RELG 1010 Introduction to Western Religious Traditions
An historical survey of the origins and development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Subjects include the origins of monotheism, the rise of Israel as a nation, early Christianity, the rise of Islam in the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, Christianity during the Enlightenment, and the influence of modern science and industrialism on 19th and 20th century religious life. Requirements: Weekly readings, two tests and a final
RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
RELJ 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Torah and Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, we will examine the Hebrew Bible in its original ancient near eastern context to learn about the major phases in the history and religion of ancient Israel. We will consider the diverse genres and theological themes found in the Hebrew Bible and the literary artistry of its whole. Finally, we will read Jewish and Christian interpretations of the text in order to understand the complex process by which the text was formulated, transmitted and interpreted by subsequent religious communities.
RELJ 1410 Elementary Classical Hebrew
This course and its sequel (RELJ 1420) introduce students to the basics of classical (biblical) Hebrew vocabulary and grammar. After completing the two semester sequence in grammar and syntax, students will have mastered the basic tools required to read prose passages from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original language.
RELJ 2030 The Judaic Tradition
An introduction to Judaism as it is practiced as a living tradition. We will survey the central understandings that undergird the Jewish tradition and examine the ritual context in which these beliefs are manifest: sacred text study, prayer, holy day practices and life cycle passages (e.g. birth, marriage, death). We will explore the ancient sources from which so much of the Jewish tradition derives and observe the ever-changing ways tradition is manifest in contemporary Jewish life. We will draw on film, sacred text study and anthropological observation of Jewish life in Charlottesville today.
RELC 2050 History of Christianity I
This course traces the rise of Christianity in the first millennium of the Common Era, covering the development of doctrine, the evolution of its institutional structures, and its impact on the cultures in which it flourished. Through close engagement with primary source materials and secondary literature, students will become acquainted with the key figures, issues, and events from this formative period, when Christianity evolved from a marginal Jewish sect to the dominant religion in the Roman Empire – and later in medieval Europe and Byzantium. Topics to be studied include: the development of Christian teaching about Jesus Christ, the Trinity, sin and salvation, the Church and sacraments, and Scripture; conflicts within the Christian movement (eg., "heresy", "schism") and interactions with other cultural/religious groups (eg., Judaism, Hellenism, Islam, etc); the emergence of a formal ecclesiastical hierarchy and the development of canon law and of liturgy; the relationship between the Church and imperial authority; devotional practice (eg., asceticism, monasticism, mysticism). Proceeding chronologically, we will begin the course with Christianity's origins within Judaism and conclude with its formal division into Eastern (Byzantine) and Western (Latin) Churches, under the independent headships of Constantinople and Rome.
RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
Unconfirmed description from Fall 2010: 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 Tibet’s 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 Tibet’s 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.
RELI 2070 Classical Islam
This course is intended to trace the history and development of the religion of Islam and the Muslim world in the classical period, roughly dating from the 7th to 13th centuries C.E. We will examine through readings of the primary (in translation) and relevant secondary sources: (1) the biography of Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, and the history of his successors, the caliphs, and Islamic dynasties; (2) the history and themes of the Koran, Islam’s scripture, and its exegesis; (3) the hadith, or the sayings attributed to Muhammad, his companions, and his progeny, and the development of Islamic schools of law; (4) the history of Islamic creeds, theology, and philosophy; (5) sectarian history, the Sunni and Shi’a chasm, and Sufism, or Islamic mysticism; and (6) the daily life and rituals of medieval Muslims and their relations with the “People of the Book,” i.e., Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.
RELB 2100 Buddhism
This course is an introduction to Buddhism, beginning with its origins in India, its spread throughout Asia to the West. The course will examine the historical and cultural contexts in which Buddhist beliefs and practices developed and are still developing. We will explore a wide variety of sources to understand the many ways in which Buddhists speak about the Buddha, what he and his followers say about karma and rebirth, the practice of meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment. We will also examine the views of contemporary Buddhist teachers and on the challenges Buddhism faces in the modern world
RELG 2150 Religion in American Life and Thought to 1865
This course has been replaced by RELG 3559 Early American Religion
GREE 2230 New Testament Greek I (Intermediate Greek): Gospels
The Department calls attention to this course offered through the Classics Department, which can be counted towards the major in Religious Studies: This intermediate course aims to solidify the student's knowledge of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and give practice in reading the Greek New Testament. Readings come from the gospels, primarily Luke and John, with consideration of questions of interpretation as well as grammar and translation. (Letters of Paul will be read in Greek 2240). Prerequisite Greek 1010-1020 or equivalent (one year of classical or Koine Greek). Requirements: regular quizzes, midterm, and final examination.
RELC 2360 Elements of Christian Thought
This course considers the complicated world of Christian thought. It examines the nature of faith, the being and action of God, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the role of the Bible in theological reflection, and the relationship between Christian thought and social justice. Students will read various important works of Christian theology (ancient, medieval, and modern) and become acquainted with a wide range of theological approaches and ideas. The course is suitable for those seeking a basic introduction in Christian thought and for those wishing to deepen their understanding of key issues in Christian theology. It can fulfill the second writing requirement. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is required.
RELG 2370 Religion After Jefferson
Lawrie Balfour (Politics)
This course explores religion and the idea of "religion" as one of the most powerful forces in the world today, for good and for ill. The course argues that Thomas Jefferson's solution developed in his Virginia Statute for the Establishment of Religious Freedom and other writings is central to American debates about religion and American responses to conflicts involving religion in a globalized world. Discussions focus on primary sources including excerpts from John Locke, Alexis de Toqueville, landmark Supreme Court cases, Sigmund Freud, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and The Dalai Lama. Guests speakers from the law school and other universities are planned.
RELC 2401 History of American Catholicism
Unconfirmed description from Fall 2010: Catholicism in the United States has often been in a dilemma. On the one hand, its spiritual loyalty to Rome and its growth through immigration made it appear "foreign" to most Americans. On the other, the American Catholic support for religious liberty drew suspicion from Rome. In 1960, the election of John Kennedy seemed to signal the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. To understand the significance of these events of the 1960s, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements, the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland, with its espousal of religious liberty, the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development of a strong sense of episcopal collegiality, immigration and nativism, American Catholic support of religious liberty and conflict with the Vatican at the end of the 19th century, and the American Catholic contribution to Vatican II (1962-1965). The course will conclude with an analysis of social, political, and theological developments in the American Catholic Church since the end of the council. Course requirements: 1) a mid-term and final exam; 2) an analysis of an historical document selected from collections on reserve.
RELJ 2410 Intermediate Classical Hebrew I
In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 1420, students will develop facility in the reading, comprehension, and translation of biblical Hebrew. Students will review basic grammar, learn to analyze syntax, and build their working vocabulary. As a secondary objective of the course, students will learn to interpret biblical prose. By the end of the course, students will be able to translate moderately difficult prose passages from Hebrew to English. This course is equivalent to HEBR 2410. Prerequisite: HEBR or RELJ 1420.
RELB 2450 Zen
This course is a study of the development and history of the thought, practices, goals, and institutions of Zen Buddhism as it has evolved in India, China, Japan, and America. Among the topics discussed are meditation, enlightenment, the role of Zen in the arts, life in a Zen monastery, and the rhetoric used in Zen. Rather than focus on one definition of practice and its goal, the course focuses on how Buddhism changed over time and in response to various cultural and social challenges.No prerequisites.
RELC 2559 Pentecostalism
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. 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.
RELG 2559 Sensing the Sacred
Seeing is believing. Or is it? In this course, we will examine the role of sensory perception and imagination in religion. We will consider how religious practitioners think about the senses, utilize the senses to experience the world, and assign meaning to the senses. We will also probe the ways in which religious traditions deploy sensory metaphors to describe human experience of the sacred. We will reflect on a conundrum central to many religions: since religious practioners often imagine the sacred in transcendent terms, how can humans, as sensory beings, experience that which is purportedly beyond sense? We will evaluate whether attention to uses of the senses and of sensory metaphors, as well as to cultural assumptions about the senses, can shed light on the values, truth claims, and orientations to the world of the various religions.
RELJ 2559 The Soundtrack of Israeli History
Visiting Scholar: Assaf Shelleg
Designed for both music and non-music majors, the course explores the various musical attitudes to Israeli nationality in popular and concert (art) music. Surveying Israeli music within the larger context of history, Zionism, and culture, we will study early pioneer songs, music composed during the years of statehood, the aftermath of Israeli wars and its impact on music, the waning of nationalism in Israeli society, globalization, and the tensions between Jewishness and Israeliness.
RELG 2630 Business Ethics
This course aims to acquaint students with a variety of philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. The first half of the semester will focus on Adam Smith, Max Weber, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand. The second half of the semester will examine some contemporary issues within the marketplace that deserve additional scrutiny, such as private property, freedom of contract, and the distribution of goods. In addition, we will attend to specific issues in corporate ethics. Requirements will include both a midterm and final exam, as well as writing requirements to be determined.
RELG 2650 Theology Ethics and Medicine
An analysis of the ethical principles that should undergird decisions in science, medicine, and health care. The lectures readings, and discussions will focus on ethical principles developed within different ethical traditions (such as Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Humanism) and on their implications for cases in abortion, death and dying, research involving human subjects, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, cloning, and allocating resources. Several films, videotapes, and cases will be used. Requirements: Midterm, final examination, 3 brief papers (2 pages) and participation in discussion.
RELG 2700 Festivals of the America
RELC 3040 Paul: Letters and Theology
RELC 3058 The Christian Vision in Literature
A study of selected classics in Christian imaginative literature. Readings will come from the Bible, Dante's Divine Comedy, and several modern authors such as Andrew Lytle, William Faulkner and Flannery O'Conner. Requirements: Three papers. Fulfills the Second Writing Requirement of the College.
RELI 3120 Sufism: Islamic Mysticism
R Brian Siebeking
This course will be a historical and topical survey of the development of Sufism from the classical Islamic period through the modern age, paying special attention to the interaction of ideas and the social and political contexts surrounding them. Some of the themes we will explore include: Qur’anic foundations of Islamic mysticism, the role of asceticism, the question of antinomianism, “drunken” v. “sober” expressions, quietist v. activist approaches, organization and ritual, saints and their biographies, metaphysical teachings (e.g. spiritual psychology and cosmology), mystical experience and gnosis, Sufi ethics, love poetry and music, and the challenges of modernity.
RELC 3222 Protestants and Pragmatists
An introductory seminar in American religious thought exploring the key ideas of two interrelated traditions in the United States, Protestant Christian theology and American pragmatic philosophy. Our main focus will be reading and interpreting some classic philosophical and religious texts highlighting both the interconnections and disputes among them. The course finishes with a look at the issues raised by contemporary authors working in these traditions of American thought. Course Requirements Engaged listening and participation, five reading responses (2 pp. each), two short essays (5 pp. each), an in-class midterm, and a take-home final examination.
RELG 3360 Religions in the New World
RELB 3408 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy
RELC 3447 History of Christian Ethics
This course surveys the development of Christian ethical thought and teaching from its beginnings through the Reformation era. Major ethical themes are traced through the centuries, as the church’s scripture, evolving doctrine, and emerging tradition interact— in thought, word, and deed—with secular society, politics, and philosophy. Readings are taken mostly from primary texts, such as the Bible and the writings of selected Christian thinkers, but also include an online text that provides historical and theological background ethical issues in historical context, and selected secondary works that examine particular ethical issues in historical context. Class sessions are a combination of lecture and discussion.
RELC 3559 Augustine and His World
Augustine of Hippo is one of the most influential and intriguing thinkers in the Western theological and philosophical traditions. As an intellectually gifted North African bishop who had himself struggled to accept the claims of Christianity, he was deeply engaged in the controversies of his day, maintaining a broad network of contacts that reached from Spain and Gaul in the West to Palestine in the East. He shaped how his contemporaries and subsequent generations have thought about politics, war and violence; the body and sexuality; the will; evil; sin; the interpretation of Scripture; the Church; and the triune being of God. In this course, we will examine the development of his thought from the Cassiciacum dialogues to his mature writings, considering how this was shaped by the theological, cultural, and political tensions of the world in which he lived. We will also consider Augustine’s unique preoccupation with knowing himself, particularly in the Confessions, which is seen asthe first example of autobiographical literature in the Western tradition. We will be reading extensive selections, in English translation, of his major works, including (but not limited to) Confessions, On Christian Teaching, The City of God, and On The Trinity.
RELC 3559 Sex and Creation in Christianity
In this course we will ask and examine such questions as: What is the origin of human sexuality and what are its purposes? What do our sexual identities as male and female have to do with the Christian doctrines of Creation, the imago Dei (image of God), original sin, and salvation? Are male and female complementary or incidental? What value does the Christian faith give to the body? How should we view the body with respect to our sexuality? Is there gender or sexuality in the Kingdom of God? What meaning is there in sexual love? Why marriage? Why singleness? Where in our lives does sex belong? Our inquiry will include readings that range from the Bible and early Christian writers to contemporary theologians.
RELC 3559 God and the Mystery of the World
This course explores the experience and idea of mystery in theological perspective. The goal is to understand, analyze and appreciate the diverse expressions of mystery in human identity and psychology, social and ethical relation, and aesthetic encounter. Works to be considered include: Karl Rahner, "Encounters in Silence"; Eberhard Jüngel "God as the Mystery of the World"; Martin Buber, "I and Thou"; Howard Thurman, "Deep River"; Dorothy Day, "The Long Loneliness"; Walker Percy, "The Moviegoer"; Michalengelo Antonioni, “Blow-Up”; Stanley Leavy, "In the Image of God: A Psychoanalysist’s View"; Timothy Goringe, "The Education of Desire: Towards a Theology of the Senses", and Darcey Steinke, "Easter Everywhere".
RELC 3559 African-Americans and the Bible
In this course, we will look at the ways African American scholars, clergy, laity, men, women, the free, and the enslaved, have read, interpreted, preached, and taught scripture. In examining these interpretations, we will also seek to sketch out a broader theology, history, and sociology of black people as they used the tool at hand, the Bible, to argue for their own humanity, create their own cultures, and establish their own societies. We will also undertake the interpretive enterprise, seeking to find common ground for understanding the meaning of the biblical text in our own, and others' communities.
RELG 3559 Faith and Community in the Abrahamic Religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Against a backdrop of violence today among members of the three Abrahamic traditions, the course examines two potential sources and practices of peace. One is shared study across the borders of the three traditions. The other is shared work in helping repair the social order. Students will study themes of home and shelter from the three sacred text traditions. They will then put those themes to practice by participating, during class time, in Charlottesville community-building projects.
RELJ 3559 Music in the Holocaust: Portrayals in Sound from Past and Present
Visiting Scholar: Assaf Shelleg
Designed for both music and non-music majors, this course deals with the embedment of Jewish musical markers and stereotypes in the European imagination, in particular Germany´s. Studying nineteenth and twentieth century "Jewish music libels” we will attempt to understand the German perceptions of nationalism and its cultural repercussions. Having established this background, the second part of this course will discuss the evolvement of Nazi cultural policies in the 1930s and their effect on musical activities in the Third Reich, including music in the ghettos. The last segment of the class will deal with commemoration music and the aesthetics of memory postmodern works.
RELG 3559 Early American Religion
Where does evangelicalism come from? Why do we have separation of church and state in the US? What is Mormonism? How did Christianity spread among African-Americans? Who were the Puritans? What role did religion play in the Revolution, the debates over slavery, the Civil War?
This course surveys religion in colonial North America and the United States from the first European settlements through the Civil War. We will use a variety of sources, including film, art, and primary documents, to investigate two kinds of questions: first, what was the role of religion in early American history—meaning, how did religion influence social development, culture, region, economic life, politics, slavery, settlement and expansion, war, and family life? And second, what is the history of religion in early America—meaning, how did various religious groups (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Native American, African American, Evangelical, Mormon) grow, develop, and change over time? The time period under consideration saw immense change in religious life and thought, change driven by immigration, revivalism, new religious movements, and—most spectacularly—the republican ideology of the American Revolution, which saw the United States emerge as nation without a formal religious establishment. The drama and debates of this period—about unity and diversity, about political freedom, national character, and religious belief—still resonate today.
RELC 3681 Cultural Catholicism
Today many North Americans insist on a Roman Catholic baptism, wedding, and funeral but otherwise want little to do with the institutional Church. In this seminar, we will try to make sense of “secular” or “cultural Catholics.” Are they just lazy, or do they have good reason for ambivalence about their Church? What would it take to overcome such ambivalence?
Ambivalent or distanced Catholics may retain certain inclinations (for example, opposition to the death penalty) or patterns of thought (for example, redemption through community) which tie them to Rome in some peculiar way. We will explore Roman Catholic experience outside the official structures of the Holy See (for example, devotions, pilgrimages, shrines, art, fiction, cinema, television), particularly as committed Catholics argue over how to honor their spiritual tradition in day-to-day life. We will study current challenges wrought by women, Jews, and gays. We will pay special attention to dissent as an emerging hallmark of Catholic culture in the United States. Can we reduce Catholicism to a set of rules? If instead Catholicism asserts itself as a way of living, how does this mindset evolve and from where does it take its spiritual cues? How has Catholic culture in the United States moved from obedience to protest, from passion to ambivalence?
RELC 3700 The Revelation to John and Its Interpretation Throughout the Centuries
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 commentaries but also in art (e.g. the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer and illustrations of William Blake), hymns, spirituals, reggae music, and popular songs, political comment, poetry, and fictional works such as the Left Behind series. No prerequisites. For registration priority given to Religious Studies majors.
RELH 3740 Hinduism Through its Narrative Literatures
In this course, we will read major narratives from the corpus of Hindu religious literature, including works of various genres (including mythology, poetry, dramaturgy, story literature, and fiction). It is hoped that in reading these stories students will not only gain a broad familiarity with the idioms of Indian narrative literature, but also a deeper appreciation for the non-dogmatic, quotidian, and metaphorical dimensions of the religion in question and of religion more generally.
RELC 3835 Christian Art
This course has been canceled.
RELA 3900 Islam in Africa
RELI 3900 Islam in Africa
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa. After a brief overview of the central features of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century. We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders, clerics, and jihads to West Africa. We shall consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of colonization and de-colonization upon Islam. Our overview of the history of Islam in East Africa will cover: the early Arab and Asian mercantile settlements; the flowering of classical Swahili courtly culture; the Omani sultanates and present-day Swahili society as well as recent "Islamist" movements in the Sudan and other parts of the East African interior.
Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics encountered in our historical survey. Through the use of ethnographical and literary materials, we will explore questions such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. Midterm, final, short paper, participation in discussion.
RELG 4023 Bioethics Internship Seminar
This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student 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.
RELC 4044 Religion and American Courts
RELG 4150 Salem Witch Trials
The seminar will explore the historical scholarship, literary fiction, and primary source materials relating to the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. How and why did the accusations begin? How and why did they stop? Serious theories and wild speculations abound both in 1692 and now. Who were the female and male heroes, victims, and villains in this tragic episode? The most gripping personal stories are to be found in the court records and in the literary portrayals by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller. Explore the impact of this small-scale, 300 year-old event upon America’s cultural heritage -- how and why did "Salem witchcraft" become part of the American cultural imagination? The course will draw upon the following historical works: Salem Possessed by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Entertaining Satan by John Demos, Salem Story by Bernard Rosenthal, In the Devil’s Snare by Mary Beth Norton, and Judge Sewall’s Apology by Richard Francis, in addition to selected journal articles, as well as Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible. The seminar will include short presentations of reading materials and culminates in two short essays to be written on important figures and/or topics related to the witch trials, based entirely on the primary sources. The best of these essays will become part of UVA’s award winning site, "Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive" The class will make extensive use of the online Salem Archive which contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts. Restricted to Religious Studies, American Studies, English, SWAG, History Majors, or instructor’s permission
RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Self, Spirit(s) and Religious Experience
What does it mean to sense a spiritual presence? What is religious experience and how do we explain it? How do individuals describe their encounters with God or spirits, and how do we view these accounts? Divine inspiration, miracles, epiphanies and revelations are integral to many religious traditions, yet prove difficult to understand. In attempting to come to terms with religious experience in a variety of cultures from around the world, we will analyze some classic works in the sociology and psychology of religion. We will also consider anthropological, historical and cognitive interpretations of this fundamental, but illusive feature of religion
RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Religious Book Culture
History of the Book, Histoire du livre, Textual Studies, Sociology of the Text, and Print Culture are all designations for the academic study of not only the material culture surrounding “the book” as artifact, but also the intellectual history of book transmission and its authority as well as the religious and theological notions of “the book” as scripture. This course is intended to examine book culture, written and oral, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will trace the historical development of “the book,” from the scroll to the codex to the modern printed edition, with an eye to comparing how each religious tradition, materially and intellectually, conceives of “the book.” The questions we will address include: How has the notion of “the book” defined religious and medieval scholastic cultures? What are the competing conceptions of knowledge and its authority as expressed in the written and oral text, and the role of aurality therein? With what materials are books written and made? What has been the impact of modern print culture on the older scribal cultures and manuscript traditions? And how have religions used the notion of “the book” and its printed version to proselytize their message and to define the religious Other?
RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Suffering
Moral assessment of bodies in pain and spirits in turmoil. Philosophical, theological, psychiatric, biomedical, psychoanalytic, literary, biographical, sociological, operatic, and artistic exploration of suffering. Analysis of ongoing debate over the meaning of suffering. Study of religion as both cure for, and source of, human suffering. Particular attention to the Crucifixion as a cultural paradigm of suffering and social wellspring of anti-Semitism, as exemplified by criticism of actor Mel Gibson’s controversial film of 2004 The Passion of the Christ. This “capstone” seminar will help you assess what contribution the study of religion can make to the humanities: a deeper understanding of what suffering is and what our chances are for eliminating or reducing it. Further, this seminar will investigate how scholars of religion and ordinary believers rely on discoveries from other fields of inquiry, the insights of other thinkers who have pondered what it is to be human.
RELC 5077 Pius XII, Hitler the US and WW II
This course has been canceled
RELJ 5100 Theology and Ethics of the Rabbis
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.
RELB 5250 Seminar in Japanese Buddhism
This course is a survey of issues in the study of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism, as well as their roles in Japanese culture and society. Among the topics discussed are syncretism between Buddhism and Shinto, the relationship between folk religion and the monastic traditions, the development of uniquely Japanese forms of Tendai, Shingon, Zen, Pure Land and Nichiren Buddhism. The course also covers the influence of religion on Japanese culture and politics.No prerequisites are required, but a previous course on Buddhism is very helpful.
RELB 5470 Literary Tibetan V
RELG 5541 Seminar in Social and Political Thought: Just War
This seminar will examine just-war, pacifist, and holy-war attitudes toward war, mainly in the context of Christian theology and modern philosophical discussions. After a brief exploration of the moral reality of war, the seminar will examine the evolution of Christian attitudes toward war, from the early Church through the Reformation, with particular attention to how the Church and its theologians handled New Testament directives that at a minimum created tensions in efforts to justify war as well as Christian participation in war. The thought of selected twentiethand twenty-firstcentury theologians will be examined. These include Reinhold Niebuhr, H. Richard Niebuhr, Karl Barth, Paul Ramsey, the U.S. Catholic Bishops, James Turner Johnson, Oliver O'Donovan, John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas, among others. In addition, the seminar will pay careful attention to Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars. In the examination of just-war thought, the seminar will attend to both the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello and contemporary debates about preventive and pre-emptive wars, weapons of mass destruction, and torture.
RELC 5559 Human Image, Divine Image: East and West
A study of major figures of Eastern and Western Christianity who have reflected on the imago Dei and the humanity of God with respect to Christology and Christian anthropology. Some of the Christian writers that will be read are: Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Anselm, Maximus the Confessor, Dante, Ephrem the Syrian, Karl Barth, Sergius Bulgakov
RELH 5559 Shaiva Tantrism
The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive introduction to Indian tantric Shaivism, beginning with the proto-tantric traditions of the “Outer Way” (atimarga) and including the increasingly goddess orientated and increasingly non-dualistic developments evidenced by the myriad traditions of the “Way of Mantras” (mantramarga). Emphasis will be focused on the post-scriptural traditions most often associated with what is commonly called Kashmir Shaivism. A strong knowledge of Hinduism is required, as is the instructor's permission, in order to enroll in this class.
RELJ 5559 Scripture and Philosophy in Judaism
What happened when classical Jewish traditions of study and learning encountered the Hellenic traditions of philosophy? This course examines instances of encounter between philosophy and Jewish text learning throughout Jewish history, from the days of Philo to the days of Jewish postmodernism. The course focuses on the contexts of this encounter in history, on text-reading and hermeneutics (philosophic and rabbinic), on religious and philosophic disciplines of study, and on the relation between learning and living. Readings in Biblical and Talmudic literature, and in medieval and modern Jewish philosophers, text interpreters, and literary theorists.
RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII
RELG 7360 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Given the interdisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for entering graduate students to gain a basic grounding in the theoretical and methodological studies in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the basic nineteenth and twentieth century approaches, as well as some contemporary methods. The course will facilitate critical engagement with classic concepts in the study of religion by applying them to examples of religious belief and practice.
RELG 7528 Topics in Modern Religious Thought: Levinas
This graduate seminar focuses upon the major writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Special attention will be given to *Totality and Infinity* and *Otherwise than Being*, although we shall also attend to his writings on the relations between art and ethics. Reference will be made to critiques of Levinas proposed by Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, and one important counter to Levinas, the non-intentional phenomenology of Michel Henry, will also be considered. The ability to read French would be a distinct advantage in taking this seminar.
RELC 7559 Atonement
This course will study landmark Christian statements about atonement. For about two-thirds of the course, we will read texts by authors such as Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, G. W. F. Hegel, Herman Bavinck, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jürgen Moltmann,and Sergius Bulgakov. The remaining third of the course will consider contemporary statements by anthropologists, liberationist theologians (especially womanist, feminist, and Latin American authors), leading evangelical thinkers, and Anabaptist theologians. Questions addressed include (but are not limited to) the following: How do the life and death of Jesus Christ relate to sin and salvation?In what ways have theologians conceptualized the reconciliation of God and humankind? What role do the Hebrew Bible and New Testament play in the formation of doctrines of atonement? How does Christian experience, communal and individual, fund theological reflection on the atonement? Does it make sense to talk about "models" of the atonement, or to associate particular viewpoints with distinctive branches of Christianity? Have classical descriptions of the cross lent sanction to violence against women and people of color? How do different doctrines of the atonement bear on theological ethics?
While of direct interest to students focusing on Christian theology and theological ethics, this course can also serve as a high-level survey of important Christian writings from the medieval period to the present day. It is intended primarily for graduate students in Religious Studies and related disciplines; advanced undergraduates with a strong academic background in Christian thought will only be admitted with the express permission of the instructor (please email him directly with questions).
RELG 8350 Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation and Practice
RELC 8920 Seminar in New Testament Theology : The Interpretation of Jewish Scripture in Early Christianity
This seminar will explore the interpretive appropriations of Jewish scripture by early Christian writers up to about the middle of the second century. Materials to be considered will include the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of John, the letters of Paul, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of Barnabas, and Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. Collateral attention will be given to biblical interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo of Alexandria, and early rabbis, and to the relationship of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint and their relative significance for early Christianity.
RELS 8995 Research Selected Topics
Instructor: Student's choice
Systematic reading in a select topic under detailed supervision. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding his course.
RELS 8998 Non Topical Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.
RELS 9998 Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.
RELS 9999 Non-Topical Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.
Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.