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Courses

Spring 2023

AFRICAN RELIGIONS

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RELA 2750 | African Religions

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

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


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RELA 3730 | Religious Themes in African Literature and Film

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

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


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RELA 5094 | What is Love?: Reflections from the Islamic Tradition

Oludamini Ogunnaike

DAY & TIME
Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Not only is Nigeria home to uniquely dynamic, diverse, and globally influential religious traditions, but these traditions have profoundly shaped the history, culture, and politics of the nation-state of Nigeria and its diaspora. This course examines the historical development of religious traditions in Nigeria and their interactions.

BUDDHISM

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RELB 2067 | Buddhism and Environmental Thought and Practice

Devin Zuckerman

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
3:30PM - 4:45PM

DESCRIPTION
An introduction to environmental ideas, texts and practices of Buddhism in broad historical and geographical context. Engages Buddhist "environmental imagination" through readings of primary texts, considers the ways that contemporary Buddhists around the world have interpreted environmental problems, and the ways that Buddhist modernist movements draw upon Buddhist ideologies in the service of social-environmental change.


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RELB 2100 | Buddhism

Erik Braun

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.`


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RELB 2200 | Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy

James MacNee

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
This is a lecture-based course--an idiosyncratic but hopefully helpful introduction to Buddhist philosophy. A few aspects of Buddhist philosophy, at any rate. The subject is potentially endless and can be grabbed from several different ends. Note: this course emphasizes the history of Buddhist concepts and arguments in premodern South Asia. But we will explore what are hopefully ideas of interest: in philosophy of mind; metaphysics; gender.


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RELB 5027 | Buddhism and Orientalism

Erik Braun

DAY & TIME
Thursday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
This course will explore how scholars have understood the concept of Orientalism to describe processes in which Westerners have distorted (and even constructed wholesale) understandings of what Buddhism can be to serve their own interests. We will begin with Edward Said's foundational work, Orientalism, then consider how his ideas have been used to develop critiques of Western understandings of Buddhism up to the present day.


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RELB 5559-01 | New Course in Buddhism: Introduction to Literary Tibetan

Steven Weinberger

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Buddhism.


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RELB 8718 | Tutorial in Thalgyur Tantra and Commentary

David Germano

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This course is exploring one of the most important scriptures in the history of esoteric Buddhism, the Thalgyur, and its extensive commentary attributed to Vimalamitra. The two texts are over a thousand pages in length, only existent in Tibetan, and extremely difficult to understand. This course explores the texts through detailed philological and interpretative analysis.


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RELB 8724 | Tutorial in Classical Tibetan Literature and Religion

David Germano
Steven Weinberger

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This course explores classical Tibetan literature and religious systems through a variety of genres in the original Tibetan texts.


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RELB 8735 | Tutorial - Pali Reading

Erik Braun

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
In this course students will read a selection of Pali canonical and commentarial texts.


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RELB 8738 | Tutorial in Chinese Buddhist Texts

Natasha Heller

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial will focus on the translation of Chinese Buddhist texts into English. Texts will be drawn from a variety of time periods, traditions, and genres. Students will gain familiarity with Buddhist Chinese, and the themes and conventions of Buddhist texts.

CHRISTIANITY

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RELC 1210 | Hebrew/Old Testament

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
11:00AM - 11:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELJ 1210.


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RELC 2050 | The Rise of Christianity

TBA

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
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. Students will become acquainted with the key figures, issues, and events from this formative period, when Christianity evolved from marginal Jewish sect to the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.


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RELC 2401 | History of American Catholicism

James Henry

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
This course engages in a historical survey of American Catholicism from colonial beginnings to the present. It especially explores the theme of how Catholicism has been enculturated in America, how Catholic faith and practice have interacted with the social, cultural, and political environment of the nation.


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RELC 3040 | Paul: Letters and Theology

TBA

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
Intensive study of the theological ideas and arguments of the Apostle Paul in relation to their historical and epistolary contexts.


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RELC 3115 | Evangelicalism

James Henry

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
From the revivals of George Whitefield to the antebellum abolitionists to the unexpected rise of Donald Trump, Evangelicals have played a vital and contested role in American society. Evangelicalism has also burgeoned into a truly global faith tradition, with an estimated 600 million+ adherents around the world. This course presents a multidisciplinary and polyperspectival introduction to this religious movement in World Christianity.


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RELC 3155 | Christianity and Ecology

Kevin Rose

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Reading historical and social analyses along with a range of environmental theologies, this seminar investigates entanglements of Christianity with modern environmental problems. It considers the influence of Christianities in various environmental imaginations, and the role of ecological science and environmental stress in reshaping religious imaginations.


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RELC 3465 | American Religion, Social Reform, and Democracy

Heather Warren

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
This course examines the history of the interplay between theology, morality, social movements, and politics in America. Topics covered include temperance and prohibition, abolition, labor, civil rights, anti-war and pacifism, and environmentalism. Lecture, weekly readings (often a book), class presentations, short papers, and original research.


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RELC 3675 | Women in Ancient and Medieval Christianity

Karl Shuve

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Why were women excluded from the priestly hierarchy of the church? How did male clerics subsequently circumscribe women's roles in the church? And how did women respond? These are the questions that we will explore in this course on the intersection between gender and power in pre-modern Christianity.


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RELC 5551 | Seminar in Early Christian Thought

TBA

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Intensive consideration of a selected issue, movement or figure in Christian thought of the second through fifth centuries. Prerequisite: RELC 2050 or instructor permission.


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RELC 7515 | Themes and Topics in Christian Thought

Paul Jones

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
An advanced graduate class, run tutorial-style, which will acquaint graduate students with core texts, themes, and thinkers in Christian thought.


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RELC 8702 | Tutorial in Translating Greek

Janet Spittler

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
In this tutorial, students will work on developing translation skills: grammar will be reviewed as necessary.

GENERAL RELIGIOUS STUDIESS

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RELG 1040 | Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions

Michael Allen

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
11:00AM - 11:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.


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RELG 1500 | Introductory Seminar in Religious Studies

Kai Parker

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
These seminars introduce first- and second-year students to the academic study of religion through a close study of a particular theme or topic. Students will engage with material from a variety of methodological perspectives, and they will learn how to critically analyze sources and communicate their findings. The seminars allow for intensive reading and discussion of material. Not more than two Intro Seminars may count towards the Major.


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RELG 2160 | Religion in American Life and Thought from 1865 to the Present

Heather Warren

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
10:00AM - 10:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Includes American religious pluralism, religious responses to social issues, and the character of contemporary American religious life.


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RELG 2190 | Religion and Modern Fiction

Jennifer Geddes

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Studies religious meanings in modern literature, emphasizing faith and doubt, evil and absurdity, and wholeness and transcendence in both secular fiction and fiction written from traditional religious perspectives.


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RELG 2210 | Religion, Ethics, & Global Environment

Willis Jenkins

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
3:30M - 4:45PM

DESCRIPTION
This course interprets humanity's changing ecological relationships through religious and philosophical traditions. It takes up ethical questions presented by environmental problems, introduces frameworks for making sense of them, and examines the symbols and narratives that shape imaginations of nature.


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RELG 2266 | Religion, Media, and Democracy

Nichole Flores

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
11:00AM - 11:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Engaging commentary from a range of religious traditions and media sources, this course examines the enduring intellectual and political challenges of engaging religion in a pluralistic and democratic context. In addition to religious studies and theology, course readings will include material from media studies, law, political science, philosophy, and cognitive psychology.


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RELG 2285 | Religion, Politics, Society

Larycia Hawkins

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
Politics and religion are links to the exploration to culture, history, and current events. This course seeks to understand what is meant by religion and the multiple ways in which it is politically important by examining the world views of various religious traditions and their political implications.


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RELG 2660 | "Spiritual But Not Religious": Spirituality in America

Matthew Hedstrom

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
9:00AM - 9:50AM

DESCRIPTION
This course asks: what does "spiritual but not religious" mean, and why has it become such a pervasive idea in modern America? We'll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in Christian rock, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting and more. In the end, we'll come to see spirituality in America as a complex intermingling of the great world religions, modern psychology, and a crassly commercialized culture industry.


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RELG 2713 | Sensing the Sacred: Sensory Perception and Religious Imagination

Gregory Goering

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Seeing is believing. Or is it? In this course, we will examine the role of sensory perception in religious imagination. 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.
Class Website    


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RELG 3405 | Introduction to Black and Womanist Religious Thought

Ashon Crawley

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Is thought always already racialized, gendered, sexed? This Introduction to Black and Womanist Thought course argues that thought does not have to submit itself to modern regimes of knowledge production, that there are alternative ways to think and practice and be in the world with one another. An introduction to major thinkers in both religious thought and traditions with attention to theology, philosophy, and history.


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RELG 3416 | Sustainability and Asceticism

Michael Allen

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
To what extent does the pursuit of sustainability require restraining or retraining our desires? How can people be encouraged to consume less, or in less destructive ways, when cultures of consumption prove resistant to change? This seminar will explore these questions from the perspective of South Asian traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain). We will consider classical sources as well as contemporary debates about sustainable development.


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RELG 3713 | Black Religion and the Criminal Justice System

Kai Parker

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course examines the relationship between black religion and the criminal justice system in the U.S. from Jim Crow to the Black Lives Matter era. We will focus on the ideas, lived experiences, and activism of the incarcerated; religious engagements with policing; and movements for criminal justice reform and prison abolition. Authors likely will include Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Elijah Muhammad.


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RELG 4500 | Majors Seminar

Asher Biemann

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Introduces the study of religion as an interdisciplinary subject, utilizing methods in history of religions, theology, sociology, depth psychology, and literary criticism. The seminars are thematic and topics will vary according to the design of the instructor. Limited to twenty religious studies majors.


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RELG 4900 | Distinguished Major Thesis

Noah Salomon, Oludamini Ogunnaike, Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, Karl Shuve

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
Students write a 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 grows out of the project proposal and annotated bibliography developed in the Research Methods seminar. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program and completion of RELG 4800.


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RELG 5395 | Religion and the Common Good

Nichole Flores

DAY & TIME
Thursday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
How is a religiously pluralistic society to pursue a societal common good? This graduate seminar explores responses to this question within religious ethics at local, national, and global levels. Readings will address major contributions to this topic within political philosophy before pivoting to responses in religious and theological ethics, including broadly Augustinian, Thomistic, and critical theological approaches.


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RELG 5600 | Health in Aging: An Interdisciplinary Seminar

Nichole Flores

DAY & TIME
Thursday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Caring well for an aging population is among the greatest challenges facing both the United States and the world. Significant gaps persist between the health and social systems that older adults need, and those to which they have access. This course uses a multidisciplinary approach--encompassing history, public health, ethics, the social sciences, and literature--to explore these gaps, their impact, and their meaning


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RELG 5821 | Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

Elizabeth Fowler

DAY & TIME
Friday
2:00PM - 3:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This monthly seminar explores methods and issues vital to the combined study of literatures and religions. It brings all MA students together, under faculty guidance, to attend to the broad range of individual projects and to foster a rich conversation that traverses the emergent field of study.


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RELG 8000 | Negativity and the Religious Imagination

Jennifer Geddes

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
6:00PM - 8:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Examines ways in which tragedy (and other forms of imaginative literature), scripture and theology, and hermeneutics and criticism portray and reflect on aspects of suffering and evil.


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RELG 8704 | Themes and Topics in Religious Ethics

Willis Jenkins

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
Tutorial on important themes, topics, and figures in religious ethics, both historically and in the present moment.


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RELG 8720 | Theology and Blackness: Psychoanalysis, Structuralism, Phenomenology

Kai Parker

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This course analyzes how theology and black studies intersect with psychoanalysis, structuralism, and phenomenology. It examines how conceptions of blackness, social death, and fugitivity relate to theorizations of completeness, conceptuality, givenness, revelation, libidinal economy, abyss, apocalypse, and difference. Authors include Fanon, Marriott, Wilderson, Marion, Spillers, Fink, Moten, Levi-Strauss, and Malabou.

HINDUISM

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RELH 3440 | Religion and Violence in Modern India

John Nemec

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
The purpose of this course is to study the phenomenon of religious violence in one geographic and cultural context. We will examine the roles of religion and violence in Indian political life from the British period until contemporary times, and through the Indian example, we will explore current questions and problems regarding the relationship between religion and politics.


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RELH 5053 | Hindu Philosophical Systems

John Nemec

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course offers an advanced survey of the "six schools" of Indian philosophy. The purpose of the course is to develop a strong familiarity with the major schools of Hindu thought and the major philosophical concerns they addressed, and students will be asked to develop an historical understanding of the relevant authors and traditions. We will read primary texts in translation, along with selected secondary sources.

ISLAM

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RELI 2024 | Jewish-Muslim Relations

Jessica Andruss

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction, spanning from seventh-century Arabia to the present day, and including instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. Our course examines this dynamic relationship through documentary and literary sources. We focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews in contexts ranging from battlefields to universities, from religious discourse to international politics.


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RELI 2080 | Global Islam

Ahmed al-Rahim

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
Global Islam traces the development of political Islamic thought from Napoleons invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the Arab Spring in 2010 and its aftermath in the Middle East.


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RELI 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism

Jessica Andruss

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy


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RELI 5094 | What is Love?: Reflections from the Islamic Tradition

Oludamini Ogunnaike

DAY & TIME
Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This seminar will examine some of the most profound and influential writings about love from the Islamic intellectual and poetic traditions. Perhaps more than any other civilization, the literary and philosophical traditions of Islamic civilization have been "love-centric." In this course we will closely read and discuss various philosophies and theories of love from the mundane to the mystical.


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RELI 5559-001 | New Course in Islam: Philosophical Mysticism in Islam

Ahmed al-Rahim

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
6:00PM - 8:30PM

DESCRIPTION
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Islam.


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RELI 8073 | Advanced Readings in Arabic

Shankar Nair

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
Advanced readings in Arabic philosophical, theological, mystical, and literary texts. Course readings will be in Arabic.

JUDAISM

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RELJ 1210 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
11:00AM - 11:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELC 1210.


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RELJ 2024 | Jewish-Muslim Relations

Jessica Andruss

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction, spanning from seventh-century Arabia to the present day, and including instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. Our course examines this dynamic relationship through documentary and literary sources. We focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews in contexts ranging from battlefields to universities, from religious discourse to international politics.


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RELJ 2420 | Intermediate Biblical Hebrew II

Gregory Goering

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Readings in the prose narratives and poetry of the Hebrew Bible. Emphasizes grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Attention to issues of translation and interpretation. Prerequisite: HEBR/RELJ 2410 or the equivalent.


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RELJ 2590-001 | Topics in Jewish Studies: The Holocaust and Jewish-Christian Relations

Victoria Barnett

DAY & TIME
Monday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
This course provides the student with an opportunity to explore a new topic in Jewish Studies


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RELJ 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism

Jessica Andruss

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy.


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RELJ 3390 | Jewish Feminism

Vanessa Ochs

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Jewish Feminism


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RELJ 8751 | Tutorial in Second Temple Judaism

Gregory Goering

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This interdisciplinary research collaboration explores the variegated expressions of Judaism between the construction of the second Jerusalem temple in the 6th century BCE, through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, down to the temple's destruction by the Romans in the 1st century CE. Given the chronological and geographical vastness and complexity of the subject, this course will of necessity consider a selection of problems, issues, and topics.


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RELJ 8757 | Tutorial: Theopolitics: Modern Judaism III: Buber, Cohen, Baeck, Rosenzweig

Asher Biemann

DAY & TIME
TBA

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial, the third in a sequence on theopolitical thought in Modern Judaism, will focus on 20th-century Jewish philosophers, especially Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Leo Baeck, and Franz Rosenzweig. Their distinct views on the state, the nation, and the theocratic community, as well as how modern Christian thought grappled with similar questions, will be analyzed in the context of a crisis of politics during the interwar period.