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Courses: Religious Studies (RELS)

Undergraduate Bulletin
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Undergraduate & Graduate Dates to Remember*

Fall Term 2009

August 26-30 Wolfpack Welcome
August 31 Classes begin
September 4
Add deadline
October 30 Last day to withdraw & last day
to apply for graduation
December 11 Last day of classes
December 12-18 Final Exams

Spring Term 2010

January 8 New Student Orientation
January 11 Classes begin
January 15 Add deadline
March 12 Last day to withdraw & last day to apply for graduation
April 28 Last day of classes
April 30 - May 6 Final Exams
May 8 Commencement - all colleges

*College of Law dates on Law Bulletin

Humanities and Natural Sciences


RELS A200 Early Christian Thought 3 crs.

This course is a study of the development of Christian thought through the Ante and Post Nicene periods to the end of the patristic period.

Required of all majors.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A201 Medieval Christian Thought 3 crs.

This course is a study of Christian thought from the end of the patristic period to the eve of the Reformation. Within this period, interest will center on the three centuries between 1000 A.D. and 1300 A.D.

Required of all majors.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A202 Modern Christian Thought 3 crs.

This course examines the development of Christian thought from the Reformation through the modern period.

Required for all majors.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A215 The Pentateuch 3 crs.

The various theological traditions which comprise the Pentateuch and related writings will be critically studied for their literary value, religious insights, and theological importance for their age and our own.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A216 Biblical Wisdom Literature 3 crs.

Proverbs, Koheleth, Job, Sirach, and Wisdom will be critically studied in terms of their literary quality, philosophical and existential attitudes towards life, theological content, and intellectual relationship to the rest of scripture and the ancient Near Eastern intellectual tradition.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A236 Hebrew Prophets 3 crs.

The message of the Hebrew Prophets with its religious, social, political, and economic implications will be studied in order to see its relationship with the rest of Scripture and the development of prophetic criticism which continues into our own age.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A255 Synoptic Gospels 3 crs.

After a brief introduction to the question of the literary genre of the gospel, the course will deal with the different theologies of the first three gospels, related to the social concerns of the communities to which they were addressed.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A300 Pauline Writings 3 crs.

This course will explore the development of Paul’s thought through his epistles, focusing on major themes such as sin, justification, faith, and the body of Christ. Influences on his thought such as Hellenistic philosophical and theological speculations and rabbinic theologizing will also be considered.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A310 Religions of Asia 3 crs.

This course is a study of the history and contemporary status of at least two of the following religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, the Chinese religious tradition, and Islam.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A315 Johannine Literature 3 crs.

This course covers the fourth gospel, the Johannine Epistles, and the Apocalypse. Literary, linguistic, and theological criteria will be discussed in establishing the distinctiveness of this body of literature within the New Testament. John’s contribution to subsequent theology will be discussed by contrasting his synthesis with that of Paul and Synoptics.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A320 The Christian God 3 crs.

This course is a study of the problem of belief as it evolved from the enlightenment period to the present, the bearing of the secularization process on God-talk and traditional approaches to God, an investigation of recent efforts by process thinkers to reconstruct the idea of God, and implications for Christian theologies and life.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A335 Theological Method 3 crs.

An inquiry into how theology understands its role in religion, this course puts particular emphasis on theology after the advent of the historical sciences.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A350 Christology 3 crs.

This course includes a brief look at New Testament Christology; a brief study of the pre-Nicene views of Christ; the rise of counterpositions; the official response in the Councils of Nicea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, and Chalcedon; contemporary critiques of the classical model and recent revisions.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A354 Dynamics of Salvation 3 crs.

This course is a study of the history and contemporary status of theories of redemption.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A358 Ecumenical Theology 3 crs.

This course begins with a review of the origins of Christian division and the motives for the restoration of Christian unity. It then analyzes progress towards this goal by reviewing the recent theological literature and focusing particularly on the joint statements of the official Lutheran-Catholic dialogues.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A360 Theology in 19th, 20th Centuries 3 crs.

This course traces the emergence of the modern theological consciousness in such major figures as Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack, Barth, Tillich, Newman, Rahner, etc. It also attempts to assess the significance of movements such as Protestant liberalism, Catholic modernism, and neo-orthodoxy for this development.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A368 Christianity and the Environment 3 crs

This course will involve participants in an investigation of the developing understanding of the universe and Earth as divine manifestation and salvation history. We will focus particularly on the Creation-affirming tradition within the Christian tradition and discern its capacity to inform contemporary scientific perspectives and interpretations with an appreciation and articulation of their sacred dimension. 

RELS A394 Religion and Media 3 crs.

This seminar encourages awareness of the manifestations of religion in media–uses of media by religious groups, news coverage of media, treatment of religious themes in various media–to foster critical consumption and production of media relating to religion.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A400 Theology of Vatican II 3 crs.

This course is a study of the documents of Vatican II and the changes in Roman Catholicism since Vatican II. Also discussed is why the changes occurred and what fundamental shifts were behind the changes.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A411 Hindu Theology 3 crs.

This course is a study of the rise and development of Hindu theistic thought in the millennium following Shankara (788 — 820 A.D.). The schools of identity, of difference, and of difference-in-identity will be critically studied.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A417 Women, Religion, Culture 3 crs.

This course is an investigation of the mutual impact of religious belief and gender roles. Special topics include the origin of patriarchy, structures of patriarchy, function of shamanism in women’s lives, women in patriarchal religions, violence perpetuated against women in patriarchal cultures/religions, and women creating women’s religion.

Prerequisites: RELS T122 or RELS H233; junior standing.

RELS A440 Philosophy of Religion 3 crs.

A study of the philosophical problems raised by religious experience, the course will conclude with an investigation of religious experience on the personal or individual level with accompanying problems.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A441 Psychology of Religion 3 crs.

This course is a general introduction to the psychological study of religious behavior, comprising a short history of the subject with special attention to classic writings since 1890, a review of outstanding theories and methods, and a representative sampling of recent research, especially on personality and developments.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS A442 Millennium Seminar 3 crs.

This course is a cross-cultural investigation of the diversity of religious patterns that scholars have termed millennialism, the expectation of an imminent transition to a collective salvation. Catastrophic millennialism, progressive millennialism, nativist millennial movements, and why some millennial groups become involved in violence will be studied.

Prerequisites: RELS T122 or RELS H233; junior standing.

RELS A470 The Spirituality of the Nature Writers 3 crs

We are increasingly aware of nature's impress upon us - of its profound meaning and influence on our physical, psychic and spiritual well-being.  Here is our first experience of delight and ecstacy, awe and wonder, of the sacred, of our spirituality, of the Creator.  Thus, anyone who would seek self-understanding, creativity, wisdom, fulfillment, spirituality, not to mention a relationship with God, has direct, unmediated acess through the experience of hte natural world.

RELS A493 Directed Readings arr.

RELS A495 Special Project arr.

This project focuses on the creative or productive efforts of one or more students. A special project is distinguished from a research project in its lack of the historical or experimental method and perspective characteristics of research.

RELS A496 Seminar/Workshop arr.

A seminar is a supervised group of students sharing the results of their research on a common topic. A workshop is a supervised group of students participating in a common effort.

RELS A498 Research Project arr.

This project focuses on empirical or historical investigation, culminating in a written report.

RELS A499 Independent Study arr.

RELS H233 Honors Religious Studies I: World Religions 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: University Honors Program

This course will investigate why religion arises and how it manifests itself. An inquiry into the human questions that give rise to religion will seek to discover what leads people to be religious.

RELS H234 Honors Religious Studies II: Biblical Literature 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: University Honors Program

The great ideas of western religion as evidenced in its Scripture will be considered. The students will gain a vision of the biblical tradition and will investigate key aspects of it by special attention to selected writings in the biblical corpus.

RELS H235 Honors Religious Studies III: Theology and Culture 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: University Honors Program

Focus will be on the development of Christian self-understanding by considering a selection of significant thinkers and their contributions to this process. Investigation of important religious questions and their treatment in the Christian tradition will be undertaken.

RELS T122 Introduction to World Religions 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Introductory

This course intends to provide an overview of the world’s great religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Religion, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) in terms of basic similarities and differences.

RELS U236 Parables of Jesus 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

Parables of Jesus will be studied as language-events, that is, as stories which engage the hearer in personal struggle to understand their deeper level of meaning. They challenge the hearer to reexamine the world and its presuppositions and to make decisions based on a reversal of expectations.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U239 Experience of Grace 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course examines the experience and theology of Christian conversion and grace in Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, the Council of Trent, Rahner, and contemporary liberation theology. The course will discuss the meaning of Christian conversion and will reflect on a variety of understandings or models of grace that arise from Christian experience.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U243 Women in the Christian Tradition 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is an examination in historical terms of the tension between the significant religious opportunities available to women in the Christian tradition, and the subordination of women in Christian institutions. This historical examination will begin with women in the scriptures, trace women in European Christian history through the Reformation, and then focus on Christian women in America.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U246 Judaism 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course gives an overall picture of Judaism–its customs, rituals, festivals; study of the prophets of Israel: Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the influence of their messages upon teachings of Jesus and Christian church. The life and message of Jesus will be studied from Jewish point of view.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U247 New Testament as Literature 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This study of the New Testament as literature will consider the various factors involved: the New Testament is ancient, religious literature which is regarded as revealed by Christians. All these factors will be examined in order to appreciate this body of writings as literature.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U248 Christian Origins 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course studies the rise and development of primitive Christianity within the context of Hellenistic culture and civilization. Attention is paid to such questions as Christianity’s development of distinctive ritual, its millennial tendencies, its ethical code, and community structure and organization, against the background of similar developments.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U249 Old Testament as Literature 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

The literary, theological, and social-cultural development of the Old Testament will be reviewed with frequent references to the ongoing implications for our modern day situation, both in regard to our religious institutions and society in general.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U253 Hindu Paths to God 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is a historical and systematic study of the varieties of Hinduism, their cultural setting, theological and philosophical import, ways of prayer and worship, and religious literature.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U263 The Ancient Mind 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course will concentrate on the intellectual heritage of the ancient Near East prior to the rise of classical culture. In particular, the course will observe the interplay of ancient biblical values in an effort to understand the intellectual prehistory and origin of values for the Western tradition.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U265 Spiritual Ways of China 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is a study of the spiritual traditions of China. Topics include Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, folk religion, cosmology and humanism, Mao, and contemporary developments.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U269 Death: Comparative Views 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is a study of religious and nonreligious views of death in Eastern religions, Ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, and the contemporary West, etc. Differences in these views will be examined on ethical issues concerning life and death, e.g., suicide, euthanasia, abortion, and the death penalty.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U270 Poets and Sages: Old Testament 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

The course will study hymnic and wisdom literature of the Bible (psalms, wisdom, novels). The goal will be to perceive the human dimension of this literature–its expression of human emotions and philosophical reflection on life’s great issues. Its impact upon aesthetic, intellectual, and psychological aspects of the Western tradition will be considered.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U275 The Bible and Creation 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

The purpose of this course is to understand the biblical view of creation in the biblical text, especially the Hebrew Canon, and to consider the implications for contemporary environmental issues, the relationship of biblical views of creation to modern understandings of the universe, the debate over Scientific Creationism, and the direction of Christian theology which is sensitive to modern scientific theory. Creation accounts in the ancient Near East and narratives in Genesis 2, Genesis 1, and Proverbs 8 will be given close attention in terms of their views of the origin of the world, the divine-human relationship, the nature of the created order, the male-female relationship, and human finitude.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U277 Buddhism 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is a study of the rise and development of the Buddha’s Middle Way. The life of the Buddha, basic texts and scriptures, and schools of thought will be studied. Topics include nirvana, enlightenment, emptiness, Theravada/ Mahayana, and the differences among Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U281 Women in World Religions 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is the historical and cultural study of the world religions in order to understand the ways that women’s roles in society and religious beliefs are interrelated and affect one another. Women’s roles and experiences in the religions are examined, as well as how the religions have regarded women as evidenced in scriptures, myths, and theologies.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U285 Heresies and Heretics 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is a historical and theological survey of those variant streams in Christianity which have been deemed heresies, from the early church to the time of the Reformation. The course will include reflection on the nature of heresy and on the impact of politics, personality, and spirituality on the development of Christian doctrine.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U286 Medieval Synthesis 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course is an introduction to the major personalities and problems in medieval theology focusing on the construction and disintegration of the medieval synthesis.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U288 Sin: History of an Idea 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course links together central human questions of personal and social moral responsibility and of relationship with God. Sin will be studied in historical and biblical contexts. Ethical, psychological, sociological, religious, and literary perspectives will be used in reappraisal of this key category of Judeo-Christian tradition.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U296 Law: Ancient World 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course examines the place of law in ancient society, emphasizing Semitic codes of ancient Near East (Bible and Greco-Roman laws) and its relationship to morality. Meeting of Semitic-Judaic and Greco-Roman in the first Christian centuries produced natural law and canon law of later times. Relevant social issues are examined.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS U299 Apocalyptic Literature 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Pre-modern

This course will study Apocalyptic literature within the biblical context and its subsequent use by Western European culture. This course shall discern the original historical, social, and religious context of the literature, then trace its use and misuse through the Middle Ages up to our own modern American setting.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V230 Faith, Science, and Religion 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course will critically analyze various ways of knowing: faith, science, and theology (critical analysis of faith). The methods of the physical sciences and the life sciences will be discussed. Topics will include the epic of creation, evolution, and quantum theory. (Also listed as PHYS Z130).

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V242 Christian Ethics 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course examines significant attempts by various Christian thinkers to relate their religious beliefs and practices to the realizing of moral aspirations and the solving of moral problems.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V244 Social Policy and the Christian 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is a critical analysis of the role of Christianity and ethics in both responding to and shaping of social policy.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V251 Protestant Christianity 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is an introduction to the central ideas and characteristic ethos of Protestant Christianity as found in the 16th-century reformers and their heirs–Luther, Calvin, the radical reformers, puritanism, liberalism, fundamentalism, etc.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V252 Catholicism 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is a theological study of the principal doctrinal, ethical, and ritual symbols of the Roman Catholic tradition. The course will focus on those elements of the tradition that are distinctive to Catholicism with special emphasis on the meaning of church and the role of the sacraments.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V258 Ignatius Loyola 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

The course will analyze the vision of God, the world and the human person presented by Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. The course will also develop themes of creation, sin and mercy, discipleship, Christian discernment, and the Paschal Mystery, and will study the Ignatian vision as embodied in the 20th-century writer, Teilhard de Chardin.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V260 Discovering Islam 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is an introduction into the central experiences and teachings of Islam. Topics include Muhammad, Qur’an, Sunna, Shi’as, Sunnis, Sufis, relationships to Judaism and Christianity, the problems of modernity, and Islam in North America.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V264 20th-century Religious Thought 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course investigates contemporary movements in theology, e.g., fundamentalism, conservatism, liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, liberation theology, death of God theory, futuristic theology, charismatic movement, and post-Vatican II Roman Catholic theology.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V267 Native American Religions 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is a study of the myths, ideas, rituals, and experiences of the tribal religions of North America. Topics include tribal experience, non-literacy and oral tradition, cosmology, shamanism, kinship with natural world, and interactions with Christianity.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V268 Mystery of Suffering 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

Suffering is a common experience of all peoples. For this reason, all religions give it a place of central importance. In one sense, suffering is a cause of religion. What any religion has to say about suffering reveals its anthropology and its point of view about the purpose of existence.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.

RELS V298 Psychology and Religion 3 crs.

Common Curriculum: Humanities/Arts Modern

This course is a study of major modern psychological interpretations of religion. The writings of significant authors will be presented, e.g., Freud, James, and Jung, and their views evaluated. Critiques of religion will be studied. Research papers will be given in class.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS H233.