DEPARTMENT OF RELIGION
Rel 100R/ C Hinduism
This course explores Hinduism as a socio-religious tradition in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan) by examining the relationship between Hindu thought, artistic traditions, ritual and social structures from about 2,5000 BCE to the present. The course also analyzes historical and modern interpretations of Hinduism, from the “Orientalists,” to Mark Twain, to post-colonial scholars, as a way of reflecting on contextual perspective and how “knowing” changes over time. Student assessment is based on group work and presentations, quizzes, mid-semester and final exams, and short writing assignments. 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.
Religion 137 R – Jewish Tradition in Historical Context
This course introduces the student to the Jewish tradition, beginning with its development in the biblical and early rabbinic periods. It focuses upon the general history of Judaism as well as its basic concepts, including readings in primary and secondary texts and discussions of the Jewish calendar and life-cycle events. Required: three-four exams.
Religion 177 R – Religious Perspectives on Contemporary Moral
This course is intended to provide an introduction to basic moral concepts in Judaism and Christianity (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) and their application to specific issues of current interest. The course examines the relation of moral teachings to the broader theological context in which they occur, analyzes in detail positions taken by religious moralists on particular issues and compares these positions with those of secular thinkers. In some cases, Jewish and Christian perspectives may be compared with those of Islamic, Hindu or Buddhist thinkers. Topics may include lying, sexuality and procreation, assisted reproduction, abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, genetic engineering, human rights, war, terrorism and nuclear deterrence, equality and gender, justice in access to health care, and environmental ethics.
Religion 221 R – 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 222 R – Understanding the New Testament
No prerequisites, but Religion 221 (OT) recommended.
This course is designed for religion majors, pre-theological students and other serious students of religion. Throughout the term we will attempt to understand the historical context of the New Testament literature, discover the religious perspectives which shape the New Testament texts and appreciate the richness of the New Testament writings. Students will be required to read the New Testament and some non-canonical texts, write a paper and take three exams. The class has a lecture/discussion format. Writing intensive.
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 quite challenging.
Religion 324 R – Apocalyptic Vision in Ancient and Modern Literature
Prerequisite: one previous biblical course.
We will begin the semester with an analysis of ancient Jewish apocalyptic tests – 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 interpretations of the latter, such as views of the Branch Davidians of Waco. Finally, we will consider apocalyptic aspects of English literature by examining such texts as poems of William Blake, Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust and selected novels chosen by participants. 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 336 C/R – Religious Daoism & Popular Religion
Religious Daoism has been a way of self-cultivation, influential in Chinese imperial politics and history. This course will examine the tradition of Religious Daoism in historical context and through study of practices, including ritual, meditation, and yoga. We will also look at Religious Daoism from the vantage point of Chinese Popular Religion, the practices that have been the basis of the religion of the people to the present. Class will be a combination of lecture and discussion, with student presentations and a term paper. Writing intensive.
Religion 378 R – Bioethics
This seminar introduces students to basic concepts, issues and arguments in bioethics. The readings are taken from the disciplines of biology, ecology, medicine, philosophy, religious ethics, law and policy studies. Goals for the seminar include (1) becoming familiar with a significant body of professional literature; (2) learning to identify moral issues, analyze moral arguments, and to make and defend moral judgments; (3) reflecting on what it means to be a physician or patient; and (4) exploring the relations between ethics, law and public policy. Topics include abortion, reproductive technologies, stem cell research, cloning, euthanasia, autonomy, paternalism, use of human subjects in research, access to health care, allocation of scarce resources, and environmental ethics. Writing intensive.