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Religion

Course Descriptions

Religion Courses


REL 100 Understanding the Bible (RP) (4.00 SH). What is the Bible? Who wrote it? When and where was it written, edited, and collected? How did it come to be so important in World culture? How can we answer these and other questions asked of a text of such authority and antiquity? This course follows the history of the text and the academic discipline of Biblical criticism. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 140 Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (RP) (4.00 SH). This introductory course will cover the continuing significance of the texts in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible and basic questions about them: What do the books say and mean? How do Jews and Christians understand them differently? How have people understood historical and scientific difficulties in reading them? How can they illuminate our concerns about equality, feminism, politics, racism, multiculturalism, relativism, etc.? Offered Fall Semester. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 141 Torah (RP) (4.00 SH). The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah (or Pentateuch), are foundational texts for both the religions of Judaism and Christianity and for understanding the foundations upon which western civilization developed. These texts establish the nature of the relationship between God, creation, and God’s people. This course will explore the narratives, laws, and theological themes of this first part of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, using a variety of interpretative approaches.

REL 142 Prophetic Literature (RP) (4.00 SH). From Amos to Zechariah the Biblical books of Prophecy have been a source of inspiration for people from private individuals to preachers to politicians. When and where and by whom were these books written? How did Prophecy develop as a form of religious activity and then a style of literature? How can we interpret and understand Prophecy today?

REL 143 The End Times: Apocalyptic Lit (RP) (4.00 SH). “The End is Nigh!” is the characteristic claim of apocalyptic or eschatological literature. What was the background and origin of that claim and of this literature? This course examines the Book of Daniel, Chapter 13 of Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 2 of the Second letter to the Thessalonians, and the Revelation to John as examples of Apocalyptic literature.

REL 150 New Testament (RP) (4.00 SH). This introductory course will cover basic questions about the NT texts and their continuing significance: e.g., What do the books say and mean? How do various Christians understand them differently? How have people understood historical and scientific difficulties in reading them? How can they illuminate our concerns about equality, feminism, politics, racism, multiculturalism, relativism, etc.? Offered Spring Semester. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 151 Jesus (RP) (4.00 SH). Or: All You Ever Wanted to Know about Jesus but Were Too Afraid or Busy to Ask. This introductory course will cover basic questions about Jesus and his continuing significance: e.g., Who was Jesus? What do ancient texts, especially the New Testament, say about him? How can they illuminate our concerns about equality, feminism, politics, racism, multiculturalism, relativism, etc.? What is the difference between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith? Offered biennially. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 152 The Synoptic Gospels (RP) (4.00 SH). A study of the first three gospels with an emphasis on their historical context and literary content, as well as on their relevance to contemporary life and theological A study of the Synoptic Gospels first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), with an emphasis on their historical context and literary content, as well as on their relevance to contemporary life and theological issues. Offered biennially.

REL 153 The Gospel of John (RP) (4.00 SH). A study of the Gospel according to John, with an emphasis on its historical context and literary content, as well as on its relevance to contemporary life and theological issues.

REL 154 Paul and His Letters (RP) (4.00 SH). St. Paul: Heretic and Apostle (4 SH). This introduction to Paul’s letters in the Bible will cover basic questions about the apostle Paul and his continuing significance: e.g., Who was Paul? What do his letters say about the meaning of life in his time? How can they illuminate our concerns about equality, feminism, politics, racism, multiculturalism, relativism, etc. Offered biennially. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 160 Understanding Christianity (RP) (4.00 SH). This introductory course will cover basic questions about Christianity and its continuing significance: What is Christianity? How have various Christians expressed and explained their faith in different times and places? How have they related to the rest of the world and the issues of the day (e.g., today’s concerns about equality, feminism, politics, racism, multiculturalism, relativism)? Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 161 Understanding Theology (RP) (4.00 SH). This course will examine the theological themes of God, Creation, Sin, Redemption, and Sanctification in light of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant beliefs. Each theme first will be examined in light of biblical theology. The creeds, rituals, and documents of the three major branches of Christianity will be examined as the basis for discussion of the development of these themes within Christian faith and practice. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 162 Eastern Orthodox Christianity (RP) (4.00 SH). An introduction to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, with particular attention to how it evolved and was celebrated in Russia. Students will explore the dogmas, liturgy, iconography, and history of the Orthodox Church; and attention will be given to the relationship between the Church and the State, particularly under communism. Students will also be asked to compare Orthodoxy with Western Christian traditions and with their own notions of worship and religious expression. (Also listed as HIS 153.) Meets Religious and Philosophical Though Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 163 Reform/Presb Theol & Worship (RP) (4.00 SH). What is the Reformed tradition, or Presbyterianism? What beliefs and practices distinguish the Reformed tradition from other Christian traditions? What do Presbyterians believe about the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)? What about predestination? How does the U.S. government reflect Presbyterian polity? This course will explore these and many other issues that help us understand the hallmarks of the Reformed tradition. Through understanding Reformed theology, we will also examine Reformed worship. Readings from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, the classic text for the Reformed tradition, will be an important part of the course. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 164 Biblical Theology (RP) (4.00 SH). An exploration of important issues in biblical interpretation and application, beginning with an investigation of the task and method of biblical theology, as distinguished from systematic theology. It will cover the history of biblical interpretation and consider the relationship between biblical ideas and modern thought. Prerequisite: at least one of the following: REL 100, 140, 150, 152, or 160.

REL 167 Christ & Caesar: Early Christ (RP) (4.00 SH). An examination of the history of the Christian Church within the environment of the Roman Empire during the first five centuries of existence, and of the interaction of the Church with that environment in its political, socioeconomic, religious, and cultural aspects. (Also listed as HIS 234.) Meets Religious and Philosophical Though Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 170 Intro to Religion in the World (RP) (4.00 SH). Despite a huge diversity of individual positions on religion, it remains a universal and highly influential human activity. This course examines the narratives, rituals, symbols, moralities, and ultimate goals of the world’s religious communities. Particular attention is given to concepts and tools for understanding and analyzing religious behavior as an expression of human experience. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 171 Religion in the Western World (RP) (4.00 SH). The Western World is dominated by the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This course inspects the contents and the histories of these traditions as well as other less well-known traditions such as Zoroastrianism, indigenous traditions of Africa and America, and the New Religious Movements of the modern era. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 172 Religions from India (RP) (4.00 SH). Hinduism and Buddhism are the major, but not the only, religious traditions to have emerged from the Indian sub-continent. This course studies the histories, narratives, rituals, scriptures, concepts, and meditative practices of the religions of India, including their increasing influence in our own society. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 173 Religion in China (RP) (4.00 SH). Religious practices in China are a mixture of Daoism, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism, and folk traditions, although Christianity and Islam are also present. The interactions of these traditions through China’s long history is a fascinating insight into the human behaviors that we call “religion.” Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 174 Religion in America (RP) (4.00 SH). This introductory course examines the ways religion has influenced the United States from the colonial period to the present. As well as the characteristics of the country’s diverse spiritual traditions, four interconnected themes are addressed: religious pluralism, religious freedom and its relationship to state power, individual spiritual experience, and social reform and religion. How, at various times, have these themes reflected, contradicted, inspired, and reinforced broader dynamics in the American past?

REL 175 Gender and Religion (RP) (4.00 SH). This course is designed to lead the student in the study of the role of gender in the major Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This study will focus on the religious texts that have been interpreted to define gender roles in these religious traditions. The influence of these religions on the perception of the roles of men and women in culture and society will be examined. The feminist approach to the issues of authority and power in these Western religious traditions will also be addressed. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 176 Religion and Art (VP) (4.00 SH). Religion and art are intimately connected. Visual arts such as painting and sculpture express and enhance religious narrative, but more—music, dance, drama, and all performative and productive arts are seen as somehow giving access to the Extraordinary. How can art “express the inexpressible”? What might this tell us about religion? (Also listed as MUS 173). Meets Visual and Performing Arts Intellectual Perspective requirement (VP).

REL 177 Religion and Society (RP) (4.00 SH). A study of contemporary religious beliefs, practices and organizations, primarily in the United States, as they derive from and influence a social context. Significant study of the Old Order Amish, as well as of the debate about secularization, the increased importance of evangelical Christianity, and new religions. Prerequisite: One lower-level sociology course or permission of instructor. (Also listed as SOC 303). Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 178 Philosophy of Religion (RP) (4.00 SH). What is philosophy of religion? Traditionally focused on arguments such as those claiming to prove the existence of God or the immortality of the soul, currently a complete reconsideration of philosophy of religion is underway. Beginning with the questions “what is philosophy?” and “what is religion?” this course applies philosophical argument to a more global history of religion. Meets Religious and Philosophical Thought Intellectual Perspective requirement (RP).

REL 200 Applied Biblical Interpretation (4.00 SH). A survey of various methods of interpretation and their application to selected biblical texts. It will explore the possibilities of meanings suggested by the texts and their practical application in contemporary contexts (e.g., church education, ethics, mission, preaching, theology).

REL 260 Text and Meaning (4.00 SH). Hermeneutics is an interdisciplinary study of interpretation. It examines how human beings experience the world and life as intelligible. We will ask fundamental questions regarding such intelligibility: What is a text? What is a context? What is language? What is meaning? Can everything we perceive be considered texts, including people and the world itself? What are the principles and methods of understanding the world of human “objects”—i.e., forms of human expression such as paintings, laws, literature, music, and religions? Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or permission of the instructor.

REL 270 Method/Theory in Study of Religion (4.00 SH). How should we go about the study of religion? Various disciplines (psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy of religion) have provided their own approaches, and these methods will be considered briefly. They do not, however, deal with the initial attitude that is adopted toward the phenomenon of religion. A frank admission of our own lack of knowledge, putting our own beliefs to one side, and imaginative re-experiencing, as well as Christian theological attitudes towards other religions, will be considered as possible methodological principles, as will the results of adopting these attitudes.

REL 601 Capstone (4.00 SH). This course is required of senior majors in religion and Christian education who are not doing an Honors project in religion.

REL 620 Independent Study (0.00 SH). Independent Study (1-4 SH) Individual study in a specific academic area under the guidance of a selected faculty member. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor and the department chair.

REL 622 Independent Study (2.00 SH). Independent Study (2 SH) Individual study in a specific academic area under the guidance of a selected faculty member. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor and the department chair..

REL 624 Independent Study (4.00 SH). Independent Study (4 SH) Individual study in a specific academic area under the guidance of a selected faculty member. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor and the department chair.

REL 662 Honors Research (2.00 SH). Honors Research (2 SH)

REL 663 Honors Research (4.00 SH). Honors Research (3 SH)

REL 664 Honors Research (4.00 SH). Honors Research (4 SH)

 

 

What can you do with a Religion degree?

Imagine yourself an international business executive, a counselor, a lawyer, journalist, teacher, social worker, Peace Corps volunteer, or pastor.