Fall 2012

AFRICAN RELIGIONS

RELA 2750  African Religions
Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton 
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.

 RELA 5559  New Course in African Relgions: Evangelism in Contemporary Africa
Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton 
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa over the past two decades. We consider foreign, faith-based initiatives in Africa, as well as African missionaries in Europe and the U.S. How are missionary efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights? What is the relationship between evangelism and development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, mission and education today?

BUDDHISM

RELB 2054  Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
Staff
(This course is tentative) A systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, including aspects of its history, iconography, philosophy, ethics, monasticism, rituals, practices, and social milieu. Special attention will be paid to the various strands of Indo-Tibetan culture that have intertwined to produce the immensely rich tradition we see today, though we will also spend a good bit of time examining the uniquely Tibetan tantric technologies that evolved from this process. Previous knowledge of Buddhism is not necessary, but would be helpful for certain segments of the course.

RELB 2100  Buddhism
Karen Lang
The goal of courses in religious studies is to promote sensitivity to religious ideas, personalities, and institutions. Such courses are not intended to persuade you toward or away from any particular tradition. 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 speak about the Buddha, what he and his followers say about karma and rebirth, the practice of meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment. We will also examine the views of contemporary Buddhist teachers and on the challenges Buddhism faces in the modern world.

RELB 2770  Daoism
W 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.

RELB 3559/RELH 3559 Yogic Traditions of South Asia
John Campbell
An exploration of concepts and practices associated with the Indic categories of yoga and tantra in major religious traditions of South and Himalayan Asia.

RELB 3655 Buddhism In America
Ben Deitle

RELB 5470  Literary Tibetan V
Kurtis Schaeffer 

RELB 5520  Seminar in Daoism
W. Clarke Hudson 
Topics on the history, scripture, thought, and practice of religious Daoism, with an emphasis on the formative period (2nd-10th c.).

RELB 5660  Seminar on Indian Buddhism
Karen Lang 
 This seminar will focus on the development of Buddhism in India and the spread of these ideas into the neighboring South Asian countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.   We will examine the divergent views on the nature of the Buddha and his teachings and explore how these views changed by reading translations of various canonical and post-canonical writings of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, along with contemporary scholarship on these issues.    We will examine both doctrinal texts and the story literature of both traditions for information on Buddhist beliefs and practices.   We  will also look at what archeological records suggest about the social history of South Asian Buddhism.

RELB 5800  Literary Tibetan VII
Kurtis Schaeffer 

CHRISTIANITY

RELC 1050  Introduction to Christian Traditions
Valerie Cooper 
This course will explore Christianity in its modern and historical contexts, combining an examination of current scholarship, worship and praxis. Because one course could not begin to exhaust the wide diversity present in Christianity, we will instead focus on several smaller questions over the course of the semester. The first half of the course will ask the question, “Who was Jesus?” We will consider some of the historical, textual, sociological, theological, and archaeological evidence surrounding his life and the subsequent Jesus Movement which developed into early Christianity. Efforts will be made to place Jesus’ life in the context of Jewish popular movements of his time. The second half of the course will ask the question, “What is the church?” and consider the development of the Christian church from the time of Constantine onward. This discussion of Christian worship will be accented by students’ field visits to churches in the Albemarle County area. Course materials will include those dealing with the development of a few specific denominations, as well as larger subsets of Christianity such as Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. Although Christian traditions worldwide will be addressed, the main emphasis of the second half of the course will be modern American Christianity.

RELC 1210/RELJ 1210  Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Martien Halvorson-Taylor 
This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. 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.

RELC 2050  The Rise of Christianity
Karl Shuve 
How did a movement that began as a Jewish sect become the official religion of the Roman Empire and forever change the world? In this course, we will trace Christianity’s improbable rise to religious and cultural dominance in the Mediterranean world during the first millennium of the Common Era. We will examine archaeological remains, artistic creations and many different kinds of writings—including personal letters, stories of martyrs and saints, works of philosophy and theology, and even gospels that were rejected for their allegedly heretical content—as we reimagine and reconstruct the lives and struggles of early and medieval Christians. Our goal will be to understand the development of Christian thought, the evolution of the Church as an institution, and how Christianity was lived out and practiced by its adherents.

GREE 2230 New Testament Greek I (Intermediate Greek): Gospels
Judith Kovacs
The Department calls attention to this course 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 the Greek New Testament. Readings come from the gospels, primarily Luke and John, with consideration of questions of interpretation as well as grammar and translation. (Letters of Paul will be read in Greek 2240). Prerequisite Greek 1010-1020 or equivalent (one year of classical or Koine Greek). Requirements: regular quizzes, midterm, and final examination.

RELC 2360  Elements of Christian Thought
Paul Jones 
This course considers the complicated world of Christian thought. It examines the nature of faith, the being and action of God, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the role of the Bible in theological reflection, and the relationship between Christian thought and social justice. Students will read various important works of Christian theology (ancient, medieval, and modern) and become acquainted with a wide range of theological approaches and ideas. The course is suitable for those seeking a basic introduction in Christian thought and for those wishing to deepen their understanding of key issues in Christian theology. It can fulfill the second writing requirement. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is required.

RELC 2401  History of American Catholicism
Gerald Fogarty 
(Unconfirmed description from Fall 2010) 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.

RELC 3030/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 3043  Themes in Eastern Orthodoxy: An Introduction
Vigen Guroian 
Rather than a broad historical overview of Orthodox Christianity, this course is an introduction to the thematic core of the Orthodox Christian tradition. We will first review the major elements of the Orthodox faith that developed over the course of the Byzantine era. Then we will examine some themes to which Orthodox theologians have given considerable thought. These include: scripture and tradition, liturgy and sacrament, the meaning and role of icons, faith and spirituality, the nature of the church, Christian ecumenism, and Christianity and culture.

RELC 3090/RELJ 3090  Israelite Prophecy
Gregory 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/RELC 1210 recommended  

RELC 3447  History of Christian Ethics
Margaret Mohrmann 
This course surveys the development of Christian ethical thought and teaching from its beginnings through the Reformation era. Major ethical themes are 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 are taken mostly from primary texts, such as the Bible and the writings of selected Christian thinkers, but also include an online text that provides historical and theological background ethical issues in historical context, and selected secondary works that examine particular ethical issues in historical context. Class sessions are a combination of lecture and discussion.

RELC 3681  Cultural Catholicism
John Portmann 
Today many North Americans insist on a Roman Catholic baptism, wedding, and funeral but otherwise want little to do with the institutional Church. In this seminar, we will try to make sense of “secular” or “cultural Catholics.” Are they just lazy, or do they have good reason for ambivalence about their Church? What would it take to overcome such ambivalence?

Ambivalent or distanced Catholics may retain certain inclinations (for example, opposition to the death penalty) or patterns of thought (for example, redemption through community) which tie them to Rome in some peculiar way. We will explore Roman Catholic experience outside the official structures of the Holy See (for example, devotions, pilgrimages, shrines, art, fiction, cinema, television), particularly as committed Catholics argue over how to honor their spiritual tradition in day-to-day life. We will study current challenges wrought by women, Jews, and gays. We will pay special attention to dissent as an emerging hallmark of Catholic culture in the United States. Can we reduce Catholicism to a set of rules? If instead Catholicism asserts itself as a way of living, how does this mindset evolve and from where does it take its spiritual cues? How has Catholic culture in the United States moved from obedience to protest, from passion to ambivalence?

RELC 3690  The Gospel of John and Its Interpretation
Judith Kovacs 
A close reading of the Gospel of John, this course considers literary, historical, and theological issues. Questions raised include: What is distinctive about the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of John in comparison with the synoptic gospels, and why was this gospel so important in the development of Christian theology? What clues are there in the text for imagining the specific historical situation in which the gospel was written? What are the reasons for, and implications of, its depiction of "the Jews"? Attention will also be given to the book’s reception history, including the important role the Gospel played in the development of the church’s teaching about Jesus Christ, portrayals in art, and feminist interpretations.

RELC 3804  American Catholic Social and Political Thought
Gerald Fogarty 
This seminar examines American Catholic social and political thought.

RELC 5048  Philo of Alexandria and Hellenistic Judaism
Harry Gamble 
This seminar will explore the works and thought of Philo Judaeus (ca. 20 BCE-50 CE), the most prolific Jewish thinker and writer of antiquity.  In addition to extensive reading of Philo’s work, the seminar will have a view to the socio-political, intellectual and religious context to which he belonged, namely Hellenistic Judaism, particularly in Egypt, to the relation of Philo to other forms of Judaism in the ancient world, and to the significance of Philo for early Christian thought.

RELC 5155  Ecology, Christianity, and Culture
Vigen Guroian 
The character and content of this course differs from the policy-oriented nature of many standard courses in environmental ethics. If there is an underlying premise to the class, it is that the environmental crisis is not external to ourselves but rather originates “within” us, as we are sinfully disposed to misuse not only our own bodies but the whole of Creation. If this is so, then a Christian ecological ethic must include serious reflection on theological anthropology, doctrines of Creation and Salvation, and a theology of culture. It must include an ecological spirituality.

RELC 5158  History of Christian Ethics
Margaret Mohrmann 
This course is designed to provide a solid understanding of the historical roots, from the New Testament period to the Reformation, of Christian ethics, experience in working with historical source materials, and familiarity with some important interpreters of this history. In seminar discussions, we will primarily explore primary materials, but also consider the work of interpreters such as Ernst Troeltsch and Peter Brown.

RELC 5559  New Course in Christianity: Making of Christian Orthodoxy
Karl Shuve 
In this course, we will study the key developments in Christian theology in Late Antiquity.  Topics include the relationship between Christianity and Greek philosophy; biblical exegesis; the being of God and Christ; mysticism and contemplation; and the liturgy. We will focus on the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries, tracing the exegetical, philosophical and liturgical roots of the debates.

RELC 5830  Love and Justice in Christian Ethics
James Childress 
An examination of various conceptions of neighbor-love (agape) and justice and their relations (e.g., identity and opposition) in selected Protestant (and some Catholic) literature (mainly from the 20th and early 21st centuries). The principles of agape and justice will be considered in the context of interpretations of human nature (e.g., the locus and power of sin), theological convictions (e.g., God as creator, preserver, and redeemer), and perspectives on moral reasoning. In addition, attention will be devoted to the distinction and relations between agape and other modes of love, such as philia and eros. Finally, in passing, the seminar will also examine the implications of different interpretations of agape (and its relations to justice) for selected practical areas, such as punishment, war, allocation of resources, and friendship

RELC 5910  Religion, Race and Politics in American Society
Valerie Cooper 
This course will evaluate the role of religion and race in shaping political campaigns, party affiliation, and the nature of political consensus around issues from the 1960s to the present.  Of particular interest here will be racially- or religiously-affiliated groups and movements like the Tea Party, the Occupy Wall Street protests or the Civil Rights Movement. In the end, we will test the hypothesis that religion and race have been two of the most potent tools for building political power in the US in the last five decades.

RELC 5976  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.

GENERAL RELIGION

RELG 1010  Introduction to Western Religious Traditions
Heather Warren
An historical survey of the origins and development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Subjects include the origins of monotheism, the rise of Israel as a nation, early Christianity, the rise of Islam in the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, Christianity during the Enlightenment, and the influence of modern science and industrialism on 19th and 20th century religious life. Requirements: Weekly readings, two tests and a final

RELG 2475  God
Peter Ochs 
An introduction to the personality of God as portrayed in the sacred literatures, histories, and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Part I of the course asks: What are the major personality traits of God as displayed in the three Abrahamic scriptures? Creator or destroyer? Loving guide or angry ruler? Infinite and distant or right here, as close as a touch? The first or the last? Never to be seen or that face that sees you? Part II of the course asks: how have prophets, sages, mystics and scoundrels experienced God as recounted in the literatures of these religions? Do they experience the “death of the ego?” or “unity with God?” or “God’s emptiness and absence?” Part III of the course asks: What paths of relationship with God do these three traditions recommend? And with what results? (You have to take the course to hear about these!)… The course no prerequisities. There will be at least 2 films. There is a midterm and a final; and students write 2pp. papers to conclude each Part of the course.

RELG 2630  Business, Ethics, and Society
This course will be taught by advanced graduate students. 
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, and Medicine
James Childress 
An analysis of the ethical principles that should undergird decisions in science, medicine, and health care. The lectures readings, and discussions will focus on ethical principles developed within different ethical traditions (such as Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Humanism) and on their implications for cases in abortion, death and dying, research involving human subjects, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, cloning, and allocating resources. Several films, videotapes, and cases will be used. Requirements: Midterm, final examination, 3 brief papers (2 pages) and participation in discussion.

RELG 2700  Festivals of the Americas
Jalane Schmidt 
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.

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.

RELG 3360  Religions in the New World
Jalane Schmidt 
A history course which examines Latin American and Caribbean religions from the 1400s through the 1830s. We will proceed topically (in rough chronological order), studying religious encounters during the pre-Columbian era, the Spanish conquest and colonial eras, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Latin American independence (1820s), and slave emancipation in the anglophone Caribbean (1830s). The class will focus primarily upon the signature religious episodes, devotions, personalities and institutions of indigenous, African, Afro-creole, and mestizo communities, since these "gente de color" constituted the majority population in the New World during this historical epoch. We will consider issues of historiography?specifically, the problem of interpreting (sometimes hostile) extant archival sources and the use of such primary material in the writing of secondary literature. Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in translation), and to identify the interpretive choices which scholars make in the crafting of historical narratives.

RELG 4023  Bioethics Internship Seminar
Margaret Mohrmann
This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student spends approximately four hours each week in a clinic, hospital unit, or other health care- related venue (the same one throughout the semester), under the mentorship of a health care professional engaged in that setting. Seminar time focuses primarily on student experiences and observations in their placements, plus discussion of readings that explore selected ethical issues common to clinical medicine and the role of the ethicist/observer. During the second half of the semester, each student presents for class critique an analysis of an ethical issue or question that arises in his or her setting, and that will form the basis of the student's final paper for the class. Students must have some background knowledge of bioethics' methods and common questions. Admittance to the course is by application only; 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: weekly short autobiographical papers (2pp.), 1 paper 8-12 pages, and an autobiography (20 pp.)

RELG 4500  Majors Seminar: Death and the Afterlife
Benjamin Ray 
The goal of this seminar is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, theology, medical ethics, and fictional literature concerning death and afterlife in a variety of religious traditions. 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 5070  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.

RELG 5559  New Course in Religion: Prayer
Peter Ochs 
Studies in the poetics and theology of prayer in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Sequence of topics: (a) Studies in poetics and  experience in  poetry and individual prayer; (b) Studies in the history of Jewish and Christian prayer and liturgy; (c) Philosophic and literary studies of liturgy as prayer. new course to provide graduate level study of prayer/liturgy for students of theology and of scriptural traditions. a new goal is also to provide work on poetics and literary theory as well as on scriptural traditions -- something we have not previously done in a theology or SIp course.

RELG 7360  Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Benjamin Ray 
Given the interdisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for entering graduate students to gain a basic grounding in the theoretical and methodological studies in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the basic nineteenth and twentieth century approaches, as well as some contemporary methods. The course will facilitate critical engagement with classic concepts in the study of religion by applying them to examples of religious belief and practice.

RELG 8000  Tragedy and the Religious Imagination
Larry Bouchard 
This seminar will explore ways in which three modes of expression and inquiry—imaginative literature, religious thought (including ethical reflection), and forms of critical theory—encounter aspects of tragic suffering, moral evil or "sin," and the ways these phenomena are reflected in various sorts of discourse or rhetoric.  Particular attention will be given to an implication of Paul Ricoeur, that the tragic "resists thought."  Literary sources will include those from Greek tragedy, Christian epic and fiction, and modern drama and fiction.  Religious and ethical reflective sources will include classical and modern thinkers who interpret tragedy, sin, finitude, and suffering (e.g., Augustine, the Niebuhrs, Fackenheim, Levinas, Ricoeur, Nussbaum, Keller).    Examines the ways in which tragedy (and other forms of imaginative literature), scripture and theology, and hermeneutics and criticism portray and reflect on aspects of suffering and evil.

RELG 8350  Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation and Practice
Peter Ochs 

HINDUISM

RELH 2559  New Course in Hinduism: Contemporary Hinduism
John Nemec 
This course examines Hinduism in Modern and Contemporary India, paying attention to the particular traditions of the various regions of the subcontinent, as well as to the interaction of Hinduism with other South Asian religious traditions.

RELH 3559/RELB 3559 Yogic Traditions of South Asia
John Campbell
An exploration of concepts and practices associated with the Indic categories of yoga and tantra in major religious traditions of South and Himalayan Asia.

RELH 5559  New Course in Hinduism: Hindu-Buddhist Debates
John Nemec 
The most famous and fundamental Hindu-Buddhist debate concerns the existence and nature of the “self” or “soul” (Skt. ‡tman), a perennial dispute born with the Buddha himself and active even today.  This disagreement is rarely purged from Hindu-Buddhist disputes, though it is frequently addressed indirectly, in the context of negotiating a disparate range of philosophical issues.  

ISLAM

RELI 2070  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. 

RELI 5400  Muslim Comparative Theologies: Sunni-Shi'i Creeds
Abdulaziz Sachedina 
The seminar will undertake to study the comparative Sunni and Shi’ite theologies (‘ilm al-kalam) to underscore a historical development of Muslim creed in the context of social and political conditions. The course will concentrate on the development of Muslim Theology in general and the Sunni and Shi’ite creeds in particular.  It will primarily be a comparative theological study, and secondarily Sunni-Shi’i doctrinal analysis.  The major concern will be the development of creeds in Islam, the gradual process of formulating Principles of Religion (usul al-din), and their crystallization in the form of dogmas, with theological complexities.  The essential difference between the Sunni and Shi’ite schools of thought begins in their emphasis on the fundamentality of leadership for the continuation of the prophetic mission.  This difference also leads to their classification of the founding principles of Islam.  While the Sunnites have insisted on a communal consensus regarding the centrality of the community’s adherence to the Tradition for the continuation of the mission, the Shi’ites have regarded the ongoing need for authoritative guidance in the person of the Imam following the Prophethood.  There is agreement among all Muslims that three doctrines constitute the faith of Islam: Affirmation of the Unity of God, the Prophethood of Muhammad, and the Final Day of Judgment.  The Shi’ites add to these three two other doctrines: Affirmation about the Justice of God and the necessity of the Imamate of the rightful successors of the Prophet.  The Shi`a-Sunni differences have also impacted the development of juridical principles and ethical epistemologies based on the relationship between reason and revelation.

The objectives of the course are:
(i) To introduce the student to the history of Islamic theology,
(ii). To direct the student to form a relatively complete picture of Muslim creed by discussing the Sunni-Shi’ite doctrinal formulations, and,
(iii). To encourage the student to undertake a comparative study of Sunni-Shi’ite theologies.

JUDAISM

RELJ 1210/RELC 1210  Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Martien Halvorson-Taylor 
This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. 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.

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.

RELJ 2030  The Judaic Tradition
Elizabeth Alexander 
An introduction to Judaism as it is practiced as a living tradition. We will survey the central understandings 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.

RELJ 2061  Judaism, 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.

RELJ 2410  Intermediate Classical Hebrew I
Gregory Goering 
In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 1420, students will develop facility in the reading, comprehension, and translation of biblical Hebrew. Students will review basic grammar, learn to analyze syntax, and build their working vocabulary. As a secondary objective of the course, students will learn to interpret biblical prose. By the end of the course, students will be able to translate moderately difficult prose passages from Hebrew to English. This course is equivalent to HEBR 2410. Prerequisite: HEBR or RELJ 1420.

RELJ 3030/RELC 3030  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.

RELJ 3090/RELC 3090  Israelite Prophecy
Gregory 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/RELC 1210 recommended.

JWST 3559 The Soundtrack of Israeli History
Visiting Scholar: Assaf Shelleg
Designed for both music and non-music majors, the course explores the various musical attitudes to Israeli nationality in popular and concert (art) music. Surveying Israeli music within the larger context of history, Zionism, and culture, we will study early pioneer songs, music composed during the years of statehood, the aftermath of Israeli wars and its impact on music, the waning of nationalism in Israeli society, globalization, and the tensions between Jewishness and Israeliness.

RELJ 3559 Music in the Holocaust: Portrayals in Sound from Past and Present
Visiting Scholar: Assaf Shelleg
Designed for both music and non-music majors, this course deals with the embedment of Jewish musical markers and stereotypes in the European imagination, in particular Germany´s. Studying nineteenth and twentieth century "Jewish music libels” we will attempt to understand the German perceptions of nationalism and its cultural repercussions. Having established this background, the second part of this course will discuss the evolvement of Nazi cultural policies in the 1930s and their effect on musical activities in the Third Reich, including music in the ghettos. The last segment of the class will deal with commemoration music and the aesthetics of memory postmodern works.

RELJ 3372/HIEU 3372/GETR 3372  German Jewish Culture and History
Gabriel Finder, Jeff Grossman 
This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the culture and history of German Jewry from 1750 to 1939.  It focuses especially on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe, a response that proved highly productive, giving rise to a range of lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later North America, in particular, and in European culture and society, more generally.

RELJ 3430  Women in Judaism
Elizabeth Alexander 
This course explores the role of women in Judaism as understood by classical Jewish sources and as reconceived by key feminist thinkers in the modern era. Starting with the classical sources, this course familiarizes students with talmudic sources that touch on various aspects of women's lives. We begin with the observation that classical Jewish sources imagine sexuality as a potent creative force, and then explore a number of derivative questions affecting the status and lives of women. How did this positive embrace of sexuality affect the place accorded women in Jewish society? Was female sexuality imagined in different terms than male sexuality? Were women seen to interfere with men's religious lives or enhance it? Was there a domain of women's religious experiences that was distinct from men's? We will analyze both legal and narrative texts for answers to our questions. Other topics treated include: control and protection of women's sexuality, the economics of women's labor, rituals of the body and the modes of expression characteristic of classical Jewish sources. In the last section of the course we will review contemporary attempts by key feminist Jewish thinkers (Plaskow, Adler and Ross) to rethink women’s roles in the religion.

RELJ 4950  Senior Seminar in Jewish Studies
Gabriel Finder 

RELJ 5048  Philo of Alexandria and Hellenistic Judaism
Harry Gamble 
This seminar will explore the works and thought of Philo Judaeus (ca. 20 BCE-50 CE), the most prolific Jewish thinker and writer of antiquity.  In addition to extensive reading of Philo’s work, the seminar will have a view to the socio-political, intellectual and religious context to which he belonged, namely Hellenistic Judaism, particularly in Egypt, to the relation of Philo to other forms of Judaism in the ancient world, and to the significance of Philo for early Christian thought.

RELJ 5559  New Course in Judaism: Jewish History, Meta-History
Asher Biemann 
The course discusses models of history, meta-history,  counter history, and anti-history in modern Jewish thought. Readings from Heinrich Graetz, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, A.J. Heschel, Leo Strauss, and others.

RELJ 8559 Song of Songs (Canticles)
Martien Halvorson-Taylor
An intensive research seminar on the Song of Songs (Canticles). Fluency in Classical Hebrew and Greek and instructor permission are required.

Special Topics

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.

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.