Spring 2006

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 104 Intro to Eastern Religions

John Nemec

Contact professor directly for course description

RELJ 112 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course continues RELJ111 by providing an introduction to Hebrew grammar and syntax in preparation for the translation of biblical prose.

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 the origins 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 150 Introduction to Christian Tradition

Valerie Cooper

This course will explore Christianity in its modern and historical contexts, combining an examination of current scholarship, worship and praxis. Because one course could not begin to exhaust the wide diversity present in Christianity, we will instead focus on several smaller questions over the course of the semester.
The first half of the course will ask the question, “Who was Jesus?” We will consider some of the historical, textual, sociological, theological, and archaeological evidence surrounding his life and the subsequent Jesus Movement which developed into early Christianity. Efforts will be made to place Jesus’ life in the context of Jewish popular movements of his time. The second half of the course will ask the question, “What is the church?” and consider the development of the Christian church from the time of Constantine onward. This discussion of Christian worship will be accented by students’ field visits to churches in the Albemarle County area. Course materials will include those dealing with the development of a few specific denominations, as well as larger subsets of Christianity such as Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. Although Christian traditions worldwide will be addressed, the main emphasis of the second half of the course will be modern American Christianity.

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

Abdulaziz Sachedina

This course has been replaced by RELI 259

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 that 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, identity, and transformation. We will also ask about symbolic orders of meaning in which writers may discern the divine at the limits of language and experience. Some authors we will consider (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor or Susaku Endo, John Updike or Marilynne Robinson) write fictions that are intended to reflect explicitly their religious traditions. Others (such as E. M. Forster, Tony Morrison,) create apparently secular narratives that nonetheless raise philosophical and moral questions that carry religious implications. And others (such as N. Scott Momaday, E. R. Doctorow, or Yann Martel) employ a variety of religious and cultural traditions to create more idiosyncratic religious interpretations. The authors mentioned may change and, in addition, the course will consider a number of interpreters of religion. Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation at lectures discussion sections. 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 254 Tibetan Buddhist Culture

Kurtis Schaeffer

Contact professor directly for course description

RELI 259 Islam, Democracy and Human Rights

Abdulaziz Sachedina

RELI 259 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, including respect for human rights of religious and ethnic minorities and women, 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, and whether these goals are congruent with the development of democratic institutions to further basic human rights. Readings will include: Soroush/Reason, Freedom And Democracy In Islam, Sachedina/Islamic Roots Of Democratic Plural, Sabbagh/Arab Women, Qutub/Social Justice In Islam, Fadl/Place Of Tolerance In Islam

RELJ 261 Judaism in a Secular World

Asher Biemann

What does it mean to be Jewish in a secular world? What is Jewish culture? What is Judaism without God? Looking at a variety of academic and fictional texts, films, and art, this course will explore how secularization is reflected in contemporary Judaism. Requirements are two short essays and a final paper.

RELC/J 302 Faith on Trial: The Book of Job and Its Traditions

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

An examination of the biblical book of Job along with related texts -- ancient, medieval, and modern -- that allow us to establish the literary, theological and philosophical traditions in which Job was composed and the literary, theological, and philosophical legacy it has left. Our study will cover ancient texts from Mesopotamia, biblical Wisdom Literature, Prometheus Bound, writings by Calvin and Maimonides, Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, J.B. by MacLeish, Gustavo Gutierrez, and the etchings of William Blake. We will pay particular attention to the ways these works play off one another in literary form and expression and in their treatment of such themes as divine justice, human piety, and the nature of the divine-human encounter.

RELI 312 Sufism

Timothy Gianotti

Contact professor directly for course description

RELG 313 Idolatry

Asher Biemann

Beginning with Biblical sources, covering a range from Mishnah to Marx, and concluding with contemporary texts, this course will examine the philosophical framework of casting idolatry as an unspeakable sin: What is an idol, and why is idolatry so objectionable? With an emphasis on Judaism, though not exclusively, we will discuss idolatry in the context of representation, election, otherness, emancipation, nationalism, secularism, religious innovation, and messianism.

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.

RELC 323 Pentecostalism

Valerie Cooper

This course will study the history, practices, theology, and praxis of Pentecostalism, the fastest growing Christian movement in the world, from its origins among poor whites and recently freed African Americans to its phenomenal expansion in places like South America, Asia and Africa. The course will explore Pentecostalism’s theological and historical relationship to the Holiness, Apostolic, and Charismatic movements, as well as Pentecostal belief in phenomena like speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecy. Finally, the course will use race, class, and gender analysis to evaluate the cultural influences of Pentecostalism in the US and elsewhere in the world.

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.

RELG 335 Metaphysics and Morality

Nick Adams

An introduction to moral theories which try to solve Hegel's problem of ethical life. The problem is the wholesale identification of morality with the beliefs of particular communities. The course begins with Hegel's account of the relationship between master and slave and the problem of the 'unhappy consciousness' in the Phenomenology of Spirit, together with his remarks about ethical life. Three attempts to repair this account are then considered: Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality and MacIntyre's trilogy beginning with After Virtue. Finally, three critiques of MacIntyre are considered: Habermas (from the rationalist tradition in Justification and Application), Stout (from the pragmatist tradition in Tradition and Democracy) and Milbank (from the Christian theological tradition in Theology and Social Theory). The course will end with an evaluation of attempts to solve Hegel's problem together with the suggestion that moral 'theory' is not only unattainable but a distraction from theology.

RELB 338 Buddhist Perspectives on Dying, Death and Transcendence

Yaroslav Komarovski

This course concentrates on the Buddhist doctrinal teachings, meditative techniques, and ritual practices related to death and dying. Students analyze how Buddhists of different cultures approach the issues of rebirth, dissolution of consciousness in the process of dying, the post-mortem state and related visions, funeral rituals, meditations on death, and specific practices utilizing the death process to transcend the cycle of death and rebirth. These and other topics are discussed within the broader context of the Buddhist traditions of Theravada Buddhism, Tibetan Tantric Buddhism (including the book popularly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead), Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, and other Buddhist traditions

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.

RELA 341: Witchcraft, Healing, and Popular Religion in Contemporary Africa

Amy Nichols-Belo

This course seeks to examine contemporary religious beliefs and practices in a variety of cultural settings throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Through ethnographic texts, documentaries, and feature films, we will investigate healing practices, current ideas about witchcraft and magic, as well as popular religious expression in Islamic and Christian practice. We will focus on the connections of post-colonial politics, HIV/AIDS, and economic marginalization to religious belief and practice. Since this course is a 300-level seminar, students will be expected to actively prepare for and participate in class discussions, present texts in-class, and write a 12-15 page research paper. Additional course requirements include two quizzes and a final examination.

RELC 349 Scottish Enlightenment and American Faith

Nicole Farmer Hurd / William Wilson

This course has been canceled

RELB 357 Buddhist Paths to Enlightenment

Yaroslav Komarovski

This course focuses on different presentations of the Buddhist Path from the perspective of Theravada Buddhism, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism of Mahayana, including Tantra, as well as East-Asian Zen and Pure Land Buddhism. We will be comparing different models of the Buddhist path that present enlightenment as a gradual versus sudden process; see the progress on the path as depending on one’s own power versus salvific powers of enlightened beings; view enlightenment as already present within versus as a distant possibility; encourage the abandonment of desires versus their transformation. In this context, we will consider such questions as whether or not all beings can attain buddhahood, whether multiple enlightenments are possible, whether conceptual thinking can result in negation of concepts, etc. The assigned readings will consist of a balanced amount of primary and secondary sources/materials. Prerequisites: at least one introductory course on Buddhism or Eastern religions strongly recommended

RELG 365 Contemporary Issues in Bioethics: Stem Cell Research and Genetic Enhancement

Bill May

This course, taught by a former member of the President\'s Council on bioethics (2002-04), will explore some of the documents produced by the Council, such as On Human Cloning and Human Dignity; Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness; Monitoring Stem Cell Research; and Being Human: Readings. The council intended to serve as an aid to policy makers but also recognized that it would need to stand back from the immediate tactical struggles over federal policies and reflect on the human condition, the whence and whither of being human, the mysteries of mating and parenting, and the human drives that underlie scientific inquiry and medical practice. Students considering these matters will examine the roles of religion and the humanities in contributing to public policy and public culture. Students will be responsible for a comprehensive examination on the course readings. Prerequisite: one prior course in ethics or political philosophy from any department, or petition John Arras at jda3a@virginia.edu or Jim Childress at jfc7c@virginia.edu for permission to enroll. Please include a list of your relevant courses.

RELC 368 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, blacks, and gays. Special attention paid to contemporary intellectuals, artists, and politicians who criticize the Vatican while fiercely guarding their own Catholic identities (for example, Garry Wills, Mel Gibson, and John Kerry). This course has been offered under another rubric, namely, RELC 381. You cannot take this course if you have already taken RELC 381.

RELG 372 Witchcraft

Erik Midelfort

The following description is 6 years old:
This course considers the history and theory of Western magic and witchcraft from the points of view of women's studies, European history, and Christian theology. We study various notions of magic and demonology and their intersection with witch hunting, especially in Europe and America, and concentrating on the period 1450-1750. We also consider the connections of modern Wicca (sometimes known as the Goddess religion) to traditional witchcraft. The goal of the course is to refine critical thinking and interdisciplinary skills as well as extend research and writing abilities. Students will write a major research paper (10-15 pages long) on a topic of their choosing. The course proceeds by lectures and discussion of weekly reading assignments of ca. 100-150 pages a week. Additional assignments encourage students to discover resources in the library. A midterm and final examination are required of all.

RELJ 375 Scriptural Reasoning

Peter Ochs

The first half of the course will examine how recent Jewish philosophy and theology has turned back to the study of sacred texts. The second half will examine how that turn has engendered another turn: to intensive dialogue with like-minded Christian and Muslim philosophers and theologians. The course will include various methods of study: one-on-one fellowship study, small group study, large group. It will require considerable reading in scriptural texts and in both classical and contemporary commentaries - philosophic and theological. There will be several papers and papers in place of exams. Students are advised to peruse these websites to taste the kind of work the course will undertake: the e-journal of textual reasoning (housed at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/tr/; and the e-journal of scriptural reasoning (created at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/ssr/.
This seminar is being cross listed with RELJ 575. Graduate students will be included in the enrollment.

RELJ 383 Introduction to the Talmud

Elizabeth Alexander

This course introduces students to the talmudic corpus, which in conjunction with the Hebrew Bible, plays a fundamental role in shaping Judaism as we know it today. Indeed, the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud are the two major sacred texts on which Jewish practice and belief are based. Ostensibly an interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud creates something exciting and new through its empowered approach to interpretation. In this course we will examine the various strategies of interpretation used by the Talmud and the new trajectories of thought, belief and practice that result from the Talmud's creative interpretations. We will pay special attention to the talmudic reshaping of the biblical myths of creation and revelation. We will also explore the culture of "holy" debate and argumentation that talmudic texts encourage. Finally, we will gain competence and mastery in reading the three main genres of the talmudic corpus (biblical interpretation, legal codes, and legal argumentation) so that students can put forward their own interpretations of these foundational texts.

RELC 384 American Catholic Social Thought

Gerald Fogarty

Contact professor directly for course description

RELG 388 Environmental Theologies

Willis Jenkins

This intensive seminar explores contemporary Christian theologies for the way they have appropriated environmental challenges, and the way theologians think those challenges require theological traditions to be reformed, discarded, or reclaimed. What does biodiversity have to do with salvation? Christian spirituality with nature? Divine creation and an evolving cosmos? In search of answers, we will read works from Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant theologians and consider theological strategies such as eco-justice, stewardship, liberation theology, ecofeminism, and creation spirituality.

RELG 400a Majors Seminar Religion and Violence

John Nemec

Contact professor directly for course description
Restricted to Religious Studies Majors

RELG 400b Majors Seminar: Online and On the Road with Religious Studies

Vanessa Ochs

In this seminar, we will be studying the religious landscape from an ethnographic perspective. We will plan and prepare for visits to a range of sites in Charlottesville: houses of worship, religious schools, domestic and other settings. (While most of our visits will be held during class time, there will be opportunities for several weekend/evening visits). Students will develop skills in conducting religious studies fieldwork, including participant observation, interviews, and visual documentation. We will also be looking at ways people have religious experiences online. Site study and online study of religions raise methodological and ethical issues (such as making generalizations about a religious tradition based on one’s experience of a particular site)-- these issues integral to our study. This course is open to all Religious Studies majors who are ready to take the Majors’ seminar; it may be of particular interest to majors with interests in photography, film or oral history. Restricted to Religious Studies Majors

RELG 400c Majors Seminar: Creation

Larry Bouchard

This edition of the Majors Seminar will look at how different perspectives on the study of religion help us understand ideas of creation, including divine creation, cultural creation, and natural processes related to creation. In Part I of the course we will examine several definitions and approaches (sociological, psychological, cultural, theological) to the study of religion. We will use a literary text—perhaps E. M. Forster's novel, A Passage to India—as a "proving ground" for some of these perspectives. We will examine how they might (or might nor) help us understand religious communities and questions in the novel and at how the novel might be creating a number of perspectives of its own on religion. In Part II of the course, we will examine more views on possible relations between divine, natural, and cultural creation: religious-traditional (e.g., Augustine and Barth), philosophical-ethical-theological (e.g., Langdon Gilkey, John Polkinghorne, and Jon Levenson), and literary perspectives (e.g., William H. Miller's A Cantical for Liebowitz and Izak Denisen's Babette's Feast). Along the way we will consider old and recent debates about "creationism," "intelligent design," "the anthropic principle," and their bearing on understandings of God and evil, the self and other, and faith and science. Restricted to Religious Studies Majors

RELA 410 Yoruba Religion

Ben Ray

This is not a Majors Seminar.
A study of Yoruba traditional religion. ritual art, independent churches, and religious themes in contemporary literature in Africa and the Americas.

RELG 423 Bioethics Internship Seminar

Margaret Mohrmann

This is not a Majors Seminar.
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://bioethics.virginia.edu/internships.html

RELG 461 Sex and Morality

John Portmann

This is not a Majors Seminar.
Survey of how Western moralists have theorized: a woman’s body; a man’s body; celibacy; masturbation; pornography; stripping; prostitution; sexual reproduction; contraception; adultery; homosexuality; marriage and divorce; sex education in public schools; sex scandals; senior sex, and the relation between sexual conduct and moral standing. Focus on Christianity and the United States. What does sexual activity have to do with religious practice? And how did sex come to be the overriding personal goal of modern Westerners (as Foucault laments, with only a little irony, in The History of Sexuality)? *This class can satisfy the second writing requirement.

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

For information on the Graduate Program, please contact the graduate secretary

RELG 515 Public Health Ethics: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

James Childress / Ruth Gaare-Bernheim

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the ethical dimensions of the choices societies and individuals make when addressing threats to and responsibilities for the public’s health. We will examine a range of philosophical theories and contemporary positions to explore the complex concepts of “public” and “health.” By delving into historical and contemporary cases, including international cases, we will investigate the impact of various understandings of “the public,” i.e., not only as a numerical population that can be defined and measured, but also as a political group that operates under legally defined obligations and relationships and as a “communal” public with diverse cultural and moral beliefs. In the seminar we also will explore the various methods and content of public health ethics, including utilitarian perspectives, various international perspectives (including human rights), and the role of the Code of Ethics for public health professionals.

RELG 517 Methodology

Ben Ray

An introduction to the basic thinkers in the field of History of Religions and Anthropology (Otto, van der Leeuw, Eliade, Durkheim, Bellah, Berger, 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, Jonathan Z. Smith, and Katherine Bell. Also a critical examination of postmodernism and the comparative study of religion. One or two reading critiquse (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.

RELC 521 Luther and Lutheranism

Augustine Thompson

This course is an introduction to Martin Luther, the Lutheran tradition and Lutheran theology intended for doctoral students in Religious Studies or history. The focus is principally bibliographical, but reading will include selections from Luther and Lutheran writers. Knowledge of German and French is useful but not required.

RELJ 522 Literary Approaches to Rabbinic Literature

Elizabeth Alexander

Rabbinic literature has shaped the values, rituals and theology of Judaism as it is practiced by Jews around the world today. Yet the texts of the rabbinic corpus rarely state their values, rituals or theology in straightforward manner. This course gives students the skills to tease out the essential kernel of a given passage by applying the insights of contemporary literary theory. We will identify the chief literary characteristics of midrash (biblical interpretation), mishnah (legal codification and case law) and gemara (legal argumentation and interpretation). We will also identify literary theories that clarify the goals, purposes and meaning of exemplary passages in each of these genres. The insights culled from literary theory include attention to intertextuality, hermeneutical presuppositions, the use of recurring images and motifs and the constructive role of the reader. Class time will be largely devoted to close readings of primary texts.

RELC 530 Roman Catholic Moral Tradition

Charles Mathewes

RELB 534 Colloquial Tibetan IV

S. Yangkyi Wang

RELB 536 Literary Tibetan IV

Yaroslav Komarovski

RELB 539 Tibetan Buddhist Esoteric Movements in Context

David Germano

RELI 540 The Sunnite Creed

Abdulaziz Sachedina

RELI 540 will concentrate on the development of Muslim Theology in general and the Sunnite creed in particular. It will primarily be a Mu`tazili-Ash`ari theological study, and secondarily Sunni-Shi`i doctrinal analysis. The course is basically concerned with the development of creeds in Islam, the gradual process of formulating Principles of Religion (usul al-din), and their crystallization in the form of dogmas, with theological complexities. Readings will include: A. J. Wensinck, The Muslim Creed; W. M. Watt, The Formative Period of Islamic Thought; H. A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of Kalam; G. F. Hourani, Islamic Rationalism; I. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vols. II; E. L. Ormsby, Theodicy in Islamic Thought. COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Active participation in the weekly sessions, Class reports, in the form of short papers, Two book reviews, Term paper on a topic to be selected in consultation with the instructor. N.B. Students taking this course should have a basic grounding in Islam, e.g. RELI 207.

RELG 541 Just War and Pacifism

James Childress

This seminar will examine just-war, pacifist, and holy-war attitudes toward war, mainly in the context of Christian theology and modern philosophical discussions. After a brief exploration of the moral reality of war, the seminar will examine the evolution of Christian attitudes toward war, from the early Church through the Reformation, with particular attention to how the Church and its theologians handled New Testament directives that at a minimum created tension in efforts to justify war as well as Christian participation in war. The thought of selected twentieth century theologians will be examined, with attention to representatives of the just-war tradition and the pacifist tradition. These include Reinhold Niebuhr, H. Richard Niebuhr, Karl Barth, Paul Ramsey, the U.S. Catholic Bishops, James Turner Johnson, Oliver O'Donovan, John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas, among others. In addition, the seminar will analyze and assess what the instructor considers the best book on the morality of war in the twentieth-century: Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars. In the examination of just-war thought, the seminar will attend to both the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello. Finally, the seminar will consider some contemporary debates about preventive and pre-emptive wars, the role of weapons of mass destruction, and torture.

RELB 543 Colloquial Tibetan VI\

S. Yangkyi Wang

Contact professor directly for course description

RELB 544 Readings in Buddhist Sanskrit Texts

Karen Lang

Contact professor directly for course description

RELB 546 Seminar in Mayhayana Buddhism

Karen Lang

Contact professor directly for course description

RELB 548 Literary Tibetan VI

Kurtis Schaeffer

Contact professor directly for course description

RELI 550 Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy

Timothy Gianotti

Contact professor directly for course description

RELC 551 Marcion and Second Century Christianity

Harry Gamble

Instructor's permission required
This course is planned as a collaborative research seminar, and is limited to graduate students. Ability to work in Greek or Latin, and to use French or German, is expected. The focal figure of the seminar will be Marcion of Sinope, one of the most notorious early Christian thinkers, and one early regarded as a “heretic.” In Marcion and his teaching there converge numerous issues that broadly engaged Christian attention in the second century, and although his positions on these issues are collectively unusual and fall outside so-called proto-orthodoxy, Marcion nevertheless offers an instructive point of conjunction at which to consider a variety of second century problems.

RELG 556 God and Unity in German Idealism

Nick Adams

An introduction to basic problems in German Idealism focusing on Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. The course is intended to provide thorough foundations for students studying the contintental tradition in France and Germany from 1781 to the present day. The main question to be investigated is: how does German Idealism secure its account of the unity of all being after the failure of theological accounts to be philosophically satisfying. The principal theme is that of 'the Absolute' in its different guises in Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre, Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism and Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. The course will expose these attempts to address problems in Kant as overwhelmingly Fichtean, and will suggest alternative readings of Kant, such as Schleiermacher's, that produce different problems. The relevant secondary literature includes texts by Henry Allison, Frederick Beiser, Andrew Bowie, Dieter Henrich, Wayne Martin, Frederick Neuhouser, Terry Pinkard, Robert Pippin, Gunter Zoeller.

RELJ 575 Scriptural Reasoning

Peter Ochs

The first half of the course will examine how recent Jewish philosophy and theology has turned back to the study of sacred texts. The second half will examine how that turn has engendered another turn: to intensive dialogue with like-minded Christian and Muslim philosophers and theologians. The course will include various methods of study: one-on-one fellowship study, small group study, large group. It will require considerable reading in scriptural texts and in both classical and contemporary commentaries - philosophic and theological. There will be several papers and papers in place of exams. Students are advised to peruse these websites to taste the kind of work the course will undertake: the e-journal of textual reasoning (housed at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/tr/; and the e-journal of scriptural reasoning (created at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/ssr/.
This seminar is cross listed with RELJ 375. Undergraduate students will be included in the enrollment.

RELG 738 Pragmatism and Theology

Peter Ochs / Nick Adams

First, an introduction to the American pragmatists' alternative to philosophies and theologies that fail to take responsibility for the societal contexts of their inquiries. Then, a study of the Biblical sources of at least one pragmatist's work (Peirce) and how those sources identify inquiry with the effort to repair human suffering. Then, the main work of the course is to re-examine some of the major scriptural theologians who accept this identification and the responsibilities that come with it. How does their work reshape what we understand by "pragmatism" and by "scriptural theology?" Among theologians considered will be Augustine, Yehuda Halevi, Maimonides, Bonhoeffer, Iqbal, Levinas, and others.

RELG 792 The Politics of Theology

Corey Walker

“[A] teaching . . . can, I will even say should, always problematize, that is, put forward, its own limits and conditions in order to draw attention to them, to make them the theme of research. . . .” This statement from Jacques Derrida critically delineates the contours of this seminar in Critical Theology. In this seminar on “The Politics of Theology,” we will explore the limits of theology by entertaining the critical question: “What is at stake in the discourse of t/Theology?” In so doing, we will open up a line of research into the conditions of/for the im/possibility of theology, the “infra-politics” of the discourse of theology, the geopolitics and theopolitics of knowledge, and the possible future(s) of theology and public life. This seminar is intentionally interdisciplinary as our conversations will range across such fields as cultural studies, critical theory, feminist theory, philosophy, political theory, postcolonial studies, religious studies and theology. Some of the key thinkers we will engage include Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Karl Barth, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Dispesh Chakrabarty, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Enrique Dussel, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Immanuel Kant, Russell McCutcheon, Walter Mignolo, Jacques Rancière, Edward Said, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Gayatri Spivak, Sylvia Wynter and others.

RELG 804 American Religious History

Heather Warren

Contact professor directly for course description

RELC 815 Patristic Greek

Judith Kovacs

Intermediate/Advanced Greek syntax, with readings in church fathers such as Origen, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Attention will also be given to techniques of Greek rhetoric and to theological issues. Designed for graduate students in the program in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, but open to other graduates as well. Prerequisite: Mastery of basic Greek grammar

RELB 826 Tantric Buddhist Literature

David Germano

Contact professor directly for course description

RELB 828 Colloquial Tibetan VII

S. Yangkyi Wang

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RELC 892 Early Christian Thought: Cyprian of Carthage

Robert Wilken

Focus of the seminar will be on how Cyprian dealt with the social and theological problems arising from the persecution of Christians in Carthage in mid-third century. Close reading of select letters and also two of his treatises, The Lapsed, and The Unity of the Catholic Church. Latin required.

RELS 895 Directed Research

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reading in a select topic under detailed supervision.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 896 Thesis Research

Instructor: Student's choice

Research on problems leading to a master's thesis.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 898 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELG 899 Pedagogy

RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Doctoral Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 999 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.