Spring 2004

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 104 Intro to Eastern Religions

Bryan Phillips

This course will serve as an introduction to the religious traditions of Asia by surveying the preeminent world religions of Indian culture, Hinduism and Buddhism. We will review these religions' foundations and subsequent developments, balancing our examination between readings in vital, traditional texts (in translation), practical guides, and the accounts of contemporary adherents. Topics covered will include cosmology, theology, ethics, faith, and ritual technologies.

RELJ 112 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Don Polaski

This course continues RELJ111. It will feature more advanced topics in Hebrew grammar and syntax as well as the translation of biblical narratives such as Jonah and Ruth.

RELC 122 Early Christianity & the New Testament

Harry Gamble

This course surveys the origins and early history of Christianity on the basis of a historical and analytical study of early Christian writings belonging to the "New Testament." Topics covered include theorigins of Christianity in Judaism; the activity and significance of Jesus; the formation, beliefs and practices of early Christian communities; the varieties of Christianity in the first century; and the progressive distinction of Christianity from Judaism. Requirements: Two quizzes and a final examination, and occasional short papers in connection with discussion sections. Regular attendance at discussion sections is mandatory.

RELC 206 History of Christianity II 1054-1800

Augustine Thompson

Survey of Western Christianity from the 12th to the 19th century. Attention will be given to spirituality and forms of piety, worship, development of theology, and the institutional history of the Christian Church. Special focus will be placed on the High Medieval Church, the Crisis of the Protestant Reformation, and the early modern background of contemporary Christianity, including Eastern Orthodoxy. Readings from original sources. Three short papers, in-class mid-term and final.

RELI 208 Islam in the Modern Age

Aziz Sachedina

RELI 208 will study the Muslim societies in the modern times to assess their success/failure in remolding their political/religious culture in order to become fully integrated in the international order that is founded upon secularism and modernism. The course will undertake to explore a public role for religion in general, and Islam in particular, in fostering democratic values that can accommodate a pluralistic nature of the religious and political societies in the Islamic world. That which characterizes the Muslim community is their devotion to the classical faith, Islam, with its legacy of rich past. The call for reformation of this classical heritage has been in the air for over a century. Yet, the beginning or the end of reformation is singularly difficult to observe in terms of a "new" political theology or a "fresh" pluralistic interpretation of Islam to have capacity for the changes that are sweeping Muslim societies. Islam and its people continue to grapple with the fact of Western hegemony through economic globalization and the support the West lends to their autocratic governments in suppressing their political and human rights. The course will evaluate political goals of Muslim governments in countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran, and whether these goals are congruent with the development of democratic institutions to further basic human rights.

RELG 216 Religion in America Since 1865

Heather Warren

An historical survey of religion in America from the Civil War to the present. The course includes study of theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, and various expressions of African-American faith. It attends to the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and other social and cultural changes on American religious life. This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement. Requirements: Three papers (6-7 pages each), a mid-term exam, and a final exam.

RELG 219 Religion & Modern Fiction

Larry Bouchard

We will explore ways in which modern fiction persists in asking questions that are intrinsically religious in character: questions concerning the relation between human spirit and human nature, of faith and doubt, of evil and suffering, of personal and communal wholeness or restoration, and of symbolic orders of meaning in which writers may discern the divine within or at the limits of language and experience. Some authors we will consider (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, or Susaku Endo) write fictions that are intended to reflect explicitly their religious traditions. Others (such as E. M. Forster, Milan Kundera or Tony Morrison) create secular narratives that nonetheless raise philosophical and moral questions that have religious implications. And others (such as N. Scott Momaday, Seamus Heaney, Izak Denisen, or Yann Martel) employ a variety of religious and cultural traditions to create more idiosyncratic religious interpretations. The authors listed may change and, in addition, the course will consider a number of interpreters of religion. Requirements: Two essay exams before and after the Spring break and a short final paper.

GREE 224 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)

This course is not offered by the department, but may be of interest to religious studies students

Judith Kovacs

The aims of this course are to solidify your knowledge of Hellenistic Greek grammar and vocabulary and to gain speed and proficiency in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. We will read passages from I Corinthians and Romans, as well as some passages from the Acts of the Apostles. We will also consider some of the principles of New Testament textual criticism. Prerequisite: Greek 101-102 or permission of the instructor. Graduate students should consult instructor about registration. This course is offered by the Department of Classics.

RELG 230 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems

Charles Mathewes

This course examines several contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of the ethical insights of Western religious traditions (especially Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, but with some attention to Islamic positions) as well as from a broadly humanistic perspective. We will consider a variety of moral issues including (but not limited to) marriage, friendship, truthfulness, capital punishment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. We will also examine the relationship between religious convictions, morality, and the law. Particular attention will be paid to what selected authorities and thinkers in the above traditions say about these issues, how they reach their conclusions, and how their theological or philosophical convictions influence their moral judgements.

RELC 246 Aspects of the Catholic Tradition

Gerald Fogarty

This course serves as an introduction into Catholic doctrine as it has developed from post-Apostolic times. The principal texts for the course are the Documents of Vatican II, supplemented by documents from earlier councils and readings from some more recent theologians and biblical scholars.

RELB 255 Buddhist Meditation

Jeffrey Hopkins

An introduction to Buddhism by way of exploring meditative techniques and practices used for attaining enlightenment. Meditation manuals from Tibetan traditions will be examined and compared, providing a survey of Buddhist techniques for non-attachment, love, compassion, and insight into the nature of reality. The emphasis will be on yogic transformation of the mind through reflective, stabilizing, and analytical meditation. Buddhist attitudes about the basic human condition, altruism, and the conflict between appearance and reality will be discussed. Sample meditations will be conducted during class.

RELG 263 Environmental Choices

Jim Childress

This course will explore the complex choices in environmental policy and management by examining and integrating three relevant perspectives: environmental science, ethics and business. Environmental science provides a basic understanding of the impacts of human activities on the )environment. Business focuses on the relevant benefits and costs. Ethics addresses the conflicts of values involved in decisions about the environment. It is the balancing of environmental and economic costs and benefits, coupled with human beliefs about what is "right" or "wrong," that is at the heart of the environmental decision-making process. The process is complex because it involves a diverse set of stakeholders with differing perspectives and objectives. A case study approach will be used to examine the wide range of scientific, historical, cultural, ethical and legal dimensions of environmental issues. The course will be team-taught by three instructors: Thomas Smith, Department of Environmental Sciences; Mark White, McIntire School of Commerce; and James F. Childress, Department of Religious Studies. A number of guest lecturers will provide additional background from other disciplines, such as law, history and literature.

RELA 276 African Religions in the Americas

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

This course explores the African religious heritage of the Americas. We will concentrate on African-derived religions in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Cuban Santeria, Haitian Vodou, and the Jamaican Rastafari movement. North American slave religion, the black church, and African-American Islam will also be considered. We will seek to identify their shared religio-cultural "core" while developing an appreciation for the distinctive characteristics and historical contexts of each "New World" tradition. We will address topics such as ideas of God and Spirit; the significance of ritual sacrifice, divination, and initiation; the centrality of trance, ecstatic experience and mediumship; and the role of religion in the struggle for liberation and social justice. Final, Midterm, periodic quizzes on the readings, participation in discussion.

RELB 306 Issues in Chinese Buddhism

Paul Groner

This course examines the ways in which Chinese Buddhism differs from the Buddhisms of other countries. The first half of the course focuses on the historical development of the tradition. How did Indian Buddhism enter China? How was it influenced by the indigenous traditions of Confucianism and Daoism? After undergoing several persecutions, Chinese Buddhists had to change their tradition in important ways to make it more amenable to Chinese culture. Later, another crisis requiring important changes occurred when Chinese Buddhism encountered foreign influences including Tibetan Buddhism, western political philosophies, and science. The second half of the course surveys several philosophical schools and forms of practice including Huayan, Chan, Pure Land, and Tantric Buddhism. Students are strongly urged, but not required, to have taken at least one course in Buddhism or Taoism. RELG 104 Religions of Asia will also provide a good background.

RELJ 309 Israelite Prophecy

Donald Polaski

RELC 310 Christianity in Third World Countries

Isabel Mukonyora

This course focuses issues of Christian thought in third world histories sharing a colonial past. This is an opportunity to examine various kinds of arguments for Liberation Theology that have come with the translation and adaptation to Latin America, Africa and Asia. Literature that exposes students to writers such as Segundo, the Boff brothers, Desmond Tutu, Allan Boesak, Kwame Bediako and others will be on toolkit to read alongside The Cambridge Companion on Liberation Theology (Edited by Christopher Rowland) The main aim in class meetings is to discuss these articles and the issues they raise in student led discussion, while lectures are used to define Liberation Theology in the light of the impact of Christianity in cultures beyond the western world.

RELI 312 Islamic Mysticism

Aziz Sachedina

RELI 312 is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islamic mysticism, known as Sufism. The course is primarily concerned with the growth of mystical tradition in Islam, the rise of asceticism, the early Sufis, the development of Sufi orders, the systematization of Sufi teaching and the evolution of theosophical dimension of mysticism, and finally, the contribution of Sufism in the Islamic art and literature. In doing so, we will attempt to study the lives and teachings of the prominent Sufi teachers as Rabi'a, Hallaj, Rumi, Gazali and others. Multimedia Component of RELI 312: The course will include multimedia component to explore Spiritual Dimensions of Islamic Art and Architecture to underscore the Sufi influence in the material cultures of Muslims. The multimedia component will provide students opportunity to experience and articulate psychological and spiritual dimensions of the available text, sound, and image resources collected and compiled for the course database.

RELH 314 The Jain Tradition

Karen Lang

This course examines the religious beliefs and practices of the Jains in India. Beginning with the teachings of Mahavira and basic doctrines of Jainism, the course will consider the historical foundations of the Jain tradition through careful examination of the life stories of the great teachers of the tradition, philosophical and doctrinal texts, and the rich Jain narrative tradition. The second half of the course will focus on contemporary Jain life and religious practice, both monastic and lay, through examination of the religious lives of ascetics and Jain laypeople, ritual practices of temple worship and pilgrimage, as well as modern sectarian movements within the tradition and emerging Jain interest in environmentalism. No prerequisties.

RELB 315 Seminar on Buddhism and Gender

Sarah Jacoby

This seminar takes as its point of departure Carolyn Bynum's statements:"No scholar studying religion, no participant in ritual, is ever neuter. Religious experience is the experience of men and women, and in no known society is this experience the same." The unifying theme of this seminar is gender and Buddhism. We will explore historical, textual and social questions relevant to the status of women in the Buddhist world of India, Tibet, and East Asia from the time of Buddhism's origins to the present day. Materials will draw from anthropological studies, textual Buddhist studies, and Buddhist biographical literature to consider the history of women's involvement in Buddhism and the relationship of gender to Buddhist views on selflessness, duality, and sexuality. We will also discuss the relevance of western feminist theory to the study of Buddhism and the efforts of contemporary western Buddhists to establish a post-patriarchal Buddhism. Previous course work in Buddhist Studies or Gender Studies is recommended.

RELC 329 Christianity and Islam
RELI 329 Christianity and Islam

Robert Wilken

Course deals with the history of Christianity in the middle east after the Muslim conquest and relations between Muslims and Christians. Some topics to be considered: Christian-Muslim controversies, Bible and Koran, Muslim and Christian spiritual writers, mysticism, law, Muslim views of Jesus, the Crusades, Christianity under Ottomans, Christians in the middle east today, Christian and Muslim perceptions of one another.

RELJ 331 Law and Judaism

Elizabeth Alexander

RELJ 338 Judaism in America: Topics in Cultural History

Lauren Winner

This course explores the cultural history of Jews in America, will an emphasis on the experience of Jews in the American South. After surveying patterns is Jewish immigration to America, we will examine an array of topics, from Jewish food to the memory of the Holocaust, from Jewish attitudes toward sex and the body to Jewish fiction. Readings include Eli Evans’s The Provincials, the biography of the first Jewish Miss America, Art Spiegleman’s Maus, and, of course, The Kosher Southern-Style Cookbook.

RELJ 339 Jewish Feminism

Vanessa Ochs

From ancient times to our own day, Jewish women have engaged with Jewish tradition, texts and practices appropriating, resisting and transforming them. In this course, we will study the strategies by which contemporary women in Judaism have created, and continue to create the conditions for increased spiritual, intellectual and social empowerment, and will try to anticipate new directions. We will study the major works and issues in contemporary American Jewish feminism from the mid-1960's to the present, concluding with the work of 20-something Jewish feminists. We will study how Jewish feminists and feminist scholars of Judaism have defined and legitimized the study of Jewish women's experience by tracing the impact of Jewish feminism on Jewish ritual practice, text study, communal leadership, and theology.

RELJ 341 Judaism Without God

Asher Biemann

RELG 344 Conflict in Abrahamic Traditions

Peter Ochs

The course samples two different sources of theory about how political conflict and peace may emerge among members of these religions. One source is academic political theory in the modern west, as it addresses the theme of conflict and peace in international relations. The other source is the study of Scripture in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as that study addresses issues and practices of conflict and peace. Students will examine case studies of conflict among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The course will encourage dialogue among the methods and advocates of modern political theory and of scriptural religion, all in the interest of re-imagining models of inter-religious conflict resolution. Prerequisites: course background in either scriptural traditions or in international relations; and permission of the instructor (Interested students need to submit a paragraph detailing their interest and qualifications.)

RELA 345 African Art

Ben Ray

Each student will design an exhibition of African art for presentation on the Web that will incorporate the results of the student's study of African art. The exhibitions will contain an introductory explanation of the exhibit's theme, images of selected African art objects, relevant field-context images, descriptive labels, and other explanatory textual materials. The images of African art will be taken from collections at the Bayly Museum of the University of Virginia, the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, the Hampton University Museum, and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and are used with copyright permission. The course includes the following curricular components: a brief history of African art studies; African ritual and cosmology; analysis of African art exhibition catalogues; library research on selected art objects; the exhibition of African art in museum contexts; training in Web skills and image processing. The aim of the course is to create exhibitions of African art that attempt to be true to the objects themselves while placing them in an educational environment of value to the exhibitor and the viewer alike.

RELJ 352 Responses to the Holocaust

Jennifer Geddes

In this course, we will read a wide-range of responses to the Holocaust--historical accounts, survivor testimonies, theological and philosophical works, literary narratives, and poetry--written by Jews, Christians, and atheists. The following questions will guide our reading and discussion: After the Holocaust, how have understandings of human nature, religious belief and practice, good and evil, responsibility and ethical action changed? What responses to this event are possible, important, or necessary now after over half a century?

RELG 357 Existentialism: Its Literary, Philosophical and Religious Expressions

Jamie Ferreira

RELC 358 The Christian Vision in Literature

William Wilson

RELC 361 Female Saints in the Western Tradition

Nicole Farmer Hurd

In this course, we will explore the types of women who have become saints in the various major periods of church history. Do female saints reveal significant features of the experience of women in various historical periods, or are saints fundamentally different? How would a history of Christianity, viewed from the standpoint of female saints, be both like and unlike a history of Christianity viewed from the more usual, that is, largely male, perspective? The course will explore the lives and writings of female saints such as Mary, Perpetua and Felicity, Hildegard of Bingen, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Catherine of Genoa, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and the most recent female American saint, Katharine Drexel. Several short papers required. Previous courses in religious studies strongly recommended.

RELC 362 Contemporary Theology: Western Christian Thought

Gene Rogers

An analysis and interpretation of major currents in 20th C. Western Christian thought, its immediate predecessors, and some of its Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and other interlocutors, up to the present. Authors will include a selection from among: Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albert Schweitzer, Emile Durkheim, Adolf von Harnack, Karl Barth, Franz Rosenzweig, Rudolf Bultmann, Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner, Hans Frei, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean-Luc Marion, Vladimir Lossky, Dmitru Staniloae, Rowan Williams, John Milbank, Gustavo Gutierrez, Juan-Luis Segundo, Joseph Soloveitchik, Michael Wyschogrod, Robert Jenson, Phyllis Trible, Sallie McFague, Janet Martin Soskice, Judith Plaskow, James Cone, Desmond Tutu, the Boesak brothers, Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt, Eberhard Juengel, Kathryn Tanner, Sarah Coakley, Judith Butler. Themes covered will include the turn to the subject, the historical Jesus, the rise of sociology, neo-orthodoxy, Catholic Kantianism, trinitarian revivals, doctrines of revelation, the narrative turn, Radical Orthodoxy, God-language, theological method, liberation theology, the ecumenical movement, Christian doctrines of Israel, and the resurgence of Eastern Orthodoxy. 2 lectures with grad and undergrad sections. Four 5-page papers or 1 20-page paper with permission. Fulfills 2d Writing Requirement for undergrads.

RELC 363 God, the Body and Sexual Orientation in Christian Thought

Gene Rogers

BY INSTRUCTOR'S PERMISSION
This course tries to answer two questions: What does Christianity say the body is for, and what does the study of social bodies say God is for? Or, put another way, what does God want with a human body (my human body, the social human body, God's own human body); and what does a human society want with God? The course uses current debates about sexual orientation to address those issues. Arguments for and against same-sex marriage will play a prominent role. Fulfills the 2d Writing Requriement. 4 five-page papers, weekly newsgroup participation, seminar discussion. This is not a bull session or a soapbox, but will require heavy reading, sober writing, and willingness to speak up thoughtfully in seminar. Graduate participation encouraged. Admission by one-paragraph application. Seek details from instructor.

RELG 373 Religion and Economics

John Milbank

RELC 381 Cultural Catholicism

John Portmann

Exploration of Roman Catholic experience outside the official structures of the Holy See (for example, devotions, pilgrimages, shrines, art, fiction, cinema, television), particularly as committed Catholics argue over how to honor their spiritual tradition in day-to-day life. Study of current challenges wrought by women, Jews, and gays. Special attention paid to contemporary intellectuals and artists who criticize John Paul II while fiercely guarding their own Catholic identities (for example, Garry Wills, John Cornwell, and Mel Gibson).

RELG 383 Religion and Fantasy

Alison Milbank

Why does fantasy and the fantastic become the most popular mode of religious fiction of the last hundred years? Is The Lord of the Rings a nostalgic retreat from modernism? What cultural work does Chesterton's violent use of paradox perform? This course takes us from the nightmare vision of The Man Who Was Thursday to Tolkien's trilogy by way of his fellow inklings Lewis and Williams, represented by the dystopic That Hideous Strength and Charles Williams investigation of the doppelganger in Descent into Hell. John Cowper Powys's brilliant A Glastonbury Romance offers a very different (and modernist) style of mythical world-building. 2 papers and a class presentation. This course is by instructor permission only. It has a great deal of reading and students will only be admitted if they can show genuine commitment to the subject.

RELJ 383 Introduction to the Talmud

Elizabeth Alexander

RELC/ RELJ 391 Women and the Bible

Judith Kovacs

This course provides a forum for exploring the intersection of gender issues and biblical studies. It focuses on the close interpretation of particular texts from the Bible. We will survey passages from the Hebrew Bible (=Torah/Old Testament) and the New Testament that focus on women or use feminine imagery, considering various readings of them, including traditional Jewish and Christian, historical-critical, and feminist interpretations. We will examine the position of women in Israel and in the early church and consider how biblical authors use feminine imagery to express their theology. Attention will also given to how later Jewish and Christian communities employ Scripture to shape and define women's social and religious roles. Topics treated will include: the stories of creation and fall in Genesis 1-3, narratives with female protagonists (Sarah, Deborah, Hannah, Esther, Ruth, Judith, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, Priscilla), the prophetic images of Israel as prostitute, wife, and pure daughter of Zion, the figures of Lady Wisdom and the seductive Foreign Woman in Proverbs, the erotic imagery of the Song of Songs, women in the circle of Jesus, Paul's views on women, and the use of feminine images to portray judgment and redemption in the Revelation to John. No prerequisite. May be used to fulfill the second writing requirement. Not for women only (men are especially encouraged to enroll). Note that students can enroll for this course either as RELJ 391 or RELC 391.

RELB 392 Tantrism: Constructs of Divinity

Bryan Phillips

This course examines the rise and influence of Tantrism in India and Tibet from the middle of the first millennium C.E. Tantrism was a pan-religious movement that thoroughly reshaped both Hinduism and Buddhism. It captured the imaginations of the intelligentsia of India, weaving together strands of alchemy, meditative and yogic traditions, and profound philosophical inquiries into the fundamental nature of phenomena and the human being. Its presentation in the West has largely been stereotyped as a late, degraded erosion of India's grand religions, yet the wealth of materials uncovered by scholars in the past two decades indicates that Tantric practices were at once more nuanced and more disciplined than has heretofore been recognized. In surveying the orientations and techniques foundational to the Tantric perspective, we will emphasize the rise of Tantra as a historical and cultural development, with all of the requisite facets we associate with 'religion': deity worship, rituals and their attendant liturgies, communities, devotional literature, theologies, soteriologies, cosmologies, and so forth. Prerequisite: An introductory course in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Asian religions.

RELG 400a Majors Seminar: Creation

Larry Bouchard

Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
This edition of the Majors Seminar will look at several ways of understanding (or interpreting) how some religious communities and some theorists interpret religion and various ideas and forms of creation. In Part I of the seminar, we will examine several definitions or perspectives on religion that have some bearing on ideas of creation. These include sociological, psychological, anthropological, historical, and theological perspectives. Is it helpful to speak of "religion" as having generic (or generally applicable) meanings? Or are religion and "religious" meaningless notions apart from particular traditions and communities? In addressing such questions, we will pay particular attention to how religious traditions can be regarded as communities of interpretation. In Part II of the course, we will examine how some voices, from certain religious frameworks and communities, have interpreted aspects of creation, including divine creation, science and creation, and cultural creation-as in the making of the cosmos, works of art and literature, buildings, even food. Do religious views of creation really embrace such a variety of things? We shall see. Assignments: short reaction papers, one or two to be presented to the seminar; mi-term essay exam; final paper on topic related to the seminar.

RELG 400b Majors Seminar: Religious Experience

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
What is religious experience? How do we interpret and analyze something many consider ineffable? Divine inspiration, conversion, mystical knowledge, miracles, epiphanies and revelations are integral to many religious traditions, yet prove difficult to explain. In attempting to come to terms with religious experience in a variety of cultures and traditions from around the world, we will analyze some classic works in the sociology and psychology of religion. We will also consider anthropological, historical and philosophical approaches to this fundamental, but illusive feature of religion. Seminar requirements include active participation in class discussion; four short critiques of the readings; a mid-term and a final exam .

RELG 400c Majors Seminar: Religion and Material Culture

Vanessa Ochs

Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
This Majors Seminar will focus on the methodology of studying religion through material culture (that is, things). Viewing religion from the perspective of material culture, you will learn to recognize how religious people enact spirituality and belief in a world of things, places and sensory experiences. As you gain skills in material culture analysis of religion, you will better appreciate interdisciplinary nature of the study of religion, noting how each discipline proposes its own theories that shape the way one can approach, understand and interpret religion.

RELG 423 Bioethics Internship Seminar

Margaret Mohrmann

This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student will spend one half-day each week in a clinic or other health-care-related setting (the same setting throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional engaged in that setting. Seminar time will focus both on the role of the ethicist/observer and on the particular issues that commonly arise in clinical medicine. During the second half of the semester, students will give presentations related to their specific areas of observation. Students are expected to have some background knowledge of bioethics methods and common questions. Admittance to the course is by application; for details, see the Undergraduate Bioethics Program Website at http://www.uva.edu/~bioethic/intern.htm.
This is not a Majors Seminar.

RELG 440 Rediscovering Gnosticism

Emmanouela Grypeou

Gnosticism refers to a multi-faceted, highly syncretistic religious movement of late antiquity, which proclaimed a radical dualistic and anti-cosmic message of redemption revealed in exclusive esoteric knowledge (gnosis). The objective of this course is to present and discuss main aspects of this complex religious system, as manifested in the various "Gnostic" groups and schools (e.g. Sethians, Valentinians, etc.) and according to primary Gnostic and heresiological literature
This is not a Majors Seminar.

RELC 459 Theology, Violence and Religon in American Democracy

Corey Walker

This is not a Majors Seminar.
This seminar will probe the question: "What do theologians have to say about the interrelationships between violence and American Democracy?" This question will be considered within the context of the past century of the American experiment with democracy. The seminar will feature a sustained examination of how and in what ways violence - physical, structural, and symbolic - has informed and continues to inform constructions, articulations, and practices of American democracy and particular theological responses to these regimes of violence. The seminar will also critically examine various theological responses to the events of September 11, 2001. Readings will come from selected works by John B. Cobb, Jr., James H. Cone, Mary Daly, Stanley Hauerwas, Diana L. Hayes, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Martin Luther King, Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, Walter Rauschenbusch, Rosemary Radford Ruether, John Howard Yoder, and others.

RELG 461 Sex and Morality

John Portmann

Reading-intensive survey of how Western moralists have understood: a woman's body; a man's body; celibacy; masturbation; pornography; sexual reproduction; contraception; adultery; homosexuality; marriage and divorce; transsexuals; sex education in public schools; political sex scandals; and the relation between sexual conduct and admission to heaven.
This is not a Majors Seminar.

RELS 495 Independent Research

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision. Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor

RELS 496 Distinguished Major Thesis

Instructor: Student's choice

Thesis, directed by a member of the department, focusing on a specific problem in the theoretical, historical or philosophical study of religion or a specific religious tradition. The thesis is based in part on at least three hours of directred reading in the field of the thesis. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.

RELS 498 Senior Essay

Instructor: Student's choice

Studies selected topic in religious studies under detailed supervision. The writing of an essay constitutes a major portion of the work.(Technically speaking, there is not much difference between this course and RELS 495 Independent Research. Prerequisite: permission of deparmental advisor and instructor.

Graduate Courses

RELC 504 RELJ 504 Apocalyptic Tradition

Don Polaski

RELG 504 American Religion and Social Problems

Heather Warren

RELG 517 Methodology

Ben Ray

An introduction to the basic thinkers in the field of History of Religions and Anthrolology (Otto, van der Leeuw, Eliade, Durkheim, Bellah, Levi-Strauss, Geertz, Turner) and to fundamental problems in the study of religious sociology, anthropology, mythology, and ritual.. Such authors as Edith Turner, Wendy Doniger, and Jonathan Z. Smith. As well as a critical examination of postmodernism and the comparative study of religion One reading critique (4-5 pages), a ritual analysis paper (5-6 pages), a myth analysis paper (5-6 pages), and a postmodernism paper (5-6 pages). Guidelines for all papers will be provided; as many papers as possible will be presented in class Restricted to Graduate students and 4th year Religious Studies majors.

RELB 534 Colloquial Tibetan IV

S. Yangkyi Wang

A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan III, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan

RELB 536 Literary Tibetan IV

Iaroslav Komarovsky

A continuation of Literary Tibetan III, this course is designed to expose students to a variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and advanced Tibetan grammar. Prerequisites: Literary Tibetan III.

RELC 541 The Summa and St. Thomas Aquinas

Augustine Thompson

RELB 543 Colloquial Tibetan VI

Jeffrey Hopkins

A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan V, this course utilizes Tibetan scholastic debate to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics. Prerequisites: Tibetan V. Requirements: class attendance, participation, multiple exams and quizzes.

RELB 548 Literary Tibetan VI

Jeffrey Hopkins

Continuation of RELB 547 and RELB 820.

RELB 549 Tibetan Buddhist Renaisance

David Germano

This course will focus on Renaissance period of Tibetan Buddhism, namely from the tenth to fourteenth centuries. This was arguably the most creative and interesting period of Tibetís religious history, and was marked by an explosive creativity that has shaped the basic forms of Tibetan Buddhism to the present. Half of the course will survey the various cultural issues of the period, including the growth of monasteries and temples, the massive translation project of Indian Buddhist literature, the rise of visionary and populist movements, the creation of an imaginal Tibet via a romantic movement based on Tibet’s Imperial past, the conflict between tantra and scholastic forms of Buddhism, the shifting politics of the period, the development of pilgrimage and various types of religious communities, and so on. The other half of the course will focus on particular yogic and philosophical systems that prevailed in the Buddhist movements which developed during this time period. Undergraduates are welcome, but are required to have done Tibetan Buddhist Culture (RELB 254) or a corresponding course, and contact me before enrolling

RELC 552 American Catholic History

Gerald Fogarty

The Catholic Church in the United States is currently going through the worst crisis in its history. Aside from the recent sex abuse scandals, the clergy and laity are divided ideologically as never before. This seminar will explore some of the literature flowing from this crisis. Included among the authors to be studied will be George Weigel, Gary Wills, Archbishop John R. Quinn, and Peter Steinfels. The course will consist of weekly discussions with papers every two weeks and a final paper on a topic to be approved by the instructor.

RELB 555 Budhhist Ethics

Karen Lang

This seminar will provide an exploration of the place of ethics and moral reasoning in Buddhist thought and practice. The major focus will be on Buddhism but we will also consider how Buddhist attitudes were shaped by Hindu and Jain views. Materials to be examined will be drawn from a wide range of sources, from classical Buddhist and Hindu scriptures to contemporary narratives. Among the topics to be explored: karma and rebirth, peace/nonviolence and war, human and animal rights, suicide and euthanasia, abortion and contraception, gender and sexuality. Open to undergraduates with at least one 200/300 level course in Buddhism. Requirements: active participation in class, weekly response papers and a term paper (15-25 pages).

RELG 562 Religion and Intersubjectivity

Asher Biemann

RELG 569 Just Love: Gender and Ethics

Margaret Mohrman

This seminar course will explore in depth works published in the past decade that demonstrate the current state of feminist thought as it becomes increasingly integrated into "mainstream" conversations and controversies within ethics, both social/political and theological. The list of authors will probably include Nussbaum, Walker, and Okin, among others, as well as several theological voices, such as Rachel Adler and Serene Jones. The emphasis in the course will be on careful reading and discussion, usually of book-length works, and the required paper(s) will ask for the same close attention to a recent text. Permission of the instructor required. Open to advanced undergraduates.

RELG 570 The Protestant Moral Tradition

Charles Mathewes

RELG 583 Love and Justice in Christian Ethics

James Childress

RELH 590 Self, Cosmos and Ritual in Hindu Tantra

Gavin Flood

The course examines the theology and practice of a group of Hindu traditions that developed from around the eighth century, which revered as revelation a body of texts called 'Tantras.' These texts and the tradition of ritual and commentary upon them were deeply concerned with the nature of the self, the goal of liberation, and the relation between liberation and practice. We will examine divergent metaphysical claims and commonalities of ritual practice in the three groups of tantric teachings of the Pancaratra or tantric Vaisnavism, the Saiva Siddhanta and the Pratyabhijna. The course will be taught by a close reading of Sanskrit texts. We will pay particular attention to reading a selection from important texts in these traditions, namely the Jayakhya-samhita and Laksmi-tantra; RmakaÏæha's commentary on the Kirana-tantra, Bhojadeva's Tattvaprakasa and Isanasivagurudeva's paddhati; and Ksemaraja's Pratyabhijnahrdaya and his commentary on the Netra-tantra. The course will raise important questions about method, textual reception, and hermeneutics in the Indian context. We will raise questions about the nature of the self in these traditions. Why is the self important? What is the relation between self and practice, self and cosmos, and self and other in these texts? What kind of theistic reality is presented here? What is the relation of these texts to the social world that gave rise to them? What do these texts tell us about human relationships in that world? We will attempt to locate the universal claims of the texts to history and location, power, gender and caste with the help of Anthropologists and Indologists. A central focus will be on reading the primary sources in Sanskrit. The student should have basic reading knowledge of Sanskrit as at least two of the texts to be studied do not have European translations.

RELB 703 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts

Paul Groner

RELG 728 Topics in Modern Religious Thought: Faith and Reason

Jamie Ferreira

We will read Kant's Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Schleiermacher's Speeches on Religion, Hegel's Introduction to the Lectures on Philosophy of Religion, and Kierkegaard's Fragments and selections from Concluding Unscientific Postcript.

RELC 732 Western Christian Thought

Gene Rogers

RELG 740 Scriptural Reasoning

Peter Ochs

An introduction to a current theological movement based on shared scriptural study among Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars. Both the movement and the course offer methods of reading Hebrew Scripture (Tanakh), New Testament, and Qur'an in dialogue one with the other, and of tracing patterns of text-interpretation, philosophy, and theology that emerge from out of this dialogue. Course readings include: the scriptural sources; medieval exegetical and philosophic texts; recent theories of interpretation (literary, hermeneutical, semiotic); 20th century text theologians, such as Muhammad Iqbal, Max Kadushin, and Karl Barth; the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (published by UVA's Etext Center); and works of recent scriptural reasoners.

RELG 807 Global Health and Human Rights

Jim Childress

RELG 815 Religion, Culture and Public Life

Charles Mathewes

RELB 821 Literary and Spoken Tibetan VIII

Jeffrey Hopkins

Continuation of RELB 547 and RELB 820.

RELB 823 Advance Literary Tibetan

Jeffrey Hopkins

Individual translation projects

RELB 826 Readings in Buddhist Literature

David Germano

RELB 828 Colloquial Tibetan VIII

Jeffrey Hopkins

A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan VII, this course utilizes Tibetan scholastic debate to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics. Prerequisites: Tibetan V. Requirements: class attendance, participation, multiple exams and quizzes.

RELG 848 Neoplatonism

John Milbank

RELC 892 Ambrose of Milan

Robert Wilken

Ambrose in the context of fourth centuy imperial life. Particular attention to his writings on the relation of the Church to political authority. Latin required.

RELS 895 Directed Research

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reding in a select topic under detailed supervision.

RELS 896 Thesis Research

Instructor: Student's choice

Research on problems leading to a master's thesis.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

RELS 898 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

RELG 899 Pedagogy

Willa Baker / Andrea Dickens

RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Doctoral Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

RELS 999 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.