Religion Courses

RE 101 Introduction to the Bible (4)
This course explores the contents, historical contexts, themes, development, and transmission of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and New Testament. Readings will be selected portions of most biblical books, in a translation that offers explanatory notes and other helps. Class sessions will focus in great part on trying to understand these writings in their original situations, and how people ever since have used and interpreted them. No previous knowledge of the Bible is assumed.

RE 103 Reacting to Western Religion (4)
You are in ancient Judah: Would you try to wipe out the worship of the goddess Asherah? You are in ancient Byzantium: Do you think Jesus was the “biological” son of God or did God “adopt” Jesus as his son? You are in Puritan Boston: How do you know whether you are destined for Heaven or Hell? This class will explore these sorts of questions by playing games. Students will be assigned roles of people and re-enact history. The outcomes of these discussions shaped western religion, as we know it today. If you play your character well, you may persuade your classmates to make different decisions and produce a different history!

RE 104 Christianity & Diversity (4)
Who is God? How is Jesus the Christ? What is sin? Where did we come from? This course examines questions like these to introduce the student to foundational concepts of Christian theology and their development in the life of the church. It situates Christianity in the global religious context, considering it in historical relationship to Abrahamic faith traditions, and contemporary eastern religious traditions. Through this, students are introduced to the academic study of religion and expected to develop critical thinking skills necessary for engagement in the discipline.

RE 111 Intro to the Old Testament (4)
The Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) records the stories, history, and wisdom of Ancient Israel; this collection of documents is one of the foundations of Western civilization. This course will introduce a variety of reading methodologies to students and use them to examine these texts. Special emphasis will be given to historical analysis: tracing the Bible’s development over time and situating it in its Ancient Near Eastern context. We will also consider how these texts have been received and interpreted in modern contexts.

RE 112 Intro to the New Testament (4)
The New Testament is a collection of documents produced during the earliest period of Christianity. In this course, we will study the history and culture of the New Testament world, both Jewish and Greek, to better understand the messages of Jesus, Paul, and other important figures in the history of Christianity in their original context. A variety of reading methodologies will be introduced, so students will have a better understanding of how biblical scholars work; students will also be able to engage in their own scholarship.

RE 175 Religion and Sports (4)
The relationship between athletic competition and religious worship is as old as the Olympics in ancient Greece. Why do some religions encourage athletic competition, while others see sports as incompatible with religious life? How do specific religious commitments conflict with athletic competition? Why do some religions borrow athletic imagery to describe the religious life? How do sports use religious imagery? In this class, we will look at the role of sports in several religions from ancient Greece to contemporary America. We will look at Jews, Christians, Muslims, among others, examining the relationship between their religious commitments and athletics. Finally, we will think of how athletics and religion often take on each other’s qualities to the point that sports can be analyzed as a form of religion.

RE 177 Religion and Environment (4)
Religion – and Christianity in particular – has been called one of the greatest threats to the environment, the Bible often being used to justify the exploitation of natural resources for human benefit. Is this true? Does it have to be the case? In this class, we will explore how religious commitments shape attitudes toward the environment, and ways that people can act in an environmentally ethical manner through their religious traditions. We will look, in particular, how the Bible has been called upon on all sides of the debate, but also turn to other traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism for comparison.

RE 189 Abraham: Muslim-Christian-Jew (4)
In the aftermath of 9/11, learning about Islam and its relationship to Judaism and Christianity has become very important. All three religions regard Abraham as a spiritual ancestor, revere the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, and share an intertwined history. But while they have similarities, they also have significant differences. This course will introduce students to the scripture, interpretation, theology, and practices of Judaism, Orthodox Christianity, and Islam via field trips and experiential learning.

RE 190 World Religions (4)
This course offers a brief introduction to religion as human engagement with matters of ultimate concern, and surveys globally important religious traditions that have emerged from the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), South Asia (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh traditions), and East Asia (Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto). Readings will include some authored by adherents, some by scholars for a general readership. Visuals accompany all topics. No previous knowledge of these religions is assumed.

RE 200 Interfaith Studies (4)
In this interdisciplinary course, you will gain knowledge and skills necessary for navigating professional and community life in a religiously diverse 21st century. Using case studies, texts from multiple disciplines like religion, history, and sociology, alongside experiences and interactions inside and outside of the classroom, you will learn about multiple religions, about what is at stake when people who orient around religion differently interact, and about how you can become an effective interfaith leader. The course includes an opportunity to connect this work with a profession, a major, or an issue of specific interest to you.

RE 203 The Christian Tradition (4)
This course introduces students to central developments in the history of the Christian tradition by examining primary texts in the Christian intellectual tradition. These include texts from the bible, early Christianity, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, contemporary theology, and other relevant eras. Prerequisite: RE 101 or permission of instructor.

RE 207 Religion & Violence (4)
In this course, you will learn about global politics as manifest in religious terrorism from five different religious contexts, the intersection of religion with violence against women, and one case study of a contemporary fundamentalist group in the United States. Historical and theoretical analysis of religion and violence will frame this learning alongside responses to religious violence like Martin Luther King Jr.’s work on nonviolence and contemporary interfaith cooperation.

RE 209 Sex and God (4)
This course looks at the ways that theology and religious traditions deal with issues of sex, gender, and sexuality. Based mostly in Christian theological reflection, the course will examine specific topics like the ordination of women, homosexuality, contraception and reproductive rights (in multiple religious traditions), and the role of biblical interpretation, looking at how religious traditions respond to significant cultural shifts.

RE 213 Contemporary Religious Issues (4)
This course focuses on one specific contemporary religious issue throughout the course of a semester. The issue is examined within the historical context of the Christian tradition, in terms of its origins, major questions, underlying presuppositions, and possible implications for the development of theology. Refer to the semester course listings for the particular issue being studied.

RE 216 Religion and Film (4)
Many people’s ideas about religion are shaped by how it is presented in film. This class will introduce the vocabulary of film analysis to students and then use it to study a variety of films. We will see that films often reflect the concerns of the time in which they were made, even if they claim to represent the life of Jesus or other biblical figures. Films to be studied include several Bible films (that is, films adapting stories from Bible), films that represent Jewish and/or Christian ideas, and films representing other religions.

RE 220 Stormfront of Modernity, 1300-1650 (4)
This course explores key religious, intellectual, and cultural developments of 1300-1650, including the Renaissance, Reformation, religious conflicts, artistic developments, modern skepticism, the re-evaluation of politics and religion’s role in political life, and the advent of globalization. No previous knowledge of the period is assumed. (See HI 220.)

RE 223 Japan: History and Religion (4)
This course is intended to assist you in understanding Japan in the context of its history and major religious traditions. It will cover the sweep of Japan’s story from its beginnings to the 21st century. Traditions treated will include ancient beliefs and practices, Buddhism, Shinto, Confucianism, Daoism, and modern political ideologies such as State Shinto. Readings will include texts by Japanese and non-Japanese alike. No previous knowledge of Japan is assumed. (See HI 223.)

RE 224 China: History and Religion (4)
This course is intended to assist you in understanding contemporary China in the context of its history and major religions. It will cover the sweep of China’s story from its beginnings to the 21st century. Traditions treated will include ancient beliefs and practices, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and modern political ideologies such as Maoism. Readings will include texts by Chinese and non-Chinese alike. No previous knowledge of China is assumed. (See HI 224.)

RE 260 Religion and Literature (4)
This course examines various modern literary works, with a focus upon their theological themes concerning perennial and recent issues of life and faith. Examples of semester themes: spiritual autobiographies, contemporary fiction, gender in fiction.

RE 265 God, Suffering and Evil (4)
How can God be all-good and all-powerful if evil exists? This basic question of theodicy guides this course, with a study of classic and contemporary attempts to deal with the problem of evil in light of God’s proposed goodness and power. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. (See PH 265.)

RE 304 Philosophy of Religion (4)
(See PH 304.)

RE 331 Women in Islam (4)
This course provides an opportunity for students to understand and analyze the role of women in Islam. In-depth attention will be paid to women in the history and foundational texts of Islam, the variety of women’s experiences in different Muslim countries and cultures, and issues for Muslim women in America in the twenty-first century. Students will read primary accounts by women, as well as engage in scholarly analysis of gender in Islam in order to understand a major dimension of this world religion. Recommended primarily for students with previous courses in religion.

RE 335 Sexuality in the Bible (4)
The role and place of women in the cultures of biblical Israel and the New Testament world have been the subject of increasing debate in recent decades. Were women more-or-less chattel or did they have power and influence in the public sphere? What was women’s role in the religious realm? Did women’s situation improve in the Greco-Roman world and in the New Testament? Did Paul support women in ministry or did he try to limit their authority in the church? These topics are significant because how they are answered has important implications for women in traditions that cite biblical models as authoritative or a guide for modern conduct.

RE 341 Introduction to Classical Hebrew I (4)
A thorough and rigorous introduction to biblical Hebrew, with emphasis on grammar, syntax and vocabulary, in preparation for translation of biblical prose. Readings in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament begin in the first semester and increase in complexity throughout the year. This course is offered upon student request. Please contact Dr. Porter if you are interested.

RE 342 Introduction to Classical Hebrew II (4)
A continuation of RE 141, with emphasis on reading more complex materials, such as poetry. Prerequisite: RE 341.

RE 351 Introduction to Biblical Greek I (4)
A thorough and rigorous introduction to biblical Greek, with emphasis on grammar, syntax and vocabulary, in preparation for translation of biblical prose. Readings in the New Testament begin in the first semester and increase in complexity throughout the year. This course is offered upon student request. Please contact Dr. Porter if you are interested.

RE 352 Introduction to Biblical Greek II (4)
A continuation of RE 151, with emphasis on reading more complex materials, including Greek documents outside the New Testament. Prerequisite: RE 351.

RE 361 A Social History of Satan (4)
Satan was deeply feared by people in early American and continues to be the topic of “hellfire and brimstone” sermons by some contemporary preachers. But Satan was also the emotionally abused lover of Saddam Hussein in the South Park movie. Clearly, contemporary opinions about Satan vary widely! This class will examine how people have described the character of Satan, starting in the Bible and concluding with modern media presentations. When and why do authors deploy Satan as a rhetorical device: how was using Satan effective for them? In the modern situation, where Satan can be deeply terrifying to some audiences and a laughing stock to others: what does this say about contemporary America?

RE 370 Process Theology & Philosophy (4)
The nature of God, the relation of God to the world, and basic ideas about how the world works are an issue in the philosophy of organism developed by Alfred North Whitehead. This course looks both at primary texts and at theological interpretation of them among contemporary theologians including Charles Hartshorne, John Cobb, and Marjorie Suchocki. Prerequisite: religion or philosophy minor, or permission of instructor. (See PH 370.)

RE 371 Women, Race and Theology (4)
What difference does being a woman make for doing theology? What difference does race make for women doing theology? This course explores possibilities for dialogue and creativity among women in different racial contexts in the United States doing theology. Attention will be paid to the critical and constructive written work of several feminist, womanist, and mujerista scholars in the U.S. Prerequisite: at least one religion course, or permission of instructor.

RE 376 Sociology of Religion (4)
(See SO 376.)

RE 461, 462 Independent Study in Religion (1 - 4)
A detailed study of some topic or a movement in religion. Prerequisite: 9 hours in religion or consent of the instructor.

RE 463, 464 Internship in Religion (1 - 4)

RE 465, 466 Independent Research in Religion (1 - 4)