Chair: J. Michael Utzinger
PProfessor Utzinger; Associate Professor Vogel; Assistant Professors Elser, Harris
RELIGION 101. (3) INTRODUCTION TO RELIGION. A consideration of the nature of religion and the human religious quest. Students should gain an understanding of how religious communities and individuals interact with one another and their wider cultural milieu. Themes such as the role of experience, faith, theology, sacred texts, and ritual in the religious life of individuals and communities are considered. Prerequisite: none. Offered: each semester.
RELIGION 103. (3) INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS. An introduction to the origins, development, and current meaning of several spiritual traditions. The course is designed to show the diversity of religious traditions, as well as to indicate the common questions that the various traditions address. The course begins with a consideration of the relation between religion and the human condition as we experience it. In the light of this introduction, several traditions chosen from the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Muslim, and Native American are examined. Prerequisite: none. Offered: each semester.
RELIGION 104. (3) INTRODUCTION TO HEBREW BIBLE/OLD TESTAMENT. An introductory study to the books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel and as part of the scriptural canon of both Judaism and Christianity. Consideration is given to methods of interpretation, historical context and narrative, and literary form, as well as to principal themes and ideas. Prerequisite: none. Offered: each fall.
RELIGION 105. (3) INTRODUCTION TO NEW TESTAMENT. An introductory study to the books of the New Testament and the history and religious thought of the early Christian community. Consideration is given to methods of interpretation, historical context and narrative, and literary form, as well as to principal themes and ideas. Prerequisite: none. Offered: each spring.
COURSES IN WORLD RELIGIONS
RELIGION 201. (3) JUDAISM. Jewish history and religion, institutions and observances, customs and lore from the Biblical period to the present. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 202. (3) RELIGIONS OF SOUTH ASIA. A study of the religions of South Asia and the historical and cultural context in which they developed. Central to this study are modern Hinduism and its antecedents, as well as Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and South Asian Islam. Special attention is paid to the role of religious traditions in contemporary South Asia. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 203. (3) RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA. A study of Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Buddhism in the context of the history and culture of East Asia. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 204. (3) ISLAM. A study of the major elements of religious life and practice in the Islamic tradition: Allah, Qur’an, Prophet, worship, law, theology, mysticism. Special attention is paid to the influence of Islam on the development of European culture, the relation of Islam to the Jewish and Christian traditions, and the contemporary resurgence of Islam. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 303. (3) RELIGIOUS PLURALISM. This course involves critical reflection on the meaning of religious pluralism in the contemporary world. This process of reflection includes clarification of the significance of “pluralism,” its impact on asserting truth claims, and the possibility of one tradition’s claim to absolute truth in relation to the truth claims of other traditions. In particular, the course addresses the model of interreligious dialogue as a strategy for living with truth claims and religious pluralism. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 306. (3) SAINTS, YOGIS, AND MADMEN IN INDIA. This course surveys a range of spiritual teachings and practices associated with exceptional, religious individuals from three religious traditions in India— Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The course will investigate a variety of questions: What is proper knowledge? Is it God? Is there an effective method to experience God or the soul? Can religious experience be at odds with social norms and conventions? This course also provides a framework for comparison with other major religious traditions. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 401. (3) THE HOLOCAUST: CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON MEANING. This seminar provides an integrative approach to studying the Holocaust. Through literature, film, drama, art, conversation with a Holocaust survivor, and a museum field trip, student participants explore a range of human responses-denial, guilt, rage, sorrowand thereby attempt to assess the enduring meaning of the Holocaust for the human community. Limited to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 405. (3) SEMINAR IN WORLD RELIGIONS. A seminar on a focused topic in world religions that prepares students for a significant exercise in research. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
COURSES IN BIBLICAL STUDIES
RELIGION 151-152. (3-3) TUTORIAL IN BIBLICAL HEBREW. Introduction to basic vocabulary and grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Emphasis on (1) learning to read sentences in the Hebrew Old Testament; (2) acquiring a facility in using a Hebrew lexicon and in using the critical notes in the Hebrew text. Prerequisite: none. Offered: on sufficient demand.
RELIGION 251. (3) READINGS IN INTERMEDIATE HEBREW. Reading of selections from the Hebrew Bible and from the Dead Sea Scrolls with the goals of increasing speed and proficiency in the language, of beginning an appreciation of Hebrew poetry, and of gaining insight into the texts. Prerequisite: Hebrew 151-152, or their equivalent. Offered: on sufficient demand.
RELIGION 210. (3) BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY. A study of the goals and methods of archaeologists working in the Near East that enables the student to understand the peoples of the Near East, especially Palestine, in terms of their culture, artifacts, and history. This course seeks to provide the background--history, geography, and culture--within which the setting of the Bible can be understood. The course treats methods in archaeology, archaeological sites and the history of Palestine, and analysis of Biblical and non-Biblical texts. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 211. (3) THE TORAH. A study of the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Students consider passages which reflect the ancient life of monarchic and premonarchic Israel, but concentrate on discovering the exilic and post-exilic message of the books as they presently exist. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 212. (3) THE HEBREW PROPHETS. An investigation of the rise and development of the prophetic movement in Israel, with particular emphasis upon the relevance of the prophets for their own and later times. Prerequisite: none. RELIGION 215. (3) THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS. A study of the presentation of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. Students also study other ancient portraits of Jesus to show how the Synoptic Gospels define the character and teaching of Jesus over against an astonishing breadth of possibility. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 218. (3) THEOLOGY OF PAUL. A study of principal theological and ethical ideas and issues in the letters of Paul, undertaken from the perspectives of Biblical and historical theology rather than from those of literary or biographical analysis. Some consideration is given to the interpreters of Paul--his influence on subsequent theologians such as Martin Luther, Karl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 314. (3) THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH. After a brief review of divination in the ancient eastern Mediterranean world and of prophecy in Israel, the class studies the book of Isaiah in its historical contexts. Students also read later interpreters of this richly theological book. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 316. (3) THE GOSPEL OF JOHN. Through careful reading of John and of ancient works that clarify John’s imagery, the class attempts to understand this simple and profound Gospel. Students also read selections from interpreters, such as Origen, Augustine, Calvin, and Brown. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 319. (3) BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION IN PRACTICE. A careful study of a particular Biblical book and of issues in its interpretation. Students seek to understand the work with imagination and strive to tame that imagination by precision in observation and argument. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 415. (3) SEMINAR IN BIBLICAL STUDIES. A seminar on a focused topic in Biblical studies that prepares students for a significant exercise in research. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
COURSES IN CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND ETHICS
RELIGION 221. (3) HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT I. A study of important Christian thinkers and the historical currents in which they worked from New Testament times to the Reformation. Readings include the work of several early Church Fathers and Medieval mystics as well as singularly important figures such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, with a view toward exploring the diversity of Christian experience, practice, and theology in the first fifteen hundred years of the Christian era. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 222. (3) HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT II. A study of important Christian thinkers and the historical currents in which they worked from the Reformation to the present. Within the great diversity of this period, the course focuses upon the work of the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists), the development of 18th and 19th century liberalism, and the subsequent reactions of thinkers such as Newman, Kierkegaard, Barth, and Balthasar. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 225. (3) CHRISTIAN ETHICS. An exploration of Christian ethics emphasizing the role of Christian community and identity as fundamental to Christian ethical practice. An initial examination of the Biblical, theological, and historical bases for Christian ethics in the first part of the course leads to focused discussions of specific contemporary moral and social issues in the latter part of the semester. Prerequisite: none, but Religion 101 or 102 is recommended. Offered: spring semester.
RELIGION 321. (3) REFORMATION THOUGHT. A study of the disintegration of medieval Catholicism, the rise of Protestant Christianity, and the development of Catholic reform in the sixteenth century. This course emphasizes the interaction between religious, theological, social, and political forces. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 323. (3) THEOLOGY AND LITERATURE. A consideration of the usage of specific Biblical and/or religious themes or motifs in contemporary literature. The emphasis is on discerning what principles of interpretation are used in giving contemporary expression to specific themes. The specific themes vary. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 324. (3) THE CROSS OF CHRIST: HISTORY AND INTERPRETATION. The death of Jesus has been a significant event for the faith of Christians since the time of the New Testament, believed by many to constitute the definitive act of God on behalf of humanity’s salvation. Despite this, the collective witness varies widely on just what this death means for humanity, with some critics arguing that it should not be a central focus of the faith at all. This course considers the history of this event--insofar as it can be obtained from the earliest testimonies- -and the many interpretations it has received by Christians and non-Christians alike. Key thinkers may include Athanasius, Anselm, Abelard, Luther, Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Rene Girard, Leonardo Boff and Jurgen Moltmann. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 327. (3) STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY. Intensive study of selected issues in contemporary Christian theology or Biblical studies. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 328. (3) WEALTH AND POVERTY IN THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION. This course explores questions of wealth, consumption, stewardship, poverty and work, using various traditions within Christianity. It further aims to use the resources of these traditions to examine current issues in this area, such as hunger and disease, international debt, the prosperity gospel and lending practices. It considers evidence from the Bible, as well as stances taken by the church and its critics throughout history. Typical authors include Clement of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Calvin, Weber, Rauschenbusch, John Schneider, Rand, Paul VI and Wendell Berry. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 329. (3) CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND TECHNOLOGY. The extraordinary technological innovations of the last fifty years have affected nearly every aspect of daily life. As heavily discussed as these new technologies are, there has been little fundamental reflection on the ethical questions raised by the sweeping changes brought on by the technological revolution. This course explores and critiques the technological revolution from the broad standpoint of Christian ethics in order better to understand the social effects, both positive and negative, of the new technologies, and strives to begin to work out constructive ethical responses to those effects. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 425. (3) SEMINAR IN THEOLOGY AND ETHICS. A seminar on a focused topic in theology or ethics that prepares students for a significant exercise in research. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
COURSES IN AMERICAN AND HISTORICAL STUDIES
RELIGION 231. (3) RELIGION IN AMERICAN LIFE I. An historical survey of religion in American life and thought to 1870. Topics include the influence of Puritanism, the character of American religious freedom, slave religion, and the interaction between religion and social reform. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 232. (3) RELIGION IN AMERICAN LIFE II. An historical survey of religion in American life and thought since 1870. Topics include American religious pluralism, immigrant religion, religious responses to social issues, and the character of modern American religious experience. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 238. (3) RELIGIOUS AUTOBIOGRAPHY. In this course students consider the nature of religion and the human religious quest as expressed in autobiographical texts from a variety of religious traditions, as well as versions that express the “loss of faith” or the “problem of belief.” They will also write their own autobiographical texts, which explore their own experience of religion and others’ expressions of religious life. Students also examine critically the nature, social uses, and ethics of memory, as well as consider the reliability of autobiographical reconstruction. Finally, students examine how autobiography is intended to persuade readers for particular ends, such as conversion, social justice, political/cultural reform, religious purity or identity, or religious reflection. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 245. (3) PERSPECTIVES IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION. This course is a survey of the development of the discipline of religion from the 19th century to the present. By reading classical and current theorists, students are introduced to the methodology, theoretical debates, and approaches within the discipline of religion as they have historically developed. Students also consider how (and whether) one can academically define and investigate the phenomenon of “religion.” Emphasis is on seminal figures in the discipline, including James Frazer, Emile Durkheim, Mary Douglas, Mircea Eliade, and Clifford Geertz, as well as their contemporary critics. Prerequisite: none.
RELIGION 334. (3) RELIGION AND ETHNICITY IN AMERICA. An examination of the relationship between religious and ethnic identity in the context of American culture. Topics include theoretical approaches to religion and ethnicity, debates over the designation of “American,” and consideration of how race, class, and gender affect ethno-religious identity. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 336. (3) ALTERNATIVE RELIGIONS IN AMERICA. An historical study of new religious movements in the United States. Topics include theoretical approaches about the nature of religious movements, the difference between “alternative” and “mainstream” religion, and the contours of religious success and failure. Prerequisite: Rhetoric 102.
RELIGION 435. (3) SEMINAR IN RELIGIOUS HISTORY. A seminar on a focused topic in American religion or religious history that prepares students for a significant exercise in research. Prerequisite: junior or senior status, or permission of the instructor.
PRE-THESIS SEMINAR AND COLLOQUIUM
RELIGION 444. (1) PRE-THESIS SEMINAR. This course is a seminar for majors and minors aimed at developing a research proposal for Religion 445. The seminar concentrates on development of a working research proposal for the departmental Colloquium, including a topic of study, guiding questions, a statement of methodology to be used, significant working and annotated bibliography, and a general plan for project completion. Students also present research in progress to their peers and consider the art and practice of scholarship. Students take this course the semester before Religion 445. Offered: every fall semester.
RELIGION 445. (3) COLLOQUIUM. Under the direction of the Religion faculty, students propose and write a major research project. All senior Religion majors are expected to participate in this course in which all faculty members of the department play a role. Limited to Religion majors and to other qualified students with the permission of the instructor. Prerequisite: Religion 444.