Fall 2003

Undergraduate Courses

RELG 101 Introduction to Western Religions

Justin Holcomb

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, a mid-term, and a final.

RELB 101 Literary and Spoken Tibetan I (First Year Tibetan)

Eric Woelfel

This course offers an introduction to literary and spoken Tibetan and is designed with special attention to undergraduates. Students will study classical and modern grammar systematically with examples drawn from a wide variety of literature, and with a native speaker use new digital instructional materials to develop proficiency in spoken Tibetan. This sequence of courses can count towards fulfilling the University requirement of two years of foreign language study. Prerequisites: Tibetan I. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, three exams, four translation assignments.

RELJ 111 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Don Polaski

This course and its sequel (RELJ 112) will introduce students to the basics of Biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, for the express purpose of reading the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in its original language. An inductive approach, employing biblical verses to illustrate grammatical points, will allow exposure to the canonical writings themselves from the start. Midway through the semester, we will begin reading longer prose passages directly from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. There will also be discussion of important Hebrew terms and concepts from the biblical readings.

RELC 121/ RELJ 121 Old Testament/ Hebrew Scriptures

Don Polaski

This course will examine a particular body of literature, known to Jews as Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament. These texts are the main source of information on the life, history and religion of ancient Israel. These texts are also authoritative (in varying and complicated ways) for present-day Christians and Jews. In this course we will attempt to put the Hebrew Scriptures in historical context, thinking critically about their witness to ancient ideas and events. We will also consider the continuing life of this literature, how it has been read, how it has left its mark on diverse communities and cultures, including that of present-day America.

INST 200 Ethics and Integrity in Contemporary Life

Jim Childress

RELJ 203 Judaic Tradition

Elizabeth Alexander

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

RELC 205 History of Christianity I

Robert Wilken

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

RELI 207 Classical Islam

Aziz Sachedina

A historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islamic religion. Special attention will be given to the life and career of the Prophet Muhammad, the teachings of the Qur'an, the development of the Muslim community and its principal institutions, theological and legal schools, philosophical and mystical developments, to about 1300 A.D. Readings will include the following: M. G. S. Hodgson, Venture of Islam, Volume I; Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur'an; John Renard, Seven Doors to Islam Course Requirements: Hour Test and Final Examination. Two short papers on selected topics (4-5 pages). Participation in a field trip to the Islamic Center in Washington DC and the Freer Gallery of Art. No prerequisite.

RELH 209 Introducition to Hinduism

Meritxell Martin-I-Pardo

RELB 210 Introduction to Buddhism

Karen Lang

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

RELB 213 Taoism and Confucianism

Paul Groner

This course focuses on native Chinese religious traditions and is divided into three distinct parts. In the first, some of the classical Chinese texts that determine the parameters of religious discourse are examined. Among them are the Analects, Mencius, Tao te ching, and Chuang tzu. In the second part, we will explore the teachings and practices of religious Taoism. Among the topics discussed are the quest for physical immortality, Taoist views of the body and its relation to cosmology, Taoist religious organizations, and millenarian rebellions. In the final section of the course, popular Chinese religion will be discussed. Among the topics surveyed will be ancestor worship, the roles of gods and ghosts, and spirit possession. Three examinations.

RELJ 217 From Spinoza to Heschel

Asher Biemann

This course attempts to be a critical survey of the most significant Jewish responses to the experience of the modern era. Beginning with Spinoza's political and hermeneutic thought, we will explore how Jewish thinkers met the social, cultural, and religious challenges of modernity and, in turn, influenced the transformation of modern Jewry. Jewish Thought is understood in a broader sense to include philosophers, religious reformers, and political leaders. Changing and conflicting perspectives on tradition, education, culture, and religion will be in the center of our interest.

GREE 223 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)

Juliet Crawford

The aims of this course are to solidify your knowledge of Hellenistic Greek grammar and vocabulary and to gain speed and proficiency in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. We will read passages from I Corinthians and Romans, as well as some passages from the Acts of the Apostles. We will also consider some of the principles of New Testament textual criticism. Prerequisite: Greek 101-102 or permission of the instructor. Graduate students should consult instructor about registration.(Course may count toward the Religious Studies major)

RELC 233 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

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

RELC 236 Elements of Christian Thought

Eugene Rogers

Everything you always wanted to know about Christianity but were afraid to ask. This course investigates the overall coherence of Christianity considering such critical questions as the following: How do we study Christianity in Religious Studies? How do human beings search for God? How do Christians say God searches for human beings? Does God make choices (predestination)? Who is in control of salvation (grace and free will)? What is the trinity about? How do Christians explain how Jesus saves? How does Christianity relate to Judaism? Why does a good and almighty God permit evil? What is the body for? What is salvation, anyway? Readings are arranged topically and come from the greatest hits of the Christian tradition and present rival views on most questions. Authors include Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and secular thinkers, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Jefferson, C.S. Lewis, and Karl Barth. Requirements: There are two options, both of which require regular participation in a class newsgroup. The exam version requires two non-cumulative tests. The writing version, which fulfills the Second Writing Requirement, requires two papers and no tests.

RELG 238 Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age

Jamie Ferreira

Is belief in God based on wishful thinking; is it a neurotic response to lie? 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. There are no prerequisites except genuine interest; these are classic texts which illustrate perennial questions and problems. The requirements are careful and thorough reading of the texts, conscientious and thoughtful participation in sections, as well as a mid-term. A final exam (and perhaps a brief 2-3 page paper). The mid-term and final exams are essay exams, for which I will provide some preparation study questions.

RELC 240 History of American Catholicism (cross listed with HIEU 240)

Gerald Fogarty

The election of John Kennedy signified, on one level, the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. The document of religious liberty of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. Proving to be loyal to the Catholicism of Rome and the democracy of the United States had been the dilemma of American Catholics. To understand this dilemma, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements; the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland; the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development; 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).

RELC 241 Who is Jesus Christ

Paul Babbits

This course introduces students to Christianity's most chacteristic doctrine, the teaching about Jesus Christ (christology). The structure of the class is determined by five types of christology: Jesus Christ the (i) Teacher, (ii) Pattern, (iii) Justifier, (iv) Sanctifier, and (v) Creator and Redeemer. However, the emphasis is on readings of landmark responses to the question about the nature and purpose of Jesus Christ that illustrate each type. This allows students to see gaps and convergences among the different christologies and, consequently, to learn something about the way Christians think. Most readings are drawn from primary, historically significant sources, supplemented by lectures, discussions, and assignments from material chosen to provide background. Thus the course should be accessible to students with little or no grasp of the Christian tradition, along with those who want to understand what they do know about Christianity (and, in particular, its teaching about Jesus Christ) more richly. Requirements. Attendance in class and participation in discussions. Brief (8-10 minute) presentations, two short (5-7 pp.) papers , an in class midterm and 7-10 pp., take-home final.

RELJ 243 Jews and Judaism in the Visual Arts

Asher Biemann

As a survey of Jewish visuality from the Bible to the present, this course will consist of three interlocking parts: a) Textual (Rabbinic and contemporary sources on the visual arts), b) Historical (the emergence of "Jewish Art" in the 19th century), c) Topical (the representation of Judaism and Jewish life/experience in the visual arts). In addition to texts and slides, we will use the resources of local Jewish artists and collectors of Jewish art to actually experience the processes that are at work.

RELB 254 Tibetan Buddhist Culture

Jann Ronis

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.

RELG 265 Theology Ethics & Medicine

Jim Childress

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

RELG 290 21st Century: War, Rights and Justice

Jim Childress

RELC 304 Paul: His Letters and His Thought

Harry Gamble

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

RELC 305 A Black Theology of Liberation

Corey Walker

This lecture and discussion course will introduce students to a few of the significant topics and themes in the field of black theology. Among some of the major topics to be discussed include the emergence and academic codification of black theology, its challenge to other Christian theologies, its doctrinal orientations, and its relation to other theologies of liberation. Readings will primarily be drawn from the foundational texts of James H. Cone. We will also consult texts by Dwight Hopkins, William R. Jones, Deloris Williams, and others.

RELJ 308 Torah

Don Polaski

This course will investigate the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. We will read the text in a variety of ways: as literature aiming to persuade (and perhaps entertain) its audience, as an assertion of certain theological claims, and as an artifact (or set of artifacts) from a particular ancient people, Israel.

RELC 326 Reformation Europe (cross listed with HIEU 323)

Anne Schutte

In this course we examine developments in Western Europe from the late Middle Ages through the many forms of religious reorientation that emerged in the sixteenth century to the end of what some historians have called "the iron century." The approach is to some extent selective and topical: we will pay closer attention to religion, society, and culture than to dynastic politics and military conflicts per se. In addition to a textbook, DeLamar Jensen's Reformation Europe (2nd ed.), readings include abundant primary sources of all sorts and several fascinating short studies of individual participants in the events of this era. By early April a tentative reading list will be posted outside Randall 110. Structure: lecture with frequent discussion. Reading: about 175 pages per week. Writing: two medium-length papers; a midterm and a final examination.

RELC 328 Eastern Christianity A.D. 530 to the Present

Augustine Thompson

This course surveys the history of "Eastern" Christianity from late antiquity (age of the emperor Justinian) until the present day. The focus will be on the formation three characteristic components of Eastern Orthodox Christianity: institutions, liturgy and piety, and mysticism and theology. Our principle geographic focus will be on Christianity in the Greek and Slavic lands, but Arab and Egyptian Christianity will also be considered.

RELG 334 Dante, Religion and Culture

Alison Milbank

This course offers first, a close reading (in translation) of Dante's epic poem, 'The Divine Comedy' with some of his other work and secondly, a study of its status as a cultural event in its own time and today. Part of the reason for Dante's extended 'afterlife' lies in the unique way in which his writing brings together and questions dualities such as sacred and secular, history and myth, and religion and culture. We shall attend to these themes both by re-embedding the poem in its original context, but also by examining responses to Dante in recent film, poetry and theology. Two papers and a final examination.

RELG 343 Ethics and Fiction

Jennifer Geddes

In this course we will consider the many facets of the relationship between ethics and fiction, including: narrative as a consitutive element of ethics, ethical questions as raised by novels and short stories, and fiction reading as a means of ethical development. Readings will include novels, short stories, scriptures, and ethical theory.

RELJ 346 The Yiddish Avant Garde in America

Jeffrey Grossman

What was the Yiddish avant garde? How did it connect to broader changes in Jewish culture - literary and otherwise - when waves of Jewish immigrants began to arrive in America from Eastern Europe? How did the discoveries of what one historian called the "wonders of America" affect these writers and artists, and their ideas of what it meant to be a Jew? An American? An artist and an intellectual? And what tensions emerged between these conflicting identities? And finally what role would the Yiddish written word play in their attempts to re-invent themselves in the new world? This course explores these questions and more by focusing on writing by Yiddish and American Jewish writers. We will also take a side glance at other cultural forms, especially the visual arts of film and painting. Readings to be selected from among the following: Sholem Aleichem, I.B. Singer, I.J. Singer, Chaim Grade, the avant garde Yiddish poets Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, Anna Margolin, Kadya Molodovsky, Mani Leyb, Yankev Glatshteyn, and such American Jewish writers as Henry Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth.

RELG 356 In Defense of Sin

John Portmann

Exploration of the philosophy of religion generally, specifically transgression in Judaism and Christianity. Reflection on who determines what is sinful and why, with a focus on the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins. Close readings of texts challenging the wrongness of acts and attitudes long considered sinful, with critical attention to the persuasiveness of religious rules. Requirements: midterm and final exams.

RELG 360 Religion and Modern Theater

Larry Bouchard

Theatre is linked historically with religious traditions and with certain kinds of religious experience, as in Greek tragedy and the festival of Dionysus, or medieval European drama and the Christian liturgy (order of worship). Are there still connections among theater, ritual, myth, and portrayals of the self and its moral and political communities? What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of drama? This course explores such questions. We will discuss some plays with explicitly religious themes or historical subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film Jesus of Montreal, S. Ansky's play The Dybbuk, Wole Soyinka's uses of African and European theatrical traditions, and Mary Zimmerman's dramatization of Ovid). We will also read ostensibly secular plays that nonetheless implicitly pursue religious and moral issues (as do, for example, plays by Bertholt Brecht, Peter Shaffer, Caryl Churchill, and Tony Kushner). Mode: some lectures, much discussion, 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.

RELJ 374 Literary Representations of American Jewish Spirituality

Vanessa Ochs

Students will analyze fictional, autobiographical and dramatic representations of diverse forms of American Jewish spirituality. In addition to textual analysis, students will be expected to compose a fictional or autobiographical account reflecting contemporary American Jewish spirituality

RELJ 375 American Jewish Theology and Philosophy

Peter Ochs

A study of the specifically American contribution to Jewish thought, primarily in the 20th century. Some attention will be given to the various denominations of synagogue Judaism in North America. But the primary focus is on Jewish philosophies and theologies that are shaped primarily by American (rather than European) movements of thought, of which pragmatism is the most important, along with American Darwinism and the Protestant Great Awakenings. The four central figures in the course are: Max Kadushin (Conservative), Mordecai Kaplan (Reconstructionist), Eugene Borowitz (Reform), and Eliezer Berkovits (Orthodox). Attention also to Jewish feminist thought and Jewish postmodernism.

RELA 389 Christianity in Africa / RELC 389 Christianity in Africa

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

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

RELG 395 Evil in Modernity

Charels Mathewes (ctmathewes@virginia.edu)

Modernity is riddled by evil. Its history is in large part a chronicle of wickedness and savagery; and many of its most powerful thinkers have struggled to grasp the truth about evil. Some argue that the great lesson of modernity is its failure to come to terms with evil, a failure that reveals the modern world to be morally and spiritually bankrupt. This class will investigate the attempts of various modern thinkers to undertstand evil, in order both to gain a deeper purchase on evil's manifestations, character, and effects, and to understand the challenge evil presents to the modern world's self-understanding. We will read novels, study texts in theology, history, philosophy, political theory, and psychology, and view several films, all in the service of our basic investigation into the inner history of evil in modernity, and the implications of that history for the future.

RELG 400a Majors Seminar: Death and the Afterlife

Ben Ray

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

RELG 400b Majors Seminar: Saint's Lives

Augustine Thompson

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors ONLY
The focus of this seminar is methodological, the material considered is the genre of ancient and medieval Christian saints' lives. We will examine the theory and application of the following methods: historical, psychological, sociological, gender analytical, folklorist, and anthropological to this literature. We will alternate week to week between the study of theory and examination of its application. As part of the application, students will also apply the methods considered to a particular saints' life. Requirements: weekly class presentations and discussion, one 15-page and one 4-page paper, no exams. No previous study of Christianity required; open only to third- and fourth-year Religious Studies majors.

RELG 400c Majors Seminar: Suffering

John Portmann

Moral assessment of bodies in pain and especially spirits in turmoil. Philosophical, religious, biomedical, psychoanalytic, and artistic exploration of suffering. Analysis of ongoing debates 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 as a social wellspring of anti-Semitism.

RELG 415 Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature

Ben Ray

Restricted to Majors in Religious Studies, History, and English
This seminar will explore the rich range of historical scholarship, literary fiction, and primary source materials relating to the witch trials of Salem Village in 1692. How and why did the accusations begin? How and why did they stop? Serious theories and wild speculations abound, both then and now. Who were the heroes and villains of this tragic episode? Some of the most gripping personal stories may be found in the primary sources and literary treatments. Explore the impact of this small-scale, 300 year-old event on the American cultural heritage -- why has "Salem witchcraft" become part of the American cultural imagination? In addition to a few classic historical studies, Boyer & Nissenbaum, SALEM POSSESSED, Carol Karleson, THE DEVIL IN THE SHAPE OF A WOMAN , and Norton, IN THE DEVIL'S SNARE, and literary works, Hawthorne, HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES, Longfellow, GILES CORY OF SALEM FARMS, Miller's THE CRUCIBLE, the course will make extensive use of the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft which contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts.

RELG 422 American Religious Autobiography

Heather Warren

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

RELG 423 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 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://www.uva.edu/~bioethic/intern.htm.

RELG 454 Sacrifice

John Milbank

RELS 495 Directed Readings Research

Instructor: Student's choice

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

RELS 495 Independent Research

Instructor: Student's choice

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

RELS 496 Distinguished Major Thesis

Instructor: Student's choice

Thesis, directed by a member of the department, focusing on a specific problem in the theoretical, historical or philosophical study of religion or a specific religious tradition. The thesis is based in part on at least three hours of directred reading in the field of the thesis. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.

RELS 497 Senior Essay

Instructor: Student's choice

Studies selected topic in religious studies under detailed supervision. The writing of an essay constitutes a major portion of the work. Prerequisite: permission of deparmental advisor and instructor.


Graduate Courses

RELB 500 Literary and Spoken Tibetan

Eric Woelfel

RELJ 510 Theology and Ethics of the Rabbis

Elizabeth Alexander

An exploration of fundamental theological and ethical beliefs that run though rabbinic literature. Though the rabbis do not address theological and ethical questions directly, we will tease out the rabbinic response to classical theological questions such as, what is the nature of divinity? what is the relationship of God to humanity, and specifically to the people Israel? is there a concept of natural law? how are we to understand evil? We will also explore the question of why the rabbinic literature does not address theological concerns in a straightforward manner. In the area of ethics, we will explore central themes such as the value of life as weighed against other concerns, responsibility to the other, and cultivation of an ideal self. In drawing a rabbinic ethic out of the literature, we will consider the respective value of narrative vs. legal materials. Attention throughout will be on close readings of primary texts. Prerequisite: Previous exposure to rabbinic literature in RELJ 203, 256, 331, 383, 505 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor.

RELC 511 Black Theology: Theories, Methods, Sources

Corey Walker

This seminar provides an in-depth historical and systematic study of the field of black theology. Specific and sustained attention will be given to theological implications of the category of "experience" as it relates to the work of several theologians in this area, particularly the early thought of James H. Cone. We will also closely examine some new trajectories in the field, most notably the turn to American pragmatism and to the wide and disparate field of cultural studies. Readings will include analytical as well as constructive texts and will cut across fields and disciplines.

RELB 516 Tibetan Doctrinal System

P. Jeffrey Hopkins

RELC 520 Trinity and the Holy Spirit

Eugene Rogers

A test of trinitarianism is whether it has anything interesting to say about the Holy Spirit. The HS also provides a lens to see how trinitarian doctrine is used to do "other" things in Christian doctrine, in revelation, creation, redemption, Israel/ecclesiology, elevation, theosis, natural law and virtue-theory ethics.The course is at once a tour of Christian doctrine, an attempt at a constructive pneumatology, and a meditation on theology as a discipline. We will evaluate theses such as these: The Holy Spirit is best thought of in the NT terms of witness. The HS is a witness already within the trinitarian life, thus the divine condition for the possibility of human enjoyment and glorification of God. As a witness the HS plays the role of the guarantor at a wedding, holding the parties together, as in the account of the resurrection at Rom. 8. The HS also overcomes the apparent dichotomy in ethics between virtue and law, as in the "law of the Spirit" passage in Rom. 8. "Grace" is an impersonal name for the Spirit, as is "freedom." The mode of exegesis proper to the Spirit is anagogy. Readings will include the Bible, the Cappadocians, Ephrem the Syrian, Romanos the Melodist, Aquinas, Barth, Jenson, von Balthasar, Milbank, liturgical studies, depictions of the HS in exegesis and icons of the baptism, the transfiguration, and the hospitality of Abraham.

RELC 524 Irish Catholic History

Gerald Fogarty

Beginning with the Confessions of St. Patrick, the course will examine the development of Irish monasticism, the penitentials and their contribution to continental Catholicism, the reform of the Irish Church in the nineteenth century, and the Irish diaspora, especially in the United States.

RELB 531 Esoteric Buddhism

David Germano / Paul Groner

The course provides a historically oriented study of Esoteric Buddhism in its literature, ritual, contemplation, philosophy and institutions across Asia. Beginning with its origins and classical development in India, we will survey how the tradition spreads across Asia with a focus on China, Japan and Tibet. Undergraduates are required to have at least 1-2 previous courses in Buddhism, and must get permission by speaking directly with one of the instructors (please email for appointments).

RELB 533 Colloquial Tibetan II

Sonam Wang

A continuation of the colloquial portion of Literary and Spoken Tibetan II, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisites: Tibetan II. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes. This is a 2 credit course.

RELB 535 Literary Tibetan III

Eric Woelfel

A continuation of the literary portion of Literary and Spoken Tibetan II, this course is designed to expose students to a variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and advanced Tibetan grammar.
Prerequisites: Tibetan II. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, three exams, four translation assignments.

RELJ 537 Feasting, Fasting and Faith: Food in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Vanessa Ochs

A study of the ways that food and eating practices construct religious experience based on literary, cinematic and ethnographic sources. We will look at dietary laws, food sacrifices, and individual and communal sacred practices involving foods (such as fasting, preparing feasts and making food offerings.) This course will require field work.

RELG 541 War

Jim Childress

For a course description, please email James Childress

RELB 542 Colloquial Tibetan V

P. Jeffrey Hopkins

A continuation of the Colloquial Tibetan IV, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, anhd master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. This is a 2 credit course. Prerequisites: Tibetan IV. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes.

RELB 543 Readings in Buddhist Sanskrit

Karen Lang

We will read in Sanskrit selections from the works of Ashvaghosa, Nagarjuna ,and Candrakirti. Prerequisite; At least one year of Sanskrit.

RELB 547 Literary Tibetan V

P. Jeffrey Hopkins

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

RELC 551 Early Christian Thought: The Formation of the Christian Bible

Harry Gamble

This seminar will examine the emergence of the canon of Christian scriptures -- including both the Christian appropriation of the scriptures of Judaism (as the "Old Testament"), and the shaping of a definitive collection of Christian writings (as a "New Testament"), as well correlative issues concerning their relationships and interpretation. Reading knowledge of Greek and/or Latin will be helpful, but not absolutely essential. Course requirements will include at least one seminar report and a research paper on a selected specific topic within the scope of the course.

RELC 558 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

This class will explore the development of Christian ethical thought from the New Testament period through the Reformation, considering particular themes in depth. The course is intended to provide a solid understanding of the historical roots of contemporary Christian ethics, experience in working with historical source materials, and familiarity with some important interpreters of this history. Students will attend lectures and read the assigned materials for RELC 233. In addition, students will do further reading -- probably to include portions of Troeltsch's The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches and more extensive readings from Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther, among others. The seminar will meet approximately every third week of the semester, beginning in the first week of classes; the specific schedule will be negotiated at the first class meeting. Course requirements include attendance at both RELC 233 lectures and course seminars, completion of reading assignments, participation in seminar discussion, and a final paper. Open to advanced undergraduates. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

RELG 563 Issues in Religion and Genre

Larry Bouchard

This seminar explores possibilities in interdisciplinary work in religion, literary art, and criticism. Attention is give 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. These basic issues are structured around historically important redefinitions of the four major literary genres: epic poetry and formulaic composition, drama and ritual, lyric poetry and Romanticism and formalism, and prose fiction as moral inquiry-together with a section on scripture read "as" literature. The readings include discussions of the productive (as opposed to classificatory) functions of genre and of the intersections between these genres/works with religious traditions, ethics, or theology. Finally, this course introduces and directs students to important bibliography for graduate studies in religion and literature. Requirements include active participation, presentation of some assigned material, and a final paper.

RELC 572 Christianity and Culture

Robert Wilken

Christianity is a culture forming religion. Course will examine the formation of a distinctively Christian civilization in the late Roman and early medieval periods. Discussion of education, poetry, art, architecture, law, government (e.g. kingship), calendar, mores, et al. Thought historically focused the course will deal with theoretical issues of the nature of culture (e.g. Clifford Geertz) and theological questions concerning the relation of Christianity to culture (e.g. Niebuhr's Christ and Culture).

RELA 582 Studies in African Ritual

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

A graduate-level seminar on ritual theory with a focus on African religions. We will cover a broad range of approaches to the study of ritual, including "myth-ritualism" (Frazer, Eliade, Kluckhohn); functionalism (Malinowski; Goody; Lewis); analyses of the the ritual process (V. Turner) and ritual and conflict (Gluckman); structuralism (De Heusch); Marxist-historical approaches (Bloch); "therapeutic" models (E. Turner, Ottenberg); performance theory (Drewel, Kisliuk); and recent revisionist critiques of ritual studies (Bell). Although most of our case studies are drawn from Africa, no prior familiarity with African cultures is presumed. On the contrary, the course is designed to fulfill the History of Religions methodology requirement, and it is hoped that students from different fields will enroll to enrich the discussion and stimulate comparative thinking! Moreover, our readings do include major studies by non-Africanists, eg., Rappaport, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (1997), and Hughes-Freeland and Crain (eds.), Recasting Ritual (1998). Requirements include: two 4-page critiques of the weekly readings to be presented in class, and a final paper of 17-20 pages, applying theoretical issues raised in the seminar to material in your own area of specialization.

RELH 589 Vedic Traditions


RELB 702 Readings in Chinese Buddhists Texts.

Paul Groner

RELC 704 History of American Catholicism

Gerald Fogarty

The election of John Kennedy signified, on one level, the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. The document of religious liberty of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. Proving to be loyal to the Catholicism of Rome and the democracy of the United States had been the dilemma of American Catholics. To understand this dilemma, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements; the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland; the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development; 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).

RELG 706 Theology and Philosophy of Religion

John Milbank

This course will consider a wide range of issues arising today on the frontiers between theology and philosophy in both the continental and the analytic traditions

RELI 710 Islamic Law and Ethics

Aziz Sachedina

The seminar will undertake to study the development of Islamic religious law, the Shari`a, in conjunction with religious ethics by investigating the sources of legal and ethical doctrines and their application in various spheres of human-divine and inter-human relations. The development of legal reasoning based on principles and rules derived from the Qur'an and the Sunna, on the one hand, and reason and custom on the other, makes Islamic law both sacred and positive. The categories of action that are common between and legal and ethical rulings are based on integral relation between religion and morality in Islam. The relevance of religious law and its influenced upon the development of modern Muslim ethical and legal system will be examined historically to assess the creative development in meeting the challenges of a changing society. The course is open to advanced undergraduate as well as graduate students in the fields of comparative law, ethics, and government. RELI 207 or its equivalent in History or Government is required. Readings will include: Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence; Bernard Weiss, The Spirit of Islamic Law; Wael Hallaq, Islamic Legal Theory; Majid Fakhry, Muslim Ethical Theories.

RELB 728 Modern Religious Thought: Rationality and the Inifinite

Jamie Ferreira / Peter Ochs

Selected survey of modern philosophers on 'rationality and the infinite.' In-depth studies of Spinoza, Berkeley, Hegel, and Husserl. The course is intended to prepare students of theology and philosophical theology and philosophy of religion to make cogent use of these modern philosophers. We will be reading, among other things, from Husserl's Crisis of European Sciences and Spinoza's Ethics.

RELG 750 Moral Psychology and Religious Ethics

Charles Mathewes

A critical analysis of the past several decades' work in moral psychology and philosophical and theological anthropology, largely (though not exclusively) within the anglophone philosophical tradition, in order to evaluate how that work can refigure basic issues in religious ethics and elsewhere. Some comparison readings will be given from thinkers in the history of Christian theology, such as (perhaps) St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Luther, Calvin, Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, and others. Topics to be discussed include the relation of emotions and reason, human nature and free agency, the possibility of "moral realism," and the character of human practical intellective activity. One central question motivating the class is whether ethics necessarily raises, and entails answering, questions of a properly non-ethical nature (i.e. metaphysical, ontological, or theological, or psychological questions) or whether it is a strictly autonomous discipline.

RELB 820 Spoken Tibetan VII

P. Jeffrey Hopkins

RELB 823 Advanced Topics in Tibetan Literature

David Germano

RELB 827 Colloquial Tibetan VII

P. Jeffrey Hopkins

A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan VI, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisites: Tibetan VI. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes. This is a 2 credit course.

RELB 831 Advanced Sanskrit


RELS 895 Research Selected Topics

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reding in a select topic under detailed supervision.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

RELS 898 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

RELG 899 Pedagogy

Brantly Craig

RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Doctoral Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

RELS 999 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.