Fall 2007

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 101 Introduction to Western Religions

Heather Warren

An historical survey of the origins and development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Subjects include the origins of monotheism, the rise of Israel as a nation, early Christianity, the rise of Islam in the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, Christianity during the Enlightenment, and the influence of modern science and industrialism on 19th and 20th century religious life. Requirements: Weekly readings, two tests and a final

RELJ 111 Elementary Classical Hebrew

Greg Schmidt Goering

This course and its sequel (RELJ 112) introduces students to the basics of classical (biblical) Hebrew vocabulary and grammar. After completing the two semester sequence, students will have mastered the basic tools required to read prose passages from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original language. In the latter part of the course, we will begin reading longer prose passages directly from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

RELC 121 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
RELJ 121 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tahakh and to Christians as the Old Testament. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, we will examine the Hebrew Bible in its original ancient Near Eastern context to learn about the major phases in the history and religion of ancient Israel. We will consider the diverse genres and theological themes found in the Hebrew Bible and the literary artistry of its whole. Finally, we will read Jewish and Christian interpretations of the text in order to understand the complex process by which the text was formulated, transmitted and interpreted by subsequent religious communities. Requirements: A midterm test, a final examination, and brief writing assignments for section discussion.

RELJ 203 Introduction to Judaic Tradition

Vanessa Ochs

An introduction to Judaism as it is practiced as a living tradition. We will survey the central Jewish beliefs that undergird the Jewish tradition and examine the ritual context in which these beliefs are manifest: sacred text study, prayer, holy day practices and life cycle passages (e.g. birth, marriage, death). We will explore the ancient sources from which so much of the Jewish tradition derives and observe the ever-changing ways tradition is manifest in contemporary Jewish life. We will draw on film, sacred text study and anthropological observation of Jewish life in Charlottesville today.

RELC 205 History of Christianity I

Robert Wilken

How did Christianity evolve from a small Jewish sect in Palestine into a church that embraced the Mediterranean world, Europe, the middle East, Byzantium and the Slavic peoples? How did the teachings of Jesus and the events of his life become the foundation for a complex system of belief (e.g. Trinity), ethics (e.g. marriage), worship? What was the origin and development of Christian institutions and practices, e.g. bishops and clergy, the papacy, monasticism, Baptism, Communion, et al. How did the Bible take its present form? How was this faith understood and explained in rational terms? These are the broader questions addressed in a survey of the first thousand years of Christian history.

RELI 207 Classical Islam

Abdulaziz Sachedina

This is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islam. The course is primarily concerned with the life and career of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, the teachings of the Qur'an, the development of the Muslim community and its principal institutions, schools of thought, law, theology, cultural life and mystical tradition, to about 1300 A.D. The objectives of the course are: (a) To acquaint the student with significant aspects of Islam as a religion in the classical period; and, (b) To help the student think through some of the basic questions of human religious experience in the light of the responses given to these questions by the great sages and saints of the Islamic tradition.

RELH 209 Introduction to Hinduism

Craig Danielson

This course provides a general introduction to Hinduism in its classical, medieval, and modern forms, providing an overview of the religious and cultural life of the Indian sub-continent from the second millennium B.C. (B.C.E.) to the twenty-first century. By reading primary texts in translation, and taking note of the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were composed, we will explore Hinduism from its earliest forms to contemporary manifestations.
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RELG 219 Religion and Modern Fiction

Larry Bouchard

We will explore ways that modern fiction asks questions that are intrinsically religious in character: concerning human spirit and human nature, faith and doubt, evil and suffering, personal and communal wholeness, and identity and transformations of identity. We will also ask about how, through narrative forms or through symbolic orders of meaning, some writers seek to discern the divine at the limits of language and experience. A number of the authors we will consider (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, Susaku Endo, Marilynne Robinson, John Updike, or Seamus Heaney) write fictions intend to reflect explicitly their religious traditions. Others (like E. M. Forster, Iris Murdoch, or Toni Morrison) create apparently secular narratives that raise philosophical and moral questions that carry religious implications. And others (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 here may change.) In addition, there will be readings from a number of modern interpreters of religion ( Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, Mircea Eliade, J. Z Smith, Wendy Doniger, or John Caputo). Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation at lectures and discussion sections. Experience in writing essays about ideas in fiction. Two exams (essay exams, but with short objective sections), one third and two thirds through the course and an essay on assigned fiction in lieu of a final exam.

GREE 223 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)

Judith Kovacs

The Department calls attention to this offered through the Classics Department, which can be counted towards the major in Religious Studies: This intermediate course aims to solidify the student's knowledge of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and give practice in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. We will also consider the principles of New Testament exegesis. Texts read come from the gospels, primarily Luke and John. (Letters of Paul will be read in Greek 224). Prerequisite Greek 101-102 or equivalent (one year of classical or Koine Greek). Requirements: regular quizzes, midterm, and final examination. Course may be used to satisfy the requirements for the major in Religious Studies.

RELC 233 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

This course will survey the development of Christian ethical thought and teaching from its beginnings through the Reformation era. Major ethical themes will be traced through the centuries, as the church's scripture, evolving doctrine, and emerging tradition interact - in thought, word, and deed - with secular society, politics, and philosophy. Readings will be taken mostly from primary texts, such as the Bible and the writings of selected Christian thinkers, but will also include relevant historical and ethical analyses of the developing church and its social milieu.

RELC 240 History of American Catholocism

Gerald Fogarty

Catholicism in the United States has often been in a dilemma. On the one hand, its spiritual loyalty to Rome and its growth through immigration made it appear "foreign" to most Americans. On the other, the American Catholic support for religious liberty drew suspicion from Rome. In 1960, the election of John Kennedy seemed to signal the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. To understand the significance of these events of the 1960s, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements, the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland, with its espousal of religious liberty, the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development of a strong sense of episcopal collegiality, immigration and nativism, American Catholic support of religious liberty and conflict with the Vatican at the end of the 19th century, and the American Catholic contribution to Vatican II (1962-1965). The course will conclude with an analysis of social, political, and theological developments in the American Catholic Church since the end of the council. Course requirements: 1) a mid-term and final exam; 2) an analysis of an historical document selected from collections on reserve.

RELB 245 Zen

Paul Groner

This course is a study of the development and history of the thought, practices, goals, and institutions of Zen Buddhism as it has evolved in India, China, Japan, and America. Among the topics discussed are meditation, enlightenment, the role of Zen in the arts, life in a Zen monastery, and the rhetoric used in Zen. The course focuses on Zen, but developments in other forms of Buddhism are also considered and contrasted with Zen.

RELB 254 Tibetan Buddhist Culture

David Germano

This course surveys Tibetan Buddhist religious culture in terms of its history, biographical traditions, religious communities, cultural patterns, ritual life, contemplative traditions, and philosophical discourses. The focus will be on how tantric Buddhism has historically functioned in Tibet to relate these different dimensions together as an identifiable cultural zone of vast geographical terrain, despite never achieving any form of political unity. These range from controversies over antinomian practices pertaining to sexuality and violence, to Tibet¹s religo-political solution to tantra¹s decentralized paradigm of religious leaders understood to be Buddhas with local mandalas of absolute authority. We will look into the rise of the institution of reincarnate lamas that culminated in the Dalai Lama, and address the theory that Tibet¹s lack of centralization led to the importance of so-called "shamanic" trends of Buddhism. Finally we will also examine at great depth Tibetan innovations in Buddhist philosophy, ritual and yoga.

RELI 259 Islam and Democracy

Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi

This course will primarily undertake to explore democratic notions in Islamic tradition that could provide a legal base for political legitimacy, but that either have not been institutionalized, or have disappeared over the course of history. The course then studies Muslim societies in modern times to find out how these Islamic democratic notions have been influenced by Modern circumstances and incorporated in Muslim political systems. It then turns to the pluralistic interpretations of Islam that have, since the beginning of the 20th century, tried to adapt democratic institutions to Islamic values. Closely related to this issue, it also studies the new round of hermeneutical readings of the religious texts, which emerged beginning in the 1980s, some of which propose a minimalist role for the apparent meanings of the texts. Finally, the course will survey challenges to the above-mentioned recent trends brought by traditional thinkers for whom the free interpretation of the religious texts would weaken the faith and add to the present confusion in understanding Islam. The course will particularly focus on Iranian and Egyptian thinkers who contributed to the development of democratic notions in Muslim societies.

RELJ 260 Judaism Between Modernity and Secularization

Asher Biemann

This course develops the history and intellectual underpinnings of the Jewish experience of modernity and secularization. We will explore the variety of Jewish responses and adjustments to the modern world and their implications for present day Judaism in its many forms.

RELG 263 Business and Society

Chad Wayner / Jennifer Phillips

This course aims to acquaint students with a variety of philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. The first half of the semester will focus on Adam Smith, Max Weber, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand. The second half of the semester will examine some contemporary issues within the marketplace that deserve additional scrutiny, such as private property, freedom of contract, and the distribution of goods. In addition, we will attend to specific issues in corporate ethics. Requirements will include both a midterm and final exam, as well as writing requirements to be determined.

RELG 265 Theology, Ethics & Medicine

Jim Childress

An analysis of the ethical principles that should undergird decisions in science, medicine, and health care. The lectures readings, and discussions will focus on ethical principles developed within different ethical traditions (such as Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Humanism) and on their implications for cases in abortion, death and dying, research involving human subjects, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, cloning, and allocating resources. Several films, videotapes, and cases will be used. Requirements: Midterm, final examination, 4 brief papers (2 pages) and participation in discussion.

RELG 270 Festivals of the Americas

Jalane Schmidt

Communities (and even entire nations) throughout the Caribbean, and South, Central and North America celebrate festivals which are rooted in religious devotion, and which serve to mark sacred time and and to assert claims about religious, ethnic, and national identities. The class will read ethnographic accounts and listen to musical recordings of signature religious festivals--such as Saint Patrick's Day in Boston, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Brazil, the Day of the Dead in Mexico--in order to study significant features of contemporary religious life in the Americas. Students will develop skills as critical readers of anthropological, historical, and religious studies accounts of religious and cultural change, and increase their ability to theorize about ritual, festivity, and sacred time and space in relation to ethnicity.

RELA 275 Introduction to African Religions

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

An introductory survey of African religions. The course concentrates on African traditional religions but Islam and Christianity are also discussed. Topics include indigenous mythologies and cosmologies, sacrifice, initiation, witchcraft, artistic traditions and African religions in the New World. Readings include: Ray, African Religions; Stoller & Olkes, In Sorcery's Shadow; Soyinka, Death and the King's Horseman; Ijimere, The Imprisonment of Obatala; Salih, The Wedding of Zein; and a packet of readings. Requirements: regular attendance and participation in discussion, two in-class exams, and a cumulative final exam.

RELG 280 African American Religious History

Valerie Cooper

This course will explore African American religious traditions in their modern and historical contexts, combining an examination of current scholarship, worship and praxis. This course will explore the religious life and religious institutions of African Americans from their African antecedents to contemporary figures and movements in the US. While the course will emphasize the growth and spread of Evangelical Christianity among African Americans, it will also consider a few non-Christian influences upon black churches and black communities. In considering the wide variety, popularity, economic strength, and ubiquity of religious institutions in the African American community, we will ask what role religion plays for black people, and what role African American religious life plays in the broader scheme of American life.

RELC 301 Genesis
RELJ 301 Genesis

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course introduces students to the Book of Genesis, the dramatic and tangled narrative that opens the Hebrew Bible. We will examine the literary artistry of the book by considering plot, characterization, and its compositional history. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, we will further consider the book in its historical and religious context. And, finally, we will examine the early history of how the book was interpreted. Readings will include not only biblical texts, but other ancient Near Eastern compositions (the enuma elish and the Gilgamesh epic) that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel.

RELC 303 Jesus as a Historical Figure
RELJ 303 Jesus as a Historical Figure

Harry Gamble

This course focuses on Jesus of Nazereth as an historical figure, that is, as he is accessible to the historian by means of historical methods applied to historical evidence. Careful attention will be given to all the potentially useful sources including the canonical Gospels, apocryphal Gospels, and Jewish and Graeco-Roman sources, as well as to the problems of dealing with them. A reconstruction of the activity and teaching of Jesus will be attempted, with a view to determining Jesus' place within ancient Judaism and the relation of Jesus to the emergence of Christianity.

RELJ 311 Advanced Readings in Classical Hebrew

Greg Schmidt Goering

An advanced reading course of selected classical (biblical) Hebrew texts. Before enrolling in this course, students should have a firm grasp of basic classical Hebrew grammar and vocabulary. Through this course, students will gain facility with reading and translating both classical Hebrew prose and poetry. Prerequisite: RELJ 202 or permission of the instructor

RELJ 313 Idolatry

Asher Biemann

To the monotheistic traditions, including Judaism, idolatry represents one of the most abhorrent moral transgressions. 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.

RELG 336 Religions in the New World: 1400s-1830s

Jalane Schmidt

A history course which examines Latin American and Caribbean religions from the 1400s through the 1830s. We will proceed topically (in rough chronological order), studying religious encounters during the pre-Columbian era, the Spanish conquest and colonial eras, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Latin American independence (1820s), and slave emancipation in the anglophone Caribbean (1830s). The class will focus primarily upon the signature religious episodes, devotions, personalities and institutions of indigenous, African, Afro-creole, and mestizo communities, since these "gente de color" constituted the majority population in the New World during this historical epoch. We will consider issues of historiography?specifically, the problem of interpreting (sometimes hostile) extant archival sources and the use of such primary material in the writing of secondary literature. Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in translation), and to identify the interpretive choices which scholars make in the crafting of historical narratives.

RELI 337 Islam and Human Rights

Mohsen Kadivar

This course has been canceled

RELG 340 Women and American Religion

Pam Cochran

Historian Ann Braude has argued that women's history is American religious history. This course is an overview of women in American religion, not just mainstream Protestant or Catholic Christianity, but from a variety of religious perspectives, including Jewish, Native American, African American, alternative religions, and women's spirituality among others. A sub-theme of the course will be the question of power. Do women wield power in American religion and, if so, in what ways? Has their often marginal status strengthened or weakened women's influence? What has been women's impact on religion and American culture? Considering the breadth and depth of women's role in American religion will help reveal whether women's history is, indeed, the history of religion in America.

RELC 342 The Christian Vision of Hell

Charles Mathewes

This class will investigate the various ways in which Christians have imagined Hell: the idea of the place (or condition) of final and possibly endless torment meted out to those who were not redeemed by God from their sin. We will investigate the idea of Hell from a variety of positions (including those who argue for and against the idea of Hell, and those who argue for an empty Hell) and through a variety of genres (including biblical texts, philosophical and theological treatments, and literary works). The ultimate aim of the course will be to see what such a study illuminates for us concerning the meaning of (1) punishment, (2) time, and (3) the nature of--and relation between--divine love and divine justice in Christian thought.

RELJ 347 Judaism and Science

Peter Ochs

An introductory study of the place of science in Judaism, focusing on the example of creation. Topics include: The Genesis story and Evolution; Myth, Science, and Religion; Newton, Quantum Physics, and Judaism; The Big Bang through the history of Jewish reasoning. (Midterm, Term paper, short papers).

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 non-religious authors. 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?

RELJ 353 Jewish Culture and History in Eastern Europe

Jeffery Grossman / Gabby Finder

This course is a comprehensive examination of the culture and history of East European Jewry from 1750 to 1939. If what it meant to be Jewish in Poland, Russia, and the rest of Eastern Europe was still self-evident in the middle of the eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition, both individually and collectively, became afterwards increasingly contingent and open-ended. Before its destruction in the Shoah (Holocaust), Jewish life in Eastern Europe was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores this vibrant and dynamic process of change and self-definition. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience, and it shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. It seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of culture and history, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past. In the course we will discuss various themes, including challenges to religious tradition, the process of Jewish urbanization, modern Jewish political formations, gender relations, the emergence of modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature, the growing pains of interwar Jewish youth, and the transplantation of eastern European Jewish culture to America.
This course is intended to acquaint students with the study of East European Jewish culture and history and assumes no prior training in the subject. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. A large share of the reading assignments will come from primary sources – novels, short stories, poems, folktales, diaries, and memoirs. We will also examine East European Jewish music and visual arts. Course requirements will include two 5-page essays and a 10-page term paper as well as conscientious participation in class discussion. This course fulfills the second writing assignment. Cross listed with the departments of History and German.

RELG 355 Faith and Reason

Jamie Ferreira

This course has been canceled

RELC 356 In Defense of Sin

John Portmann

Exploration of transgression in Judaism and Christianity with a focus on the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins. Reflection on who determines what is sinful and why. Close reading of texts challenging the wrongfulness of acts and attitudes long considered sinful, with critical attention to the persuasiveness of religious rules. Does religious life remain focused on pleasing God, or is it now principally a matter of familial / ethnic obligation? Or has it perhaps become simply a personal quest with indeterminate goals? What does sin have to do with the modern world? Final ten-page paper, regular class participation, and three-hour final examination.

RELB 357 Paths to Enlightenment: the Mahayana Perspective

This course has been canceled

RELC 358 The Christian Vision in Literature

William Wilson

Schedule # 903VD

A study of selected classics in Christian imaginative literature. Readings will come from the Bible, Dante's Divine Comedy, and several modern authors such as Andrew Lytle, William Faulkner and Flannery O'Conner. Requirements: Three one-hour tests.

RELC 363 Political Theology

Paul Jones

This course examines landmark texts in twentieth-century Christian thought that connect theology and politics. Throughout the semester, we will inquire after the possible meanings of "political theology"; the relationship between theological method and political concerns about religious pluralism, gender, secularism, poverty, race, and the environment; and the impact of political commitments on doctrinal formulations. Authors may include Walter Rauschenbusch, Reinhold Niebuhr, Kathryn Tanner, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Stanley Hauerwas, Walter Cavanaugh, Catherine Keller, and Delores Williams. While there are no prerequisites for this course, it is most suitable for students with at least one prior class in Christian thought and with an interest in systematic Christian theology. The course can fulfill the second writing requirement.

RELC 370 Revelation to John

Judith Kovacs

This course will consider the last book of the New Testament from two different points of view. On the one hand we will study the book in its original, first-century context, comparing it with other works in the same genre, the Jewish apocalypses Daniel, 1 Enoch,and 4 Ezra, and asking questions about the historical setting in which the book was written and its message in and for that context. Questions to be considered will include: How do ancient Jewish apocalypses help us make sense of the rich array of symbols and images in Revelation? What is the book's primary message--does it advocate vengeance, desire for social justice, or a worldwide Christian mission whose aim is universal salvation? On the other hand, we will consider the book's "reception", that is how it has been used and interpreted through the centuries, not only in theological works or academic commentaries but also in music, art, poetry, novels, political and prophetic works. Through the ages John's Apocalypse has been a remarkably popular book, and the history of its reception offers an embarrassment of riches - in media as diverse as ancient sermons, medieval manuscript illustrations, political comment, poetry, song, and film. Among other interpretations, we will consider the reception of Revelation in hymns, African-American spirituals, reggae music, illustrated manuscripts, church architecture, and modern art. Consideration will be given to understandings of the book as a blueprint for endtime events (e..g in the popular Left Behind series) as well as to interpretations that emphasize the book's meaning for the present time.
Prerequisite : one course in Biblical studies, a course in art history, or permission of the instructor.
Requirements will include an 8-page paper and a class presentation on some aspect of the "reception" of Revelation.

Note: This course is not open to students who have received credit for RELC 369 (The Gospel of John and the Revelation to John) because of significant overlap of material covered.

RELG 375 Spiritual Writing

Vanessa Ochs

Spiritual writing chronicles the quest for meaning, purpose and direction; it explores encounters with the sacred, and it makes sense of wrestling with faith and faith communities. In this course, students will study examples of spiritual writing in fiction, memoir, journalism and ethnography, and will required to write about matters of the spirit in various genres. The contemporary American writers whose work we will look at may include Annie Dillard, Sharon Butala, Paule Marshall, John L’heureux, Max Apple, Jonathan Rosen, Anne Lamott, Marc Salzman, Cynthia Ozick, MFK Fisher, Lorenzo Albacete, Edith Turner and Barbara Myerhoff.

Instructor Permission Required. To be considered, at the end of the semester and/or at least one week before classes begin in August, submit a manuscript to my mailbox in Halsey (about 6 pages of writing that you think of as being spiritual in nature ? no e-mail submissions). Enclose a note saying who and what year you are, your e-mail address, what your writing experience has been and what you hope to accomplish in this course. A class list will be posted on my office door, 142a New Cabell, a day or two before our first class. Enrollment limited to 15.

RELB 377 Daoism

Clarke Hudson

Schedule # 900QG

While early classics of Daoist wisdom are well-known nowadays, the Daoist religion--with its celestial gods and disease demons, communal rituals and private meditations--is relatively little-known. This course will cover the whole spectrum of Daoism in China, including early classics, religious history, practices, ideas, and ways of life. Through readings, lectures, discussions, and writing assignments, students will gain a general understanding of this ancient and vital tradition.

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 385 Christian Theologies of Scripture

Justin Holcomb

This course traces what major theologians have written about scripture. It is an investigation into the history of Christian thought that looks at major figures in the tradition and describes their unique contributions to the lingering and overarching question: What is scripture? Some of the theologians studied will include: Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Counter-Reformation theologians, Schleiermacher, Barth, Balthasar, and Frei. The goal is to map the terrain of the Christian tradition on scripture and let the contours speak for themselves.

RELG 400a Majors Seminar: Death and the After Life

Ben Ray

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Major
The goal of this seminar is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, and literature concerning death and afterlife. The seminar does not intend to make the case for any single definition of religion or to take a particular theological perspective on death, but rather to have participants develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Requirements: Six short papers, approximately one every other week. No mid-term and no final exam.

RELG 400b Majors Seminar: Suffering

John Portmann

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors

Moral assessment of bodies in pain and spirits in turmoil. Philosophical, religious, biomedical, psychoanalytic, literary, sociological, dramatic, and artistic exploration of suffering. Analysis of ongoing debate over the meaning of suffering. Study of religion as both cure for, and source of, human suffering. Particular attention to the Crucifixion as a cultural paradigm of suffering and social wellspring of anti-Semitism, as exemplified by criticism of actor Mel Gibson’s controversial film of 2004 The Passion. Course meets Second Writing Requirement

RELC 409 African Americans and the Bible

Valerie Cooper

This is NOT a majors seminar.
Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELG 415 Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature

Ben Ray

Restricted to Majors in Religious Studies, History, and English. This is not a majors seminar.
This seminar will explore the rich range of historical scholarship, literary fiction, and primary source materials relating to the infamous witch trials of Salem Village in 1692. How and why did the accusations begin? How and why did they stop? Serious theories and wild speculations abound, both then and now. Who were the heroes and villains of this tragic episode? Some of the most gripping personal stories may be found in the primary sources and literary treatments. Explore the impact of this small-scale, 300 year-old event on the American cultural heritage -- why has "Salem witchcraft" become part of the American cultural imagination? In addition to two major historical studies, Boyer & Nissenbaum, SALEM POSSESSED and Norton, IN THE DEVIL'S SNARE, and a seminal article by Rosenthal on Tituba, we will read literary works by Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown," Longfellow, GILES CORY OF SALEM FARMS, and Miller's THE CRUCIBLE. The course will also make extensive use of the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft which contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts. Using these resouces, students will write original research essays on important people and events related to the witch trials.

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.

RELC 462 Theology Self and Society

Charles Marsh

This is not a majors seminar.
This seminar is designed for majors and upper level undergraduates interested in the theological evaluation of the self and its social expressions. The course explores the varied and complex ways theological and religious commitments shape conceptions of the self and social order; and, more generally, it explores the relationship between theological convictions and strategies for, as well as narratives of, responsible engagement in society. The seminar further addresses such critical questions as: (1) how are theological commitments displayed, enacted or embodied in lived experience? (2) how do religious commitments shape the patterns and practices of everyday life? (3) what are the theological sources of self-affirmation, desire and wholeness? (4) what theological factors determine social exclusion, opposition, or dissent? (5) how do theological commitments influence the relation between particular communities and the social order? (6) can theological accounts of self and society solve vexing human problems; or do they inevitably exacerbate misery and cruelty? Works to be considered include: Karl Barth, Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings 1946-1952; Reinhold Niebuhr, The Self and the Dramas of History; Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness; Walker Percy, The Moviegoer; Michalengelo Antonioni, “Blow-Up”; Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation; Marcuse, Herbert. One?Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society; Stanley Leavy, In the Image of God: A Psychoanalysist’s View; John Howard Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State; Donald Capps, The Child’s Song: The Religious Abuse of Children; Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought; Timothy Goring, The Education of Desire: Towards a Theology of the Senses; John F. Cavanaugh, S. J., Following Christ in a Consumer Society: The Spirituality of Cultural Resistance. The course requirements are: weekly 250-word summaries of the reading; active participation in class discussion; one half-hour class presentation; two 8-10 page essays; and a final exam. Permission of the instructor is required.

RELG 481 Poetry and Theology

Kevin Hart

This is not a majors seminar.
This seminar focuses on the writings of two important poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Geoffrey Hill. The one is Catholic, and the other questions religion at every level while also remaining open to the possibility of faith. Each poet raises major theological issues: belief, doubt, ecstasy, martyrdom, revelation, transcendence, and theodicy, among them. We will read, as closely as possible, some poems and prose writings by each poet, consider their theological contexts, and examine the ways in which theological issues are folded in their poems. Students will write two essays, one on each poet.

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 directed reading in the field of the thesis. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.

RELS 497 Fourth Year 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. Prerequisite: permission of deparmental advisor and instructor.

Graduate Courses

RELG 504 American Religion and Soical Reform

Heather Warren

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELJ 505 Judaism in Antiquity

Elizabeth Alexander

A critical survey of the development of Judaism from Ezra to the Talmud (c. 450 BCE-600 CE). During this period "Jewishness" gradually began to emerge as a form of identity that was different from biblical Israel. We will consider the forces (Hellenism, the development of a diaspora community, the emergence of Christianity) that exerted pressure on the the growth and development of Judaism during this period, leading to this development. We will also examine the manifold ways in which Jewish identity manifested itself (apocalypticism, wisdom tradition, sectarianism and rabbinic Judaism). Finally, we will consider the question of how a normative form of Judaism, today known as Rabbinic Judaism, grew out of the variety of Jewish expressions that characterized the Second Temple period and eventually achieved hegemony.

RELG 522 Philosophical Theology

William Wilson

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELB 526 Tibetan Bonpo Thought

Kurtis Schaeffer

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELC 530 Protestant Moral Tradition

Charles Mathewes

This course is dedicated to the study of various magisterial figures in Protestant ethical reflection, including Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and several more recent figures up to and including H. Richard Niebuhr. The course will be organized around efforts by Protestant theologians to come to grips with how the tradition's strong emphasis on sin and prevenient grace complicates, and perhaps enriches, their thinking about the good life. Course requirements include serious participation, in-class presentations and take-home exam. Prerequisite for undergraduates is at least one previous course in the TEC area in religious studies, and permission of instructor.

RELC 531 Augustine and The Manichees

Robert Wilken

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELB 533 Colloquial Tibetan III

This course is no longer offered by the Religious Studies. It is now being offered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures And Cultures under the TBTN mnemonic.

RELB 535 Literary Tibetan III

This course is no longer offered by the Religious Studies. It is now being offered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures And Cultures under the TBTN mnemonic.

RELI 540 Sunni 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

Jim 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 542 Colloquial Tibetan V

This course is no longer offered by the Religious Studies. It is now being offered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures And Cultures under the TBTN mnemonic.

RELB 545 Seminar in Zen Buddhism: Chan Buddhism

Clarke Hudson

In this course, we will study the history and literature of Chan Buddhism in medieval China through reading recent critical studies, older studies, and some primary texts in translation. Our interest will be theoretical as well as historical. Topics will include historiography, modern and traditional hermeneutics, early Chan, Song-dynasty Chan, and kôan practice. Students interested in doing extra readings in Chinese may contact the instructor.

RELH 545 Social Vision in Hinduism

Professor Nemec will be on leave in the fall, so there's a chance this course will be canceled, or taught by a visiting scholar.

RELB 547 Literary Tibetan V

Kurtis Schaeffer

A continuation of the literary portion of Literary Tibetan IV, this course is designed for training in the literary forms of the Tibetan language. Emphasis is on exposure to a wide variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and in-depth knowledge of Tibetan grammar. Prerequisites: RELB 534 or equivalent. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, four exams, midterm, final, translation assignments.

RELI 550 Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy
RELJ 550 Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy

Timothty Gianotti

These courses will probably be canceled as Dr. Gianotti will be on leave in the fall.

RELC 551 Seminar in Early Christianity

Harry Gamble

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELC 558 History of Christian Ethics: Sex, Marriage, Family

Margaret Mohrmann

This course intends to provide a solid understanding of the historical roots of contemporary Christian ethics (from the New Testament period through the Reformation), experience in working with historical source materials, and familiarity with some important interpreters of this history. Toward these ends, students will attend lectures and read assigned materials for RELC 233. In addition, we will explore specifically, through additional readings and seminar discussions, moral teachings concerning sex, marriage, and family as they evolved through the first 1600 years of Christian thought. Course requirements include attendance at both RELC 233 lectures and the course seminar, completion of reading assignments, short weekly response papers, participation in seminar discussion, and a final paper. Open to advanced undergraduates. Permission of instructor required.

RELC 565 Theology of Karl Barth

Paul Jones

An examination of key texts by Karl Barth, focusing primarily on the Church Dogmatics. Topics considered include theological method, the doctrine of God, theological anthropology, Christology and atonement, and ecclesiology. This advanced course is primarily intended for graduate students with an interest in philosophical theology; undergraduate enrollment only with the permission of the instructor.

RELC 577 The Vatican and the Unitied States During World War II

Gerald Fogarty

Beginning with readings from controversial works interpreting the role of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican, the course will then focus on the interaction between the United States and the Vatican during the period. The general reading will include authors such as Michael Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope, and Jose Sanchez, Pius XII and the Holocaust, and will then turn to some specific works such as the recently published memoirs of Harold H. Tittmann, Jr., the American diplomat who lived in the Vatican during the war. In addition to brief reports on the general reading and participation in the weekly discussions, each student is to prepare a paper on a topic approved by the professor for presentation in class.

RELB 580 Literary Tibetan VII

Kurtis Schaeffer

RELB 587 Colloquial Tibetan VII

This course is no longer offered by the Religious Studies. It is now being offered by the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures And Cultures under the TBTN mnemonic.

RELB 702 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts

Clarke Hudson

RELG 705 Drama and Ethics

Larry Bouchard

This seminar will explore how theatrical drama (as literature as well as performance) can provide a medium for exploring ethical and religious relations involving myth and narrative, character and virtue, the self's ethical relations to the "other"(s), etc. The seminar will examine attempts to conceptualize the self and community through metaphors of "integrity"—as in "moral integrity," "personal integrity," "bodily integrity," and "kenotic integrity." Our efforts will be directed toward re-conceptualizing some of the performative and relational aspects of integrity, identity, vocation, and similar concerns. A principal theoretical text will include Oneself as Another by Paul Ricoeur. Other theoretical materials will include "integrity theorists" (such as Bernard Williams, Gabriele Taylor, and Margaret Urban Walker), responsibility theorists (such as Emanuel Levinas and H. Richard Niebuhr), and "kenosis theorists" (such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, Sarah Coakley, and Gianni Vattimo). The principal theorists will "tested" along side a number of plays and writings about performance. These will be selected from Greek tragedy (e.g., Antigone, The Bacchae), Shakespeare (e.g., Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream), and modern through contemporary drama (e.g., Ibsen, Stanislavski, Shaw, Soyinka, Richard Schechner, Eleanor Fuchs, John Guare, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner). Requirements: regular and active attendance and an article-length term paper the advances some ethical, religious, or theological problematic in part through in discussions of dramatic literature or drama/performance theory.

RELC 721 Kant and Religion: Phenomenology

Peter Ochs

A study of the practice of phenomenology that Kant introduced in The Critique of Pure Reason. We will focus on two of the issues that have fascinated Post-Kantian philosophers: (1) a search for the transcendental conditions of 'scientific' knowledge, and (2) the character of the transcendental subject that is the bearer of these conditions. Class readings will include: a brief look at Descartes’ Meditations; careful study of selected portions of Kant’s First Critique (the Transcendental Analytic); selected readings in Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler and more recent essays on Kant’s relation to the phenomenological movement as a whole. The purpose of the course is to provide resources for students who are interested in the importance of Kant and phenomenology for contemporary philosophy of religion and philosophical theology. A related course on “Kant, Phenomenology, and Scriptural theology: is planned for Fall, 2008.

RELG 728 Modern Religious Thought

Jamie Ferreira

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELC 741 Revelation to John

Judith Kovacs

Graduate component of RELC 370

RELG 745 Phenomenology and Theology

Kevin Hart

This seminar seeks to clarify and assess the contemporary claim that phenomenology can provide a rigorous examination of several basic issues in Christian theology, most notably the nature of revelation. Particular attention will be given to the writings of Michel Henry and Jean-Luc Marion, although arguments by others — Jean-Louis Chrétien, Jacques Derrida, Dominique Janicaud, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Emmanuel Lévinas and Paul Ricoeur — will also come up from time to time. Extensive reference will be made to the work of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Students will write a substantial essay on a topic chosen in conjunction with Professor Hart.

RELI 805 Readings in Islamic Texts

Mohsen Kadivar

This course will provide graduate students and advanced undergraduates with at least two years of Arabic to read some of the classical texts of Islamic tradition, with attention to the religious substance and linguistic issues connected with comprehension and translation. The selections will be mainly from Islamic theological and ethical texts. The readings will include:
Al-Ghazzali, Ihya ‘ulum al-din; al-Iji, al-Mawaqif and its commentary by al-Jurjani; al-Taftazani, al—Maqasid and its commentary; Nasir al-Din Tusi, Tajrid al-Kalam and its commentary by al-Allamah al-Hilli.

RELB 826 Topics in Literary Tibetan

David Germano

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELS 895 Research Selected Topics

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reading in a select topic under detailed supervision.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Preparation 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

TBA

RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Preparation 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.