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2019 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 8:10-9:25am James

02 Tu, F 3:45-5:00pm Grass

03 Tu, Th 7:00-8:15pm Schapiro

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

 

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 Tu, F 9:45-11:00am James

02 M,W 5:35-6:50pm Raver (Room 205W)

03 Tu, F 2:10-3:25pm Grass (Room 205W)

04 Tu, Th 8:25-9:40pm Cerequas

 

REL 204 Religious Experience      
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.

01 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 12:45-2:00pm Grass (205W)


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

 

REL 209 Religion and Human Rights

Religion and human rights intersect in a variety of ways. The struggle for religious tolerance played a key role in the evolution of the human rights. Yet the quest for freedom of thought, conscience and belief remains unresolved in various parts of the world. It has been contended that religious beliefs about natural and moral order are the foundation of human rights. And as the movement for universal human rights swept the globe in the later part of the 20th century, scholars and religious thinkers have examined the contributions, compatibilities (and incompatibilities) of the worlds' major systems of thought, conscience and belief to the norms and standards of the human rights project. This course will examine these various intersections between religion and human rights.

 01 Tu, Th 5:35-6:50pm Bruinius

 

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 11:10am-12:25pm Sproul

02 Tu, Th 7:00-8:15pm Cerequas (205W)


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 11:10am-12:25pm Tirana (205W)


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 8:10-9:25am 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 4:10-5:25pm 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 M, Th 2:45-4:00pm Raver (Room 205W)

 

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


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 2:45-4:00pm Long


REL 313 Spirit and Nature
Was the world created for people?  (Does it have any purpose at all?)  Are people superior to animals and the rest of nature? (And what do we mean by ‘animals’ and ‘the rest of nature’?)  Is there a separation between spirit and body, one immortal and the other mortal?  (And what is ‘spirit’?  And what is ‘body’?)
Presumptions about the meanings and purpose of life—personal and universal—abound, as do our assumptions of anthropocentrism, dualism, and separateness. In this course, we shall seek some of the sources of these most foundational ideas and trace some of their effects, investigating how they shape our self-understandings, our ethics and even our scientific inquiries.  We shall also look at how such ideas influence our understandings of space/place and of time/seasons/ages.  Finally we shall study some of the most recent findings concerning consciousness in plants and animals, considering their implications for our understanding of ‘spirit and nature’ and their effect on our whole way of being in the world.

01 Tu, F 12:45-2:00pm Sproul

 

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 9:45-11:00am 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 M,W 4:10-5:25pm Rhodes (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 M, Th 8:10-9:25am Breiner (205W)


REL 323 Christianity
This is a course on the doctrinal and liturgical components of Catholicism, the Eastern Church, and Protestantism. Major doctrinal and liturgical differences exist between these Christian groups and the goal of this course is to understand how this is possible. Major themes will include the "essence" of Christianity, the early Church controversies, Christian "tradition," and the basis for reformed doctrine. The focus of inquiry will be both theological and historical, beginning with the religious context for Christianity and ending with the reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

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


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.

01 M, Th 11:10am-12:25pm  Breiner (205W)


REL 337 Sufism
Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, has been viewed within the Muslim community as being either profoundly un-Islamic or as the completion of the Straight Path which is Islam. This course will deal with the main aspects of Islamic mysticism, including some of the basic teachings and practices of the Sufis.  The course will also deal with some prominent Muslim mystics and different types of Sufi tradition.  In particular, the course attempts to place Sufism in the context of Islam as a whole and to discuss the relationships which have and do exist between Sufis and the rest of the Muslim community.

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


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

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

 

REL 450.69 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)

 

ADDITIONAL COURSES FROM PARTICIPATING DEPARTMENTS:

 

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

 

HIST 310 Jewish History in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

M, Th 11:10am-12:25pm Staff (HW 507)

 

PHILO 219 Chinese Philosophy

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

Tu, Th 7:00-8:15pm Staff (HW 505)

 

PHILO 262 Philosophy of Religion

Philosophical examination of some religious questions and beliefs.

Tu, F 12:45-2:00pm Staff (HW 505)

 

SOC 205 Sociology of Religion

Comparative study of religion in societies. Analysis of beliefs, myths, and sacred attitudes.

Tu, F 3:45-5:00pm Staff (HW 405)

 

 

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