Spring 2010

RELC 1220 Early Christianity and the New Testament

Harry Gamble
plus discussion section

This course surveys the origins and early history of Christianity on the basis of a historical and analytical study of early Christian writings belonging to the "New Testament." Topics covered include the origins of Christianity in Judaism; the activity and significance of Jesus; the formation, beliefs and practices of early Christian communities; the varieties of Christianity in the first century; and the progressive distinction of Christianity from Judaism. Requirements: Two quizzes and a final examination, and occasional short papers in connection with discussion sections. Regular attendance at discussion sections is mandatory.

RELJ 1420 Elementary Classical Hebrew II

Greg Schmidt Goering

A sequel to RELJ 1410, this course introduces students to the derived stems and weak verbs, cardinal and ordinal numbers, Masoretic accents, oath formulas, and parsing, thus completing the study of the verbal system and of basic Hebrew grammar as a whole. In addition, students will learn to use a Hebrew lexicon and read prose passages directly from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. At the completion of the two semester sequence, students will have learned the basic tools required to read longer prose passages from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original language.

RELB 2054 Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism

Jann Ronis
plus discussion section

Examines the Tibetan Buddhist culture, giving equal attention to religio-philosophical and contemplative systems, as well as historical and social contexts

RELC 2060 History of Christianity II

Robin Young
plus discussion section

Survey of Western Christianity from the 12th to the 19th century. Attention will be given to spirituality and forms of piety, worship, development of theology, and the institutional history of the Christian Church. Special focus will be placed on the High Medieval Church, the Crisis of the Protestant Reformation, and the early modern background of contemporary Christianity, including Eastern Orthodoxy. Readings from original sources. Three short papers, in-class mid-term and final.

RELI 2080 Islam in the Modern World

Ahmed al Rahim
plus discussion section

REL 208 deals with the Muslim communities in the contemporary world. That which characterizes these communities is their devotion to the classical faith, Islam, with its legacy of rich past. The course is primarily concerned with the study of Islamic tradition and its peoples in the last two centuries - the period of Islamic reform in the wake of Western hegemony and the efforts of the community to readjust under the challenges of the liberal and technical age. The course will attempt to answer a basic question: What is happening to the Muslim community in the technical age and how has it responded to the challenges posed by "Westernization" through "modernization” through “secularization”? Moreover, it will explore ways of evaluating the relatively new phenomenon in the Muslim world in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran: "Political Islam" in the context of global religious fundamentalism in the world's religions.

RELB 2100 Intro to Buddhism

Jann Ronis

Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

The above description was copied from the Student System's Course Catalog. For more information, contact the instructor:

RELG 2160 Religion in America Since 1865

Heather Warren
plus discussion section

An historical survey of religion in America from the Civil War to the present. The course includes study of theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, and various expressions of African-American faith. It attends to the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and other social and cultural changes on American religious life. 2 in-class tests and a final examination.

RELG 2190 Religion and Modern Fiction

Larry Bouchard
plus discussion section

Modern fiction often asks questions that are intrinsically religious in character, concerning: the human spirit and human nature, faith and doubt, evil and suffering, personal and communal wholeness, and identity and transformations of identity. We will explore these questions through novels and stories. We will explore how some modern writers attempt to discern the divine at the limits of language and experience. A number of the authors we will consider (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, or Marilynne Robinson) write fictions intend to reflect explicitly their religious traditions. Others (like E. M. Forster, Cormack McCarthy, or Toni Morrison) create apparently secular narratives with ethical and religious implications. And others (N. Scott Momaday, E. R. Doctorow, or Yann Martel) employ a variety of religious and cultural traditions to create more idiosyncratic religious interpretations. (The authors mentioned here may change.) In addition, there will be readings from modern interpreters of religion.

Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation at lectures and discussion sections; experience in writing essays; two exams (essay exams, but with short objective sections), one third and two thirds through the course; and a short paper in lieu of a final exam.

GREE 2240 New Testament Greek

Dan Leon

This course offered by the Classics department may be counted towards the Religious Studies major:The primary aims of the course are to solidify students’ knowledge of Hellenistic Greek grammar and vocabulary and to develop speed and proficiency in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. The course also considers central features of Paul’s theology, questions of interpretation, and the principles of New Testament textual criticism. We will read I Corinthians and Ephesians and passages from the Acts of the Apostles and Romans. Prerequisite: Greek 101-102 or permission of the instructor. Interested graduate students are asked to consult with the instructor

RELG 2300 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems

Charles Mathewes
plus discussion section

This course examines several contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of major Western religious traditions (Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) as well as from several broadly secularistic perspectives. We will consider moral issues such as marriage, friendship, truthfulness, capital punishment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. Particular attention will be paid to what selected authorities and thinkers in the above traditions say about these issues, how they reach their conclusions, and how their theological or philosophical convictions influence their moral judgments (and vice-versa).

RELG 2380 Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age

Jamie Ferreira
plus discussion section

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

RELJ 2420 Intermediate Classical Hebrew II

Greg Schmidt Goering

This course continues and builds upon RELJ 2410. The primary objective of this course is to develop facility in the reading and translation of biblical Hebrew. The course reviews basic grammar, analyzes syntax, and builds vocabulary. A secondary objective of the course is the interpretation of biblical poetry. To this end, the course teaches repetition, acrostic, inclusio, refrain, metaphor, correspondence, elision, compensation, and other poetic devices. A major focus of the course is grasping the complex phenomenon of poetic parallelism.

RELC 2460 Aspects of the Catholic Tradition

Gerald Fogarty

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 seven sacraments and their orientation toward the Eucharist; the liturgy of the Mass, as the expression of the reality of the Christ event; the doctrines of the Virgin Mary and the cult of the saints; and the basis for Catholic social teaching. Requirements: a mid-term and a final examination. A take-home assignment

RELJ 2559 New Course in Judaism: Women in Israeli Culture

Rakefet Zalashik

This course studies the role of women in the Yishuv and Israeli society from the end of the 19th century until today from historical, sociological and legal perspectives. Topics to be discussed include the myth of gender equality in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine and later in the state of Israel; images of the “new Hebrew woman,” the reality and life of these women, their contributions to the new Israeli society and culture; and the concepts of gender and national identities. In addition, the course will also consider the political and personal position of women (including minorities groups such as Russian, Ethiopian and Palestinian women) within Israeli society from social, cultural, ethnic and national perspectives

RELG 2630 Business, Ethics, and Society

Betsy Mesard
Jenny Phillips
Paul Harper
Laura Alexander
Karen Guth
Free Williams

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 2800 African American Religious History

Valerie Cooper

This course will explore African American religious traditions in their modern and historical contexts by combining an examination of current scholarship and contemporary worship. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the religious life and religious institutions of African Americans from their African antecedents to contemporary figures and movements in the US. While the course will emphasize the growth and spread of Evangelical Christianity among African Americans, it will also consider non-Christian influences-like Islam and African traditional religion-upon black churches and black communities. In considering the wide variety, popularity, economic strength, political leadership, and ubiquity of religious institutions in the African American community, we will ask what role religion plays for black people, and what role African American religious life plays in the broader scheme of American life.

RELA 2850 Creole Religions

Jalane Schmidt
plus discussion section

This large sectioned lecture course will examine primarily those religions practiced in the Caribbean and Latin America which feature an African-derived pantheon, as well as significant other New World religions (Roman Catholic devotions, Protestant revivalism) which have been deemed exemplars of religious "creolization" among African-descended populations

RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa

Cindy Hoehler-Fatton

This course examines women’s religious activities, traditions and spirituality in a number of different African contexts. Drawing on ethnographic, historical, literary, and religious studies scholarship, we will explore a variety of themes and debates that have emerged in the study of gender and religion in Africa. Topics will include gendered images of sacred power; the construction of gender through ritual; sexuality and fertility; and women’s agency in indigenous religious movements, Muslim communities and Christian congregations in Africa.

RELG 3360 New World Religions

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.

RELC 3470 Christianity and Science

John Portmann

Christian Europe gave rise to modern science, yet Christianity and science have long appeared mutual enemies. Does science undermine religious belief? Can human life and striving really be explained in terms of physics and chemistry? Do rational explanations of the natural world supersede religious ones? Can Christianity benefit humanity as much as science and technology do?

We will explore the encounter between these two powerful cultural forces, and we will study the intellectual struggle to locate and anchor God in the modern world, especially Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Freud. Lastly, we will examine President Obama's reversal of President Bush's stem cell research policy and consider what is at stake for religious believers in this debate.

Requirements: 1) oral presentation; 2) final ten-fifteen-page paper; 3) regular class participation; and 4) three short exams.

RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism: Israel: Immigrants and Immigration

Rakefet Zalashik

This course studies Jewish immigration (Aliya) from the 1880s to the 1990s from historical, sociological and legal perspectives. Topics to be discussed: immigration to the national homeland as a means of self-realization within Zionist thought; the various policies of both the British Mandate and the Zionist movement regarding Jewish immigration; the special characteristics of the pre-statehood five waves of Aliya and their uniqueness in comparison to other destinations of immigration; the cultural and ideological tensions between the absorbing Jewish society and the new immigrants; immigration of Holocaust survivors; the Law of Return, mass immigration from Arab countries in the 1950s and the question of selection, the immigration from the Eastern Block in 1956/7, 1964, 1967/8, 1970, the tensions between American Jewish organizations and the Jewish Agency, the policy of the State of Israel toward communist politics and Jewish immigration, immigration of Ethiopian Jewry and Jews from former Communist countries as a continuity and discontinuity of previous policies of absorption, and religious and political questions relating to Ethiopian and Russian immigration. The course will also discuss universal and particular characteristics of immigration to Israel from a comparative perspective.

RELH 3559 New Course in Hinduism: Hindu Ethics

Karen Lang

This seminar will focus on the continuities and discontinuities between traditional texts and practices in the Hindu tradition and contemporary social justice and human rights issues in India. Readings include such ancient scriptures as the Laws of Manu, early 20th century writings by reformers such as M.K. Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, and contemporary writings by activists such as Amartya Sen and contemporary biomedical issues.

RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism: Text, Tradition and Modernity

Elizabeth Alexander

This course explores the ways in which religious texts and traditions function as compelling points of reference in the construction of secular Jewish identity. We will read Jewish literature of an secular nature (novels, memoirs and academic scholarship), noting places where motifs, language and themes from classical Jewish texts play a central role. We will ask why authors working in a secular context are draw to incorporate elements from religious texts and tradition into their writing. The course explores what is meant by the term "secular" and asks how and why elements from religious texts and tradition make their way into secular literature.

RELB 3559 New Course in Buddhism: East Asian Buddhism

Clarke Hudson

History, scriptures, thought, and practice of Buddhism in China from earliest times to the present. Traditions studied include Pure Land and Chan (Zen) Buddhism

RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism: Passover Haggadah

Vanessa Ochs

This is a comprehensive study of the most beloved of Jewish texts, the Haggadah, the often illustrated text read and performed at home by families during the Passover seder, a meal of symbolic foods and storytelling fulfilling the biblical directive to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Over 4000 versions of the Haggadah have been published: the most recent reflect the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, social justice concerns, ecology and feminism. We will study the Haggadah as a sacred text, script, art object and reflection of religious adaptabilty.

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity: Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy

Vigen Guroian and William Wilson

This course covers the major fiction of these two important American writers of the twentieth century, who challenged and tested the modern temper with a Christian imagination and vision of the human condition.

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity: American Religion and Social Reconstruction

Heather Warren

This course examines Americans’ efforts to reform society based on Christian beliefs. Topics covered include abolition, the Social Gospel and labor, the civil rights movement, the right to life movement, and environmentalism. Students will conduct original research and present it to the class. Requirements: weekly readings, discussion, an oral presentation, and a research paper.

RELJ 3559 New Course in Religion: Scriptural Reasoning and Judaism

Peter Ochs

The first half of the course will examine how recent Jewish philosophy and theology has turned back to the study of sacred texts. The second half will examine how that turn has engendered another turn: to intensive dialogue with like-minded Christian and Muslim philosophers and theologians. The course will include various methods of study: one-on-one fellowship study, small group study, large group. It will require considerable reading in scriptural texts and in both classical and contemporary commentaries - philosophic and theological. There will be several papers and papers in place of exams. Students are advised to peruse these websites to taste the kind of work the course will undertake: the e-journal of textual reasoning (housed at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/tr/; and the e-journal of scriptural reasoning (created at uva): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/ssr/.

RELC 3700 The Revelation to John and Its Interpretation Throughout the Centuries

Judith Kovacs

This course considers the last book of the New Testament from two different points of view. First we will study the Revelation to John in its original, first-century context, comparing it with other works in the same genre, the Jewish apocalypses Daniel, 1 Enoch, and 2 Esdras, and asking questions about the historical setting in which the book was written and its message in and for that context. Secondly, we will consider the book’s reception, that is how it has been used and interpreted through the centuries, not only in theological works and academic commentaries but also in artistic representations (e.g. medieval manuscripts and the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer), hymns and popular songs, political comment, poetry, and fictional works such as the /Left Behind/ series.
No prerequisites.
For registration priority will be given to Religious Studies majors.

RELC 4500 Majors Seminar: American Liberalism

Matthew Hedstrom

This course will study liberalism from historical, sociological, psychological, theological, and political perspectives. Readings will cover Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism, "seekers" in Eastern traditions, as well as scholarly assessments of these sensibilities and practices. The study of liberalism forces a confrontation with the boundaries between religion and culture—as well as with the cultural history of the study of religion—themes that will recur throughout the semester.

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Religion and Drama

Larry Bouchard

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors

This edition of the Majors Seminar will look at ways of understanding how theatrical drama is linked both with religious communities and with approaches to how religion is defined and studied. We will be concerned with how drama has been understood as an element within religion, and also with how views of religion have provided important perspectives on drama and theater.

As always, part of the seminar will be devoted to definitions or approaches to the study of religion. What meanings does the term "religion" acquire? Can we speak of religion "in general," given that religion is most often found in particular traditions of belief, practice, and experience? We will and pay special to how ideas about society and psychology, culture and identity, symbol and ritual, ethics, and theology figure in some academic approaches to religion. At other times we will examine a selection of plays, performances, and interpretations of theatre, asking how they might further our understanding of religious practice and thought.

Assignments: one or two short reaction papers, oral presentation of these in class, an essay-style mid-term exam, and a final paper on a course related topic.

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Religion and the Modern State

William Wilson

This seminar will study the rise of the modern secular nation state and its impact on traditional religious cultures and communities. Readings will include H. Richard Niebuhr, Radical Monotheism and Western Culture, Ivo Andric, Bridge on the Drina, Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes. Two 10 pp papers and a take-home essay final

RELJ 4559 New Course in Judaism: Seminar in Jewish Studies

Asher Biemann

Students not majoring in Jewish Studies can take the Jewish Studies Majors Seminar.

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 will spend one half-day each week in a clinic or other health-care-related setting (the same setting throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional engaged in that setting. Seminar time will focus both on the role of the ethicist/observer and on the particular issues that commonly arise in clinical medicine. During the second half of the semester, students will give presentations related to their specific areas of observation. Students are expected to have some background knowledge of bioethics methods and common questions. Admittance to the course is by application; for details, see the Undergraduate Bioethics Program Website at http://bioethics.virginia.edu/internships.html.

RELG 4610 Sex and Morality

John Portmann

Survey of how Jewish and Christian theologies have shaped sexual experience in the West. Geographic focus on the United States and topical focus on pre-marital sex, abortion, gay marriage, pornography, and sexual perversion. Attention to sex education in public schools and the role of both art and the media in challenging sexual mores.

RELS 4980 Senior Essay

Instructor: Student's choice

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

RELS 4995 Independent Research

Instructor: Student's choice

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

RELS 4999 Distinguished Major Thesis

Instructor: Student's choice

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


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

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



RELJ 5050 Judaism in Antiquity

Elizabeth Alexander

A critical survey of the development of Judaism from Ezra to the Talmud (c. 450 BCE-600 CE). During this period "Jewishness" gradually began to emerge as a form of identity that was different from biblical Israel. We will consider the forces (Hellenism, the development of a diaspora community, the emergence of Christianity) that exerted pressure on the the growth and development of Judaism during this period, leading to this development. We will also examine the manifold ways in which Jewish identity manifested itself (apocalypticism, wisdom tradition, sectarianism and rabbinic Judaism). Finally, we will consider the question of how a normative form of Judaism, today known as Rabbinic Judaism, grew out of the variety of Jewish expressions that characterized the Second Temple period and eventually achieved hegemony.

RELB 5055 Buddhist Philosophy

Karen Lang

This seminar will explore how the Buddhist and Brahmanical ideas about the nature of liberation. We will examine possible Upanisadic influence on the writings of the early Buddhist texts as well as possible Mahayana Buddhist influence on the development of early Advaita Vedanta texts. We will also investigate how Buddhists and Hindu philosophers debate such issues as existence of God and the reality of external objects, the difference between valid cognitions and illusions, and whether or not language accurately reflects reality. The focus throughout the course will be on the philosophical debates between the various schools of Buddhism (Abhidharma, Madhyamaka and Yogacara) and Hinduism (Nyaya-Vaishesika, and Advaita Vedanta). Some knowledge of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy either through previous coursework or independent reading is desirable
RELB 8310 TBA Advanced Sanskrit
description: Readings in Buddhist and Hindu Philosophical Texts.

RELC 5230 Pentecostalism

Valerie Cooper

This course will study the history, theology, and practices of Pentecostalism, the fastest growing Christian movement in the world, from its origins among poor whites and recently freed African Americans to its phenomenal expansion in places like South America, Asia, and Africa. We will explore Pentecostalism's theological and historical relationship to the Methodist, Holiness, Apostolic, and Charismatic movements, as well as Pentecostal belief in phenomena like speaking in tongues, healings, miracles, and prophecy. During the course of the semester, we will ask how Pentecostalism has come to encompass one in every four Christians worldwide in the space of little over a century. Finally, the course will use race, class, and gender analysis to evaluate the cultural influences and future trajectory of Pentecostalism in the US and elsewhere in the world.

RELC 5551 Seminar in New Testament: Jesus in Modern Research

Harry Gamble

Intensive investigation of the principal issues, approaches and developments in research on the historical Jesus since the beginning of the 20th century, with emphasis on critical assessment of seminal studies (e.g., Schweitzer, Bultmann, Sanders, Crossan, Meier, Allison, Theissen) and methodological problems.

RELI 5559 New Course in Islam: Classical Sources of Islamic Studies

Ahmed al Rahim

Comprehensive survey of subjects treated in Arabic and Islamic studies, with representative readings from each, including Qur'anic and hadith studies, biographies (tabaqat), the traditional and intellectual sciences (al-'ulum al-naqliyya wa-l-'aqliyya), etc. Methods and techniques of scholarship in the field (including the question of Orientalism), with emphasis on acquiring familiarity with bibliographical, historical, exegetical, and other research tools.

RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity: The Idea of Jerusalem From Pilgrimage to Crusade

Robin Young

This seminar explores the history of Jerusalem as holy city, idea, and object of desire, and the subject of both possessive narrative and religious warfare in three periods: second century BCE – first century CE; fourth – seventh century; and twelfth through thirteenth century. Emphasis on contextualizing and analyzing primary sources in translation. Separate reading section offered to consider sources in primary language(s).

RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity: Ecology, Christianity and Culture

Vigen Guroian

An examination of ancient through modern sources of an ecological vision within Christianity. This includes patristic and medieval writers, liturgy, hymnody and poetry, and contemporary theological writings on ecology and environmental ethics.

RELB 5559 New Course in Buddhism: Medieval Daoism

Clarke Hudson

History, scriptures, thought, and practice of religious Daoism, with an emphasis on the Celestial Master, Shangqing, and Lingbao traditions of the formative period (2nd-10th c.). Another focus will be relations between Buddhists and Daoists. Undergraduates, please contact the instructor before registering.

RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity: Patristic Greek

Judith Kovacs

Readings in church fathers such as Origen, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus with emphasis on understanding the grammar and syntax of the Greek texts. Attention will also be given to theological questions and to techniques of ancient rhetoric. An Intermediate/Advanced level Greek course designed for graduate students in the program Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity; open to other graduate students and qualified undergraduates as well.
Prerequisite: Mastery of basic Greek grammar (level of Greek 201 or equivalent). Questions: please contact Mrs. Kovacs (jkovacs@virginia.edu)

RELJ 5559 New Course in Judaism: On Hannah Arendt

Jennifer Geddes

In this course, we will explore the resources for a modern secular Jewish ethics in the work of Hannah Arendt. Though thought of primarily as a political philosopher, Arendt’s work contains some significant and even startling ethical ideas, formulated in response to the particularities of post-Shoah (post)modernity. We will study her work on the human condition, from her construal of thinking as an ethical act to her vision of the nature and possibilities of the public realm. We will think together about Arendt’s analyses of the contours of modernity, including her seminal work on the origins of totalitarianism and on modern forms of evil, and how she construes the relation of secularity to modernity. As one of the most significant secular Jewish intellectuals of the twentieth century, Arendt’s ideas about the Jewish people have not received sufficient attention—the controversies surrounding Eichmann in Jerusalem and the recent publication of a collection of her “Jewish Writings” not withstanding. While some of these ideas are explicitly stated, others are implicit in her work, and we will need to trace them through both her better-known books and some lesser-read essays. It must be noted that Arendt’s work has been provocative and controversial, and the controversies themselves are important to study for what they reveal and what they obscure in her oeuvre. Thus, we will also look at some of the ethical controversies that surrounded Arendt’s work and explore how these controversies reflect on the ethical ideas within Arendt’s work.

RELG 7450 Phenomenology and Theology

Kevin Hart

This seminar examines the work of two eminent proponents of the “new phenomenology”: Jean-Yves Lacoste and Jean-Luc Marion. After introductory work on the differences between classical phenomenology (Husserl and Heidegger) and the new phenomenology, we shall devote ourselves to a close reading of major texts by Lacoste and Marion. Particular attention will be given to how the new phenomenology resets and refigures questions in systematic theology. Reference will be made to Michel Henry, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Dominique Janicaud, Emmanuel Lévinas, Jacques Derrida. Students will write a substantial essay on a topic chosen in conjunction with Professor Hart.

RELG 7528 Topics in Modern Religious Thought: Kierkegaard and Levinas

Jamie Ferreira

In this seminar we will examine the topic of “Love and Selfhood” through the prism of texts by Søren Kierkegaard, Emmanuel Levinas, and Paul Ricoeur. Themes to be addressed: love of neighbor and love of self (self-esteem); self in relation to community; reciprocity and mutuality; gift; sacrifice; and the esthetic (erotic) in love. Readings: Fear and Trembling (new translation); Works of Love; Ethics and Infinity and selected Levinas essays; and Oneself as Another.
Requirements: faithful seminar preparation and engagement, frequent one-page papers and two ten-page papers, and presentations in class as appropriate.

I. Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard
II. Works of Love, Kierkegaard
III. Ethics and Infinity + “Substitution,” “Peace and Proximity,” “Essence and Disinterestedness,” “God and Philosophy,” “Enigma and Phenomena,” and others
IV. Oneself as Another
“The Question of Selfhood,” pp. 1-25; 26-168
“The Self and the Ethical Aim,” pp. 169-202
“The Self and the Moral Norm,” pp. 203-39
Summaries: pp. 240-41; 290-96
Tenth Study, pp. 297-356
Required Texts:
Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard, trans. Evans and Walsh (Cambridge Texts in Philosophy, 2006)
Works of Love, Kierkegaard, trans. Hongs (Princeton, 1998)
Ethics and Infinity, Levinas (Duquesne Univ. Press, 1985)
Basic Philosophical Writings, Levinas, ed. Peperzak (Indiana Univ. Press, 1996)
Oneself as Another, Ricoeur (Chicago, 1992)

RELB 7559 New Course in Buddhism: Buddhist Studies

Kurtis Schaeffer


RELJ 7559 New Course in Religion: Scriptural Reasoning

Peter Ochs

A graduate-level study of pedagogical approaches to Jewish textual reasoning and to Abrahamic scriptural reasoning. Grad students will participate in an undergrad course on (1) how Jewish theology has returned to study sacred texts.; (2) how this study has engendered a turn to inter-Abrahamic study. Grad students will help mentor the undergrads, while contributing more extensive readings in and writings on scriptural resaoning. See RELJ 3559

RELG 7559 New Course in Religion: Philosophic Resources for Abrahamic Theologies: The Meanings of 'Universal,' 'True' and 'Absolute'

Peter Ochs

This seminar provides some philosophic disciplines needed for theological study today: resources in logic, philosophic reasoning, metaphysics, and epistemology, from classic Greek sources through the contemporary period. Students will examine how these resources inform works in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theology: medieval, modern and contemporary. For Spring 2010, the seminar will focus on sources and uses of claims about the “universal,” the “particular” and the “true.” Recommendation: prospective students should review basic logic before taking the course. For those lacking this background, a required 1 hr workshop will be offered each week.

RELG 7559 New Course in Religion: Feasting Fasting and Faith: Food in Jewish and Christian Traditions

Vanessa Ochs

We will study lived religious practices of eating, particularly the feast and the fast from anthropological, theological, historical, literary and cinematic perspectives. Students will be required to engage in ethnographic fieldwork and analysis.

This course is of particular relevance to SIP students studying ritual practice.

RELG 8130 Figures and Traditions in Philosophical and Religious Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

In this seminar course, designed to help ensure the comprehensive background necessary for scholarship in religious ethics, we shall read and discuss several classic and mostly non-theological works and movements. The reading list will depend, to some extent, on the prior experience and needs of the students who enrol in the seminar. It is likely to include certain of Plato’s Dialogues and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, followed by an intensive concentration on Stoicism, the often academically neglected but pervasive and enduring influence on Western ethical thought. We shall read works by Cicero and Seneca, as well as current discussions of Stoic philosophy, including relevant parts of Martha Nussbaum’s Therapy of Desire. The final third or so of the semester will be spent on later figures, such as Kant, Weber, MacIntyre, and others as determined by the class.

RELG 8350 Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation

Peter Ochs

This one credit seminar introduces students the Scriptural Interpretation and Practice (SIP) program to recent approaches to the comparative study of scriptural sources and scriptural traditions.

RELS 8995 Research

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, Preparation for Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been chosen. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 8999 Non-Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's thesis, 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.