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2017 Spring

Tentative Schedule. Note: All courses meet in room 206W unless otherwise indicated.

REL 110 Nature of Religion

This introductory course considers what is distinctively religious about religions. Using a combination of in depth case study and cross-cultural comparison, it introduces the student to recurrent themes, forms and structures of religion, considering such topics as: the nature of myth and ritual; sacred time and sacred space; gods, spirits and ancestors; as well as the roles of shaman, prophet, and priest.

01 Tu, F 11:10am-12:25pm Sproul

02 M, Th 8:10-9:25am Rhodes

03 M, W 7:00-8:15pm Raver (Room 205W)

04 Tu, Th 7:00-8:15 pm Kellogg

 

REL 111 Approaches to Religion

A modern critical study of religion using a variety of methods to further understanding of the role of religion in personal and social life. Approaches include those of philosophy, psychology, the arts, history, sociology, and anthropology. Readings are from a variety of differing religious traditions.

 01 M, W 4:10-5:25pm Raver (Room 205W)

02 Tu, F 8:10-9:25am James (Room 205W)

03 Tu, Th 5:35-6:50pm Kellogg

04 W 10:10am-1:00pm Herrera(Room 205W)

 

REL 204 Religious Experience

What is "religious" experience? In what various ways is it manifested, what are its effects? Focusing on a theme of transformation, readings concern individuals and communities and include The Epic of Gilgamesh, biblical narratives, the enlightenment of the Buddha, accounts by mystics, Etty Hillesum's An Interrupted Life and Australian, Native American and Islamic rituals.

01 Tu, F 9:45-11:00am Tirana (Room 205W)


This course is intended to provide some insight into the meaning of a particular dimension of human experience, the “religious experience.”  While anyone who is religious could be said to be having a religious experience at each moment, we will not be concerned with this broad perspective but focus instead on the narrower view of the religious “breakthrough,” that event through which a person becomes religious.  This will mean that the course will concern itself very much with non-religious persons, following them as closely as possible up to and through the point of their religious breakthrough.

02 M, W 7:00-8:15pm Haltenberger

 

REL 206 Ideas of God

How does contemporary Western theology understand faith in God? What is meant--or ought to be meant--by the word "God"? How does the reality of evil figure into faith? Answers to these questions will be our primary focus as we read works by representative Jewish, Christian, and heterodox religious thinkers since World War II. Examples will be drawn from liberal, process, feminist, and radical perspectives, among others.

01 M, Th 1:10-2:25pm Long


REL 207 Religious Sources for Morality

Ethics has been defined as the tension between that which "is" and that which ought to be. This course will focus on the origin of the "ought". How do we decide what is good and evil? What are the sources of our understanding of what ought to be? Are these sources religious? Have they to do with belief in God? (What do we mean by "religion" and by "God"?) Reading will be in Buber, The Book of Job, Genesis, Psalms, The Gospel of Mattew, Wiesel, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Tillich.

01 Tu, F 9:45-11:00am Grass


REL 208 Religion and Social Justice

While all religions agree that securing a socially just world is a 'constant occupation,' they disagree as to the concrete nature of that vocation. This course is designed to examine contemporary religious reflection on four social issues: war, race, the economy, and gender relations. The issues will be approached from as many sides as possible, examining them in light of the attitudes they reveal about God, society, and justice. The course will focus primarily on readings from a range of different traditions, in large part to illustrate the plurality of perspectives that exist.

01 M, W 5:35-6:50pm Wyman


REL 210 Atheism
We are used to thinking of atheism as the antithesis of all that religion is. But atheism as it appears in our modern world has many important roots that lie in different religious traditions. This course will explore some of these origins and challenge students to rethink and refine their concepts of what is involved in "not believing in God"

01 Tu, Th 4:10-5:25pm Cerequas (Room 205W)

 

REL 251 Asian Religions

Religions proclaim attitudes towards each aspect of reality--personal, social, universal and absolute--and then use these attitudes to build structures of value and meaning which ultimately form the basis of the adherents' general outlook on life. In this course we are going to be studying the fundamental texts of Eastern Religions--Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Taoism--examining the basic attitudes of each faith and considering their implications for the lives of their followers. Although each of these religions is unique, certain common themes run through them and we will explore these as they concern ideas of "God", man, nature, society, and time. In doing this, we shall also be investigating the nature of religion itself, seeing what it is, how it develops and functions and what it means to various people.

 01 Tu, F 12:45-2:00pm Sproul


REL 252 Ancient Near Eastern Religions

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.

 01 M, Th 1:10-2:25pm Raver (Room 205W)

 

REL 253 Abrahamic Religions

An introduction to the essential religious ideas in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, focusing on their foundational sacred texts with some contemporary interpretations. In addition, other influential religious ideas, such as Zoroastrian dualism and Gnosticism will be included.

 01 Tu, F 3:45-5:00pm Breiner


REL 254 Tribal Religions
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.

01 M, Th 9:45-11:00am Rhodes

 

REL 255 Religions of Two Gods

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.

01 M, Th 2:45-4:00pm Long


REL 256 Afro-Caribbean Religions

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.

01 Tu,F 8:10-9:25am Picayo


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.

01 M, Th 2:45-4:00pm Raver (Room 205W)


REL 261.59 Faith and Reason

Is faith fundamentally opposed to reason and rationality? Today, a popular answer is simply, 'yes.' Our investigation, however, will explore this question more deeply and seek out the modern roots of this secularist response in the traditions of Western theology and philosophy. Focused primarily on thought developed in the nineteenth century "critique of religion," our readings will include constructive, critical, and conservative applications of reason to the meaning, value, and truth of faith. Authors considered will include Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. As diverse and apparently distant as these thinkers are, we will see how the approaches and concerns they developed came to inform many of the attitudes about religion we find in contemporary culture. Finally, we will consider the ways in which these philosophies contributed to the creation of “Religious Studies” as an academic discipline.

01 W 10:10-1:00pm Cerequas


REL 270 Religion and Psychology

"Every statement about God is a statement about the human person, and every statement about the human is a statement about God." This course will examine the complementarity between religion and psychology in many aspects of the human person through the media of selected text, film, and story.

 01 M, W 8:25-9:40pm Haltenberger

02 Tu, Th 5:35-6:50pm Cerequas (Room 205W)

 

REL 308 Religion and the Arts

The arts have always been a medium for transforming spiritual beliefs, from prehistoric figurines to William Blake’s mystical paintings. Even in today’s society, the arts serve as a vehicle for religious expression, reflecting not only the individual’s experience with the sacred but society’s view of what art constitutes and how religion should be depicted. But how did we get to this point? We shall examine the relationship between religion and sculpture, painting, dance, theater, decorative arts, music and, finally, photography and film from a chronological and cross-cultural perspective.

01 M, Th 9:45-11:00am Adluri (Room 205W)


REL 309 Religious Meanings of Love and Sex

Sex remains one of the great powers in human life to which religion has not been indifferent. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary course asks about the relation between the religious and the erotic, inquiring into such issues as: what lies behind speaking of the gods as sexual and/or loving; what lies behind speaking of faith as a matter of 'loving' God; what rationales underlie the various religious codes of sexual ethics? In short, what are the connections among the love of God, the love for God, and sexual love between human beings--in both historical and contemporary religion?

01 M, Th 4:10-5:25pm Long


REL 311 Women and Religion: Feminist Theologies

The focus is on contemporary feminist theologies. Feminist students of religion contend that male-defined traditions have set the patterns of religious and societal life, without adequate attention to women's experiences, insights or participation. The course focuses mainly on the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (some other traditions are included and welcome from the class), and explores the what and why of patriarchy, the power of symbols, feminist sources and methods for doing theology, as women reclaim their traditions or envision new ones, with new models for the sacred, the self and society.

01 Tu, F 11:10am-12:25pm Tirana (Room 205W)


REL 313 Spirit and Nature

This course focuses on the ways in which religious world views influence our understanding of Nature and our relations to others in the natural world.  Emphasis will be placed on ecospirituality in various traditions.

01 Tu, F 2:10-3:25pm Sproul


REL 318 Religion and Science

This course will use as its starting point Albert Einstein's statement that "Science without Religion is Lame, Religion without Science is Blind." We will continue from there to explore the relation between Science and Religion historically as well as exploring modern conflicts and dialogues. This class will investigate the ways in which different approaches can aid, detract from, and influence Science and Religion--two vital human endeavors. Our ultimate goal is to come to a deeper understanding of the complexity of this relationship and to learn how these two seemingly disparate modes of thought come together.

 01 M, W 5:35-6:50pm Haltenberger

 

REL 320 Hinduism

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.

 01 M, Th 11:10am-12:25pm Rhodes

 

REL 321 Buddhism

This course is designed for students to gain a clear and substantial knowledge of the foundations of Buddhist teachings. It begins by examining the life of the historical Buddha, using his biography to recognize and define the major tenets of Buddhism, which include the Four Noble Truths, or the doctrine of Buddhist teachings and the Noble Eightfold Path, or the discipline of practice. Building on that foundation, the course includes several Buddhist sutras, such as The Dhammapada and The Diamond Sutra. The application of those principles is then explored through several biographical and autobiographical accounts of Buddhist masters from varying traditions. This overview includes a look at the common threads, as well as significant distinctions of doctrine and practice that occur among the various schools of the Buddhist religion.

 01 Tu, Th 8:25-9:40pm Kaufman (Room 205W)

 

REL 322 Islam

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.

01 Tu, F 2:10-3:25pm Breiner (Room 205W)

 

REL 410 Independent Study in Religion (1, 2, 3 cr.)

HRSTBA Staff (Permission Prof. Sproul required) (1241W)

 

REL 450.67 Honors Seminar in Religion

01 W 4:10-6:40pm Sproul (1241W)

 

REL 490 Honors Tutorial in Religion (3, 6 cr.)

HRSTBA Staff (Permission of Prof. Sproul required) (1241W)

 

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ADDITIONAL COURSES FROM PARTICIPATING DEPARTMENTS:

(Any of these courses can also be used to fulfill the Religion major)

 

HEBR 215 Hebraic and Judaic Culture and Thought in the Medieval Islamic World
A study of medieval Hebraic and Judaic writings from North Africa and the Middle East in English translation. Emphasis will be given to the traditional as well as the innovative aspects of the material.

W 10:10am-1:00pm Thomas (HW409)

 

HEBR 240 Introduction to Old Testament

Survey of the books of the Old Testament, their form, content and cultural background. Introduction to the tools and methods of modern biblical criticism.

M, Th 9:45-11:00am Troen (HW413)

 

HEBR 259 Old Testament Religion

Comprehensive survey of ancient Israelite religious practice, expression and thought as reflected in Hebrew Bible.

M, Th 1:10-2:25pm Troen (HW 409)

 

HIST 21000 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.

 M,Th  11:10am - 12:25pm Ruben (HW508)

 

HIST 31400 Ancient and Medieval Christianity

This course examines the first 1500 years of Christianity’s existence as a religion, beginning with its origins in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth in the first century and ending with the Protestant and Catholic Reform movements of the early 16th century.  Topics include Christianity's transformation from a Jewish sect to the primary religion of Europe; the political nature of Christian theological controversies; the institutional Western and Eastern churches as heirs to Rome and key players in the medieval social and political order; and the wide variety of Christian thought, surveying institutions, popular beliefs, and practices.  

 T, F 2:10 - 3:25pm Melson (HW507)

 

HIST 31900 Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History

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.)

 M, Th 1:10 - 2:25pm Ruben (HW 508)

 

 PHILO 21900  Chinese Philosophy

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

Tu, Th 7:00-8:15pm (HW207)

 

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