Courses

SPRING 2017 COURSES

Below are courses offered during the current academic year, grouped by specialization. For more information, please contact the course instructor or consult the public unofficial course directory on Lou's List

African Religions

RELA 2750 | African Religions

Introduces the mythology, ritual, philosophy, and religious art of the traditional religions of sub-Saharan Africa, also African versions of Christianity and African-American religions in the New World.

RELA 3351 | African Diaspora Religions

This seminar examines changes in ethnographic accounts of African diaspora religions, with particular attention to the conceptions of religion, race, nation, and modernity found in different research paradigms. Prerequisite: previous course in one of the following: religious studies, anthropology, AAS, or Latin American studies.

RELA 3730 | African Literature and Films

An exploration of religious concepts, practices and issues as addressed in African literature and film.  We will examine how various African authors and filmmakers weave aspects of Muslim, Christian and/or traditional religious cultures into the stories they tell. Course materials will be drawn from novels, memoirs, short stories, creation myths, poetry, feature-length movies, documentaries and short films.

Buddhism

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism Introduction

Michael Schuman

Provides a systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with a strong emphasis on tantric traditions of Buddhism - philosophy, contemplation, ritual, monastic life, pilgrimage, deities & demons, ethics, society, history, and art. The course aims to understand how these various aspects of Tibetan religious life mutually shape each other to form the unique religious traditions that have pertained on the Tibetan plateau for over a thousand years.

RELB 2100 | Buddhism

Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 2165 | Buddhist Meditation

This course offers a survey of Buddhist meditation traditions in India and Tibet, an introduction to the ways that meditation is adapted and used today throughout many areas of life, and a chance to practice secular meditation techniques in a contemplative lab. In class meetings are experimentally based.

RELB 2715 | Introduction to Chinese Religion

Natasha Heller

This course serves as an introductory survey of religious life in China, with emphasis on everyday religious practice over doctrine. Through primary texts (in translation), we will explore key figures and texts, core concepts, and ritual traditions with reference to the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were conceived and expressed.

RELB 3030 | Mindfulness and Compassion: Living Fully Personally and Professionally

Dorothe Bach, Juliet Trail

This course provides an in-depth experience in contemplative practices to prepare students to live more fully, be more engaged & compassionate citizens & professionals, & navigate life's stressors with greater clarity, peace of mind, & healthy behaviors. Besides mindfulness training, this course will also foster the cultivation of compassion and prosocial qualities. For more info: http://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/Mindfulness__Compassion/

RELB 3559 | Anthropology of Tibetan Buddhism

Ana Lopes

This course provides an overview of the anthropological literature related to Tibetan Buddhism. Special attention will be paid to the ways this religion was assimilated in neighboring Himalayan countries and, in a later phase, around the world. Topics to be addressed include, among others, spiritual practices, doctrines, sacred places, religious politics, and issues of identity, ethnicity and nationalism.

RELB 5055 | Buddhist Philosophy

Study of the Pali and Sanskritic Buddhist philosophical traditions.

RELB 5480 | Literary Tibetan VI

Gentry, James

RELB 5559 | Buddhism and Psychology

This class explores topics related to the often fraught interrelations among Buddhist thought, psychological studies, and the study of the mind and consciousness in philosophy and neurology.  We will focus on recent developments, looking at such matters as the cultural embeddedness of psychological uses of Buddhist meditation, the argument for a physicalist approach to Buddhist thought, and the neurological correlates to meditation.

RELB 5810 | Literary Tibetan VIII

Gentry, James

RELB 5991 | Seminar in Chinese Buddhism

Heller, Natasha

The topic for Spring 2017 will be modern Chinese Buddhism, covering the late 19th century through the present.  This period saw the emergence of new discourses and practices, and for much of this time Buddhism also faced greater state oversight in both China and Taiwan.  We will look at intellectual and institutional responses to these challenges, including how Buddhist thinkers addressed science and war, as well as how Buddhist organizations developed charities, tourist sites, and new media.  We will also consider the role of Chinese Buddhism in global religious networks.

Christianity

RELC 1210 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Laugelli, Ben

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 2460 | Spirit of Catholicism

The course will trace the origins and development of Roman Catholic doctrine in light of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The following topics will be treated: the nature and person of Christ as examined in the first ecumenical councils from Nicaea (325) to Chalcedon (451); the nature of the Church and its authority vested in bishops and the pope; original sin, grace, and justification; the rise of hte Reformation in western Christianity.

RELC 2850 | Kingdom of God

The course examines the influence of theological ideas on social movements in twentieth and twenty-first century America; and it seeks to answer such questions as:  How do religious commitments shape the patterns of everyday living, including economic, political, and sexual organization, as well as racial perception?  How do our ideas about God shape the way we engage the social order?  What role do nineteenth century European and American Protestant theologies play in informing the American search for “beloved community”, which was the term Martin Luther King Jr. sometimes used interchangeably with the Kingdom of God?  What are the social consequences of religious beliefs?  Although our primary historical focus is the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968, we will also look at counter-cultural movements of the late 1960’s, as well as the faith-based community-development movement and recent community organizing initiatives.

RELC 3030 | Jesus and the Gospels

Ashley Tate

This course focuses on Jesus of Nazareth as an historical figure, that is, as he is accessible to the historian by means of historical methods. Our most important sources of information on Jesus are the canonical Gospels, and so much of the course will involve reading and attempting to understand these texts. We will attempt to reconstruct at least the broad outlines of Jesus activity and teachings, keeping in mind the limits of our sources.
 

RELC 3077 | Christian Theologies of Liberation

Cox, Kendall

“Liberation Theology” has emerged in modern contexts of violence and oppression as a faithful form of critique and protest. It radically contextualizes the pervasive scriptural emphasis on freedom from injustice and exploitation. In this course, we will examine the larger biblical narrative of human suffering and divine justice and the way it is reanimated in global theologies of liberation, including Latino/a, Black, and feminist theology.

RELC 3222 | From Jefferson to King

A seminar focused upon some of the most significant philosophical and religious thinkers that have shaped and continue to shape American religious thought and culture from the founding of the Republic to the Civil Rights Movement, including Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Addams, William James, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  This course fulfills the College’s Second Writing Requirement.

RELC 3559 | Lost and Found: The Prodigal Retold

Cox, Kendall

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a paradigmatic tale of waywardness, rebellion, and redemption. One of the most popular and influential stories in Western scriptures, it has been depicted and retold countless times by artists, theologians, novelists, poets, and filmmakers. In this course, we will discuss the parable and some of its most popular retellings and representations, including creative works from the first century to the present.

RELC 3625 | Christ

This course explores what it means to say that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ or Messiah. We will discuss candidates for the proper starting point of theology, including the claim that Jesus is the Christ. How is the doctrine of Jesus as the Christ built up from biblical witnesses, the Church Fathers, and Church councils? What roles do heresies play in this construction? What differences are there between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith,” and should we accept this distinction? What are the functions of creeds? What is “revelation”? More particularly, what events in the life of Jesus are central to Christological claims? Sustained attention is given to the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and particular attention is given to the preaching of Jesus, especially his teaching of the Kingdom of God.

RELC 4610 | Sex and Morality

Portmann, John

How have Jewish and Christian morals shaped sexual experience in the West?  What do contemporary Americans mean by “family values”?  Focusing on the United States today, we will analyze pre-marital sex, the sexual revolution, promiscuity, abortion, prostitution, gay marriage, pornography, rape, teaching sex education in public schools, and “senior sex.”  We will pay special attention to selected legal decisions in minting sexual mores, as well as to art, film, and the media in challenging values.

What does sexual activity have to do with religious practice?  How will we theorize or understand sexual desires we don’t share?  How appropriate is it for the government to legislate sexuality?  What is the future of sex in America?

Requirements: 1) informed seminar discussion; 2) two exams; 3) final 15-20 page paper 

RELC 5077 | Pius XII, Hitler the US &WW II

For the past forty years the role of Pius XII and the Vatican during World War II has been controversial. This seminar will look at that controversy and place it in the context of newly available archival material. The students will read several books on both sides of the question and then present their own research papers, the topics of which will be chosen in consultation with the professor.

RELC 5665 | Freedom

This seminar investigates diverse perspectives on freedom. We will consider three overlapping areas of concern: (a) sin, grace, and the “bound will”; (b) divine providence and human action; and (c) analyses of gender, sex, race, and class as they bear on the issues of “subjection” and “liberation,” broadly construed. We will read landmark works by Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Sojourner Truth, Friedrich Nietzsche, James Cone, Judith Butler, and several others.

The seminar is primarily intended for graduate students, but open to advanced undergraduates with a strong and extensive background in the academic study of Christian thought and/or western philosophy and political theory.

General Religious Studies

RELG 2155 | Whiteness and Religion

This lecture class examines the role that religion has played and still plays in defining a racial category known as whiteness. By reading cultural histories and ethnographies of the religious practices of various U.S. communities, we will examine how immigrant groups now classified as white (Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, etc.) and religious images (depictions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary) "became white" and the role that religious practice played in this shift in racial classification.

RELG 2160 | Religion in America Since 1865

Religion in America Since 1865 is an historical examination of the social and cultural change that affected the religious life of Americans over the ensuing 150 years.  The course studies theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, various expressions of African-American faith, the attraction of Asian religions to non-Asians in America in the 1960s and afterwards, and the rise of the religious right.  We also explore the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and intellectual change on religions in America.  Readings include Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain about snake handling Pentecostals in Appalachia, Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath, sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and an essay by basketball coach Phil Jackson about his practice of Buddhism and the way it influenced his coaching of the championship Chicago Bulls.  Fulfills historical studies and humanities area requirements for the College.

RELG 2190 | Religion and Modern Fiction

Modern fiction—in the 20th and 21st centuries—often creates questions that are intrinsically religious, spiritual, or ethical in character. Fiction may ask about the human spirit and human nature, evil and suffering, identity and community, reason and revelation, grace and transformation. This course will explore writers who have pursued such questions, and how they have imagined traces of the sacred or transcendent through the distinctive language and experience of their works.

Some of our writers (such as N. Scott Momaday, Elie Wiesel, Shusaku Endo, Marilynne Robinson) write fiction that explicitly reflects religious traditions.  Others (Hermann Hesse, E. M. Forster) create apparently “secular” narratives that nonetheless reveal religious or ethical “dimensions” or implications.  Still others (Toni Morrison, Paul Harding, and Yann Martel) employ a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions to disclose new and distinctive religious visions.  Religious theorists such as Martin Buber and John Caputo provide ways to try out different vocabularies for such visions. And the writers I have selected could change somewhat.

Requirements: the course will be taught through discussion more than lecture, so regular attendance and active participation are important. There will be two guided essays with flexible prompts on assigned material (about 2000 words each); and a short paper on assigned material (about 8 pages, 2400 words) in lieu of a final exam.  RELG 2190 can meet the 2nd writing requirement, on request.

 

RELG 2660 | Spirituality in America

What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary course surveys spirituality in America, with a particular eye for the relationship between spirituality and formal religion, on the one hand, and secular modes of understanding the self, such as psychology, on the other. Along the way we’ll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in rock music and jazz, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting, spirit photography, the feminist movement, environmentalism, and recent film. The study of spirituality forces us to confront many of the central concerns of modern American life: psychology, self-help, and therapeutic culture; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. In the end, we’ll come to see spirituality in America as a complex intermingling of the great world religions, modern therapeutic psychology, the politics of movements for social change, and a crassly commercialized, billion-dollar culture industry.

Is this the fate of religion in a modern, capitalist, globalized society?

RELG 3450 | The Emotions

Exploration of how what we feel colors what we know, what we believe.  What are human emotions and why do we have them?  Philosophers, psychiatrists, religious thinkers, and neurologists disagree.  We will analyze these variations, along with the question of whether the emotions can be controlled or educated. We will focus on William James, who influentially argued that for most believers, religious experience is first and foremost emotional.

RELG 3559 | Favorite Things and Sacred Objects

This course will look at the things we love—possessions, prizes, collectibles, curios—and the objects we hold sacred—icons, idols, totems, charms—and the ways we acquire them, make them, think about them, imagine them, value them, and ascribe meaning to them. What different kinds of relationships do we have with the objects around us? Why are some things considered disposable and others sacred? How do our sacred and secular divides affect how we think about and engage with the objects around us? We will read literature, theology, philosophy, theory, and essays that engage with these questions.

RELG 3559 | Peace & Justice in America

Aiken, Guy

This course traces the development of political nonviolence among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, culminating with Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Other key figures might include William Lloyd Garrison, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Addams, Howard Thurman, Dorothy Day, Reinhold Niebuhr, A. J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, and the rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. 

RELG 3559 | Theology Death and Dying

Pickell, Travis

This class focuses on religious and theological understandings of death and dying, particularly within Christian and Jewish traditions (though some attention will be given to other traditions). We will explore questions such as: why do human beings (and non-human creatures) die? Is death evil, and if so, what is it about death that is evil? Would it be a good thing to live forever? How do religious traditions shape the human response to death?  

RELG 3559 | The History of Evil

This lecture course examines the way that various cultures from the Ancient Near East forward have conceived of malice and misfortune under categories broadly gathered under the title of "evil." It will survey a wide range of texts and cultural myths to equip students with a rich understanding of how a large swath of humanity has conceived a large swath of the challenges facing human existence, historically and today.

RELG 3559 | New Course in Religious Studies: Theology and Politics

Jonathan Teubner

In recent years there has been an increased focus on the political role religious actors play for good or for ill. But scant attention has been paid to the theological motivation of religious actors’ political action. This course is designed to introduce students to theologians, bishops, imams, rabbis, and religious philosophers who have actively engaged politically and to the theological underpinnings of their engagement. By focusing both on their theological thought as well as their social and political location, we shall investigate the correlation between theology and politics. In addition to the historical readings, students will also hear from guest lecturers who will speak about how a particular religious figure has informed or motivated their own political action.

The hypothesis for this course is that there are patterns of religious reasoning displayed in both the writings and political action of theologians. By investigating both the theology and the political action, we may be able to understand the relation between religion and politics in ways that have been obscured by the study of religion that reduces religious action to standard social scientific categories

RELG 3800 | African American Religious History

RELG 4023 | Bioethics Internship Seminar

Marshall, Mary Faith

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 4500 | Majors Seminar: Sex, Gender and Religion

RELG 4500 | Majors Seminar: Thinking with Animals

This course moves beyond questions about animals framed in terms of legal rights to explore how humans have used and continue to use animals to identify, enforce, transgress and transcend the confines of self and species. Attention is paid to a wide range of periods, sources and regions.

RELG 5559 | Philosophy of Science

The philosophy of science for students of theology and religious studies. The course has three components: history of philosophy of science in the West, studies in post-Newtonian logic of science, and comparative studies in the logic of experimental science and logics of scriptural interpretation in the Abrahamic traditions.

RELG 5559 | Narrative and Drama

This seminar will assess contributions narrative and drama studies have made to ethical and theological reflection. It will especially look for differences in how narrative and theatrical modes reflect human experience, identity, and activity, and so may inform reflection in distinctive ways. Literary and theoretical materials will be examined together.

RELG 5559 | Religion and Common Good

How is a religiously pluralistic society to pursue the common good? This graduate seminar explores responses to this question within religious ethics at the local, national, and global levels. Readings will address major contributions to this topic within political philosophy before pivoting to responses in religious and theological ethics. Major themes include theories of justice, citizenship, and interpretation.

RELG 5559 | Power, Violence, and the Sacred

This course will explore the interrelations of power, violence and the sacred, with particular attention to the following questions: What is power? Is it inherently violent? Is there something sacred about violence and/or violent about the sacred? Are there such things as sacred power and secular power? And, if so, how do we distinguish between them? What is the relationship between religion and violence? In our exploration of these questions, we will read a selection of works by theologians, philosophers, and social theorists (for example, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Adriana Cavarero, James Cone, Michel Foucault, Rene Girard, Emmanuel Levinas, and Steven Lukes), as well as literary works that ask and explore these questions.

RELG 5835 | Ethnography Study of Religion

This course is intended for students who want practice in studying religious experience and practice from an ethnographic perspective. Readings will include a wide range of ethnographies of religions and reflections on methodology. Students will engage in small ethnographic fieldwork projects, beginning with very simple encounters and concluding with what I call "deep hanging out," a process of spending time over several weeks in a fairly local setting where “religion” broadly interpreted, is practiced. We will study ways that people gather field notes and write up their findings.  This course is neither an introduction to ethnographic theories nor an overview of the exemplary ethnographies of religion. Rather, it is meant to train students in studying religion by observing it being practiced in diverse settings. That said, we will be consulting theories and reading ethnographies throughout the semester.

RELG 7559 | Religion, Theory, Theology, and Modernity

Mathewes, Charles, Jones, Paul

The purpose of this class is to acquaint graduate students with landmark texts that consider the place, significance, and purpose of religion in late modernity. Focusing on works written over the last few decades, which have seen a blossoming of interest in the issue of religion and modernity, we will draw on multiple genres of study: philosophy, anthropology, social science, religious studies, and theological inquiry. 

RELG 8205 | Husserl

This seminar proposes a close reading of two major texts by Edmund Husserl, *Ideas* I and *Ideas* II

RELG 8350 | Proseminar in SIP

Hinduism

RELH 3559 | Hinduism and Ecology

This course will explore Hindu views of the relationship between human, natural, and divine worlds, as well as the work of contemporary environmentalists in India. We will read texts both classical and modern (from the Bhagavad Gita to the writings of Gandhi), and will consider case studies of Hindu responses to issues such as climate change, river pollution, deforestation, and industrial agriculture.

RELH 5450 | Hindu-Buddhist Debates

This course examines philosophical debates of Hindu and Buddhist authors from the time of the founding of Buddhism to the medieval period. Primary sources in translation and secondary, scholarly sources are examined in this course. Prerequisite: Significant prior exposure to Hinduism and/or Buddhism.

Islam

RELI 3559 | Muḥammad and his Companions

Stafford, Samuel

An introduction to the biographies of Muḥammad and his earliest followers, the Companions. The course will introduce students to the major works of classical Arabic literary biography and how the authors of these works crafted the biographies of the earliest Muslims, who are venerated as the ideal and exemplary Islamic community. We will focus on the themes and conventions of the literary biographies of the Companions.

RELI 5230 | Islamic Philosophy & Theology

This course surveys the major developments within Islamic philosophy and theology from the classical to the early modern periods. Topics covered include the early theological schools (Ash‘aris, Maturidis, Mu‘tazilis), the transmission of Greek philosophy into Arabic, Peripatetic philosophy, Illuminationism, Shi‘ite philosophy, and philosophical Sufism, concluding with the challenges faced by Islamic philosophy through the colonial and modern eras.

Judaism

RELJ 1210 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Laugelli, Ben

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 1420 | Elementary Classical Hebrew II

RELJ 3372 | German Jewish Culture and History

Gabriel Finder, Volker Kaiser

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the culture, history & thought of German Jewry from 1750 to 1939. It focuses on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe and the lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later North America. Readings of such figures as: Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Rahel Varnhagen, Franz Kafka, Gershom Scholem, Martin Buber, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Walter Benjamin, and Freud.

RELJ 3390 | Jewish Feminism

Individuals and groups have been agents of change in religious traditions. From ancient times to our own day, Jewish women have engaged with Jewish tradition, texts and practices by appropriating, resisting and transforming them.  We will study how Jewish feminists and feminist scholars of Judaism (primarily in American, and in Israel too) have defined and legitimized the study of Jewish women's experience by tracing the impact of Jewish feminism on Jewish ritual practice, text study, prayer and theology. We will study major works and issues in contemporary American Jewish feminism from the mid-1960's to the present, including work by 20-something Jewish feminists.    Finally, we will explore the consequences of  feminist critique, intended to spawn new understandings and practices in shaping a more inclusive Judaism.  This course will be of interest to all who study ethical challenges to ancient traditions.

RELJ 3559 | Continental Philosophy Israel

Weinman, Michael

This course investigates three senses of “Israel”: Eretz Israel, the land or the nation of Israel; Am Israel, the people of Israel whether in “diaspora,” “exile” or resident in Eretz Israel; and Israel(-Palestine), the modern nation-state that is in a tortured relation to the Palestinian Territories. We will see how Judaism and the Jewish state reflect deeper tensions inherent in the very idea, and surely in the practice, of secular modernity.

RELJ 5385 | The Song of Songs

This graduate research seminar is a close reading of the Song of Songs, with attention to its literary artistry, ancient context, canonization, and reception.

Readings will include not only the Song itself, but a range of other biblical (and ancient Near Eastern) texts that shed light on the diverse and often surprising views on sex, love, and gender that were held in the ancient world. Other topics include biblical poetry as a genre; metaphor and its function; and the intersection of sexuality and power relationships. We will also read a variety of secondary sources to provide historical and theoretical (literary, feminist, etc.) frameworks for understanding the Song of Songs and its interpretation.

Requirements: Shorter oral reports throughout the semester, one longer presentation on your research, and a 12–15-page final paper suitable for a conference. Graduate students are encouraged to discuss their particular research interests at the outset of the semester so that these can be accommodated in the course design.

Prerequisites: (1) This course assumes that biblical literature arose from specific historical contexts and reflects the political, economic, religious ideologies of its authors. For this reason, a course on critical scholarship of the Hebrew Bible (1210 or the equivalent) is required. If you still feel that you still have an insufficient background in these approaches, please consult with me at the outset and I will provide you with background reading. We will approach the Bible approached historically, as an ancient Near Eastern text that reflects the values of its many authors, and with attention to its literary artistry. (2) A knowledge of Hebrew and/or Greek is preferred, but not required. (3) Undergraduates who are interested in taking the course should contact the instructor at maht@virginia.edu before enrolling.