Department Courses

Religious Studies Department Courses

The Courses

                                                            The Courses (RELI)

1301. Ways of Being Religious. A comparative study of the beliefs and practices of a wide variety of religious traditions. Special attention to such perennial themes as God, salvation, evil, morality and death.

1303. Introduction to Eastern Religions. An introductory historical overview of the major religious traditions of Asia. The course will explore developments in religious and cultural trends expressed in South Asia (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) and in East Asia (Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto).

1304. Introduction to Western Religions. A historical introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Topics include Moses and ancient Israelite religion; Jesus and early Christianity; rabbinic Judaism; Muhammad and classical Islam; the birth of Protestantism; and Jewish, Christian and Islamic modernism.

1305. Introduction to Primal Religions. An introduction to the religious world views and ritual life of such primal cultures as Australian aboriginals, African tribal peoples and native North and South Americans, as well as the significance of the resurgence of neo-paganism in the West.

1311. Judaism, Christianity and the Bible. An exploration of the common and distinctive elements in Judaism and Christianity; a study of the historical relationships between Jews and Christians.

3302 (PHIL 3302). Problems in the Philosophy of Religion. The philosophy of religion, considering such problems as religious experience, human freedom, good and evil, belief in God and immortality.

3304. Christian Theology. An exploration of such theological problems as the authority of the Bible, the reality of God, the meaning of Christ, the nature of humanity, and the end of history in the light of the biblical heritage and contemporary thought.

3306. Hinduism. An exploration of the major attitudes and institutions that define the Hindu tradition, with attention to ideology, social organization, and ritual in light of both historical development and contemporary practice.

3307. Buddhism. Communal rituals, practice, ethics, and political involvement of the Buddhist community (sangha) as it has taken form in five cultural areas: India, South Asia, Tibet, East Asia, and America.

3308. Christian Ethics and Moral Issues. An examination of the relationship between moral reasoning and Christian belief. An analysis of various Roman Catholic and Protestant theories of religious ethics and of specific questions of personal conduct and social policy.

3309 (CF 3361). Bioethics from a Christian Perspective. This course will examine bioethics from a Christian ethical perspective with special attention to different methodological approaches to the significant themes and realities involved (e.g., life, health, suffering, death), and to the most important issues faced today.

3310 (SOCI 3320). The Social-Scientific Study of Religion. An introduction to scientific ways of thinking about the social, cultural and psychological aspects of religious life. Attention is given to major thinkers and theories dealing with religion in the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, sociology and the social-scientific study of religion.

3314. Studies in Comparative Religion. An examination of a particular topic or theme as expressed in a variety of religious traditions, Eastern and Western, ancient and modern. Topics will vary from term to term.

3315. Religion in Politics. An examination of the impact of religious belief and ethical thought, as well as social, cultural and psychological factors, on the involvement of religious people in the political sphere. The course introduces the social-scientific study of religion to aid in the analysis of current and recent case studies, ranging from the conservatism of the “Far Right” to the revolution of the “Left,” and involving Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

3316 (CFA 3306). Religion and Science. An exploration of how religion and science understand such topics as the origins and destiny of the universe and the evolution of life. 

3318 (CF 3316). The Hero in the Bible and the Ancient Near East. An examination of concepts of the hero in the literatures of ancient Mesopotamia, Canaan and Israel, with special attention to the nature of traditional narrative and to the relationship between the hero, society and the self.

3319. Hebrew Bible. An introduction to the Old Testament and to the religion and history of ancient Israel. Special emphasis will be given to the ancient Near Eastern roots of biblical religion and to the modern interpretation of biblical myth, epic and prophecy.

3320. Classical Judaism. An introduction to the study of religion through examination of Judaism. The course will look at central Jewish religious ideas and how they developed within the rabbinic and medieval periods. Special attention will be given to conflicts and controversies, such as Judaism’s rejection of early Christianity; heretical movements within medieval Judaism; and Jewish attitudes toward other religions.

3321 (CF 3332). Religion and the Holocaust. A study of responses to the Holocaust by Jews and Christians. The course will begin with an overview of the history of the Holocaust as it affected the Jewish communities of Central and Eastern Europe. Students will then read personal memoirs of survivors of ghettos, concentration camps and Nazi Germany. Post-war responses will include questions of faith after the Holocaust; Christian responsibility for modern anti-Semitism; the impact of the Holocaust on the creation of the State of Israel and Middle East politics today; and post-war relations between Jews and Germans.

3324. The Jewish Experience in America. An examination of Jewish life in America, including history, literature, cultural expressions and religious beliefs from the seventeenth century to the present.

3326. New Testament. An introduction to the writings of the New Testament, the formative events, and the persons who played leading roles in the origin of Christianity.

3329. Islam. An examination of the history, doctrines and rituals of the Muslim community, treating Islam in both the past and the present, and in its global context.

3330. The History of Christianity. An introduction to the European development of Christianity, focusing on the key movements, the outstanding leaders, and crucial turning points in the history of Christianity.

3331. Renewal of Roman Catholicism at the Second Vatican Council. The main section of the course will concentrate on a study of the more significant documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). An introductory part will consider the background prior to the Second Vatican Council and the changes that helped bring it about. A concluding part will deal with the more significant developments in Roman Catholicism in the last 30 years.

3333. Religion in America. A consideration of the history of religion in America from the colonial period to the present. Special emphasis on either selected religious groups, movements or thinkers.

3334. Conservatism and Liberalism in American Christianity. An examination of the fundamentalist, evangelical and liberal understandings of Christianity, with attention to the issues at stake, and the problems and possibilities of dialogue.

3335. Religious Sects in America. An examination of new religious movements that have originated in America (such as Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, Scientology, Christian Science and the Nation of Islam) or have been transplanted here from abroad (e.g., Hasidic Judaism, Theosophy, the Unification Church, the Hare Krishna movement, and Baha’i).

3336. African-American Religious History. An examination of the major movements, figures, and critical issues in African-American religious history. The focus is on the United States, although West African, Caribbean and South American materials are included. Special attention is given to slave religion, the civil rights movement, and Black criticism of Christianity.

3337 (CF 3356). Christianity and American Public Life. Course objectives are: 1) to acquaint students with some recent criticisms of the dangers of individualism permeating American understanding and life; 2) to propose the communitarian dimensions of human existence from the Christian perspective; and 3) to help students enter more critically into the dialogue about the role of religion in pluralistic contemporary American society.

3338 (CFA 3338). Christ as Cultural Hero. An exploration of the impact of Jesus on the history of Western culture, not only in religion and philosophy, but also in the fine arts, literature and politics.

3339 (CFA 3339). The Puritan Tradition in England and America. An examination of the religious, political, scientific, economic, and literary dimensions of the Puritan movement in Tudor-Stuart England and in colonial America.

3340. Religious Experience. An examination of the varieties of religious experience from traditional forms of mystical and ecstatic experience, to nontraditional forms of altered states of consciousness. Attention is given to social, cultural, ethical, psychological and existential dimensions of religious experience approached from a cross-cultural perspective.

3349. Early Christianity. Major developments in the history of Christianity from 100-600. Emphasis is placed on institutional and ideological developments.

3350. History of Biblical Interpretation. A survey of the interpretive approaches to the Bible in Jewish and Christian traditions from ancient times to the modern era. Topics will include interpretation in the biblical period, rabbinic and early Christian exegesis, mystical interpretation, and modern historical scholarship. The social context and the aims of interpretation will be key concerns of the course.

3352 (CF 3346). Love and Death in Ancient Mythology. An exploration of love and death in the mythologies of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Canaan, Greece and India. The interaction of these twin themes will be pursued as a key to the religious and philosophical perspectives of these ancient peoples. The significance of ancient mythology for modern reflection will be a central concern throughout the course.

3353 (CFB 3353). Borderlands: Latino/Latina Religions in the United States. An introduction to Latino/Latina religions and religious practices in the United States, with a special emphasis on social constructions of the “borderland.”

3358 (CFA 3322). The Psychology of Religion. An investigation of the biological and psychological underpinnings of religious belief, behavior and experience, as well as the psychological and biological consequences of religion.

3360. The History of Judaism. An overview of both the historical development of the Jewish tradition and its central laws, religious practices and theology.

3362. Islam and the West. A study of past and present encounters between Islam and the West, with special attention to the bearing of the contemporary Islamic resurgence upon encounters today.

3364. Native American Religions. An investigation of the mythologies of North America, centering on Southwestern and Northern Plains cultures. Native texts will be approached by way of modern theories of the interpretation of myth, ritual and religion. Topics include creation myths, culture heroes, trickster tales, sacred music and dance, and rites of healing and passage.

3365 (CF 3339). Understanding the Self: East and West. An examination of several basic notions pertaining to selfhood, including consciousness, cognition, motivation, personal identity and decision, as found in Eastern and Western sources.

3366 (ANTH 3366). Magic, Myth and Religion Across Cultures. A cross-cultural and comparative exploration of religion, ritual, magic and supernatural belief systems among peoples of the world. Examines how religion permeates other aspects of society and culture.

3367. The Religious Life of China and Japan. An introduction to the history, thought and religious practices of Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto and Mahayana Buddhism.

3368 (CF 3368). Wholeness and Holiness: Religion and Healing Across Cultures. An exploration of various understandings of the relationship between religion and healing. Analysis of the interface between medical and religious models of health through a wide range of ethnographic examples and theoretical perspectives. Special attention is also given to different religious healing modalities.

3370. Great Religious Leaders. A comparative study of the life and thought of outstanding representatives of diverse religious traditions, with special attention to founders and revitalizers of the world religions.

3371 (CFA 3307). The World of New Testament. Investigates the intersections of political history, social history, philosophical thought, and religious belief and practice, with particular attention to Judaism and Christianity in their Greco-Roman context.

3372. Biblical Interpretation and the State of Israel. An examination of the ways in which the Bible has been interpreted both in support of and in opposition to the modern state of Israel.

3374. Female and Male in Religion and Culture. How does the study of gender differences affect our understanding of history, religion and culture? This course will take a critical look at current discussions in the field of women’s studies and their impact on contemporary thought.

3375 (CF 3343). Wives, Mothers, Lovers, Queens: Expressions of the Feminine Divine in World Religions and Cultures. A historical and cross-cultural overview of the relationship between feminine and religious cultural expressions through comparative examinations and analyses of various goddess figures in world religions.

3376 (CF 3344). Constructions of Gender, Sexuality and the Family in South Asian Religions. A comprehensive historical overview of gender issues as they are represented in the great textual traditions of South Asia. To make these classical texts more relevant, readings in recent anthropological studies of religion will also be included to enable the student to trace recurring gender themes, images and symbols.

3377 (CF 3399). The Cultural History of Tibet. A critical study of Tibetan history, culture and religion and how they relate to the representation of Tibet in travel, scholarly and popular literature.

3378. Religions of China. A historical survey of the religious cultures of China from the ancient Shang dynasty through the contemporary period.

3380. Women and Religion in America. A historical introduction to the role of women in American religious history with special attention to the interplay between women and wider religious and cultural values.

3382. Mysticism, East and West. An inquiry into mysticism as a path for attaining individual religious fulfillment. Attention to such mystic traditions as Zen, Tantra, Yoga, Sufism, Kabbalah and Christian mysticism.

3384 (CFB 3384). Hinduism and Colonial Encounters. A critical study of the history of colonialism in India and its impact on social, religious and political discourse.

3385. Philosophies of India. An examination of some of the major traditions of Indian systematic philosophy. Attention to the analysis of consciousness, perception, language and the problems of validation.

3387. Religion and Human Rights. Major world religious traditions and modern ideas of human rights. Religious understandings of humanity and political order will be considered in relation to contemporary human rights issues.  

3388. (CF 3371) Western Ideas of Enlightenment: Plato, Augustine, and Kant. Explores Plato, Augustine, and Kant on "What is Enlightenment?" Their three different, competing ideas shape our contemporary understandings of the educated, virtuous and free person.

4198, 4199. Independent Study.

4298, 4299. Independent Study.

4352. Jesus and the Gospels. An examination of canonical and non-canonical Christian Gospels, with special attention to methods of gospel research and to the study of the historical Jesus.

4354. The Prophets of the Old Testament. An introduction to the writings and religious concepts of the prophets of ancient Israel. Special emphasis will be given to the roots of prophecy in ancient Near Eastern religions, the social role of the Israelite prophet, and comparisons with seers and shamans of modern religious traditions.

4356. The Bible and Ethics. An examination of the ways in which Christians have appealed to scripture in ethical debates, with special attention to classic ethical approaches, specific ethical issues, and methodological problems.

4371. Pauline Christianity. A study of Paul and Pauline Christianity, drawing on Paul’s letters, the Acts of the Apostles, and other documents of the New Testament.

4381. Internship in Religious Studies. Enables students to gain vocational experience by working in nonsectarian religious organizations and institutions, such as social justice agencies, ecumenical associations, and charitable or educational foundations.

4198, 4199, 4298, 4299, 4398, 4399, 4498, 4499. Independent Study.

4388, 4389. Special Topics in Religious Studies. A detailed investigation of a topic chosen by the instructor. Topics vary.

4396, 4397. Directed Reading and Research. Special topics to be selected by the student in consultation with the department. Open to seniors upon departmental approval.

4398, 4399. Independent Study.