Course Schedule Spring 2013
RELG 003A. Hebrew Bible & its Modern Interpreters
When was the last time you read the most important text in the West? The Hebrew Bible isn't what it used to be. In the modern period, the scientific study of the Bible opened up new ways of thinking about sacred texts. This is an introduction to the Hebrew Bible as a literary, historical, political, and religious document. We will explore the use and abuse of the Hebrew Bible by Jews and Christians, paying attention to its role in contemporary culture, politics, and ethics. Reading select books of the Bible, we will emphasize issues of gender and race, revolution and Zionism, genocide and slavery, good and evil.
M/W/F 9:30-10:20 am TROT 303
RELG 004. New Testament and Early Christianity
A discussion-rich introduction to the New Testament in light of recent biblical scholarship. The class engages the issues of authorship and redaction, purpose and structure, and historical context and cultural setting. Some of the particular themes that are studied include the dynamic of canon formation, the synoptic problem in relation to the Gospel of John, first-century Judaism, Greek and Roman influences, the messianic consciousness of Jesus, the use of epistolary literature in Paul, the problem of apocalyptic material, and the wealth of extra-canonical writings (e.g., Gospel of Thomas) that are crucial for examining the rise of Christianity in the years from 30 CE to 150 CE. Novels and films inspired by the New Testament are read and viewed as well.
Eligible for INTP credit.
T/TH 1:15-2:30 pm KOHL 115
RELG 008. Patterns of Asian Religions (W)
A thematic introduction to the study of religion through an examination of selected texts, teachings, and practices of the religious traditions of South and East Asia structured as patterns of religious life. Materials are drawn from the Buddhist traditions of India, Tibet, China, and Japan; the Hindu and Jain traditions of India; the Confucian and Taoist traditions of China; and the Shinto tradition of Japan. Themes include deities, the body, ritual, cosmology, sacred space, religious specialists, and death and the afterlife.
Eligible for ASIA credit.
M/W/F 10:30-11:20 am KOHL 115
RELG 008B. The Qur'an and Its Interpreters
This is course will include detailed reading of the Qur'an in English translation. The first part of the course will be devoted to the history of the Qur'an and its importance to Muslim devotional life. The first portion of the course will include: discussion of the history of the compilation of the text, the methods used to preserve it, styles of Qur'anic recitation, and the principles of Qur'anic abrogation. Thereafter, attention will be devoted to a theme or issue arising from Qur'anic interpretation. Students will be exposed to the various sub-genres of Qur'anic exegesis including historical, legal, grammatical, theological and modernist approaches.
Eligible for ISLM or MDST credit.
T/TH 11:20 am-12:35 pm SCI 181
RELG 015B. Philosophy of Religion (cross-listed as PHIL 016)
Searching for wisdom about the meaning of life? Curious as to whether there is a God? Questioning the nature of truth and falsehood? Right and wrong? You might think of philosophy of religion as your guide to the universe. This course considers Anglo-American and Continental philosophical approaches to religious thought using different disciplinary perspectives; it is a selective overview of the history of philosophy with special attention to the religious dimensions of many contemporary thinkers' intellectual projects. Topics include rationality and belief, proofs for existence of God, the problem of evil, moral philosophy, biblical hermeneutics, feminist revisionism, postmodernism, and interreligious dialogue. Thinkers include, among others, Anselm, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kant, Wittgenstein, Derrida, Levinas, Weil, and Abe. This year, the central theme of the course is the problem of evil.
Eligible for INTP credit.
M/W/F 10:30-11:20 am TROT 303
RELG 024. From Vodun to Voodoo: African Religions in the Old and New Worlds
Is there a kindred spirituality expressed within the ceremonies, beliefs, music and movement of African religions? This course explores the dynamics of African religions throughout the diaspora and the Atlantic world. Using text, art, film, and music, we will look at the interaction of society and religion in the black world, beginning with traditional religions in west and central Africa, examining the impact of slavery and migration, and the dispersal of African religions throughout the Western Hemisphere. The course will focus on the varieties of religious experiences in Africa and their transformations in the Caribbean, Brazil and North America in the religions of Candomblé, Santeria, Conjure, and other New World traditions. At the end of the term, in consultation with the professor, students will create a web-based project in lieu of a final paper.
Study abroad credit may be available.
Eligible for BLST credit.
T/TH 11:20 am-12:35 pm SCI L26
RELG 030. The Power of Images: Icons and Iconoclasts
This course is a cross-cultural, comparative study of the use and critique of sacred images in biblical Judaism; Eastern Christianity; and the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions of India. Students will explore differing attitudes toward the physical embodiment of divinity, including issues of divine "presence" and "absence"; icons, aniconism, and "idolatry"; and distinctions drawn in some traditions between different types of images and different devotional attitudes toward sacred images, from Yahweh's back and bleeding icons to Jain worship of "absent" saints.
Eligible for ASIA or MDST credit.
T/TH 9:55-11:10 am TROT 303
RELG 038. Religion and Film
An introductory course that uses popular film as a primary text/medium to explore fundamental questions in the academic study of religion. In particular, we will be concerned with the ways that religion and religious experience are constituted and defined on film as well as through film viewing. In discussing films from across a range of subjects and genres, we will engage in the work of mythical, theological and ideological criticism, while examining the nature, function, and value of religion and religious experience. We will also consider some of the most significant writers and traditions in the field of Religion and develop the analytical and interpretive skills of the discipline. Scheduled films include The Seventh Seal, The Matrix, Breaking the Waves, Contact, Jacob's Ladder, The Passion of the Christ, The Rapture, The Apostle, as well as additional student selections. Weekly readings, writing assignments, and evening screening sessions are required.
WED 1:15-4:00 pm McCabe Video Classroom
RELG 039. Good and Evil
What do the Western religious traditions have to teach us about the evils of alienation, racism, war, disease, exploitation and the possibility of solidarity, resistance, love, and goodness? This course will be an examination of modern philosophical and theological responses to the mysteries of radical evil and radical good.
Eligible for PEAC credit.
M/W/F 11:30 am-12:20 pm TROT 303
RELG 057. Hebrew for Text Study I (cross-listed as LING 007)
What does the Bible really say? Have you ever noticed how radically different the Hebrew Bible seems in different translations? If you want to understand the enigma of this text, if you want to experience it through your own eyes, if you want to plumb its depths, appreciate its beauty, confront its challenges, and understand its influence, you must read it in Hebrew. In this course, you will learn the grammar and vocabulary required to experience the Hebrew Bible and ancient Hebrew commentaries in the original language. You will learn to use dictionaries, concordances, and translations to investigate word roots and to authenticate interpretations of the texts. In addition to teaching basic language skills, this course offers students the opportunity for direct encounter with primary biblical, rabbinic, and Jewish liturgical sources. No experience necessary. If you already have some Hebrew competence, contact the instructor for advice.
Plotkin M/W/F 11:30 am-12:20 pm Lodges 5
RELG 127. Secrecy and Hersey (1&2)
This seminar will explore religious literature, bodily practices, and social behaviors associated with the performance of secrecy in various geographical, historical, and political contexts. Religious communities have often employed secrecy as a strategy for the maintenance of group solidarity and religious identity when faced with allegations of heresy. Secrecy functions not only as a means to subvert and undermine the marginalization of religious minorities but as a powerful tool for the creation of more egalitarian possibilities through preservation of privileged knowledge and the presence of internally shared though externally undisclosed social and religious connections. What kinds of religious secrets are meant to be safeguarded? What set of behaviors and strategies are required to keep these "secrets" or sustain adopted personas? Is religious secrecy merely a tactic for ensuring survival in the context of social marginalization and political persecution? What is the relationship between secrecy and suspicion? Is it necessary that what one wishes to conceal is inherently negative, pernicious or even heretical?
Eligible for ISLM or MDST credit.
TUES 1:15-4:30 pm Pearson 210