian debate, heresy, schisms within Christianity and developments within Islam.

The course covers a wide span of history, covering aspects of the late Roman, early medieval, high and late medieval periods, and will finish with the Reformation of the sixteenth century and its immediate aftermath. The emphasis is on relations between different religious cultures, and the ways in which both conflict and tolerance shaped their identities.

Broad themes include the impact of changing economic and social forms, the role of authority and government in regulating religious interaction and the place of gender and sexuality in both moderating and exacerbating conflict. Although we focus largely on quite distant pasts, most of the topics we will discuss have strong relevance and resonance in the present day. World politics and both western and middle-eastern cultures are still shaped by the religious movements which had their beginnings many centuries ago. We hope that through taking the course students will come to a better understanding of modern religious cultures and conflicts.

Successful completion of HISTORY 243/356, "Body and Blood", will help students to develop skills that are consistent with the Graduate Profiles of the University of Auckland and the Faculty of Arts. Anticipated benefits include the following specific learning outcomes:

  • Ability to analyse and discuss a range of historical primary sources in both oral and written formats
  • Development of capabilities in critical thinking and communication through organising and writing assignments that include coherent arguments, supporting evidence and engagement with academic literature
  • Familiarisation with a variety of viewpoints on the history of religions and religious conflicts to gain an appreciation of diversity and cultural difference

For full course information see the Digital Course Outline.

Digital Course Outlines are refreshed in November for the following year. Digital Course Outlines for courses to be offered for the first time may be published slightly later.

Availability 2024

Not offered in 2024; planned for 2025


Coordinator(s) Professor Kim Phillips
Lecturer(s) Dr Lindsay Diggelmann


Coursework only


HISTORY 356: 15 points


15 points at Stage II in History and 60 points passed