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Past Course Descriptions

Course Listings -Fall 2001

Religion Department Course Descriptions Fall 2001-2002

Religion 121 - Art of Biblical Literature

This course is intended to help readers appreciate the artistry of biblical prose and poetry. We will examine texts from the Old and New Testaments and Apocrypha, paying special attention to plot structure, word-plays, imagery, repetition, characterization, themes, parallelism and aetiology. Throughout the term, we will consider reinterpretations of biblical literature in the music, literature, and art and film of our own culture. Class sessions have a lecture/discussion format. There will be two or three exams and short weekly writings. Writing intensive. No prerequisites.

Religion 134 C/R - Chinese and Japanese Religious Traditions


This course examines several religious traditions which have shaped East Asian civilizations. We will study the formal traditions of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Shinto, and the New Religions; we will also consider the popular religious traditions of China and Japan. Classes include both lecture and discussion; students will be evaluated through essay exams, short papers, and analysis of scripture and other texts. No Prerequisites.

Religion 171 - Urban Life and Social Ethics

This course is rooted in two facts that some people might see as problems -- Springfield is very typical of U.S. cities and a Wittenberg professor is mayor. This course attempts to turn these facts into opportunities -- an opportunity to use Springfield as a laboratory of urban life and a chance to see these issues from the inside. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to ethical dimensions of contemporary urban life in the United States. The first half of the course will involve some analyses of issues facing cities. The second half of the course will examine some issues facing Springfield as examples of these analyses. Assignments will include weekly quizzes during the first half of the course and two papers during the second half of the course and two examinations.

Religion 221 - Understanding the Old Testament

This course is designed especially for religion majors, pre-theological students, and others with a serious interest in biblical studies. We will attempt to place the Old Testament literature in its historical context, understand the theological perspectives which shape the texts, develop methods of interpretation, and simply appreciate the artistry and inspiration of the Old Testament literature. Class sessions have lecture/discussion format. Students will take three exams and write a paper. Writing intensive. No prerequisites.

Religion 241 R - Christian Tradition


Historical Survey of the development of Christian thought and doctrine in the West. Students will be introduced to the work of major theologians (classical and modern) and to issues of perennial debate such as the tensions between reason and revelation, the humanity and divinity of Christ, nature and grace, justification and sanctification, spirit and structure, and differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrine. Lecture/discussion format. Midterm and final examinations. No prerequisite though students should be aware that the course requires careful reading of primary texts, many of which are quire challenging.

Religion 324 - Apocalyptic Vision in Ancient and Modern Literature

We will begin the semester with an analysis of ancient Jewish apocalyptic texts - Daniel, Enoch, and 2 Esdras. Historical context and literary style of the Jewish texts will be the focus of our attention. Second, we will consider apocalyptic literature of two sectarian groups, the Essenes and Christians. During this part of the quarter we will read the War Rule from Qumran and Revelation and examine and respond to modern fundamentalist interpretation of the latter. Finally, we will consider apocalyptic aspects of English literature by examining such texts as poems of William Blake and Robert Lowell and Nathaniel West's Day of the Locust. Students will be responsible for a research paper and several short presentations (theodicy debate, imaging ultimate states of good and evil, reporting on newspaper and magazine articles, etc.). The class is conducted as a seminar with discussion, frequent student presentations, occasional lectures. Writing intensive.

Religion 335 C/R - The Confucian Tradition and its Critics

Seminar on the history, central teachings, and institutions of the Confucian and Neo-Confucian traditions and Confucianism as manifest in the modern world. We will read pivotal works of Confucians including the Analects, Mencius, the writings of Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming and Tu Wei-ming. These will be assessed in part in contrasts to critics of Confucianism ranging from classical philosophers to twentieth century Marxists. Writing intensive. No Prerequisites.

Religion 350 - Approaches to the Study of Religion (Jr. Colloquium)


An examination of various methodological approaches to the academic study of religion. We will discuss common reading and pursue individual research projects including a prospectus for senior essays. Required for all religion majors of the class of 2003. Writing intensive

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