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Religious Traditions

REL 251 Asian Religions (W)  (3hrs., 3cr.)

In an age of increasing encounter between very different cultures, it is critical that we attempt to understand religious traditions that are not historically our own. In this course we will encounter primarily the religious traditions of India (Hinduism and Buddhism) and China (Confucianism and Taoism). Readings are in sacred texts and secondary sources.

 

REL 320 Hinduism (W)  (3hrs., 3cr.)

A study of the nature of Hinduism and its development, literature, philosophy, and religious practices. Readings in such traditional texts as the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita, as well as in modern texts,will explore Hinduism's understanding of God, human beings, the feminine principle, society and community, time and history, and we shall study how these understandings develop from 2000 BCE to the 21st century.

 

REL 321 Buddhism (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

Study of Buddhism, its development, literature, and religious practices. Since Gautama Buddha is the outstanding figure in the history of Indian religions, we will explore the myths about him in order to understand his life and teachings. The emphasis will be Indian Buddhism. Whenever possible, we will compare this Eastern tradition with the traditions of the West in order to better understand our own faiths.

 

REL 336 Zen (W)  (3hrs., 3cr.)

An inquiry into the complex nature of Zen--thought by some as the essence of Buddhism, by others as a Buddhist-Daoist hybrid-- this course focuses on the intellectual difficulties in understanding a teaching which represents itself as "beyond words and phrases."

 

PHILO 219 Chinese Philosophy

Readings from the classics of Chinese philosophy found in Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist traditions.

 

PHILO 221 Indian Philosophy

This course begins with the root texts of the world’s oldest and longest continuously developed tradition of philosophical practice, questioning, and teaching, the Vedas and Upanishads. It continues with an examination of classic texts of influential Vedic schools–Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra–as well as of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist schools.  It explores historical and recent interactions with these traditions outside of their homeland, and the practical contemporary implications of their psychological, ethical and metaphysical positions.

 

PHILO 262 Philosophy of Religion


REL 256 Afro-Caribbean Religions (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

This course is a survey of some of the most salient forms of African-based religions in the Caribbean and South America, and in New York City. The course will include some consideration of the transformations that have occurred in the journey of the belief systems from Africa to the New World, but the focus of the course will be on the integrity of the Afro-Caribbean forms of religion. The course will include not only attention to beliefs, but to art and ritual forms in which these religions have expressed themselves. In addition, the course will raise the question of the ongoing appeal of these religions.


 AFPRL 220 African Spirituality in the Diaspora(3hrs., 3cr.)

An investigation into the nature and expression of unique ethos which made for survival of Afro-American humanity. This course helps to answer questions of cultural identity for people of African descent by demonstrating in what ways we are African, and looking at the results of the confrontation between African and European culture in New Europe.

 

AFPRL 322 (W) African World View: Philosophy and Symbolic Thought

Examination of African religious systems, metaphysical conceptions, and philosophy.

 

AFPRL 362 (W) Puerto Rican and Caribbean Religious Practices

Analysis of roots of folk religion in Indian, African, and Spanish cultures. Religious syncretism, popular imagery, and ritual practices.

 

AFPRL 420 The Black Church and Social Change

In-depth study of the sociopolitical role of Black church in political struggle of Black people with special emphasis on America.

 

REL 252 Ancient Near Eastern Religions (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

This course is a survey of the basic history and of the most significant aspects of the religions of the major Near Eastern peoples in the Bronze Age (8000BCE-3000 BCE), including the Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Canaanites, and Israelites. The magnificent civilizations that they built had an enormous influence on subsequent human culture. This course is based on primary material, of both archeological and literary natures, and will discuss the most important texts produced by religious and secular sources.

 

HEBR 286 Ancient Near Eastern Lit. and the Bible

 

REL 253 Abrahamic Religions (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

Introduction to fundamental religious ideas in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on the essential sacred texts in the Bible and the Qur'an. Attention is given to the influence of dualistic thought from Zoroastrianism and Gnostic systems, and to some mystical and contemporary interpretations.

 

REL 255 Religions of Two Gods (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

This course explores religious traditions which conceive of the world as constituted by mutually exclusive, and indeed antagonistic, realities. Gnosticism and Manichaeanism were once historically potent movements, but are no longer practiced. Others, like Zoroastrianism and Jainism, are not only of historical importance, but still claim adherents. Dualistic currents of thought also manifest themselves in non-dualistic contexts. This course examines the major historical dualistic religions--and some of theological dualism's historical and contemporary step-children--to understand what accounts for the appeal of dualistic understanding and to appreciate the motivations behind the lifestyles to which they have characteristically given rise.

 

HEBR 259 Old Testament Religion

 

HEBR 240 Introduction to the Old Testament

 

HEBR 294 Job, Ecclesiastes, Human Predicament

 

HEBR 292 The Hebrew Prophets

 

HIST 210 The History of Judaism

An introduction survey of the development of the Jewish religious tradition from its origins to the present, with special attention to the interaction between Judaism and other civilizations, ancient, medieval, and modern, and to the role of Judaism in the formation of Christianity and of Islam.


HIST 309 Jewish History in the Ancient World

The Jewish people from origins to late antiquity; social, economic, and
intellectual developments from the Biblical to the Talmudic periods. (Not open to freshmen.)


HIST 310 Jewish History: Medieval & Modern Periods

The Jewish people from late antiquity to the 17th century; social and legal status under Islamic and Christian rulers; religious and intellectual movements. (Not open to freshmen.)

HIST 320 Jewish History in the Modern World


After describing the social, economic, and religious features of Jewish life in Christian and Muslim lands in the 15th-18th centuries, the course deals with the changes and crises in Jewish history during the modern era, political and economic forces on the Jewish people, the rise of Jewish nationalism, Zionism, and Jewish socialism, the spread of virulent anti-Semitism, and Jewish migrations to America and Palestine. The last part of the course focuses on the Nazi holocaust of World War II, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the condition of other Jewries at present.

 

REL 322 Islam (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

An introduction to the major concepts, practices, and texts of Islam, as well as an examination of the life and faith of the prophet Mohammed. A study of Islam's origin in its own sociocultural framework, its ideologies, ethos, and ethics, as well as its adaptive changes and reinterpretations in the course of history, including its status in the modern world as one of the most populous and wide-spread religions.

 

REL 337 Sufism (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

Within the Muslim community, Sufism has been alternatively regaled as being profoundly un-Islamic and hailed as the completion of the Straight Path which is Islam, by supplementing right action and belief with matters of the heart. While considering the origins of Sufism within Islam, this course concentrates on Sufism in its integrity, focusing on the nature of Sufi path, its historical transformations, and its theological-doctrinal and metaphysic underpinnings. Thus, the course offers the student an opportunity to explore the continuities of Sufism with more conventional forms of Islam as well as its innovativeness, but importantly concentrates on an 'appreciation' of the Sufi path in its own right.

 

REL 324 Islam and Buddhism (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

A constructive study of Buddhism and Islam, two dynamic world religions propagating differing world views. In the past, they have had historical interactions with one another. This course is an examination of their founders, their development, their major texts, their beliefs and rituals. Special attention is given to their historic collisions and to the manner in which they have met the challenges posed by the different cultural and geographic contexts they have encountered. Their contrasting appeals for contemporary Americans are considered.

 

REL 326 Religious Meanings of the Qu'ran


For Muslims, the Qur'ān is the very Word of God.  As such, it is the basis of all aspects of the religion of Islam.  It is the primary source of law and ethics.  It is the primary source of the articles of faith and the basis of Islamic ethics.  It permeates every aspect of a Muslim's life.  This course examines the structure and contents of the Qur'ān, including the structure of its language as it applies to questions of interpretation and translation.  The course introduces students to a range of sources and methodologies for studying the Qur'ānic text.  The historical context for the compilation of the Qur'ān into its canonical form is sketched. Issues of coherence, textual relations and variant readings are discussed from the various viewpoints.  Questions about the dating, integrity, and authenticity of the text, as well as the relationship between Islamic and pre-Islamic scriptures are also addressed.  The interpretation of the Qur'ān is discussed in its various forms: legal (fiqh), exegetical (tafsīr – both classical and modern), mystical (Sūfī), as well as its various genres: ḥadīth-based, grammatical, philosophical, modernist. Various particular matters such as scriptural abrogation, multi-valence, occasions of revelation, etc. are examined in their appropriate contexts.

 

 AFPRL 323 Islam and Christianity in Africa (3hrs., 3cr.)

This course is designed as a panoramic survey of the effects of Islam and Christianity as they interact with traditional religious beliefs on the peoples of Africa. The course will start with the earliest contact of the Judeo-Christian religion with Africa,which, many people believe, dates back to the reign of King Solomon and the establishment of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. Special attention will be paid to some fundamental issues such as the rise of the nativistic (separatist, independent) churches, the phases of Islamic expansion and Islamic culture zones in Africa, and the religious life of African Muslims. We will examine the stance of Christianity and Islam on some basic issues such as race, social justice, and women's liberation.

 

CLA 303 Religion of Ancient Greece (3hrs., 3cr.)

The nature of Greek mythology and its relationship to religious experiences and practices, oracles and mysteries. A study with modern theoretical analysis of official rites, family cults, private rituals, and the relations of all classical sources.

 

CLA 304 Pagans and Christians (3hrs., 3cr.)

Discussion of the various religious forces and ideas in the Later Roman Empire, both East and West; the collisions and compromises, the amalgams of religion and politics which influenced Christianity. Readings from primary sources, both pagan and Christian, both Eastern and Western, in translation.

 

REL 323 Christianity (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

An upper level introduction to the liturgical, doctrinal, and spiritual heritage of the various forms of Christianity.

 

REL 330 New Testament Religion (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

A scholarly consideration of the religion of the New Testament and earliest Christianity. Examination of the theological interest of the authors of the books of the New Testament in order to consider the major facets of New Testament religion: the mystery of Jesus Christ, Paul's mission and message, ethics, the relation to the Law of Judaism, salvation theology, and apocalyptic thinking. Reading in the New Testament and secondary sources.

 

REL 333 Christian Theology (W) (3hrs., 3cr,)

Every religious tradition pauses to reflect upon its central religious experience; "theology" is the articulate expression of this reflection. In this course, we will examine the Christian form of theology with regard to key doctrines in key works: the doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, existence of God, and Grace – by way of a range of Christian theologians from the 5th century Agustine to the 20th century Barth.

 

HIST 314 Ancient and Medieval Christianity (3hrs., 3cr.)

A history of the Christian religion from the birth of Christ, ending before the Protestant Reformation. For the period after about 500 A.D., the course will focus primarily on the development of the Roman church in Western Europe. Our approach will be historical with the development of Christian theology viewed as response to the changing needs of the church over a long period of time. The history of church discipline and ecclesiastical institutions will be studied in the context of development of European civilization with emphasis on social, economic, and psychological impact of the church upon the people of the West.

 

HIST 315 Christianity in Modern Times

 

HIST 316 History of Religion in the United States (3hrs., 3cr.)

Selected topics in American religious history including the changes in European religions in an American environment; and the relationship of churches to other aspects of American history. (Not open to freshmen.)

 

REL 254 Tribal Religions: From Australia to the Americas (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

An examination of the traditional religions of Australia, the Pacific Islands, and North America. Study of the theological implications of myths and rituals (ideas of God, good and evil, humanity and the world), consideration of social values and the role of the individual in relation to the group, discussion of the meaning found in life and in death in traditional cultures.


REL 257 Religions of Ancient Central & South America

This class will explore a sample of the numerous pre-Columbian religious traditions of Mesoamerica, Central and South America. Using primary and secondary sources, we will examine how the inhabitants of these regions constructed and expressed their worldviews. One of the main questions to consider will be whether these religious traditions are products of cross-cultural or particular processes. We will also briefly address the contemporary manifestations of these traditions and their implications for modern populations.

 

REL 258 Religions of Early Europe

Both Greek and Roman classical authors described the peoples north of the Danube Riveras “barbarians,” tribes uncultured and illiterate, warlike and unmatched in their banality.We know from what they left behind, however, that this was far from true.We know very little about the tribes of ancient Europe, and even less about their religious systems. This course,therefore, is a course in guesswork. We examine these early religious systems found in Europe, long before the classical Greeks, the Romans, and the Christian world redefined their existence, and attempt to consider them for what they actually were.

 

REL 262 Special Topics: Religious Traditions (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

Different topic each time offered. Specialized study of specific tradition or groups of religious traditions.

 

REL 362 Special Topics: Religious Traditions (W) (3hrs., 3cr.)

Different topic each time offered. Specialized study of specific tradition or groups of religious traditions.

 

REL 410 Independent Study in Religion  (3 hrs., 3cr.)

Independent research and writing on a specific topic within the field under the supervision of a Religion professor. (Prereq: permission of Program Director; majors only.)

 

REL 450 Seminar in Religion (3 hrs., 3cr.)

Specialized studies in Religion. Different topic each time offered. May be taken a second or third time with another subject. (Prereq: Five courses in Religion; Permission of Program Director required; for majors or CUNY-BA students focusing in religion only.)

 

REL 490 Honors Tutorial in Religion (3hrs., 3cr.)

Individual research and writing on a specific topic within the field under the direction of the Honors Committee of the Program in Religion. This course may be taken as a one semester 3 or 6 credit, or as two consecutive 3 credit courses. (Prereq: Permission of Program Director; majors only.)


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