Fall 2009

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 1010 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


RELG 1040 Introduction to Eastern Religions
Clarke Hudson
plus discussion section


RELC 1050 Introduction to Christianity
Valerie Cooper

RELJ 1410 Elementary Classical Hebrew I
Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course and its sequel (RELJ 1420) 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 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
RELJ 1210 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.


RELH 2090 Hinduism

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.

RELJ 2010 Intermediate Classical Hebrew I
Greg Schmidt Goering

An intermediate-level 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 classical Hebrew prose. Prerequisite: RELJ 1120 or the equivalent


RELJ 2030 Introduction to Judaic Tradition
Daniel Weiss
Plus discussion section

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 2050 History of Christianity I
Richard Bishop
Plus discussion section

This course will trace the development of Christianity from the Apostolic Period until 1000, focusing, in particular, on its transformation from a small Jewish sect into the official religion of the Roman Empire. Attention will be paid to the development of doctrine, forms of prayer, ecclesiastical organization, and the Ancient Church's relationship to the world and secular government. The assigned readings will all be from the writings of early Christian authors.


RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism
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 2061 Judaism Modernism and Secularization
Asher Biemann
Plus discussion section

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.


RELI 2070 Classical Islam
Abdulaziz Sachedina
Plus discussion section

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.


RELB 2100 Introduction to Buddhism
Karen Lang
Plus discussion section

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 2230 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)

The Department calls attention to this offered through the Classics Department, which can be counted towards the major in Religious Studies as a course in Christianity. 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.


RELC 2330 History of Christian Social and Political Thought I
See the listing for RELC 2447, below.


RELC 2447 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 2360 Elements of Christian Thought
Kevin Hart
Plus discussion section

This course paints a big picture of Christian thought. We look at everything in the tradition: Creation, Sin, Salvation, Trinity, and the End of the World. So we read some of the Church Fathers, some of the medieval theologians, and a lot of modern theologians as well. We consider perspectives from Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy. And we weigh liberal and conservative views of everything. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is presumed. Begin with no knowledge of Christianity, end with more than anyone in your home town.


RELG 2380 Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age
Jamie Ferreira
Plus discussion section

Is belief in God based on wishful thinking; is it a neurotic response to life? How are fear and guilt related to it? Is it a primitive stage in human intellectual development? Is it inherently immoral? Can one be rational and a believer at the same time? In this course we will consider questions like these by looking at historically important examples of such criticisms. We will study both the 'faith' which inspired these critiques and the implications of such critiques for believers.


RELC 2401 History of American Catholicism
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.


RELG 2559 African-American Religious History
Valerie Cooper
This course has been canceled.


RELJ 2559 New Course in Judaism: State of Israel 1948-2001
Rakefet Zalashik

This course studies the development of Israel from independence in 1948 to the peace process and the recent Intifada. It will discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict but will also go much beyond that conflict to discuss the nature and history of the State. Topics to be discussed include mass immigration of Holocaust survivors and Jews from Arab lands in the 1950s, the rise and fall of the kibbutz movement, the role of development towns, the divided/united city of Jerusalem, peace and war with the neighboring Arab states, relations between Jews and Arabs within Israel, and the conflict with the Palestinians outside. The course will delve beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict as well to examine Israeli democracy, the role of religion and state, the role of the Knesset and the Supreme Court and the multiparty system. The “Law of Return” will be examined in the light of Russian and Ethiopian immigration since 1970. The Jewish settlement movement and the peace movement will also be discussed in light of changing Israeli attitudes to the emerging Palestinian state.

RELG 2630 Business, Ethics, and Society
Varied Instructors

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 2650 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 2700 Festivals of the Americas
Jalane Schmidt
Plus discussion section

By reading case studies of various religious festivals in locations throughout the Caribbean and South, Central and North America, as well as theoretical literature drawn from social anthropology and religious studies, students will become familiar with significant features of contemporary religious life in the Americas, as well as with scholarly accounts of religious and cultural change. Students will become more critical readers of ethnographic and historical sources, as well as theories from the Study of Religion (Jonathan Z. Smith, Ronald Grimes, Lawrence Sullivan), and will increase their ability to theorize about ritual, festivity, sacred time, ritual space and ethnicity.


RELA 2750 Introduction to African Religions
Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton
Plus discussion section

An introductory survey of African religions. The course concentrates on African indigenous religions, but Islam and Christianity are also discussed. Topics include African mythologies and cosmologies, as well as rituals, artistic traditions and spiritualities. We consider the colonial impact on African religious cultures and the dynamics of ongoing religious change in the sub-Sahara.


RELG 2800 African-American Religious History
Valerie Cooper
This course has been canceled.


RELC 3009 Protestant Theology
Paul Jones
Plus discussion section

This course considers the writings of important protestant theologians from the 1500s to the present day. Beginning with key texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and writers from the radical reformation, we will consider some major nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers (such as Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth) and pay attention to recent developments in process, liberationist, and feminist theology. Topics considered include: the role of the Bible in theological reflection, the nature of God, Christology, sin, and Christian ethics.


RELC 3030 The Historical Jesus
RELJ 3030 The Historical Jesus
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.


RELC 3058 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.


RELI 3120 Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)
Abdulaziz Sachedina

REL 312 is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islamic mysticism. The course is primarily concerned with the growth of mystical tradition in Islam, the rise of asceticism, the early Sufis, the development of Sufi orders, the systematization of Sufi teaching and the evolution of theosophical dimensions of mysticism, and finally, the contribution of Sufism in the Islamic art and literatures. In doing so, we will attempt to study the lives and teachings of the outstanding Sufis as Rabi'a, Hallaj, Rumi, Gazali and others. The course will also discuss the present-day Sufism, both in its Islamic as well as Western context, which claims to be the continuation of the great classical period of Islamic mysticism.

II. COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

i. REGULAR attendance at weekly session and ACTIVE participation in the seminar-cum-lecture session.

ii. Reading assignments:
1. Annemarie Schimell, Mystical Dimensions of Islam
2. Menahim Milson, A Sufi Rule for Novices
3. W. Chittick, Sufi Path of Love
4. --------------, Sufi Path of Knowledge
5. Other short selections (on reserve)

iii. Term paper on some aspect of Sufism (12-15 double-space pages)(25%)
iv. Mid-term (30%) and final exam (45%).
[Prerequisite RELI207 or RELI208 or instructor’s permission]

RELG 3200 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 types of social criticism.


RELC 3240 Medieval Mysticism
This course has been canceled.


RELJ 3310 Law in Judaism
Elizabeth Alexander
This course has been canceled.


RELA 3351 African Diaspora Religions
Jalane Schmidt

The seminar will examine the changes in ethnographic accounts of African diaspora religions, with particular attention given to how different research paradigms illuminate these Caribbean and Latin American religions and the questions of religion, race, nation, and modernity. Practitioners of these religions are conventionally regarded as atavistically maintaining a “traditional” world-view. But this class will evaluate how devotees of African diaspora religions are continually innovating their religious practices as they navigate modernity. While learning about the specificities of African diaspora religions, students will also study theoretical changes in the field of cultural anthropology vis-à-vis the investigation of African-descended communities, material religion, ritual performance, and the effects of national politics and transnational migration patterns upon religious practice.

Written requirements include a 20-page seminar paper which meets the Second Writing Requirement.


RELB 3408 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy
Jongbok Yi

Contact the professor directly for information on this course.


RELB 3559 New Course in Buddhism:
Monastic Buddhism
This course has been canceled


RELB 3559 New Course in Buddhism:
Religons of China
This course has been canceled


RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity:
The History of Heaven and Hell
Robin Darling Young

This course explores the traditions and significance of Christian beliefs about the afterlife. Beginning with the apocalypses of the Second Temple period, and building upon the religious traditions of their neighbors, first-century Jewish authors began to describe realms beyond sight, where dramas of divine combat or victory reflected the fortunes of the human community. Christian prophets and seers described landscapes of reward and punishment, and subsequent ancient and medieval writers and artists elaborated the moral connections between this life and the next. The course will examine the subject as doctrine (varying according to particular communities), as imagination, and as communal expression from ancient origins to contemporary reinterpretation.

 

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity:
History of the Bible
Harry Gamble

Although the Bible comprises the authoritative scripture of Christianity and stands as a monument of Western culture generally, most are ignorant about how this came to be. This seminar will focus on the history of the Bible (as distinct from “biblical history” or history in the Bible) – that is, on the formation and transmission and use of the Bible as a book. By examining ancient manuscripts, we will consider how the biblical literature was first written, how various parts of it were initially collected and how, when and to what effects the Bible as a whole came to be formed. We will also consider the various translations of the Bible in antiquity, and the means of its dissemination and use from antiquity through the middle ages. Then we will move on to discuss the emergence of printed Bibles in the 15th century and late medieval/early modern translations of the Bible into European vernaculars. Finally, we will compare and discuss various modern English editions and translations of the Bible. In short, the seminar will trace the history of the Bible as a book, including its forms, its uses and attitudes toward it, from antiquity to the present.


RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity
Religion in Children's Literature
Vigen Guroian

We will look at some of the great fairy tales and works of children's literature for their capacity to shape the religious and moral imaginations. Our study will include the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, as well as Pinocchio, Peter Pan, The Jungle Books, The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Webb, George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin, The Chronicles of Narnia, and others.


RELG 3559 New Course in Religion
Religious Diversity in the US
Matt Hedstrom

This course aims to accomplish two overarching goals: to describe the historical development of religious diversity in the United States, and to grapple with its social, political, legal, cultural, and spiritual implications. We will cover matters of public policy, law, and education, as well as more intimate matters such as interfaith marriage. Sociology, political philosophy, and theology will inform our discussions of the challenges and opportunities religious diversity presents.


RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism:
Contemporary Israeli Literature in Translation.
This course has been canceled. See below for a possible replacement.


RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism:
Israeli Culture in Fiction: Hebrew Literature in Translation
Dalia Rosenfeld
(Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures)

This course explores Israeli culture and society through the lens of its literature. Beginning with the revival of modern Hebrew and following the formative events of the Israeli experience, we will study a range of fictional works (and poetry) that represent the diverse voices of Israeli self-expression. Readings include S.Y. Agnon, Aharon Appelfeld, Yoel Hoffmann, Etgar Keret, A.B. Yehoshua, Yehudit Hendel, and others .


RELG 3600 Religion and Modern Theater
Larry Bouchard

This course will examine how drama and performance is linked with religious traditions, themes, and with some secular and theological perspectives on religion. Modern theater has often sought to revitalize its historical and thematic relations with ritual and sacred stories, and it has also probed the ethical dimensions of selves and communities as seen against the presence and absence of a divine horizon or immanent sense of the sacred. What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of theatrical drama?

We will discuss a number of classical dramas (e.g., some tragedies by the ancient dead) and plays and performances by modern-or-contemporary dramatists (living or relatively recently departed). Some of these have explicitly religious themes or subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film-about-a-performance Jesus of Montreal, and Wole Soyinka's uses of Yoruba religion and European theatrical traditions). We will also study ostensibly secular plays that nonetheless take up questions of religion, ethics, and political life (for example, plays by Bertholt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, Peter Shaffer, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, and Mary Zimmerman). We will also look at some ritual theory, performance theory, and religious views of drama and theatrical performance. The syllabus is always changing and will be available in August.

Mode of teaching: some lectures, much discussion, reading plays aloud, perhaps play attendance.

Requirements: regular class attendance and participation; two essay exams and one paper; or three short papers for students wishing to complete the 2nd writing requirement.


RELC 3690 The Gospel and Letters of John and the Book of Revelation
Ronald Bentley


RELG 4023 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 4220 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 4500 Majors Seminar: Suffering
John Portmann

Moral assessment of bodies in pain and spirits in turmoil. Philosophical, theological, psychiatric, biomedical, psychoanalytic, literary, biographical, sociological, operatic, 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 of the Christ. This “capstone” seminar will help you assess what contribution the study of religion can make to the humanities: a deeper understanding of what suffering is and what our chances are for eliminating or reducing it. Further, this seminar will investigate how scholars of religion and ordinary believers rely on discoveries from other fields of inquiry, the insights of other thinkers who have pondered what it is to be human.

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors


RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Sensing the Sacred
Greg Schmidt Goering

Seeing is believing. Or is it? This seminar examines visual and aural metaphors in the religious discourse of several traditions. The seminar analyzes the religious uses of these perceptual metaphors in light of modern theories of religion, the phenomenology of perception, as well as modern neuroscience. The seminar probes the connections between the supposed basis for sensory perception and the deployment of sensory metaphors to describe both religious experience and modes for apprehending the sacred. The seminar also explores the relation between visual and aural metaphors for perceiving the sacred and the traditional categories of nature and revelation.

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors


RELC 4559 New Course in Christianity:
Religion and American Courts
John Portmann

This is NOT a majors seminar.

What is the nature of religion and its role in American society? This seminar will explore the limits of spiritual convictions in a liberal democracy which guarantees religious freedom. Specifically, this course will analyze: 1) the First Amendment; 2) legal methodology; and 3) the contemporary debate over whether citizens and public officials have a duty to refrain from making political and legal decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs. After surveying the theoretical literature, we will turn to specific legal issues involving the practice of religion in the United States. The Supreme Court’s understanding of the Religion Clauses changed substantially in the twentieth century, and so we will focus on the second half of the last century. Requirements: 1) oral presentation; 2) final ten-fifteen-page paper; 3) regular class participation; and 4) three short exams.


RELC 4559 New Course in Christianity:
Visions of the Apocolypse
Matt Hedstrom

This is NOT a majors seminar.

Prophets may envision the future, but their visions are always comments on the present. End-time scenarios—whether of ultimate destruction or eternal bliss—help us make sense of unspoken hopes and unspeakable fears, express outrage, mobilize movements for change, and relate our individual lives to a larger order. In this course, we will study some of the many ways Americans have envisioned the end of the world, and what those visions have to teach us about them and the America they inhabited. The course, therefore, is an exercise in the social and cultural history of the United States.

We will begin with a broad introduction to apocalypticism in Western religious traditions, but will soon narrow our focus to the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our explorations will take us from slave revolts to UFO cults to Dr. Strangelove, from Edward Bellamy to genetic engineering, from the space program to Left Behind, and from the Great Disappointment of the 1840s and the Ghost Dance of 1890 to the New Age of the present. We will meet a host of Americans—black and white; Roman Catholic and Protestant; members of new religious movements and adherents to secular ideologies of doom or bliss—and ask: what can the imagined futures of yesterday teach us about the hopes and fears of previous generations? In what ways are social, political, and economic tensions reflected in visions of the apocalypse? How have ideologies of the end, whether religious or secular, shaped social movements, politics, and popular culture?


RELJ 4559 New Course in Judaism:
Hobbes & Spinoza, Religion & Politics
Dan Doneson ( Department of Politics)

This is NOT a majors seminar.

Hobbes is often claimed to be the founder of modern politics, since he is the first to raise politics to the rank of a science; accordingly, he is the first to develop the concept of sovereigntythe fundamental concept of modern politics - with full clarity. Any radical understanding of modern politics, then, must try to understand Hobbes’ political science. Spinoza – presenting his teaching more “boldly”, in Hobbes’ words, than he dared – is famously the first philosopher to defend democracy as the optima republica as well as advocate the emancipation of politics from ecclesiastical control. It is in trying to understand modern politics specifically, and modernity more generally, or so-called secularization, that we will turn to Hobbes’ Leviathan (and some of De Cive) and Spinoza’s Theological-Politico Treatise (and some of the Political Treatise).

Hobbes and Spinoza secured their foundations for political science in opposition to two traditions: the tradition of philosophic politics, which they trace back to Socrates and the tradition of theological politics which they trace to revelation. What is the basis for their respective critiques? How precisely are we to understand the similarities and divergences of their respective projects? Themes to be discussed include: the possibility and necessity of a political science for the human ordering of human life, materialism and immanentism, freedom and determinism, natural right, history and the project of modern science, the critique of miracles and revelation, the rise of Biblical criticism.


RELJ 4591 Topics in Judaic Studies:
1948: History, Historiography, and Politics
Rekefet Zalashik (Visiting Scholar)

This is NOT a majors seminar.

The role of historians and historiographies and the influence of memory and the politics of memory on national ethos is tremendous. The course examines the historiographies of 1948, which was a crucial year for both the Jews and the Palestinians in Mandatory Palestine. "1948", the "Israeli War of Independence" and/ or the "Naqba" served and still serves as a watershed to both Israel-Jewish and Palestinian nationalities, influencing current burning issues such as the borders of the Israeli and Palestinian states as well as the Right of Return and the Refugees Problem. The course will examine various narratives in the historiography of this year with the emphasis on the evolution of various narratives, the way they served both national movements and their correlation of political developments.


RELS 4995 Independent Research
Instructor: Student's choice

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


RELS 4998 Distinguished Major Thesis I

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.


A note on 5000-level courses: Rise to a higher level!

All 5000-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 5000-level course could prove immensely helpful.
If you see any 5000-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

RELC 5006 Augustine's City of God
Charles Mathewes

A graduate class that will read, slowly, the entire City of God, using that work and several other of Augustine's texts (particularly letters and sermons) to attempt to understand that work's argument, paying attention to the various audiences to which it was addressed, and (so far as we can tell) Augustine's larger vision. Graded work for the class will consist in a take-home midterm and final, or (in rare situations) a substantial paper. This is an advanced class, for students who wish to understand Augustine's views, as expressed in City of God, in a serious historical, philosophical, and theological manner.


RELC 5009 Theologies of Resistance and Reconciliation: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr
Charles Marsh

The course has four goals: (1) to understand the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr.; (2) to explore the themes of resistance and reconciliation in their writings and actions; (3) to examine their ambivalent relationship with academic theology; and (4) to consider the promise of lived theology for contemporary religious thought. Requirements include a 16-20 page research paper; a weekly 250-word written response circulated to the class by email before class; a thirty minute class presentation; active participation in seminar discussions; and a final exam in the form of a review essay. Important: Permission by the instructor is required for undergradutes to take this course. The class size is limited to 18 students


RELJ 5050 Judaism in Antiquity
Elizabeth Alexander
This course has been canceled.


RELC 5077 The Vatican and WWII
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.


RELC 5130 Being and God
Kevin Hart
This course has been canceled.


RELC 5141 Calvin
Paul Jones

This course examines a text that has shaped modern Christian thought: John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. The focus will be on close reading and a rigorous analysis of theological ideas. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, the nature of sin, the identity of God and Jesus Christ, creation, justification and sanctification, and the nature of the Christian life. The course is suitable for graduate students in religious studies and related disciplines. Undergraduates wishing to take the course must gain the instructor's permission, and must have significant scholarly background in Christian thought.


RELC 5310 - Early Christianity and Greco-Roman Culture
Wendy Mayer

This course immerses the student in early Christianity and its cultural setting in the East via a focus on Syrian Antioch. The period covered will be the 4th to 6th centuries CE. Through a combination of the close study of texts, archeology, and art the student will explore competition between Christianity, Judaism, and Hellenic religions in the city, the cult of the saints, liturgy, Syrian asceticism, the city’s churches, the role of religion within the civic calendar, religious welfare programs, the Antiochene approach to exegesis, and how the Christian doctrinal disputes of these centuries impacted the city. Attention will also be paid to the influence of the city and its Christian clergy and ascetics in the broader context of the late-antique East. The aim is for the student to develop the capacity to view Christianity through the eyes of a resident of late-antique Antioch, as well as to deepen their understanding of the methodological problems involved in achieving this perspective. An ability to read classical or koine Greek is an advantage, but not required.


RELB 5390 Tibetan Tantric Buddhism
David Germano

 

RELB 5470 Literary Tibetan V
David Germano

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 5360 or equivalent. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, four exams, midterm, final, translation assignments.


RELI 5540 Seminar in Islamic Theology: Islamic Theology and Philosophy
Ahmed H. al-Rahim

This course is intended to trace the development of and tension between Islamic theology (kalam) and philosophy from the 8th to the 14 centuries A.D. It explores, through readings of primary sources in translation, debates concerning language and revelation, the nature of God and His attributes, prophecy and miracles, heresy, and the role of logic in Muslim intellectual history. In addition, the course examines key historical and religio-political questions which gave rise to theology and philosophy in the Islamic world.


RELG 5541 Seminar in Social and Political Thought: 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 and twenty-first century theologians will be examined. 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 pay careful attention to 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 and contemporary debates about preventive and pre-emptive wars, weapons of mass destruction, and torture.


RELC 5551 Seminar in Early Christian Thought
Harry Gamble
This course may be canceled.


RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity:
African-Americans and the Bible
Valerie Cooper

In this course, we will look at the ways African American scholars, clergy, laity, men, women, the free, and the enslaved, have read, interpreted, preached, and taught scripture. In examining these interpretations, we will also seek to sketch out a broader theology, history, and sociology of black people as they used the tool at hand, the Bible, to argue for their own humanity, create their own cultures, and establish their own societies. We will also undertake the interpretive enterprise, seeking to find common ground for understanding the meaning of the biblical text in our own, and others' communities.


RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity:
Modern Eastern Orthodox Theology
Vigen Guroian

The course looks at the writings of such significant Orthodox theologians of this and the past century as Georges Florovsky, Sergius Bulgakov, Dumitru Staniloae, Paul Evdokimov, Vladimir Lossky, Alexander Schmemann, Philip Sherrard, and John Zizioulas on the Trinity, Christology, doctrine of Creation, theological anthropology, ecology, ecclesiology, and soteriology.


RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity:
Reading Practices in Early and Medieval Christianity
Robin Darling Young

This course traces the origins and development of Christian ways of reading sacred texts, from the second century through the twelfth. It considers the early tradition of rewritten scripture and prophetic inspiration, and moves next to the paidetic philosophy common in the schools of the Graeco-Roman empire and adopted by Christian writers of the third and fourth centuries. It traces, also, Christian interpreters’ cultivation of the "spiritual senses" and their preparation for reading by observing various ascetic and liturgical practices. In addition it will consider the preservation of midrashic interpretation among two fourth-century Syriac authors, to demonstrate an ongoing connection, in the late ancient near east, with rabbinic interpretation. Thus the course will examine the works of interpreters from Hermas in second-century Rome, through the Alexandrians and their monastic heirs, and then, in the Latin West, authors from Augustine through Bernard of Clairvaux and Hugh of St. Victor. For those who have the languages, there will be an opportunity for biweekly meetings to read selected texts in their original languages.


RELG 5559 New Course in Religion:
Time, History and Meaning
Asher Biemann

This course studies the modern literature of competing perceptions of time, history, and meaning in history, especially in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Questions of origin, beginnings, repetition, midpoint, Kairos, prophetic, and apocalyptic history will be at the center of discussion.


RELG 5630 Issues in Religion and Literture Genre
Larry Bouchard

This seminar explores possibilities in interdisciplinary work in religion, literary art, and criticism. Attention is given to three problem areas in religion and literary studies: innovation and tradition in the arts and religion, aesthetic experience and religious meaning, and what it may mean to engage in "religious," "theological," and "ethical" readings of literary works and their cultural settings. The seminar is also is designed to direct students to important bibliography for graduate studies in religion and literature. However, literary texts, not just as adjacent criticism and theory, will be the weekly focus.

Issues are structured around historically important redefinitions of the four major literary genres: epic poetry and formulaic composition, lyric poetry and Romanticism and formalism, drama and ritual, and prose fiction as moral inquiry—together with a section on scripture read "as" literature. The readings include discussions of the productive (not just classificatory) functions of genre. Of special concern will be reflections on the intersecting generic relationships as a "causal joint" (to import a term from natural theology) between the reader and author, and between "spirit" and understanding.

Requirements include active participation, very short weekly response papers, 1 class presentation of some assigned material, and a final, typical journal article-length paper.


RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII
David Germano

 

RELJ 5950 Midrashic Imagination
Elizabeth Alexander

 

RELB 7020 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
Clarke Hudson

 

RELG 7360 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Elizabeth Alexander
Kurtis Schaeffer

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.


RELG 7528 Modern Religious Thought: Kierkegaard and Levinas
Jamie Ferreira

 


RELS 8995 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 8998 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 8999 Pedagogy
TBA


RELS 9998 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 9999 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.