Religion Courses

General Course Listings

Sub CRSE Title
ANT 220 Religion, Society, and Culture
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall; offered in alternating years.)

Instructor 
Samson

Social and cross-cultural aspects of religious belief and practice in local and global context.  Special emphasis on ritual behavior and collective identity in ethnographic perspective, religious revitalization, new religious groups, and the shifting global religious landscape.

Satisfies a major & minor requirement in Anthropology.

Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.

PHI 170 God (= REL 246)
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offered 2016-17.)

Instructor
Studtmann/Ottati

This course focuses on what is said about God in Christian tradition and in philosophy.  It explores representations, symbols, inklings of the divine in biblical and religious texts, developed conceptions of God put forward by philosophers and theologians, and traditional arguments about God , as well as contemporary statements and debates.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major.

Satisfies the Philosophical and religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

REL 127 Female Resistance in the Old Testament
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Claassens

This course will introduce a number of Old Testament narratives that show women using a variety of creative means in order to resist the violence of war, rape, patriarchy, and poverty. By means of this narrative portrayal of female resistance we will contemplate the nature and the extent of the challenges that cause women in particular to be vulnerable in our world today, in addition to thinking together of ways in which we may help change this reality.

Satisfies a major requirement in Religion

Satisfies a minor requirement in Religion

Satisfies the Philosophical & Religious Perspectives distribution requirement

REL 130 Introduction to the New Testament
Prerequisites & Notes

 

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add or to students who have taken Religion 230 or 231.

This course may be applied towards a Classics major.

Instructor
Snyder

Who was Jesus of Nazareth? How were traditions about him remembered, gathered, and put in literary form? How different are the individual gospels? What were the issues that Paul addressed as he wrote to the churches he founded? How should we understand the Book of Revelation? How (and when) did all these writings come to form the collection now known as the New Testament? These are a few of the questions to be explored.

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

 

 

REL 140 Sin and Redemption in Christian Thought
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

Instructor
Foley

An examination of how selected Christian authors from the ancient, medieval, Reformation and modern periods viewed the human dilemma and its divine resolution.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

 

REL 141 Introduction to Theology
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

 

Instructor
Poland

Reflection on fundamental concepts and issues such as creation, God, human nature, faith, evil, salvation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 142 Autobiography and Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

Instructor
Poland

Introduction to the study of religion through close readings of selected religious autobiographies and investigations of their historical and cultural contexts. 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 143 Being Human
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

Instructor
Ottati
 
This course explores the questions: What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be a good one? Typical sources for study and discussion include the Book of Genesis, Darwin's The Descent of Man, Reinhold Niebuhr's The Nature and Destiny of Man, novels and films.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 144 Basic Christian Beliefs
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

Instructor
Ottati

Thematic exploration of basic Christian beliefs focusing on the affirmations of the Apostles' Creed and the ways in which different communities and theologians have understood them.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 155 Issues in Religion and Science
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

Instructor
Lustig

An examination of several proposed models of the relations between religion and science (conflict, contrast, convergence, confirmation). Analysis of challenges that modern physical and biological science pose to traditional understandings of creation, redemption, and divine purpose.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 162 Contemporary Seekers in the U.S.
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add.

 

Instructor
Wills

Examines religious memoirs of twenty and twenty-first century U.S. writers who have forcefully described their own experiences of exile and their various visions of "home"--as justice, family, vocation, health, tradition, or place.
 
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

REL 165 Muslim-Americans
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructors
Wills and Zamir

Explores historical origins and major events/figures, intellectual currents, cultural practices, and theological and political controversies related to Muslim communities in the U.S.
 

Satisfies a major and minor requirement in Religion.
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
 

 

REL 170 The Sacred Quest in Comparative Perspective
Prerequisites & Notes

Not open to juniors or seniors until Drop/Add. 

 

Instructor
Mahony

Introductory considerations of the human search for meaning as reflected in religious expressions from Eastern and Western cultures. Particular attention is given to the role of the mythological imagination, sacred narrative, ritual, theological reflection, and philosophical inquiry in the realization of personal and communal identity.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 175 The Qurʾan and Its Interpreters
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mubarak

This course will introduce students to the Qurʾanic scripture, its history, themes, characteristic styles, and the way in which it has functioned as an authority for Muslims throughout Islamic history. The course will explore two genres that have emerged from the direct study of the Qurʾan, most specifically Qurʾanic exegesis (tafsīr) and the art of its recitation (tajwīd). We will examine competing modes of interpretation and the most significant exegetes in the pre-modern and modern periods, paying specific attention to the role of modernity in creating new approaches to Qurʾanic interpretation. Lastly, this course surveys a wide range of exegetical interpretations on 1) women and sexuality, 2) violence and jihād, and 3) religious pluralism. 

Satisfies a requirement for the Religion major and minor.
Satisfies a requirement for the Middle East Studies interdisciplinary minor.
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Studies distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

 

REL 176 Literature of the Muslim World
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Zamir

A thematic and genre-based study of seminal literary texts from around the Muslim world that takes a literary approach to the study of religion.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 180 Introduction to East Asian Religions
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Pang

An introduction to the religious and philosophical traditions that played fundamental roles in shaping traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture: Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and popular religion.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies East Asian Studies major and interdisciplinary minor requirement.

REL 190 Welcoming the Stranger: Christian Hospitality in a Global Context
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Vosloo

In light of the so-called "refugee crisis" and the fact that migration has become a trans-national phenomenon, this course explores the promise of the notion of hospitality (as welcoming the stranger), and its relation to the Christian faith.  Through the engagement with a variety of biblical, philosophical and theological texts, as well as examples from literature and film, the course aims at deepening our understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved in living in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies in our global world today.

Satisfies a major requirement in Religion

Satisfies a minor requirement in Religion

Satisfies the Philosophical & Religious Perspectives distribution requirement

REL 222 Tragedy and Comedy in Biblical Narrative
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

A study of the tragic and comic dimensions of biblical literature. Special attention will be given to the Saul and David narrative and to the books of Ruth, Jonah, and Esther.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 223 Wisdom Literature
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

Israelite, Jewish, and early Christian wisdom writings. Particular attention to the sage's search for meaning, the problem of unjust suffering, the purpose of work, the contours of blessing, and the significance of creation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 224 The Psalms and the Self
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

A study of selected biblical psalms and their exploration of the fabric of human selfhood. Particular attention will be given to the psalms' poetic construction of what it means to be a self and how they, in turn, offer transformative means for the self's expression. Study will involve a close analysis of psalms as literary texts and intertexts as well as analysis of their function in given liturgical contexts.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 230 Jesus before the Halo
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Snyder

This course explores Jesus in the midst of his historical, religious, and political context: how did Jesus encounter and resist the political and religious structures of his day? Can we construct an historically adequate picture of Jesus based on the different gospels that narrate his life and teachings?  Is he best understood as an apocalyptic prophet, an ethereal sage, or a political revolutionary? The course also attends to Jesus' ethical teachings on subjects such as wealth and poverty, non-violence, and love of enemies. 

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 231 Paul: his Communities and Conflicts
Prerequisites & Notes

 

 

Instructor
Snyder

Paul is now enshrined in Christian history and dogma, yet few people realize how controversial his original message was. Many of Jesus's first followers were suspicious of Paul and there were fierce debates over his preaching.  By a careful inspection of his letters we'll explore these debates and seek to understand the nature of the groups he founded in cities around the Mediterranean. Some of these groups survived, and some disappeared: what held them together - or broke them apart? Why would someone be drawn to Paul and his preaching? What was appealing about the life of these groups? The goal is to understand Paul and his theological ideas in their first-century context.

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

 

This course may be applied towards a Classics major.

REL 232 Parables in the Jewish and Christian Traditions
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

Selected parables in the Jewish and Christian traditions, including parables of Jesus, the Rabbis, the Hasidim, Kierkegaard, and Kafka. Emphasis on the religious significance of narrative.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 233 The Other Gospels: Lost Literature of Early Christianity
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Snyder

Examines the gospel literature that did not make it into the New Testament: the Gospel According to Thomas, Gnostic gospels such as the Gospel According to Phillip, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Judas, infancy gospels, and lost Jewish-Christian gospels. It also considers the development of the categories "heresy" and "orthodoxy," as well as the process of canonization.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 242 The Rise of Christianity
Prerequisites & Notes

This course may be applied towards a Classics major.

Instructor
Foley

The theological and historical development of the early church from the New Testament period to the Council of Chalcedon (451 C.E.) with a focus on early controversies as revealed through primary sources.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 243 The Spiritual Imagination in Contemporary Poetry
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

A study of how recent poets imagine the divine-human relation and the experience of transcendence, as well as a consideration of the affinity between poetry and religion. Poets to be discussed may include Christian Wiman, Mary Szybist, Franz Wright, Mary Karr, Fanny Howe, Jean Valentine, Anne Carson, and Mark Wunderlich.

 

Satisfies a major requirement in Religion

Satisfies a minor requirement in Religion

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement

 

REL 244 Modern Jewish Literature
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

Modern Jewish fiction, poetry, and literary theory with particular focus on modern Midrash and the significance of writing as a religious act. Selected texts from Yiddish, Euro American, and Israeli literature include writings of I.L. Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, S. An-ski, I.B. Singer, Cynthia Ozick, David Grossman, and Amos Oz.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 245 Modern Christian Thought
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Poland

Challenges to Christian belief and theological responses to them from the Enlightenment to the early twentieth century.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 246 God (=PHI 170)
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Ottati/Studtmann 

This course focuses on what is said about God in Christian tradition and in philosophy.  It explores representations, symbols, and inklings of the divine in biblical and religious texts, developed conceptions of God put forward by philosophers and theologians, and traditional arguments about God, as well as contemporary statements and debates.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 247 Food in Religious Perspective
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Poland

Examines food practices in various religious traditions; explores contemporary ethical dilemmas concerning what we eat.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Humanities track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

REL 248 Christianity and Nature
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Poland

An exploration of Christian attitudes toward nature and toward non-human animals as displayed in scripture and tradition.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Humanities track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

REL 250 Issues in Theological Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Lustig

A focused study of a given ethical issue and its theological significance. Topics to be studied may include medical ethics, justice and poverty, war and peace, the meaning of virtue and civil rights.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
ENV credit varies year by year, so please check with the ENV Chair if you have a question.  For students enrolled in 2016-2017, satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Humanities track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

REL 252 Prophetic Christianity in America
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Ottati

A study of the theological ethics that contributed to the Social Gospel, Christian Realism, and the Civil Rights Movement in America. Resources include works by Walter Rauschenbusch, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as some secondary texts, recordings, and films.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 255 Woman and the Body in the Christian Tradition
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Poland

A study of Christian attitudes toward gender and the human body as reflected in scripture, doctrine, and practice.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 256 Religion, Ethics and Medicine
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Lustig

An introduction to basic themes, methods, and issues in religious bioethics. Exploration of ways that religious perspectives differ from, complement, or converge with secular approaches.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 257 Death, Dying and the Afterlife
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Lustig

Religious, ethical, psychological, and cultural dimensions of dying, death, and the afterlife. Considers a range of topics, including scientific and religious perspectives on embodiment within the context of dying and death, varying definitions of death, and the ritual meanings associated with death.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 258 Vocation of Citizen and Soldier
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Ottati

Theological and philosophical perspectives on civil government, war, and military service with readings from biblical and classical sources.  Emphasis on recent essays on specific moral questions and issues.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

REL 260 Religion in America
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Wills

Historical survey of the American religious experience from colonial times to the present.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 261 African American Religious Traditions
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Wills

The varied religious experiences of African Americans from pre-slavery through the Civil Rights movement.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 262 Imagining American Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Wills

A study of how people have portrayed the religious dimension of life through works of narrative fiction. Examines the various motives - religious, political, aesthetic, or otherwise - that guide American imaginings about religion.
 

Satisfies a requirement in the Africana Studies major.
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 266 The Bible in America
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Snyder

The course begins with a brief history of the Bible; we then examine the role the Bible has played in American cultural and religious life, with specific reference to gender, race, sexual identity, and creationism.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

REL 270 Classical Hinduism
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mahony

Historical, thematic, and theological consideration of selected aspects of classical Hinduism. Topics include concepts of divinity, the place in religious life of sacred narrative and ritual, the religious significance of the intellect and emotions, devotional sensibilities, the value and role of meditation, and ethical views.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 271 Classical Buddhism
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mahony

Historical and thematic study of Buddhist thought and practice in representative Asian cultures. Topics include the nature of Gautama Buddha's enlightenment, sectarian and philosophical developments, cultural values, psychological insights, contemplative practices and ethical views.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies East Asian Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 272 Classical Islam
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mahony

Theological and cultural study of Islamic history and religious expressions. Topics include the life of Muhammad, teachings of the Qur'an, developments in Islamic sectarianism, religious law and ethics, contemplative and ritual practices, and aesthetic values and expressions. Emphasis is on Islam before the rise of European colonialism, yet considerable attention is also given to Islam in the contemporary world.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 274 Women and Gender in Islam
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mubarak

The course will trace the development of gender issues in Muslim societies, ranging from the early Islamic period (7th century) to the modern period. Topics include marriage, divorce, veiling, segregation, polygyny, adultery, slavery and sex. The rise of secular and religious feminism and women's initiatives to reform patriarchal practices in contemporary Muslim societies will also be addressed.

Satisfies a distribution requirement in Religious and Philosophical Perspectives.
Satisfies a major credit in Religion.
Satisfies a cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies a major/minor credit in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

REL 275 Jewish Religious Life
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

Historical, thematic and semiotic study of Jewish religious practice. Special attention given to liturgy, prayer, ritual and domestic piety.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 276 The Shi'ite Tradition
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Zamir

 

Introduction to the Shi'ite tradition that also highlights commonalities and differences between Sunni and Shi'ite interpretations of islam. Topics include: the origins of Shi'ism and the Sunni-Shi'ite split; Shi'ite theology; religious and ritual life, piety and spirituality; development of the tradition over time; major institutions; Shi'ite Messianism; major themes in polemics between Sunnis and Shi'ites; ecumenical efforts; mediatory role of Sufism; and political thought and political ramifications of the Sunni-Shi'ite divide. 

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 277 Islamic Mysticism
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Zamir

Islamic spirituality and its diverse varieites, doctrinal formulations, practices, history and contemporary significance.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement. 

REL 278 Islamic City
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Zamir

Engaging a wide variety of sources, and through an exploration of 'spaces' (e.g., house, mosque, palace, bazaar, madrasa, garden) within traditional Islamic cities, students will discover for themselves various aspects of Muslim societies, cultures and institutions.  The course involves collaborative projects, creative research, and introduces digital design.

 

Satisfies a requirement for Religion major and minor.
Satisfies the Religious and Philosophical Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies a cultural diversity requirement.

REL 280 Chinese Religions
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Pang

A survey of the complex array of philosophical and religious traditions that have fundamentally shaped Chinese thought and culture. Topics include
ancient state religion, classic Confucian and Daoist texts, religious Daoism, Buddhism in China, and popular religion.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies a requirement in the East Asian Studies major and interdisciplinary minor.
Satisfies a requirement in the Chinese Studies minor.

REL 282 Tibetan Religions
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Pang

An introduction to both Bön and Buddhism in Tibet. The historical, philosophical, religious, ritual, contemplative, institutional, and social dimensions of religion in Tibet will be examined.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies a requirement in the East Asian Studies major and interdisciplinary minor.
Satisfies a requirement in the South Asian Studies interdisciplinary minor.

REL 283 Buddhism in America
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Pang

The history and development of Buddhism in America. Topics include the American Transcendentalists and "Eastern" thought, Buddhism and the
Theosophists, the World Parliament of Religions of 1893, the "Zen boom" of the Beat generation, the varieties of Buddhism imported by Asian immigrants beginning in the 1960s, and modern "American Buddhist" communities and practices.


Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 288 The Religious Question in Modern China
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Pang

 

This course explores religion in Chinese societies during the tumultuous period between the late nineteenth and early twenty-first centuries. We will analyze the historical and cultural foundations of Chinese religion; the role of the state, intellectual, and political groups in shaping official religiosity; and the bewildering variety of religious traditions in contemporary Chinese societies.

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies East Asian Studies major and interdisciplinary minor requirement.

Satisfies Chinese Studies Minor.

REL 301 Perspectives in the Study of Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Pre/Corequisites:  Any two Religion courses or permission of the instructor.

Students intending to go abroad in their junior year should take this course in their sophomore year, if possible. 

Instructor
Poland

Required of all majors. Critical examination of various methods, disciplines, and theories employed in the academic study of religion, focusing particularly on those approaches that locate religion in its social, cultural, and political contexts. Generally taught in spring semester. Required of all Religion majors by the end of the junior year.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 320 The Genesis Narrative
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Plank

A literary study of the book of Genesis, appropriating midrashic, intertextual, and post-modern strategies of interpretation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 321 The Exodus Tradition
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Plank

A literary study of the book of Exodus and its appropriations in biblical literature, midrash, Jewish and Christian ritual, and Holocaust iconography. Use of literary, midrashic, intertextual and post-modern strategies of interpretation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 333 Revelation and the Apocalyptic Imagination
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

(not offered 2015-16.)

Instructor
Snyder

The ancient near eastern context for apocalyptic literature in canonical and non-canonical literature such as Enoch and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Close attention to the Book of Revelation and its modern (mis)interpretations, including representations in art and film.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 341 Religions of the Roman Empire
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

This course is also cross-listed with Classics and could be applied towards a Classics major.

 

Instructor
Snyder

An examination of public cult under the Roman Empire: sacrifices, divination, priesthoods and holidays, as well as the religious groups devoted to Isis, Mithras, Moses and Christ.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 343 Modern and Postmodern Theologies
Prerequisites & Notes

Recommended preparation: either REL 141 or REL 245.

 

Instructor
Poland

A multidisciplinary examination of a contemporary theological issue; topics change each time the course is offered. Past topics include: feminist theologies, postmodern theologies, humans and other animals.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 344 Modern Critics of Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

 

 

Instructor
Poland

Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century critiques of religion. Figures studied may vary from year to year, but may include Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx among others.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 345 Early Christian Texts on Poverty
Prerequisites & Notes

This course is also cross-listed with Classics and could be applied towards a Classics major.

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Foley

This course examines early Christian discussions about the poor, the role of almsgiving in Christian life and the problems-as well as the possibilities-of wealth. Texts to be studied include relevant selections from the Christian Bible, The Shepherd of Hermas, 2 Clement, Cyprian On Works and Alms, Augustine's Enchiridion, John Chrysostom's sermons and other relevant Christian texts written before the modern period. This course will also attempt to put these early Christian texts in dialogue with modern debates on poverty and economic inequality.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 346 Modern Jewish Thought
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

(not offered 2015-16.)

Instructor
Plank

Selected Jewish thinkers and their negotiation of the issues of tradition and modernity from the Enlightenment to the post-holocaust period. Attention to figures such as Mendelssohn, Buber, Rosenzweig, Heschel, Fackenheim and Levinas.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies the Middle East Studies interdisciplinary minor.

REL 347 Christian Latin Writers
Prerequisites & Notes

LAT 201 or equivalent

(not offered 2015-16.)

Instructor

Foley

 

Readings and research on selected Christian Latin authors from 200-600, including Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 350 Reformed Theology and Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Ottati

A study of the signal and dynamic ideas, themes, and issues of the Reformed tradition in theology and ethics, with emphasis on the sovereignty of God, predestination, sin, grace, law, faithfulness and political participation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 352 Protestant and Roman Catholic Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructors
Ottati or Lustig

Compares and contrasts Protestant and Roman Catholic approaches to theological ethics.  Analyzes the historical, conceptual, and methodological similarities and differences in the two traditions, applying their distinctive perspectives to several contemporary issues.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 353 Theological Perspectives on Christian Faith
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Ottati

Christian beliefs and moral norms as they are expressed by the Apostles' Creed, The Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer. In addition to critical studies of the history and composition of these texts, this course also includes classical and contemporary interpretations of what they mean from Augustine, Martin Luther, and Thomas Aquinas to Rosemary Radford Ruether and Leonardo Boff.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 354 Major Figures in Theology and Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Ottati

Each time it is offered, this course explores the theology and ethics of a major figure. For the Fall 2014 semester, the focus will be on H. Richard Niebuhr. 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 357 The Bible and Modern Moral Issues
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Snyder

This course examines how the Bible is being used in contemporary moral, political, and cultural debates: homosexuality, creationism, environmentalism, race, Middle-Eastern politics, end-of-the-world predictions, among others. The range of topics is flexible, and can adapt to current conditions, e.g., the elections of 2016. Students will be encouraged to investigate issues of particular interest through individual research. 

For purposes of comparison, REL 266 The Bible in America emphasizes the role the Bible "has" played in American life; REL 357 emphasizes the role the Bible "is playing" in American life. The former course is more historical; the latter, more ethical and theological.  

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 358 Humans and Other Animals
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels are welcome.

 

Instructor
Poland

This is an interdisciplinary Religion course in a growing subfield, Critical Animal Studies. Readings include reflections on human nature and on human and non-human animal relations by novelists, theologians, philosophers and scholars of religion.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Humanities track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

REL 360 American Civil Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Wills

Examination of the many ways that the United States serves as a focus for religious energies-for rituals, creeds, and myths that organize our lives and explain us to ourselves as a national community. Topics may include landscape, family, education, holidays and electoral politics as civil religious institutions.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

REL 365 Women in American Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Wills

Using biographies and autobiographies of women from various periods and traditions of American religion, this course will explore women's roles in those traditions and the conventions through which those women have been portrayed.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

 

REL 366 Mormonism
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Wills

Examines an indigenous American religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, exploring its historical origins, beliefs, related theological and political controversies, and cultural heritage.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

 

REL 370 Asian Meditation Texts
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Mahony

A study of the religious significance, ideals, and practice of meditation in selected Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Readings center on translations of primary texts but also include pertinent indigenous commentaries and modern interpretive works.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.
Satisfies East Asian Studies requirement.

REL 371 Varieties of Hindu Mysticism
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

Instructor
Mahony

Interpretive and comparative study of Hindu sacerdotal, philosophical, contemplative, and devotional mystical sensibilities as presented in various textual genres.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 375 Islamic Visions of the End
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Zamir

Survey of Muslim perspectives on death, afterlife and the apocalypse. Examines eschatological and messianic movement in Islamic history and contemporary times and the cultural and ethical implications of Islamic eschatological ideas.
Satisfies a major requirement.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 376 Islamic Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Zamir
 

Study of seminal texts and various modes of ethical life and thought in Islam with some attention given also to the applications of Islamic thought to contemporary ethical issues. 

 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 378 Islam in the Modern Age: Tradition, Fundamentalism and Reform
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Zamir

The course looks at Islam and Modernity as two units of intellectual, cultural, and historical formations and analyzes their development and interaction from the Age of European Expansion into the Islamic world to the present.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Middle Eastern Studies requirement.
Satisfies South Asian Studies requirement.

REL 382 Zen Buddhism
Prerequisites & Notes

Students at all levels welcome.

 

Instructor
Pang

Traces the historical development of Chan/Zen Buddhism in China and its transmission to Japan and subsequent transformation. 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies a requirement in the East Asian Studies major and interdisciplinary minor.
Satisfies a requirement in the Chinese Studies minor.

REL 395 Independent Study
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Staff

Admission by consent of the instructor; use 396 for second Independent Study. Independent study under the direction and supervision of a faculty member who reviews and approves the topics of study and determines the means of evaluation.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

REL 401 Senior Colloquium
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Staff

Required of all senior majors. Explores issues within the study of religion and discusses strategies for research. Each student will complete a thesis directed by an appropriate department member.

REL 413 Sacrifice
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Snyder

 

A comparative and cross-cultural look at the phenomenon of sacrifice in different religious traditions. We'll examine concrete instances of the practice, read narratives about it, and draw upon theoretical models for understanding it. 

REL 419 Science and Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Lustig

Religion and science are often described as different paths toward truth. Many scholars interpret the claims of religion and science as referring to different spheres of meaning, with each realm characterized by distinctive methods, aims, and forms of discourse. Such distinctions, despite their cogency, are also problematic. Christianity, for example, appeals to both Revelation and nature, to both transcendence and immanence. And Western science raises important theoretical and empirical issues for religious beliefs about creation and redemption, as well as the meanings of, and relations between, nature and human nature.

This course will examine various models of the relations between religion and science developed in the recent scholarly literature. It will first focus on several historical points of conflict between science and religion - the shifts in worldview associated with Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Heisenberg. Then, in light of participants' interests, it will assess elements of recent physical and biological science that pose challenges to the cogency of Western theism and traditional theological understandings of divine design and providential action.

REL 433 Art, Media, Technology and Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Zamir

The seminar will explore how art, media, and technology inform, perform, and transform religious life and its various expressions. We will be drawing on theories of art, media and technology and discuss examples from several major religious traditions.

REL 439 Paul's Letter to the Romans
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Snyder

 

An intensive study of Paul's Letter to the Romans with attention to historical, critical, and theological issues.

REL 443 The Question of the Animal
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Poland

 

An interdisciplinary seminar in a growing subfield, Critical Animal Studies. Readings include ancient and recent reflections on human nature and on human and non-human animal relations by novelists, theologians, philosophers and scholars of religion. 

REL 444 Black and Womanist Theology
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Foley

A study of African American theological writings written since the Black Power movement of the 1960s. Black theology refers typically to works written or inspired by theologian James H. Cone. Womanist theology describes a theology written specifically by and for African American women.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

REL 449 The Spiritual Imagination in Contemporary Literature
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Plank

A study of how selected American writers have imagined transcendence and the life of the spirit, as well as a consideration of the relationship of poetic and religious language. Authors to be studied include: Christian Wiman, Fanny Howe, Franz Wright, Mary Szybist, Anne Carson and others.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives Distribution Requirement.

Counts for the LIT minor. 

REL 451 Religion and Law
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Plank

REL 454 A Social Gospel
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Ottati

 

This seminar explores socially engaged theological ethics from Christian Socialists and Christian Realists to Liberation theologians.   We will read and discuss works by writers such as Walter Rauschenbusch, John A. Ryan, Vida Dutton Scudder, Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gustavo Gutierrez, James Cone, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Cornel West.  We will also pay special attention to biblical and traditional bases for the positions they advocate.

REL 458 Calvin's "Institutes"
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Ottati

Close reading and discussion of John Calvin's 16th century Institutes of the Christian Religion; reference to the historical context of the work with the emphasis on engagement with the theological arguments and images Calvin presents.

REL 460 Religion and Racism
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Foley

REL 474 The Daodejing
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor

Pang

This course examines the Daodejing and its diverse body of commentarial literature throughout the centuries. We will consider both ancient and modern interpretations of the text, as well as their historical, political, social, and religious contexts. 

Satisfies the Cultural Diversity requirement

REL 475 Vedas and Upanishads
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Mahony

 

A study of canonical texts from ancient India known as the Vedas and Upanishads that in many ways have served as the foundations of religious sensibilities in India throughout the generations. Attention will be given to visionary poetry, sacred narrative, sacerdotal literature, philosophical musings, theological reflections, contemplative teachings and mystical intuitions.

 

Satisfies Religious and Philosophical Perspectives distribution requirement

Satisfies Cultural Diversity requirement

REL 498 Honors Thesis
Prerequisites & Notes

For senior majors approved by the department. See thesis instruction sheet for details.

Instructor
Staff

Research paper on some aspect of religious studies.

SOC 225 Sociology of Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Marti

The sociology of religion pursues an understanding of both the "social-ness" of religion itself and the mutually influencing interactions between religion and its social environment.  We will analyze religious beliefs, practices, and organizations from a sociological perspective, with a primary focus on religion in contemporary American society.

Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.