Fall 2008

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 101 Introduction to Western Religions

Heather Warren

plus discussion section

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

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course and its sequel (RELJ 112) introduce students to the basics of classical (biblical) Hebrew vocabulary and grammar. After completing the two semester sequence in grammar and syntax, students will have mastered the basic tools required to read prose passages from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original language.

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

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

Plus discussion section

This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh 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 201 Intermediate Classical Hebrew I

Greg Schmidt Goering

An Intermediate 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 112 or the equivalent

RELJ 203 Introduction to Judaic Tradition

Elizabeth Alexander

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

John Nemec

This course serves as a general introduction to Hinduism in its classical, medieval and early-modern forms. By reading primary texts in translation, taking note of the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were composed, we will explore Hinduism from its earliest forms to the period of the “Hindu renaissance” in the nineteenth century. In other words, we will take a sweeping look at the religious and cultural life of the Indian sub-continent from the second millennium B.C. (B.C.E.) to the nineteenth century.

RELB 210 Introduction to Buddhism

Karen Lang

This course is an introduction to Buddhism, beginning with its origins in India, its spread throughout Asia to the West. The course will examine the historical and cultural contexts in which Buddhist beliefs and practices developed and are still developing. We will explore a wide variety of sources to understand the many ways in which Buddhists have attempted to understand who the Buddha is, what he and his followers have to say about karma and rebirth, the practice of meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment. We will also examine the views of contemporary Buddhist teachers on these issues and on the challenges Buddhism faces in the modern world. Two hourly examinations and a final.

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 236 Elements of Christian Thought

Kevin Hart

This course offers a systematic presentation of Christian thought. Topics include Creation and Fall, God as Trinity, Jesus Christ, Salvation, and Eschatology. How do theologians read the Bible? How do they read Philosophy? In what ways do theologians develop doctrines over time? Students will read selections from a wide range of Christian theologians, from the first Church Fathers to contemporary theologians. Different perspectives — Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant — will be examined; and students will be introduced to competing ways of discussing central Christian ideas: eco-theology, feminist theology, mystical theology, and theology of other religions, will all be part of the mix. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is presumed. Assessment is by way of short response papers, a midterm paper, and a term paper.

RELC 233 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

plus discussion section

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

Dominick Scarangello

plus discussion section

The Zen tradition: Continuity and Change: In the last half century, the Japanese word “Zen” has entered the North American cultural lexicon; from 1950s beatnik literature to cable television comedy shows and technological jargon, “zen” often signifies sudden inspiration or conveys the sense that a situation or event is ironic, perplexing or sublime. However, in Japanese zen signifies “meditation” or one of several Japanese Buddhist sects; more broadly it refers to a pan-Asian religious movement. Known as Chan in China, this movement rose to prominence in the seventh and eighth centuries, eventually becoming the dominant form of Chinese Buddhism, it later spread to both Korea and Japan, where it is called Seon and Zen, respectively. This course will examine the formation of Chan/Zen Buddhism, and with a concern for the problem of continuity and change in traditions we will explore Chan/Zen’s transmission and indigenization within East Asia; we will also consider the possibilities of a western Zen in twentieth and twenty-first century Europe and North America.

RELB 254 Tibetan Buddhist Culture

David Germano

plus discussion section

Possible Description: 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.

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, Ethics, and Society

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

plus discussion section

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, 3 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.

RELB 277 Daoism

Clarke Hudson

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.

RELC 304 Paul: Life, Letters and Thought

Harry Gamble

This course examines the activity and thought of Paul of Tarsus, the best known and most influential thinker of the Christian tradition. We will treat the basic problems of Pauline biography and chronology, the nature of Paul's authentic letters, and the leading element of Paul's interpretation of Christianity. Each meeting will consist of both lecture and discussion.

RELI 305 Islam and International Relations

Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi

no course description exists for this course at the present time

RELJ 309 Israelite Prophets
RELC 309 Israelite Prophets

Greg Schmidt Goering

This course examines the phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel. We will read in translation most of the stories from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament about prophets (Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha), as well as the books attributed to prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve). Each primary text will be considered in its historical, cultural, and political contexts. In addition, the course analyzes Israelite prophecy in light of similar phenomena in the neighboring cultures of the ancient Near East and with regards to modern anthropological studies of shamanism. The end of the course considers the transformation of prophecy in the Second Temple period and examines the emergence of apocalypticism. No prerequisite required, but RELJ 121 recommended.

RELC 318 American Evangelicalism

Pam Cochran

Evangelical Protestantism has played a vital role in shaping American history, culture and religion. It is estimated that some 25-35% of the American population (c. 70-100 million) today identifies with this movement. Far from being a monolithic entity, however, the religious, ideological, and social allegiances of evangelicalism are quite diverse. In addition, evangelicals maintain a somewhat paradoxical relationship with American society, functioning simultaneously as a politically powerful interest group (insiders) and as cultural antagonists (outsiders). This course is designed to introduce students to the history of evangelicalism, its characteristic religious patterns, and its ongoing negotiations with contemporary American culture.

RELG 320 Martin, Malcolm, and America

Mark Hadley

An intensive examination of African-American social criticism centered upon, but not limited to, the life and thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. We will come to grips with the American legacy of racial hatred and oppression systematized in the institutions of antebellum chattel slavery and post-bellum racial segregation and analyze the array of critical responses to, and social struggles against, this legacy. We will pay particular attention to the religious dimensions of these various forms of social criticism. The course requirements include engaged participation, three short essays, a mid-term and a final examination.

RELJ 322 Zionism and Nationalism

Asher Biemann

This course will examine the ideological correlations among Jewish nationalism, Zionism, and Jewish messianism in its modern interpretation. Focusing on primary sources and contemporary scholarship, we will try to illuminate the religious and secular origins of the Jewish national idea and its politics. Conversely, we will see how Jewish nationalism shaped the modern Jewish understanding of history, existence, and redemption.

RELJ 332 Judaism, Medicine and Healing

Vanessa Ochs

We will study a range of Jewish ways of understanding why we get sick, suffer, heal and how we find meaning again. We will investigate Jewish perspectives on the healing professions and consider Jewish biomedical ethics in matters of life and death. We will pay particular attention to ethical considerations raised by new healing technologies. Studies will include ancient and contemporary texts and a range of traditional and innovative healing practices.

RELJ 335 Sensibilities, Values and Virtue in Jewish Ethics

Peter Ochs

Jewish virtue ethics in classical rabbinics and in contemporary writings and ethnographic theory. An introduction to the ethical force of Hebrew Scripture as received by selected rabbinic thinkers and philosophers from classic times through the postmodern period.

RELG 337 God Since Cinema

John Portmann

How has the advent of cinema changed or molded Western perceptions of God? Beginning with Jack Miles's biography of God, we'll examine how cinematographers since Dreyer (Joan of Arc, 1928) have crafted a personality profile of both God and saintly people. We will discuss how novels and theological tracts differ from films. We will analyze and then test Pope Pius XII's encyclical Miranda Prorsus (1957), which asserts that cinema possesses a power lacking in other media -- and that film makers thus work under a moral imperative to guide audiences prudently. If more Westerners get to know God through film than through a synagogue or church, what could God's future be?

RELI 337 Islam and Human Rights

Mohsen Kadivar

This course undertakes to provide theoretical framework for the analysis of case studies of human rights. The main question of this course is the comparison of Islam as a religion and Human rights documents. The two main sources of our information about Islam are the Qur’an and the Tradition (Sunna). These are the basis for Islamic doctrine; Islamic theology (al-kalam), Islamic Ethics (al-Akhlaq)) and Islamic Jurisprudence (al-Fiqh/al-Shari’ah). As for Human rights documents we will examine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) [UDHR], International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) [ICESCR], International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (1966) [ICCPR] and other related UN documents. We will compare and contrast these to understand similarities and differences between Islamic thought and Human rights doctrines. The method of this course is comparative. We will compare each article of UDHR (and ICESCR and ICCPR as well) with Islamic sources. Our study will make clear particularly the points of compatibility/ incompatibility of Islamic thought and Human rights Doctrine in every article of UDHR. The result of this study will show that these two sources have several points of similarities such as the principle of human dignity, the principle of justice and fairness, the principle of freedom and responsibility and eliminate any race and color discrimination. On the other hand, the challenge between Islamic jurisprudence (al-Shari'ah) and UDHR is critical. This challenge will be discussed in six axes: religious discrimination, gender discrimination, slavery discrimination, jurist/clergy discrimination in the public domain, freedom of religion and belief and apostasy, and the willfully and violent punishment.

RELC 347 Christianity and Science
RELG 347 Religion and Science

John Portmann

Christian Europe gave rise to modern science, yet Christianity and science have enjoyed reputations as mutual enemies. Does science undermine religious belief? Exploration of the encounter between these two powerful cultural forces. Study of the intellectual struggle to locate and anchor God in the modern world (specifically Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Feynman). Focus on the 20th century: the discovery of radio waves, x-rays, use of the first skyscraper, automobiles, vaccine, psychoanalysis, rise of the quantum theory of the atom, birth control pill, "morning after pill," human genome, and stem cell research. Final ten-page paper, regular class participation, and three-hour final examination

RELC 358 The Christian Vision in Literature

William Wilson

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 370 Revelation to John and its Interpretation through the Centuries

Judith Kovacs

This course will consider the last book of the New Testament from two different points of view. First 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 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 mission to bring all people to salvation? Then we will consider the book’s “reception”, that is how it has been used and interpreted through the centuries, not only in theological works but also in music, art, poetry, novels, political and prophetic writings. 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 propaganda, poetry, song, and film. Among other interpretations, we will consider the book’s reception in hymns, African-American spirituals, reggae music, church architecture, Dürer’s woodcuts, the poetry of William Blake, and the popular /Left Behind /series of novels. /Prerequisite/: one course in Biblical studies, a course in art history, or permission of the instructor. /Requirements/: an 8-page paper, midterm examination, final quiz, and a group 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, and journalism and will required to write about matters of the spirit in various genres. The writers whose work we will look at may include Rilke, Hesse ,Thich Nhat Hanh, Malamud, Raymond Carver, IB Singer, Alice Walker, Mark Salzman, Oliver Sacks, Annie Dillard, Anne Lamott, and Diana Eck.

RELC 387 Sex and Creation in Christianity

Vigen Guroian

In this course we will ask and examine such questions as: What is the origin of human sexuality and what are its purposes? What do our sexual identities as male and female have to do with the Christian doctrines of Creation, the imago Dei (image of God), original sin, and salvation? Are male and female complementary or incidental? What value does the Christian faith give to the body? How should we view the body with respect to our sexuality? Is there gender or sexuality in the Kingdom of God? What meaning is there in sexual love? Why marriage? Why singleness? Where in our lives does sex belong? Our inquiry will include readings that range from the Bible and early Christian writers to contemporary theologians.

RELA 389 Christianity in Africa
RELC 389 Christianity in Africa

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

plus discussion section

This course examines the development of Christianity in Africa from its earliest roots in Egypt and the Maghrib in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when over 44% of the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th and 17th century Kongo Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches and the recent emergence of African Christian theology. We will address issues such as the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; translation, indigenization and inculturation of the gospel; and the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in the conversion process. We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

RELC 393 End of the World in Christian Thought

Augustine Thompson

This course will examine Christian speculation on the End of the World from the first century to the Year 2000 and beyond. Special emphasis will be paid to Biblical and apocryphal sources for such speculation, ancient Christian millenarianism, medieval and Reformation apocalypticism, nineteenth- and twentieth-century dispensationalism, and contemporary images of the End in literature and film. Required readings will be taken from original sources.

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: Ritual

John Portmann

This theoretical exploration of religious rituals will focus on the works of Durkheim, Austin, Derrida, and Kertzer. Through critical discussions of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, secular politics, and the fashion industry, we will strive to understand the philosophical underpinnings of symbols in action. Open to non-Majors. Previous work in philosophy or literary theory is recommended. Requirements: informed class participation, two brief exams, and a 15-page paper.

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year 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 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors

RELG 415 Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature

Ben Ray

Restricted to Majors in Religious Studies, History, English, American Studies, and SWAG.

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 422 American Religious Autobiography

Heather Warren

A multidisciplinary examination of religious self-perception in relation to the dominant values of American life. Readings represent a variety of spiritual traditions and autobiographical forms, among them Thomas Merton's The Sign of Jonas; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; Charles Colson's Born Again; and Kathleen Norris' Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Fulfills the majors seminar requirement. Prerequisites: Courses in religious studies, American history, or American literature. Requirements: Two short papers (5-7 pp. each) and an autobiography (20 pp.).

This IS a majors seminar, but it is not restricted to RELS majors only.

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

RELS 495 Independent Research

Instructor: Student's choice

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

A note on 500-level courses: Rise to a higher level!

All 500-level courses are open to undergraduate enrollment. Though these are graduate-level courses, they are designed to accommodate advanced undergraduates who have previously taken religious studies courses. Minors, and especially majors are encouraged to consider enrolling in these courses. For those considering graduate school, taking a 500-level course could prove immensely helpful.
If you see any 500-level course in this syllabus that you think you might want to take, and you have questions about it, please contact the professor who will be offering it. The religious studies faculty as a whole welcomes all such inquiries.

Graduate Courses

RELG 507 Interpretation Theory

Larry Bouchard

We will explore various approaches to interpretation theory, with emphasis on the nature and problems of interpretive activity in aesthetics, religion, and ethics. We will take up hermeneutical considerations of figuralism (e.g. Erich Auerbach), truth and understanding in encounters with texts and others (e.g., Schleiermacher, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Adam Zachary Newton), and reconsiderations of the hermeneutical model in such figures as Bahktin, Nussbaum, and Vattimo. Special attention may be given this time to postmodern views of religious discourse (e.g., in Derrida and some of his sympathizers and critics). Requirements: Class participation of assigned materials, a midterm take-home examination, and either a paper or an essay final.
Undergraduates not yet enrolled in this course need to obtain permission of the instructor and may be placed on a waiting list kept by Prof. Bouchard. Contact: lbouchard@virginia.edu.

RELJ 511 Religion and Culture of the Rabbis

Elizabeth Alexander

 

RELC 514 Calvin and Calvinism

Augustine Thompson

This course is an introduction to Calvin, Classical Calvinism and modern Calvin studies intended for doctoral students in Religious Studies or history. The focus is principally bibliographical, but reading will include selections from Calvin and Classical Calvinists. Knowledge of Latin, German, and French is useful but not required.

RELI 540 Islamic Bioethics

Abdulaziz Sachedina

The seminar will undertake to discuss the development of a new subfield in Islamic legal and ethical studies. Although there is a long history of legal theoretical studies among Muslim legal scholars, the study of social ethics and its various applications in research and biomedical ethics is searching to define its methodology as well as application in the growing awareness of the ethical issues that confront both medical and legal professionals in the Muslim world. The emergence of specifically Islamic approach to the resolution of ethical problems in the health care ethics indicates both casuistry and principle-based ethical deliberations and rulings. The seminar will outline the moral reasoning that Muslims have developed to provide ethical guidelines in various areas of ethical problematic in research as well as clinical settings. Selected readings in theological ethics, legal methodology and application, and a growing literature about the new rulings in bioethics will provide students of Islam and comparative ethics an opportunity to understand the underpinnings of Islamic theology and legal-ethical methodology that guide public health and medical research in Muslim countries around the world.

Readings will include: Abdel Rahim Omran: Family Planning in the Legacy of Islam Munawar Ahmad Anees, Islam and Biological Futures: Ethics, Gender and Technology Aziz Sheikh and Abul Rashid Gatard, Caring for Muslim Patients Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jursiprudence. Prerequisite: RELI 207 or RELI 208

RELG 541 Public Health Ethics

Jim Childress

This course will provide an overview of the key concepts and principles of public health ethics, as distinct from bioethics, with particular attention to the ethical issues that arise in deliberation about ends and means in public health interventions. This course will involve participation in a lecture series on liberty and coercion in public health.

RELH 545 Social Vision in Hinduism

John Nemec

Much of Hinduism, and the study of Hinduism, is concerned with the ways in which individuals, who usually have renounced the world, acquire religious merit, magical power, and liberating spiritual insight. These fascinating subjects are crucial to our understanding of the religion and of religion in general, but the public dimensions of Hinduism are often ignored in favor of these topics. Therefore, this course will examine the public and social dimensions of Hinduism. Topics will include the role of religion in shaping social institutions (e.g.: caste), cultural attitudes toward sexual and other personal relationships, and the relationship between religion and government.

RELB 546 Mahayana Buddhism

Karen Lang

Mahayana Buddhism has been an influential Buddhist movement spreading throughout South, Central and East Asia. This seminar will explore the origins and development of Mahayana Buddhism through looking at the Mahayana scriptures (sutras) and comparing their themes with those early Buddhist scriptures. The role of oral transmission, the "cult of the book" and the ritual use of sutras will also be discussed. Course requirements include active participation in class discussions, weekly response papers, and a final paper. Open to undergraduates who have taken at least one course in Buddhism.

RELB 547 Literary Tibetan V

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.

RELC 551 Seminar in Early Christianity: The Formation of the Biblical Canon

Harry Gamble

This seminar will explore the process by which the Bible came to be, that is, when, how, why and by whom various writings came to be received, collected, delimited and otherwise shaped into a fixed corpus of religiously authoritative documents. Because there is no such things as the Bible, but a variety of Bibles, the seminar will consider the formation of the Hebrew Bible, of the Greek Bible (the Septuagint), and of the "New Testament." Materials will include the testimonies of early Jewish and Christian writers, ancient biblical manuscripts, early canon lists and other relevant evidence. The seminar will also consider biblical canons both as consequences of interpretation and as contexts of interpretation. Written requirements will include both a seminar report and a research paper.

RELI 552 Islamic Philosophy: Reason and Intuition

Mehdi Aminrazavi

The semester will roughly be divided into three parts. In the first part, after a discussion on early theological movements, we will focus on the early Islamic philosophy of al-Farabi and Avicenna (Ibn Sina). In the second part, we will study the transformation of early Islamic philosophy into a more gnostic oriented philosophical paradigm as reflected in the thoughts of Ghazzali and Suhrawardi. Finally, we will explore later Islamic philosophy of Mulla Sadra and Sabziwari, as well as those belonging to the school of Transcendental Theo-Sophy (al-Hikmat al-muti`alliyah).

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.

RELB 571 Chinese Religion and Society: Song Dynasty

Clarke Hudson

RELB 573 Huayan Buddhism

Hamar Imre

Huayan (Sanskrit Avatamsaka-sūtra; Jp. Kegon) Buddhism is one of the two major systems of East Asian Buddhist thought. Its thought, said to have been the Buddha’s direct revelation of his enlightenment, includes the investigation of the relationship of phenomena and Suchness and on how phenomena relate to other phenomena, as well as the classification of doctrine. In addition, Huayan played a major role in both Chan (Jp. Zen) and East Asian Esoteric Buddhism. Its competition with Tiantai (Jp. Tendai) stimulated both traditions. The course is taught by Hamar Imre, a visiting scholar who is one of the world’s foremost experts on this topic. This will be the only chance to take a course on one of the great Chinese Buddhist philosophical traditions taught by one of the world’s leading authorities.

RELC 574 The Icon and Eastern Orthodox Christianity

Vigen Guroian

This is a course on the icon in Orthodox Christianity. We will read theological works on the meaning of icons, but also on the value of art and its relationship to culture and the sacred. We will consider the icon as a way of doing theology and as a medium of worship and prayer. Readings range from John of Damascus’s 8th century apologetic in defense of the holy icons to modern Orthodox theological aesthetics and theologies of the icon, Included are the writings of Leonid Ouspensky, Vladimir Lossky, Paul Evdokimov. Andrew Louth, Michael Quenot, and Philip Sherrard. We will study at close hand Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic iconography and gospel illumination.

RELG 578 Wallace Stevens and the Absolute

Kevin Hart

This seminar attempts to develop a close reading of Wallace Stevens's major poems and to evaluate their theological significance. What is the character of the atheism of early poems such as "Sunday Morning"? Is the project of a "supreme fiction" theological or anti-theological or both? In what sense, if any, is "The Auroras of Autumn" a poem concerned with belief? These are some of the questions that will interest us. While reading Stevens we will also be concerned to consider assumptions that structure our reading of poetry that involves religion, whether affirmatively or negatively, and to discover what is involved in developing a rigorous theological reading of modern poetry. What differences are there, if any, between reading canonical biblical poetry and canonical secular poetry that addresses the absolute? Reference will be made to theologians such as Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, among other theologians, and to literary critics: Harold Bloom, for example.

RELB 580 Literary Tibetan VII

RELB 702 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts

Clarke Hudson

RELG 727 Hegel and Philosophy of Religion

Jamie Ferreira
Graduate seminar for those students who want to develop their familiarity with Hegel's writings. We will include The Logic, the Phenomenology, and the Lectures on Philosophy of Religion.

RELJ 732 Scriptural Reasoning in Theology and Education

Peter Ochs

An introduction to the theory of scriptural reasoning (SR), focusing on: (a) general philosophic and hermeneutical theories of scripture; (b) concrete studies in scriptural reasoning theory and practice; (c) SR as a practice of learning and teaching. Readings in the primary scriptures (TANAKH, New Testament, Qu’ran), in Abrahamic textual theologies (Iqbal, Barth, Levinas etc.), in philosophic hermeneutics (Peirce, Ricoeur, etc.), and in the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning.

RELJ 735 Sensibilities, Values and Virtue in Jewish Ethics

Peter Ochs

Jewish virtue ethics in classical rabbinics and in contemporary writings and ethnographic theory. An introduction to the ethical force of Hebrew Scripture as received by selected rabbinic thinkers and philosophers from classic times through the postmodern period.

RELC 736 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

Paul Jones
Jalane Schmidt

Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies today, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; it also examines important contemporary approaches. In addition to helping students think carefully and critically about the study of religion, the course will facilitate (i) reflection about how particular research agendas relate to the broader field of religious studies; (ii) dialogue between different theoretical and methodological points of view; and (iii) the formulation of introductory syllabi on religious studies for use in a liberal arts context.

This course is mandatory for all first-year Ph.D. candidates in the Religious Studies Department. Students will be required (a) to write a paper on a text or texts read in the course, with the topic formulated in consultation with the instructors, and (b) to devise a syllabus for an undergraduate class that introduces the academic study of religion.

RELC 737 The Brothers Niebuhr

Charles Mathewes

RELC 741 Revelation to John

Judith Kovacs

Graduate component of RELC 370

RELC 748 The Theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher

Paul Jones

This graduate-level seminar focuses on the major Protestant theologian of nineteenth-century Europe, Friedrich Schleiermacher. We will read most of Schleiermacher's major works, spending considerable time on his magnum opus, The Christian Faith. Topics considered include theological method; religious experience; the doctrines of God, Christ, creation, and church; theology and gender; and the relevance of Schleiermacher for contemporary philosophical theology. Students ought to have a background in Christian thought and some familiarity with European philosophy.

RELI 803 Arabic Reading Course

Mohsen Kadivar

RELI803 is an Arabic Reading Course for graduate students. The prerequisites for this course are Arabic and Classical Islam. Avicenna is the most important philosopher in Islamic tradition. His texts, after eleven centuries, remain the main source in Islamic philosophy. In this course a selected chapters of Avicenna’s major works (especially The Metaphysics of the Healing -Elahiyyat of al-Shifa-Book 10) will be read in Arabic and explained and analyzed in English.

RELB 826 Topics in Literary Tibetan

David Germano

Contact the instructor directly for a description of this course

RELC 892 Cyril of Alexandria

Robert Wilken

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. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding his course.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Preparation 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

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.
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.