Religion

REL 103. Religions of the West (Eastman)
A broad introduction to the various aspects of religion in Western culture including theology and religious rituals, but also the impact of religion on literature, art, architecture, and music. No prerequisite. F. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 104. Religions of the East (Michael)
A survey of the major religious traditions of the world — Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and others — and an examination of the role of their religious beliefs and practices in the development of cultural patterns and social institutions. No prerequisite. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 111. Old Testament History and Literature (Staff)
The history of the Israelites and the background, history, theology, and transmission of the literature of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) in translation. The work is at the introductory level. No prerequisite. D. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 121. New Testament History and Literature (Eastman)
The history of early Christianity and the background, history, theology, and transmission of the literature of the New Testament. The work is at the introductory level. No prerequisite. (Group III)

REL 141. Islam: An Introduction (Gunasti)
A basic introduction to the Islamic tradition from the perspective of world events that occurred over the course of the past century or so. The main focus of the course will be the development of Islam in the modern period, but a basic understanding of earlier Islamic history will be introduced as needed. The course will cover such topics as the Prophet Muhammad’s memory, law, gender, and interpretations of the Qur’an through a focus on Muslim communities living in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. We will examine how different, and often competing, understandings of Islam have arisen in the modern context. We will also explore what it means to be a Muslim in contemporary society and consider the impact of modernity on the development of Islam. No prerequisite. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 151. Critical Issues in Religion & Ethics (Twesigye)
An introduction to academic theology and ethics. The course provides a nonconfessional critical analysis of Christian theology and religious ethics. Topics include: God’s existence, creation, human nature, sin and salvation, grace and justice, myth, and theological language. (Group III)


At least one of the introductory courses (REL 103, REL 104, REL 111, REL 121, REL 141, REL 151) is recommended before taking any of the following courses:

REL 270. Theory & Method in the Study of Religion (Gunasti, Michael)
A selective survey of the anthropological, cognitive, historical, phenomenological, philosophical, psychological, sociological, and theological approaches to the study of religions. Required for religion majors, recommended for religion minors, and open to others. Prerequisite: At least one course in religion. S. (Group III)

REL 300.4. Islam and Its Political Thought (Gunasti)
Exploration of the modes of expression for Islamic religious beliefs, practices, and values in the social and political institutions of Islamic societies. Investigation of classical and medieval Islamic patterns provides background for understanding modern and contemporary Islamic political values and their expressions. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 300.5. Islam in America (Gunasti)
A study of the appearance and spread of Islam in the United States. An historical approach focuses on two paradigms: American Black Religion and Religions of Immigrants. A story of the African Muslims who were brought to America as slaves provides background for the impact Islam had in the articulation of religious identities among black communities in 19th and 20th century society. Attention to the Muslim immigrant community illumines the question of “What is American Islam?” Finally, these American patterns provide contrast to trends found in Muslim immigrant communities in Europe. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 300.6. Medieval Islamic Society (Gunasti)
Exploration of Islamic society, history, and civilization from 1258, which marks the end of the Abbasid Caliphate as a result of the Mongol invasions, to 1798, the date of Napoleon Bonaparte’s arrival in Egypt, which is the traditional date marking the beginning of the modern period in the Muslim world. This period represents a remarkable intellectual florescence within the Islamic tradition, the transformation of cultural institutions, and a geo-political shift from the Arab world to Asia. We will explore life, intellectual currents, politics and law, institutions, gender relations, and culture under Muslim rule within the context of the major political powers, including the Mamluk, Timurid, Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman dynasties. This course does not require any prior coursework in Islam. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 300.7. Early Christianity in Africa (Eastman)
The history and development of early Christianity on the African continent prior to the Muslim Conquests. Informed by the study of the primary sources—both literary and archaeological—the course will examine the major figures and debates that shaped African Christian identity, theology, and practice in its three epicenters: Egypt, North Africa, and Ethiopia. Attention will also be given to the impact of developments in Africa on Christianity as a whole. D. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 300.8. Women in Judaism (Staff)
How have women understood and experienced Judaism in different times and places? This course will begin to explore this question by examining Jewish women’s traditional roles and status, how these roles have changed and varied in different periods of history and different cultural settings, and how Jewish women themselves identify with and practice Judaism. Special emphasis will be placed on the experiences of Jewish women in the Holocaust and in the State of Israel. Finally, it will consider the impact of feminism on Judaism and consider the question of what it means to be a Jewish feminist and a Jewish woman in contemporary Jewish life. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 310. Gender and Religion in the Ancient Near East (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Examination of the evidence for the social roles of women in the ancient Near East as well as the gender constructions of ancient Near Eastern religious institutions and traditions. Analyzes written and archeological material from (1) ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures from ancient Mesopotamia, and (2) Ugaritic, ancient Israelite, and other “Canaanite” cultures from the Levant. “Ancient Israelite” literature mostly consists of what is in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, so a part of the course explores the expressed social roles of women and the construction of gender in biblical texts. Prerequisite: REL 111 or permission of instructor. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 316. Ancient Mediterranean Religions (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Survey of the religions of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Palestine, Greece, and the Hellenic and Hellenistic World to the beginning of the Christian era. The myths, symbols, and rituals of these ancient cultures are studied for their understanding of humanity and its place in society and in the cosmos. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 318. Judaism During the Time of Jesus (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Examination of Jewish literature written during the Hellenistic and early Roman periods (c. 300 B.C.E. – 100 C.E.). The main focus will be on reading primary literature mostly translated from Greek but also from Hebrew (from the Dead Sea Scrolls). The course also will provide a survey of the sociological and historical contexts of Jewish life in this period (especially in Egypt and Judea/Galilee), and it will address how Jewish identity was formulated in antiquity. This course is essential for anyone interested in the history of Judaism and/or Christianity. REL 111 or REL 121 is strongly recommended prior to taking this course. (Group III)

REL 321. Life and Teachings of Jesus (Eastman)
(Alternate years.)
Traditions about Jesus as transmitted by his earliest followers. The course focuses upon the Jesuan materials in the synoptic gospels and deals with the question of what is known about the historical Jesus and how Jesus was interpreted in the Jesuan movement. (Group III)

REL 322. Paul and His Epistles (Eastman)
(Alternate years.)
The life and theology of Paul as seen in the context of the theological tensions within early Christianity. (Group III)

REL 326. Religions of the Roman Empire (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Survey of the religions of the Hellenistic World from Alexander the Great to Theodosius, including Hellenistic Cults, Mystery Religions, Emperor Cults, Divine Men, Judaism, Astrology and Magic, and Gnosticism. (Group III)

REL 331. History of Christian Thought (Eastman, Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
The history of Christian thought and practice from the beginnings of Christianity to the present. Topics may include the development of doctrinal theological traditions (including such thinkers as Paul, Origen, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Wesley, Schleiermacher, and Tillich) and the development of the three major ecclesiastical traditions (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant). (Group III)

REL 332. The Reformation Era (Spall)
(Alternate years.)
The religious upheaval of the 16th Century, including the medieval sources of the Reformation, the rise of the Protestant Churches, the sources of the Counter Reformation and the emergence of early modern European political, economic, and social conditions. Also listed as HIST 345. (Group III)

REL 333. Religion in American Culture (Staff)
The interaction between American culture and the Judaeo-Christian tradition from the colonial days until the present. Topics include the Great Awakening, the Methodist movement, frontier evangelism, pietism, fundamentalist-modernist controversy, and the social gospel. (Group III)

REL 336. Judaism in Late Antiquity (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Covering the time span from the 1st - 6th centuries C.E., this course introduces the complex nature of the construction of Jewish identity during this period. Spends considerable time on the social context and literary production of rabbis who lived in Judea/Galilee and Babylon, but also examines other features that reflect Jewish life and practice of this period (e.g., the relationship between Jewish women and the rabbinical movement; Jewish mysticism and magic; and synagogue architecture and worship). The course also introduces the current scholarly discussion about the formulation of Judaism during this period and its relation to the rise of Christianity in the Mediterranean world. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 337. Anti-Semitism, Zionism, and the Holocaust (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
The Holocaust as a pivotal event in modern Jewish history and religion. Examination of the prelude to and aftermath of the murder of millions of Jews with special emphasis on its significance for Zionism, Judaism, and Christianity. The roots of the Holocaust in the long history of Western anti-Semitism will be traced, and various contemporary theological responses and interpretations of the event itself will be studied. S. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 342. Women and Gender in Islam (Gunasti)
Through the categories of gender and sexuality, an examination of the tension that exists between an Islamic textual tradition and the everyday lives of Muslims. The contrast between the social lives of Muslims and the Islamic tradition and the way in which Muslim societies have negotiated these tensions will be a recurring theme in the course. Broadly speaking, the course will take a chronological approach to the study of women. The first part of the course will provide an overview of Islamic history – with an emphasis on women – as well as an introduction to important Islamic sources. We will then take a thematic treatment of issues regarding law, sexuality, politics and feminist reinterpretations of the Islamic tradition. We will also read literature and watch films that address the issues we cover in class. No prior study of Islam is necessary. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 343. Hinduism (Michael)
(Alternate years.)
The development of the Hindu tradition from the Vedic period to the modern era, with particular attention to the expressions of Hindu religious life in the myth, ritual, and speculative philosophy of India. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 344. Gandhi: Religion and Social Change in Modern Asia (Michael)
(Alternate years.)
An investigation of the role of religious tradition in the complex social and cultural changes of modernizing Asia. S. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 346. Chinese and Japanese Religion (Michael)
(Alternate years.)
The religious beliefs of the Chinese and Japanese peoples as these reflect their historical origins in the Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, and Buddhist traditions. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 351. Existence and Faith (Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
The nature and significance of the human situation, examined through the writings of philosophers and theologians who are primarily concerned with reflections on the meaning of existence: Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, and Soren Kierkegaard, among others.

REL 352. Radical and Liberation Theologies (Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
A study of contemporary radical or liberation theologies including Black, feminist, and political theologies. Students will read, study, and discuss selected key writers in each tradition. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 353. Christianity and the Non-Western Challenge (Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
The theology and the dynamics of the theological process, the intellectual and religious challenges of developing a Christian theology in non-Western contexts of Africa and Latin America. Selected primary readings will include key African and Latin American theologians. (Group III, Diversity)

REL 358. New Religions in America (Michael)
(Alternate years.)
The Asian origins and contemporary manifestations of selected religious groups (cults, sects, movements, etc.) as these contribute their ideas and practices to the options of American religious pluralism. Likely topics include: Hare Krishna, Zen, Vajrayana, Spiritualism, New Age, etc. (Group III)

REL 361. Moral Values in Contemporary Society (Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
Traditional and non-traditional religious perspectives on ethical problems current in American society. Exposure to current theological debate on selected issues, such as abortion and euthanasia, racism and sexism, colonialism and imperialism, the just war and pacifism, and poverty and wealth. (Group III)

REL 362. God and the Professional Life (Twesigye)
(Alternate years.)
Current writings of Catholic and Protestant ethicists on the moral issues confronting members of such professions as medicine, law, the ministry, business, and politics. The significance of faith in God as a factor in professional ethics is of central concern. Case studies of ethical problems involved in the professions and visits by professionals who have dealt with such problems are special features. (Group III)

REL 372. Philosophy of Religion (Calef)
(Alternate years.)
An investigation of some of the major philosophical questions and problems generated by eastern and western religious traditions, with emphasis on the latter. The course will focus on the assessment of religious arguments, the identification of the presuppositions that underlie religious claims, and the analysis of the meaning of religious utterances. Also listed as PHIL 345. (Group III)

REL 391. Biblical Hebrew (Staff)
(Alternate years.)
Introductory and advanced Biblical Hebrew including grammar, vocabulary, and reading of selected texts. Permission of instructor required.

REL 392. Koine Greek (Staff)
Introductory and advanced Greek including grammar, vocabulary, and reading of selected texts. Prerequisite: GREE 111 and permission of instructor.

REL 394. Sanskrit (Michael)
(Alternate years.)
Introductory and advanced Sanskrit including grammar, vocabulary, and reading of selected texts. Permission of instructor required.

REL 410. Topics in Religion (0.50 unit; Staff)
Selected topics in the study of religion. Recent topics include Dead Sea Scrolls, John Wesley and Methodism, Theologies of Leadership and Power, and Women in the Bible. (Group III)

REL 490. Independent Study (Staff)
Supervised research project. This option is designed for the student who has completed the relevant preparatory courses and wishes to pursue in depth independent research. Departmental permission required. F, S.

REL 491. Directed Readings (Staff)
Supervised reading project. This option is designed for the student who has completed the relevant preparatory courses and wishes to pursue study in an area in which formal course work is not available. Departmental permission required. F, S.

REL 495. Apprenticeship (Staff)
Pre-theology majors may receive one unit of credit for supervised field experience. Fulfills pre-theology capstone requirement; others by permission. (Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading.)

REL 498. Research Seminar (0.5 unit; Eastman, Gunasti, Michael)
Investigations of an independent research topic; including development of thesis, bibliography, prospectus, and early drafts. Required of senior religion majors; others by permission.

REL 499. Seminar in Study of Religion (0.5 unit; Eastman, Gunasti, Michael)
Production of a significant research paper showing methodological sophistication, independent ability in research and analysis, and polished presentation in written and oral media. Pre/Corequisite: REL 498. Required of senior religion majors; others by permission.