Courses in Religious Studies

A REL 100 Introduction to the Study of Religion (3)
Exploration of the religious dimension of life, with an introduction to the theory and practice of religion, including such topics as myth, ritual, belief, reason, revelation, mysticism, religious organization, etc., and their relation to other personal, social and cultural aspects of human experience, past and present.

A REL 116/116Y (= A PHI 116/116Y) World Views (3-4)
Examination of some of the major systems of assumptions and values humans have used in attempting to understand reality, the meaning of life, and their dealings with others. World views studied may vary from semester to semester. Examples are Greek, Judeo-Christian, Marxist and libertarian. Only one version of A REL 116 may be taken for credit.

A REL 145 (= A JST 145) Secular Jewish Identity and Culture (3)
his course is an exploration of the creation of a secularized Judaism. Since the onset of the Enlightenment (if not earlier), many Jews have sought to construct expressions of Judaism that are not contingent upon religious obligations and practices. After an introduction that explores some of the tensions between secular and religious Judaism in contemporary times, we will examine ancient and medieval challenges to normative Judaism that helped to set the foundation for the shaping of modern secular Judaism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will then look at several "snapshots" of secular Judaism in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first centuries in the regions of Europe, Russia, the United States, and Israel. Only one version of A REL 145 may be taken for credit.

A REL 155 (= A JST 155) Judaism: Traditions and Practices (3)
Examines the development of Jewish traditions and practices from the Rabbinic period to the present. Addresses Jewish law and custom related to the cycle of Jewish holidays throughout the year, and life-cycle events from cradle to grave. Differentiates among beliefs and practices of various Jewish denominations. For those not already familiar with this subject matter, recommended preparation for other JST courses. Only one version of A REL 155 may be taken for credit.

A REL 175 (= A ANT 175) Anthropology and Folklore (3)
Introduction to the study of folklore as an aspect of culture, symbolically expressing people’s identity, beliefs and values. The focus is on oral text traditions—myths, folktales, and legends—topics in folk custom and ritual, folk music and folk art are also included. Includes folklore from Western and non-Western cultures. Only one version of A REL 175 may be taken for credit. Offered fall semester only.

A REL 200 Introduction to the Bible (3)
This course is intended to introduce the student to the content, background, and nature of the writings that constitute the basis of Judeo-Christian culture. Modern methods of research (textual, archaeological) will be discussed, and class sessions will often be illustrated by slides of works of art (statuary, mosaic, painting) inspired by the Biblical narrative. 

A REL 214 (= A PHI 214) World Religions (3)
Survey of the major religions of the world, concentrating on those practices and beliefs that contribute to their value systems. Religions include Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. Only one version of A REL 214 may be taken for credit.

A REL 221 (= A ENG 221 & A JST 242) The Bible as Literature (3)
Literary genres of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the cultures from which they emerged. Attention to parallel developments in other literatures and to the influence of the Hebrew Bible on Western life and letters. Only one version of A REL 221 may be taken for credit.

A REL 252 (= A JST 252) Jews, Hellenism, and Early Christianity (3)
History of the Jewish people from Alexander the Great to the decline of the ancient world. Topics include examination of cultural conflict in Judaea and the diaspora, confrontation with Greco-Roman Hellenism and early Christianity, sectarianism, and the beginnings of Rabbinic institutions. Only one version of A REL 252 may be taken for credit.

A REL 253 (= A HIS 253 & A JST 253) Medieval Jews Among Muslims and Christians (3)
Explores the course of Jewish history from the development of Christianity until the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648. Investigates the experience of Jews between and within the major religious and cultural systems that dominated medieval Europe: Islam and Christianity. The course charts the history of Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewry, noting the important social, religious, cultural, and political characteristics of each community, as well as their interaction with two great world civilizations. Only one version of A REL 253 may be taken for credit.

A REL 254 (= A HIS 254 & A JST 254) The Jews in the Modern World (3)
Beginning with the end of the late Middle Ages and the emergence of the Enlightenment, this class explores how Jewish communities responded to the demands of an ever-expanding modern world. Examines the ways in which Jews and Jewish communities sought to create modern expressions of Judaism and the response of rabbinic Judaism to these challenges. Explores the rise of Hasidism, the aims of “Enlightened” Jewry, nationalism, the creation of secular Jewish cultures, the World Wars, modern antisemitism and the Nazi Holocaust, and the emergence of new Jewish centers in the United States and Israel. Only one version of A REL 254 may be taken for credit.

A REL 256 (= A JST 256) World Jewry since the Holocaust (3)
Examines the historical, cultural, societal, and demographic changes in world Jewry since the Holocaust. Investigates the decline of European Jewish communities and the development of the United States and Israel as postwar centers of modern Jewish life. Only one version of A REL 256 may be taken for credit.

A REL 261 (= A EAS 261) Introduction to the Religions of Japan (3)
An introduction to the major religious traditions of Japan, particularly Shinto and Buddhism, this course will cover the major forms of religious expression in Japanese history from the earliest historical records to the so-called New Religions which arose in the 20th century. Discussion will include the philosophical, artistic, social, and political dimensions of religion in Japanese society.

A REL 265 (= A EAS 265) Introduction to Indian Buddhism (3)
An introduction to the story of Buddhism in South Asia. Focus is on the evolution of the Buddhist view of sentient life during its first 1500 years on the subcontinent as expressed primarily in doctrine, but cultural, artistic, social, and political issues will also be considered.

A REL 266 (= A EAS 266) Buddhism in China & Japan (3)
An introduction to the heritage of Buddhism in East Asia. Focus is on the cultural interaction between Indian Buddhist notions of the human condition and the traditional religious and philosophical assumptions of China and Japan. Discussion will center on doctrine and the history of its transmission and understanding, including issues in language, artistic expression, and the establishment of the monastic community. Only one version of A REL 266 may be taken for credit.

A REL 281 (= A JST 281) The Prophets (3)
Survey of the prophets in general (in English), emphasizing the moral and social role of the individual prophet and his impact upon Judaism and Western civilization. Only one version of A REL 281 may be taken for credit.

A REL 285Y (= A JST 285Y) Hero and Antihero in Scripture (3)
An examination of different kinds of heroic figures in biblical literature, with questions about literary presentation, religious significance, and historicity. The course looks at ideal and roguish characteristics of heroic individuals in the biblical text and how these are treated in later exegesis and modern scholarship. A wide variety of men and women from the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament are studied, but particular emphasis is placed on Moses, David and Jesus. Only one version of A REL 285 may be taken for credit. May not be offered in 2010-2011.

A REL 286 (= A JST 286) Jerusalem: the City and the Idea (3)
Now the capital of Israel, Jerusalem has been central to Jewish history and religion, as well as to Christianity and Islam. The course surveys its physical history, its image in religion, nationalism, literature, and the arts, and its various populations and their subgroups. It aims to provide a sophisticated understanding of the demographics and politics of contemporary Jerusalem. Only one version of A REL 286 may be taken for credit.

A REL 291 (= A HIS 291 & A JST 291) Messiah and Messianism in Judaism and Christianity (3)
Origins of Jewish and Christian messianism in the Old and New Testaments and related literature. Topics include the projection of a society’s ultimate values, and the tension caused by the actual attempts to realize those values; i.e., to achieve salvation through messianic movements. Only one version of A REL 291 may be taken for credit.

A REL 297/297Z (= A HIS 297/297Z) Religion and Society in History (3)
This course will focus on the role religion has played in societies from antiquity to the present. Our examination will include the anointed kings of ancient Israel, the idealized unity of emperor and patriarch in Byzantium, the universal claims of the Holy Roman Empire, the role of the prophet in Islam, the divinity of the Emperor in China and Japan, the conception of the monarchy in Western and Eastern Europe, the anti-religious rhetoric of European revolutions, the separation of church and state in contemporary secular societies, the current revival of fundamentalism, and the persistence of wards based on religion. Architecture, music, iconography, and rituals will be examined for the information they provide. Only one version of A REL 297 may be taken for credit.

A REL 299 (= A JST 299) Topics in Religious Studies (1—3)
An elementary course in Jewish culture, history, philosophy, literature or the Bible that is devoted to a topic or theme, a particular work or works, or a particular author or authors. May be repeated for up to 6 credits when topic differs.

A REL 322 (= A PHI 322) Philosophy of Religion (3)
Philosophical analysis of selected religious concepts and programs, based upon the writings of representative philosophers and theologians. Focuses on Judeo-Christian tradition. Only one version of A REL 322 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): a 100 or 200 level course in philosophy.

A REL 325 (= A JST 325) Rabbinic Literature (3)
A study of one or more works of rabbinic literature from among Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, commentaries, and codes. Analytical reading of the texts in English translation and discussion of their religious, legal, historical, and literary implications. May be repeated for credit if topic differs. Only one version of A REL 325 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A JST 150 or 155.

A REL 331 (= A JST 331) Modern Jewish Thought (3)
A survey of the range of Jewish thought and philosophical movements from the mid-17th century to the present. Focuses on key Jewish thinkers, philosophers, and theologians, exploring questions of Jewish ethics, religion, relationships to God, and moral responsibility in a time of increased secularization. Only one version of A REL 331 may be taken for credit.

A REL 345 (= A EAS 345) Ethical Issues in East Asian Thought (3)
This is a discussion course that looks at ethical issues of contemporary significance to the cultures of Asia. Students read contemporary academic discussions of how problems such as suicide, euthanasia, abortion, sexuality, cloning, etc. have been understood historically and in terms of contemporary social morality in India, China, Tibet, and Japan. Only one version of A REL 345 may be taken for credit.

A REL 357 (= A EAS 357) Zen Buddhism (3)
An introduction to the religious, philosophical, and artistic tradition of Zen Buddhism in China, Korea, and Japan and the West. This course looks at the birth and subsequent historical evolution of the Zen or Ch’an school of Buddhism in East Asia. We will look at the intersection of: Buddhist and Chinese presumptions about spirituality that gave rise to this unusual religious form, discussing precisely what is and is not iconoclastic about its tenets. The experience of American Zen communities will also be considered. Only one version of A REL 357 may be taken for credit.

A REL 363 (= A ANT 363) Ethnology of Religion (3)
Examination of the form and functions of ritual systems as related to myth and world view on a cross-cultural basis. Emphasizes the religions of non-literate and peasant peoples. Only one version of A REL 363 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A ANT 100 or 108, or A PHI 214.

A REL 387/387Z (= A HIS 387/387Z) Islam in the Middle East: Religion & Culture I (3)
Social, political, economic and religious dimensions of Islam from the time of Mohammed through the 18th century with emphasis on the intellectual, cultural, and educational institutions of the Middle East. Among topics discussed will be Sunnism-Shi’ism and the schools of law, social and economic infrastructure, science and education, and reasons for the waning of the Muslim world. Only one version of A REL 387 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing or 3 credits of history.

A REL 388/388Z (= A HIS 388/388Z) Islam in the Middle East: Religion & Culture II (3)
Social, political, economic and religious changes in the Middle East from the 18th century to Ayatollah Khomeini. Among the topics discussed will be the impact of the West on the Middle East, the role of oil in shaping the global economy, nationalist movements, the crisis in the Persian Gulf, and the rise of Islamic Revivalism. Only one version of A REL 388 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing or 3 credits of History.

A REL 390 (= A HEB 390) Readings in Biblical Literature (3)
Studies in a selected biblical book, genre, or theme, emphasizing approaches of current biblical research as applied to both classical (traditional) and modern commentaries. May be repeated when topic differs. Prerequisite(s): second-year Hebrew competence or permission of instructor. May not be offered in 2010-2011.

A REL 393 (= A EAS 393) Readings in Buddhist Texts (3)
This is an advanced course in the study of Buddhism that will focus on the close reading of Buddhist scriptures in English translation. Only one version of A REL 393 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A REL 265; A REL 266, or permission of the instructor.

A REL 394 (= A EAS 394) Readings in Japanese Religious Studies (3)
This is an advanced course in the religious traditions of Japan. We will read English translations of religious texts native to the Japanese experience of religion, specifically Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, and Folk. Only one version of A REL 254 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: A REL 261; A REL 266, A EAS 190, A EAS 357 or permission of the instructor.

A REL 397 Independent Study of Religious Studies (1—4)
Independent reading and research on selected topics under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated for credit when topics differ. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing, permission of faculty member, and approval of program director.

A REL 402 (= A CLC 402) Greek and Roman Religion (3)
Survey of Greek and Roman religions at large followed by a detailed examination of the so-called mystery religions. Interdisciplinary in nature, it employs not only religious but also philosophical, especially ethical, literary, historical and archaeological materials. Only one version of A REL 402 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): junior or senior standing and some background in either classical or religious studies.

A REL 403 (= A CLC 403) Roman Civilization and Christianity (3)
Roman civilization in the late Empire; the relation between pagan and Christian culture based on a study of literary and archaeological sources. Only one version of A REL 403 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite(s): A CLC 134 or A HIS 235.

A REL 499 Senior Seminar in Religious Studies (3)
Seminar on selected topics in religious studies. Preparation of a paper under the direction of a faculty member. Open to seniors with permission of director.