Religious Studies Courses


REL 200: Introduction to Study of Religion
Professor Ashley Purpura
MWF 11:30-12:20 REC112

This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary, multicultural, and academic study of religion where students are invited to reflect on religion as a cultural phenomenon and to survey the major facets of nine different religious traditions. This course features multiple field trips, expert guest speakers, religiously-themed films and foods, organized debates, and field research opportunities to develop students as informed global citizens who can recognize, respect, and speak with confidence about religion.  All students are welcome! Counts toward requirement A.

REL 201: Interpretation of the New Testament
Professor Tom Ryba
MWF 12:30-1:20 ME 3006

This course provides a critical overview of the religious content of the New Testament. Our working assumption is that theological interpretations of these Scriptures can only be made after they are fully understood within the historical, social, and intellectual contexts from which they emerged. In our studies, we shall look at how the religious thought of early Christians was influenced by the mythologies, cultures, philosophies and theologies of other Mediterranean peoples in late antiquity. Counts toward B. Category I.

REL 230: Religions of the East
Professor Ashley Purpura
12:30-1:20 WALC 2007

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of Indian, Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Japanese religious traditions, including: Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism. The philosophical and religious contexts of each tradition will be considered by examining its history, primary texts, key teachings, rituals, present practice and diverse cultural expressions. Counts toward requirement A.

REL 231: Religions of the West
Professor Tom Ryba
 MWF 2:30-3:20pm ME1009

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will examine the diversity of practices and belief systems within these religions and address debates within and between communities as well as contemporary concerns. The philosophical and religious contexts of each tradition will be considered by examining its history, primary texts, key teachings, and cultural expressions. Counts toward requirement A, and the Islamic Studies Minor.

REL 317: Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Israelites
Professor Stuart Robertson
TTH 3:00-4:15pm SC G002

This course traces the parallel story of the ancient Near East from ancient Egypt and Sumer (ca. 3000 BCE) to the end of the Achaemenid Dynasty of Persia (ca. 330 BCE). This sweep of time and places includes the rise and fall of great personalities that imposed their wills along the way (e.g., Ur-Nammu, Sargon, Hammurabi, Moses, and Cyrus), and the shifts of fortune that brought various people-groups to prominence and decline. Ancient Israel, though a small nation, played an ongoing role in the stories of many of the larger people-groups of the ancient world. We will learn different aspects of the vitality of this remote time shown in its art, architecture, religions, literature, laws, agriculture, and medicine that has had lingering effects on our own time. Counts toward C. Category II.

HEBR 121: Biblical Hebrew Level I
Professor Stuart Robertson
TR 9:00-10:15am SC G008 

The first semester of biblical Hebrew will present the basic elements of the language, including alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar. No previous knowledge of Hebrew required.

HEBR 221: Biblical Hebrew Level III
Professor Stuart Robertson
TR 10:30-11:45am SC 108

The third semester of biblical Hebrew focuses on reading and translation of extended passages form the Pentateuch and the use of textual criticism. May count towards B. Category I.

PHIL 206: Philosophy of Religion
Professor Paul Draper
TTH 10:30-11:45am BRNG 1268

The goal of this course is to introduce students to philosophical inquiry about the nature and existence of God. The course has two parts. In the
first part, an attempt is made to articulate the Western monotheistic idea of God. Topics include the
REL 23100: Religions of the West
issue of whether or not the idea of God is identical to the idea of a perfect being and, if so, what does that imply about God's attributes. In the second, evidence both for and against the existence of God is analyzed and evaluated. Topics include the issue of whether or not the order in the universe is evidence for God's existence and whether or not the suffering we observe is evidence against God's existence. Students of all religious and non-religious viewpoints are welcome in this course and will be treated with respect. Counts toward D. Category III.

HIST 246: Modern Middle East and North Africa
Professor Stacy Holden
TTh 12:00-1:15 pm UNIV 201

This course explores the political, social, and cultural factors that have contributed to the formation of the modern Middle East. Course includes short stories and a selection of documentary films from the region. Counts towards C. Category II, and the Islamic Studies Minor.

ENGL 264: The Bible as Literature
Professor Dorothy Deering
MWF 11:30-12:20; GRIS118

Students of English 264 will read selected portions of the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Apocrypha. The course will entail a close study of a variety of literary forms and techniques: the structure of historical and biographical narratives (the Garden of Eden, the Exodus from Egypt, the Crucifixion/Resurrection), development of plot and character (in the stories of Abraham, David, Elijah, Jesus), and growth of prophetic and poetic styles and traditions (Isaiah, Micah, Job, Psalms), and the distinctive features of wisdom (proverbs, parables) and apocalyptic literature (Daniel, Revelation). Students will write 10-12 one page papers. There will be no tests or final exam. Students will participate weekly in team discussions of the readings. Counts toward B. Category I.

ARAB 280: Arabic Culture
Professor Lynne Dahmen
TTH 3:00-4:15; SC G008

This survey class serves as an introduction to Arab societies and cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.  Using materials from different disciplines, including literature, sociology, history and cultural studies, the course will explore a variety of key topics such as nationalism, religion, gender issues, identity, kinship and migration. Counts toward the Islamic Studies Minor, and may count towards Religious Studies major/minor C. Category II.

ARAB 281: Introduction to Islamic Civilization & Culture
 Professor Ahmed Idrissi Alami
TTH 12:00-1:15; SC G040

This course is an introductory survey of Islam and broad currents in the cultures thought and civilizations of the Muslim world.  It emphasizes religious, intellectual and cultural trends, social and political structures and contemporary issues of Muslim societies within the current global cultural world. No prerequisites. All readings in English. Counts toward the Islamic Studies Minor, and may count towards Religious Studies major/minor C. Category II.

HIST 302: The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Professor Stacy Holden
TTh 10:30-11:45 BRNG B206

Counts toward C. Category II, and may count towards the Islamic Studies Minor.

PHIL 302: History of Medieval Philosophy
Professor: TBA (Grad Staff)
TTh 12:00- 1:15pm; BRNG 1268

This course is survey of some of the main trends and major figures of medieval philosophy. Emphasis will be on close reading and analysis of representative texts in medieval metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, but some attention will also be given to broader philosophical traditions that develop during the thousand years separating late antiquity from the Renaissance. Readings (in English translation) will include selections from the work of Boethius, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, and Scotus. Counts toward D. Category III.

SOC 367: Religion In America
Professor Daniel Winchester
TTh 12:00-1:15; BRNG B268

Examines the social dimensions of religion in American life; religion in American culture; social profiles of America's religious groups, trends in individual religious commitment; and religion's impact on American life. Counts toward C. Category II.

ANTH 373: Anthropology of Religion
Professor: TBA
MWF 2:30-3:20pm; STONE 215

Anthropological theories of the origin, development, and functions of religion, ritual, and myth. Data drawn from western and non-western societies, with special emphasis on the relationship of religion to social structure, cultural patterns, and social change. Counts toward C. Category II.

CLCS 387: Roman Religion
Professor Keith  Dickson
MWF 11:30-12:20pm; BRNG B222

A study of the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Romans. We will learn how they understood, represented, and related to the gods. We will see how they legitimized their view of the world by linking it to a transcendent reality. We will ask whether their use of the sacred continues to influence modern Western religious behavior. May count towards B. Category I.

HIST 403: Europe in the Reformation
Professor James Farr
TTh 1:30-2:45pm; UNIV 219

A study of decay and renewal in European society, 1300 to 1650. Concentrates on the Protestant and Catholic Reformation and religious wars, but also covers the Northern Renaissance, the New Monarchies, and the discovery and exploration of the New World. Counts towards C. Category II.

PHIL 406: Intermediate Philosophy of Religion
Professor Paul Draper
TTh 1:30-2:45; BRNG 1248This course will cover two main topics, the first of which is religious experience. We February 20, 2017 will address the phenomenological question of what religious experiences are like and the epistemological question of whether they provide evidence for any religious beliefs or doctrines. The main focus
will be on mystical experiences and “numinous” experiences (i.e., experiences of the holy). Readings will come from two classics: The Autobiography of St.
Teresa of Ávila and Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy. The second topic is life after death. No serious examination of this topic is possible without
first addressing certain foundational metaphysical questions like the mind-body problem (what are minds and how are they related to bodies?) and the problem of
personal identity (what makes a person one and the same person over time?) Readings will come from a collection edited by the philosopher Paul Edwards
called Immortality. The climax of the course brings
its two main parts together. We will examine two arguments for the conclusion that mental if not personal post-mortem survival is a real possibility and two arguments for the conclusion that two types of religious experiences support (though they do not by themselves justify) belief in such survival. Counts toward D. Category III.

ENGL 544:  Milton and his Global Afterlives
Professor Angelica Duran
MWF 11:30-12:20pm; WALC 3148

John Milton has been felt to be a “bogeyman” by authors such as Virginia Woolf; touted as a “heretic” by the Spanish Inquisition; referred to as a political inspiration by such revolutionaries as U.S. founders Thomas Jefferson and John Adams; and invited into poetic dialogue by Hispanoamericans William Carlos Williams, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate (1990) Octavio Paz, and Jorge Luis Borges, the last of whom also expressed an additional link because of their shared blindness, as did Helen Keller, as did … the list goes on and on. In this class, we will read Milton’s works and explore the foundations of his global reception across the centuries. May count towards C. Category II.


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