Courses

Anthropology and Sociology of Religion

AASR 32900 Classic Theories of Religion
M/W 1:30-2:50 S208

Ident. HREL 32900/ANTH 35005

Bible

BIBL 31000 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: Jewish Thought and Literature
MW 1:30-2:50 S106

Ident. RLST 11004/JWSC 20004/NEHC 20404/30404

BIBL 33900 Introductory Biblical Hebrew I
M/W/F 8:00-8:50 S201

Instructor: Jordan Skornik, Lecturer in Biblical Hebrew

BIBL 35100 Introductory Koine Greek I
M/W/F 8:00-8:50 S208

Instructor : Andrew Langford, Lecturer in Koine Greek 

 

In this two-course sequence, students will learn the basic mechanics of Koine Greek and begin reading texts from the Greek New Testament and Septuagint. The autumn course and the first three-fourths or so of the winter course will introduce the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and style of the Greek New Testament, and to a limited degree those of the Septuagint, after which point we will focus on reading and interpreting a New Testament document in Greek at length. Upon the conclusion of the sequence, students will be able to read and comprehend entire passages of Koine Greek text with the aid of a dictionary. This sequence aims to prepare students to successfully participate in a Greek exegesis course in Spring 2015 or thereafter.

BIBL 36514 Travel and Pilgrimage in the Roman Empire
T/TH 9:00-10:20 CL 021

Instructor: Sofia Torallas Tovar (Classics)

This course will take a trip around the Roman Empire, exploring the different motivations and contexts for travel in antiquity. Through surviving literary texts we will survey varieties of travel, including military campaigns, scientific exploration, conquest, commerce and piracy, economic displacement, pilgrimage, and even tourism. Stops in different provinces of the Empire will provide geographical information as well as details about the practicalities of travel: vessels, caravans and other means, cost of travel, infrastructure at the traveller’s disposal, maritime and land routes, safe-conducts, guidebooks and language aids for the traveller. Along the way, the course will also provide an introduction to the diversity and uniformity of the Roman Empire.

Ident. CLAS 36514

BIBL 41203 Illuminating the Bible in Byzantium
T 9:00-11:50 S208

The main focus of this seminar will be the study of illustrated manuscripts of the Bible, viewed within the larger framework of Byzantine book culture. More generally, students will gain insight into the history, methods and techniques of interdisciplinary research involving Greek (illuminated) manuscripts. We will investigate famous and less well-known examples to identify both the principles guiding Biblical illumination in Byzantium and topics in need of further research. In addition to printed facsimiles, we will take advantage of digitized material from various Greek manuscript collections. In order to appreciate the auratic qualities of original manuscripts and for a close-up investigation of their codicological features, we will view material preserved in the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection. Greek skills and/or reading comprehension of modern European languages will be helpful, but are not mandatory.

 

Ident. RLIT 41203/ARTH 41203

BIBL 42014 The Reception of Philosophy in the Roman Period
M 1:30-4:20 CL 021

Instructor: Elizabeth Asmis (Classics)

The philosophy of the Greeks and Romans in the first century BCE and first two centuries CE has often been labeled "eclectic". This seminar will be an attempt to get away from this label. What we will focus on is the reception of earlier philosophy by a number of thinkers. On the Roman side, we will give attention to Cicero, Musonius, and Seneca; on the Greek side, we will read Dio of Prusa, Plutarch, and Galen. Each of these thinkers developed an approach of his own, consisting in a transformation of past ideas. The seminar will investigate what is new about each approach. Knowledge of Greek or Latin is not required.

Ident. CLAS 42014

BIBL 42210 The Gospel of John
M/W 9:00-11:00 S208

Our main subject in this course will be the Gospel of John. We will try to discover better understanding of this sometimes enigmatic text. Our approach will be focused: we will look for passages from the Old Testament and from Jewish traditions upon which the author of the gospel of John has drawn to construct his own narrative and to develop his theology. That is, broadly speaking, a matter of intertextuality, but, as we will see, this phenomenon itself has to be described and defined carefully in and of itself.

PQ:  No Greek necessary.  (Greek reading will be offered from 10:20-11:00 M/W)

BIBL 44700 The Book of Samuel: MT-LXX-DSS
T 1:00-3:50 JRL 4th floor

PQ: Biblical Hebrew and Greek

BIBL 50400 Early Christian Rhetoric
F 2:00-5:00 S403

An examination of the rhetorics (persuasive strategies) of early Christian literature, and how they were rooted in the ancient paideia (education system) and forms of public life in the Greco-Roman world.   We shall focus on significant points of intersection with the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition in terms of style, “invention”, arrangement, and delivery, by triangulated close readings each week in Greek of selected early Christian writings, Greco-Roman rhetorical compositions, and samples of rhetorical theory.  The early Christian texts will range from Paul to the fourth century, and may include: Galatians, I Corinthians, Athenagoras, legatio pro Christianis, Gregory of Nazianzus’ funeral oration for his brother, Caesarius, and John Chrysostom’s de laudibus sancti Pauli and de sacerdotio.

PQ:  Strong Greek skills.

Ident. HCHR 50401

BIBL 50505 Philo of Alexandria on Prayer, Interpretation, and Soul Formation
M 1:30-4:20 ARR

Co-taught by Hindy Najman and Jonathan Lear (Philosophy)

The writings of Philo of Alexandria are by far the largest extant remainder of Hellenistic Judaism: the mutually transformative encounter between Greek philosophy and ancient Judaism.  Working with the Hebrew Bible's Greek translation, Philo developed an allegorical approach that would become foundational for Neo-Platonists and for later Christian and Jewish interpreters.  This course focuses on the perfectionist dimension of Philo's project.  What role do reading, interpretation and prayer play with respect to the perfection of the subject?  What is the goal of this process, and what makes the Greek translation of the Bible capable of contributing towards this?  What is the relationship between literal and allegorical layers of meaning?  What is the relationship between the scriptural law of Moses and the unwritten law of nature, or between the particularity of Judaism and the universality of philosophy?  How does prayer enable the transformation of the subject? Among the treatises from the Philonic corpus, we will read the following: The Contemplative Life; On Abraham; Life of Moses I and II; Who is The Heir; Confusion of Tongues; On the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel; On the Creation of the World; On the Decalogue; Special Laws I; Allegorical Interpretation II. 

Ident. SCTH 51413

BIBL 54600 The Wisdom of Solomon and the New Testament
M 1:00-3:50 S403

Wisdom traditions are of high relevance for the development of early Christian thought. We find them e.g. in Paul, in John, and in James, where they are equally important for Christology and for Paraenesis. A primary textual witness is the “Book of Wisdom” or “Wisdom of Salomon” that belongs to the Canon of the Septuagint. It may have been composed in Alexandria in the late first century B.C.E., and its original language is Greek. We will work through the 19 chapters of this book, compare other traditions and look for allusions to Wisdom in the writings of the New Testament.

PQ:  Good knowledge of Greek

Divinity School

DVSC 30400 Introduction to the Study of Religion
T/TH 6:00-7:20 S106. Note: required weekly discussion sections TBA at opening class.

This introduction to the study of religion is neither a course in theories of religion nor a course in methods (although we will of course encounter examples of each).  Instead it considers their stipulation and interaction.  The course has two parts.  The first consists of readings in the scholarship of Paul Ricoeur.  Ricoeur’s guiding intellectual commitments – to phenomenology and to hermeneutics – exemplify with exceptional richness the necessarily conjoined work of method and theory.  The second consists of readings in the work of scholars of religion, to examine their own methods and theories as they deploy these to study select perennial and current issues in the study of religion.  Past readings have focused on such questions as the idea of “the self,” and the category of “experience”; metaphors of time (linear, cyclical, etc.); evil and/or/as the good; myth and cosmogony, and their relation (or non-relation) to narrative; and the matter of religious pluralism as a source, respectively, of polemic and of the metaphor of “the public square”.  With each the aim is to understand the theory and the method at work on its own terms, and also to compare it to Ricoeur’s model.

This is the supporting course required of all AMRS/MA/MDiv students

 

DVSC 42000 German Reading Exam
Monday, October 20th at 6:00 p.m. S106

PQ: Open only to Divinity School students

DVSC 45100 Reading Course: Special Topic

PQ: Petition with bibliography signed by instructor; enter section number from faculty list.

DVSC 49900 Exam Preparation

PQ: Open only to Ph.D. students in quarter of qualifying exams.  Department consent.  Petition signed by Advisor.

DVSC 50100 Research: Divinity

PQ: Petition signed by instructor; enter section number from faculty list.

DVSC 59900 Thesis Work: Divinity

PQ: Petition signed by instructor; enter section number from faculty list.

History of Christianity

HCHR 30100 History of Christian Thought I
M 9:00-11:50 S106

This first course in the History of Christian Thought sequence deals with the post New Testament period until Augustine, stretching roughly from 150 through 450CE. The aim of the course is to follow the development of Christian thought by relating its structural features to the historical context in which they arose without adhering to schematic models such as East vs. West, orthodoxy vs. heresy, Alexandrian vs. Antiochene exegesis. The following authors and themes will be analyzed and discussed:

1. Martyrdom and the Authority of Christian Witness: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr

2. Platonism and Exegesis: Philo and Origen

3. Incarnation and Asceticism: Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa

4. Ecclesial Unity and Episcopal Authority: Cyprian, Ambrose and Chrysostom

5. Projecting Historical Authority: Eusebius and Jerome

6. Normative Belief and Gnostic Dissent: All About the Creeds

7. Ancient Thought Baptized: Augustine of Hippo.

Ident THEO 30100

HCHR 30900 History of Christian Thought V: Modern Religious Thought
T/TH 10:30-11:50 S106

This course traces the history of Modern Christian thought from Kant, Schleiermacher, and Hegel through Troeltsch and Barth.

Ident. THEO 30700

HCHR 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America, 1619-1865
T/TH 9:00-10:20 S201

This course examines the history of Christian thought and practice regarding slavery in the United States. Particular attention is paid to Christian missions to slaves, debates about the abolition of slavery, the pro-slavery Christian defense, and the practice and evolution of slave religion.

Ident. RAME 42901/RLST 21303

HCHR 43010 Art and Ritual in Byzantium
TH 1:30-4:20 S201

What was the place of architecture, images and objects in the various rituals of Byzantium – public and private, sacred and secular? In what ways did works of art respond to the ritualistic purpose for which they were created? To what extent is the latter reflected in the design of buildings, their urban setting, their pictorial decoration, their furnishings and mobile equipment? These are the key questions underlying this course, to which must be added: What are the limitations encountered by those aiming to reconstruct the function of buildings that have survived in a fragmentary or refurbished state and of artifacts now isolated from their original context? We will approach this topic by critically confronting visual material surviving from Byzantium with various written sources. We will also explore these texts as a key source of information on works of art and architecture that no longer survive.

 

Ident. RLIT 43010/ARTH 43010

HCHR 43600 Religion in 20th Century America
T/TH 1:30-2:50 S200

This class is a general history of religion in America, focusing especially on developments from the 1920s to the late 20th century. Special emphasis is placed on religion and immigration, religious diversity and pluralism, and the changing social and public dimensions of religion over the course of the century.

Ident. RAME 43600

HCHR 44804 Virginity and the Body from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages
T 1:00-3:50 S400

What did virginity mean to Christians in Late Antiquity, and how did this change and develop in the early medieval period?  What notions of the body and bodilyness did an ideal of virginity encourage and support?  We will begin by reading Peter Brown's classic, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, together with some of the primary sources Brown uses to make his case, and selected recent studies.  We will take this theme into the early Middle Ages through a reading of monastic rules, hagiographies, and other texts.

Ident. THEO 44804/HIST 60606/GNSE 44804

HCHR 45010 Historical Theological Debates: Predestination and the Augustinian Legacy in the Carolingian Era
W 1:30-4:20 S403

Co-taught with Michael Allen (Classics)

The Carolingian era (750-875CE) saw a number of important theological debates. The debate on predestination, which involves the legacy of Augustine, is perhaps the most important one. It inspired a number of Carolingian intellectuals to produce among their finest writing, including: Gottschalk of Orbais, Johannes Scottus Eriugena, Hincmar of Rheims, Lupus of Ferrières, and Florus of Lyon. In this seminar we will try to get at what is at stake for the Carolingian intellectuals who take up this difficult topic. We will look to the theological issues involved, especially grace and free will, to the socio-cultural background and intellectual milieu of the contributing authors and to the aftermath of the debate in 17th-century Jansenism.

PQ: Basic knowledge of Latin is recommended but not required.

Ident. THEO 45010/CLCV 27413/CLAS 37413/HIST 22114/32114

HCHR 50401 Early Christian Rhetoric
F 2:00-5:00 S403

An examination of the rhetorics (persuasive strategies) of early Christian literature, and how they were rooted in the ancient paideia (education system) and forms of public life in the Greco-Roman world.   We shall focus on significant points of intersection with the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition in terms of style, “invention”, arrangement, and delivery, by triangulated close readings each week in Greek of selected early Christian writings, Greco-Roman rhetorical compositions, and samples of rhetorical theory.  The early Christian texts will range from Paul to the fourth century, and may include: Galatians, I Corinthians, Athenagoras, legatio pro Christianis, Gregory of Nazianzus’ funeral oration for his brother, Caesarius, and John Chrysostom’s de laudibus sancti Pauli and de sacerdotio.

PQ:  Strong Greek skills.

Ident. BIBL 50401

HCHR 50704 Colloquium: The Psalms in Medieval Liturgy and Exegesis
TH 1:30-4:20 ARR

The Psalms were at the center of medieval Christian life and thought: monks chanted them daily in the Divine Office, lay people recited them in the offices of the Virgin Mary and of the Dead, children learned them as the basis of their ABCs, exegetes meditated upon them in sermons and commentaries, artists illuminated them in manuscripts, and composers drew upon them for their chants. More than any other book of the Bible, the Psalms provided the language and imagery for speaking about God and his Mother and their relationship to the human soul. In the Psalms were read not only praise, prayer, and confession, but the whole matter of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of the Word of God. In this seminar, we will  explore this intersection between psychology and theology through a variety of sources—commentaries, sermons, liturgies, illustrated psalters, and books of hours—across a variety of settings from the cloister to the home.

PQ: Graduate students only

Ident. HIST 60704

History of Judaism

HIJD 36802 Jewish Writings of Hannah Arendt
TH 3:00-5:50 S403

Co-taught with Michael Geyer (History)

This is neither a course for the faint-hearted nor for the politically correct. Hannah Arendt’s work is much admired and rightly so. But it is also extremely edgy and does not shy away from, shall we say, highly unpopular points of view. Besides, at times she is outright wrong and yet, some of her philosophically or historically more challenged expositions (such as Eichmann in Jerusalem) turn out to contain brilliant insights. In short, debating Hannah Arendt is not an easy task and it is particularly difficult when it comes to her Jewish Writings. We have in mind reading and discussing – and in the course of it debating – as many of Arendt’s texts as possible, which is to say that this is also a reading-intensive course. Inasmuch as Anti-Semitism is part of this complex, we will also discuss anti-Semitism, but the focus will be on Jews and Jewishness in the Diaspora, in Palestine, and in Israel.

Ident. HIST 66800

HIJD 38504 Levinas and Talmud
M 1:30-4:20 S201

This course will focus on a selection of the Talmudic ‘Readings’ or ‘Commentaries’ of Emanuel Levinas.  In each case students will first be introduced to the Talmudic texts on their own terms, and then engage in an analysis of the contemporary philosophical hermeneutics of Levinas.

PQ:  All texts in English translation.

Ident. THEO 38504/DVPR 38504

HIJD 39204 Studies in Rabbinic Midrash: Pesikta de-Rav Kahana
T 9:00-11:50 S200

This course will be a close study of the major Amoraic rabbinic collection of homilies and teachings dealing with the major festivals and sacred days of the Jewish liturgical year.  Theological, literary and exegetical features will be emphasized, along with patterns of anthological arrangement.  The relationship of the teachings with earlier sources will be considered, as well as uses in liturgical poetry of the period.

PQ: Knowledge of rabbinic Hebrew.

HIJD 46010 Martin Buber’s Philosophy of Religion
W 6:00-8:50 S200

The course will consider Buber’s extensive writings on the relation between religion and philosophy, particularly as it bears upon his conception of God and faiths.

HIJD 53357 Philosophy and Theology of Judaism
T 1:30-4:20 ARR

PQ: Reading knowledge of French is required. An examination of the works of some of the most significant twentieth-century philosophers of Judaism.  In the first part of the seminar we will examine the philosophical, theological, and ethical foundations of Modern Orthodox Judaism. The principal readings will be Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man and Aharon Lichtenstein's By His Light. The second part of the seminar will focus on the post World War II emergence of a new philosophy and theology of Judaism in France. Primary readings will come from Emmanuel Lévinas, Léon Askénazi, Alexandre Safran, and Henri Meschonnic. Special attention will be given to the relation between philosophical argument and analysis, and theological conception and method. 

Ident. PHIL 53357/DVPR 53357/THEO 53357/CMLT 43357.

History of Religions

HREL 30200 Indian Philosophy I: Origins and Orientations
T/TH 10:30-11:50 S400

This course introduces some of the early themes and textual traditions that will inform the development of Indian philosophy in its later, more mature phases.

Ident. DVPR 30201/SALC 20901/30901/RLST 24201

HREL 32900 Classic Theories of Religion
M/W 1:30-2:50 S208

Ident. AASR 32900/ANTH 35005

HREL 44607 The Ghost Dance of 1890
M/W 9:00-10:20 S200

Ident.  ANTH 42440

HREL 49301 Asceticism and Civilization
M 3:30-6:20 F 209

This course examines the phenomenon of asceticism (it is better to use the Greek word askēsis) –a disciplined life–style (usually) involving celibacy, lack of individual wealth, obedience to a rule, etc.– in relation to human civilization. How is it that this way of life, which in many ways challenges basic aspects of normal social existence, is nonetheless often accorded a central civilizational position and value? Are they marginal or central? In addition to works of theory, material on both men and women ascetics will be investigated, in the Hindu and Jain traditions in India, in Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and Japan, in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy, and in Christianity and Catharism.

Ident. SALC 49301

Islamic Studies

ISLM 30100 Introductory Qur’anic Arabic I
T/TH 9:00-10:20 S403

This course is the first in a two-quarter sequence introduction to Arabic centered on learning to read the Arabic of the Qur'an.  It marks the inauguration of the Introduction to Qur'anic Arabic program at the Divinity School which is expected to take on role similar that to that provided by the two-quarter Introduction to Biblical Hebrew and Introduction to Koine Greek sequences.  The course is open to those with no prior Arabic or those who may have had some or may even have learned so Qur'an, but do not feel secure in their grammar.  (It is not meant for those who already have reading proficiency in modern or classical Arabic).  The course will align the introduction of grammar and vocabulary with readings in selected passages from the Qur'an; and will also include an introduction to the proper method of transliterating the Qur'an for papers and articles and the basic rules of Qur'anic recitation (tajwīd) for papers and articles, basic rules of tajwīd, as well as some secondary readings in Qur'anic studies.  A core textbook will be The Routledge Introduction to Qur'anic Arabic by Munther Younes, An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic by Wheeler Thackston, and handouts. The two courses are sequential, but students who are already familiar with the basics of Arabic grammar may wish to join the sequence in the second quarter.  Successful completion of the second quarter of the sequence will qualify students to take the Seminar in the Arabic Text of the Qur'an," that will be taught by Michael Sells in the spring quarter.   In addition to those interested in Islamic Studies proper, the course may be of interest to those in a variety of areas, including but not limited to biblical studies, religion in late antiquity, rabbinic and Karaite literature.    

ISLM 41610 Blood Libel: Damascus to Riyadh
TH 1:30-4:20 MMC Library

This course examines the Blood-Libel from the thirteenth-century to the present, with special focus upon the Damascus Affair of 1840 and its repercussions in the modern Middle Eastern and European contexts and in polemics today among Muslims, Christians and Jews. We will review cases and especially upon literary and artistic representations of ritual murder and sacrificial consumption alleged to have been carried out by Waldensians, Fraticelli, witches, and Jews, with special attention to the forms of redemptive, demonic, and symbolic logic that developed over the course of the centuries and culminated in the wake of the Damascus Affair. Each participant will be asked to translate and annotate a sample primary text, ideally one that has not yet been translated into English, and to use that work as well in connection with a final paper.

PQ: Willingness to work on a text from one of the following languages--Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Arabic, Modern Greek, or Turkish--at whatever level of proficiency one has attained.

ISLM 50300 Arabic Sufi Poetry
T 1:30-4:20 MMC Library

The course will focus on the love poetry of three 7th/13th century Sufi poets: Ibn al-'Arabi, Ibn al-Farid, and Abulhasan al-Shushtari.

 PQ: 2 years of Arabic or the equivalent.

Ident. RLIT 50300/ARAB 40390

Ministry and Religious Leadership

CHRM 30500 Introduction to Ministry Studies: Colloquium
W 1:30-2:50 S400

This year-long integration seminar grounds first year MDiv students in habits and perspectives essential to the practice of ministry. Students will cultivate the discipline of attention--learning to read closely, to listen deeply, to interrogate their experience, and to participate in rigorous critical conversation. During the first quarter, students will explore the relationship of narrative and theology; the second quarter will engage students in a close encounter with urban ministry; during the third quarter, students will integrate tradition, reason, and experience as they articulate definitions of ministry

PQ:  First year MDIV students only; course meets all year, register in Autumn quarter only.

CHRM 35100 Arts of Ministry: Worship and Preaching
F 9:00-11:50 S400

This course is the first of a three-quarter sequence introducing students to essential aspects of religious leadership; the sequence is required for second-year M.Div students and complements their field education experience. During this quarter students study, observe, and engage the practices that are unique to and constitutive of religious communities—corporate ritual and public speech. Through study of the literature of liturgics and homiletics, field trips, and worship/preaching labs, students will become familiar with a variety of worship practices, identify and articulate those which are essential to their own religious traditions, and cultivate their distinctive voices as worship leaders and preachers

PQ: Second year MDIV students only; others by permission of instructor.

CHRM 40600 Practice of Ministry I
F 1:00-3:00 S400
 
PQ:  2nd year M.DIV. students only.

Philosophy of Religions

DVPR 30201 Indian Philosophy I: Origins and Orientations
T/TH 10:30-11:50 S400

This course introduces some of the early themes and textual traditions that will inform the development of Indian philosophy in its later, more mature phases.

Ident. HREL 30200/SALC 20901/30901/RLST 24201

DVPR 38504 Levinas and Talmud
M 1:30-4:20 S201

This course will focus on a selection of the Talmudic ‘Readings’ or ‘Commentaries’ of Emanuel Levinas.  In each case students will first be introduced to the Talmudic texts on their own terms, and then engage in an analysis of the contemporary philosophical hermeneutics of Levinas.

PQ:  All texts in English translation.

Ident. THEO 38504/HIJD 38504

DVPR 41100 Anglo-American Philosophy of/and Religion
T 1:30-4:20 S208

This course will examine key texts and figures in twentieth-century Anglo- American philosophy, with particular attention to their implications for the study of religion. Figures treated will include C.S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Charles Hartshorne, Wilfrid Sellers, John McDowell, and Alvin Plantinga.

DVPR 44802 Readings in Daoism: Zhuangzi and Zhuangzi Commentary
M 3:00-5:50 S208

In this course we will read the original classical Chinese text of selected portions of the Zhuangzi, along with selected commentaries to those passages produced over two millennia, including those of Guo Xiang, Cheng Xuanying, Lu Huiqing, Shi Deqing, Lin Xiyi and Wang Fuzhi and many others included in Jiao Hong’s Zhuangzi yi anthology.   Several alternate English and modern Chinese translations of the root text may also be consulted and compared.   Questions concerning methodologies of hermeneutics in classical Chinese commentarial tradition will be in focus alongside attempts to maximally appreciate the philosophical and literary richness of both the root text and the commentaries.   Strong Chinese reading skills are highly recommended, but in their absence strong interest in slow reverse engineering toward the original Chinese from triangulated English sources and the testimony of Chinese readers in class is required.  

DVPR 44902 Studies in Atheist Spirituality: Schopenhauer+Emerson=Nietzsche?
TH 3:00-5:50 S208

In this course we will take up the question of pessimism and its proposed antidotes in Nietzsche’s thought, seeking to locate some of the resources contributing to his appropriations and reversals especially of Schopenhauer’s ethics and metaphysics.   The anti-pessimist source that we will particularly interrogate is Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer much loved by Nietzsche though with certain important qualifications and reservations.   Of special interest here will be the construction of tragic or “Dionysian” physico-spiritual redemption and its relation on the one hand to the pessimistic atheism of Schopenhauer and on the other to the highly ambiguous philosophy of religion sketched in Emerson’s various works, creating a synergy pointing a way to an anti-pessimistic atheism at odds not only with optimistic secularism, but also with pessimistic atheism and pessimistic theism.   A constant subtext here, framing our approach, will be comparative reference to the struggles within Mahayana Buddhism to put thoroughgoingly pessimistic and world-denying premises to dialectical use, so as to reach a radically world-affirming soteriological stance.   Substantial prior familiarity with Nietzsche is required, though we will be reading much of Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Twilight of the Idols.   Most of our class time, however, will be spent on Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation and various essays of Emerson’s, especially  “History," "Self-Reliance," "The Transcendentalist," "Circles," "Experience," "Nominalist and Realist," and "The Poet.”   All readings will be in English

DVPR 53357 Philosophy and Theology of Judaism
T 1:30-4:20 ARR

PQ: Reading knowledge of French is required. An examination of the works of some of the most significant twentieth-century philosophers of Judaism.  In the first part of the seminar we will examine the philosophical, theological, and ethical foundations of Modern Orthodox Judaism. The principal readings will be Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man and Aharon Lichtenstein's By His Light. The second part of the seminar will focus on the post World War II emergence of a new philosophy and theology of Judaism in France. Primary readings will come from Emmanuel Lévinas, Léon Askénazi, Alexandre Safran, and Henri Meschonnic. Special attention will be given to the relation between philosophical argument and analysis, and theological conception and method.

Ident. PHIL 53357/HIJD 53357/THEO 53357/CMLT 43357.

Religion and Literature

RLIT 38914 Munich-Chicago Performance Laboratory: Jephta’s Daughter
T/TH 3:00-4:20 Logan 701

Instructor: David Levin (Cinema and MEdia Studies)

In July, 2015, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich will present the world premiere of a piece tentatively titled Jephta’s Daughter to be directed by Saar Magal and conceived by Magal in collaboration with U of C Professor David Levin.  In the autumn quarter, Magal and Levin will offer a laboratory course in which to prepare the piece.  As presently conceived, the piece will combine theater, dance, oratorio, film, contemporary composition, and a variety of contemporary performance idioms to adapt and interrogate the story of Jephta’s daughter (in the Book of Judges, from which the story is adapted, she remains nameless). We are hoping to attract students keen to explore a broad cross-section of materials through seminar-style discussion and experimentation on stage (we will work through biblical criticism, films like Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2013) or Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Love-Faith-Hope, operas like Mozart’s Idomeneo, oratorios like Handel’s Jephta and Carrisimi’s Jephte, and a range of critical theory, including Rene Girard’s Violence and the Sacred and Derek Hughes’ Culture and Sacrifice).  Stage work will encompass improvisational, physical, and text-based work.  Students with an interest in any of the following are especially welcome: adaptation, theater practice, performance theory, dramaturgy, design, and/or directing.  Undergraduate students require consent of instructor. David Levin and Saar Magal (Choreographer and Director, Tel Aviv).

Ident. GRMN 28914/38914/RLST 28914

RLIT 41203 Illuminating the Bible in Byzantium
T 9:00-11:50 S208

The main focus of this seminar will be the study of illustrated manuscripts of the Bible, viewed within the larger framework of Byzantine book culture. More generally, students will gain insight into the history, methods and techniques of interdisciplinary research involving Greek (illuminated) manuscripts. We will investigate famous and less well-known examples to identify both the principles guiding Biblical illumination in Byzantium and topics in need of further research. In addition to printed facsimiles, we will take advantage of digitized material from various Greek manuscript collections. In order to appreciate the auratic qualities of original manuscripts and for a close-up investigation of their codicological features, we will view material preserved in the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection. Greek skills and/or reading comprehension of modern European languages will be helpful, but are not mandatory.

 

Ident. BIBL 41203/ARTH 41203

RLIT 43010 Art and Ritual in Byzantium
TH 1:30-4:20 S201

What was the place of architecture, images and objects in the various rituals of Byzantium – public and private, sacred and secular? In what ways did works of art respond to the ritualistic purpose for which they were created? To what extent is the latter reflected in the design of buildings, their urban setting, their pictorial decoration, their furnishings and mobile equipment? These are the key questions underlying this course, to which must be added: What are the limitations encountered by those aiming to reconstruct the function of buildings that have survived in a fragmentary or refurbished state and of artifacts now isolated from their original context? We will approach this topic by critically confronting visual material surviving from Byzantium with various written sources. We will also explore these texts as a key source of information on works of art and architecture that no longer survive.

 

Ident. HCHR 43010/ARTH 43010

RLIT 50300 Arabic Sufi Poetry
T 1:30-4:20 MMC Library

The course will focus on the love poetry of three 7th/13th century Sufi poets: Ibn al-'Arabi, Ibn al-Farid, and Abulhasan al-Shushtari.

 PQ: 2 years of Arabic or the equivalent.

Ident. ISLM 50300/ARAB 40390

RLIT 51400 The Narration of America in Literature and Film
F 9:00-11:50 S200
This seminar examines, with specific attention to the genres of novel and film, the ways in which artistic form has given shape to ideas of “America.”  Of particular interest will be the question of narrative as the source of mythic consciousness, and the hypothesis that, with the 20th century, film supersedes novel in this endeavor.  We will study The Scarlet LetterMoby-Dick, or The WhaleUncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, and Little Women in comparison with D.W. Griffiths’ The Birth of a Nation, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.
 
Prerequisites: at least one course in either Religion in America or Religion and Literature, or permission of the instructors.
 
Ident. RAME 51400

Religions in America

RAME 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America, 1619-1865
T/TH 9:00-10:20 S201

This course examines the history of Christian thought and practice regarding slavery in the United States. Particular attention is paid to Christian missions to slaves, debates about the abolition of slavery, the pro-slavery Christian defense, and the practice and evolution of slave religion.

Ident. HCHR 42901/RLST 21303

RAME 43600 Religion in 20th Century America
T/TH 1:30-2:50 S200

This class is a general history of religion in America, focusing especially on developments from the 1920s to the late 20th century. Special emphasis is placed on religion and immigration, religious diversity and pluralism, and the changing social and public dimensions of religion over the course of the century.

Ident. HCHR 43600

RAME 51400 The Narration of America in Literature and Film
F 9:00-11:50 S200
This seminar examines, with specific attention to the genres of novel and film, the ways in which artistic form has given shape to ideas of “America.”  Of particular interest will be the question of narrative as the source of mythic consciousness, and the hypothesis that, with the 20th century, film supersedes novel in this endeavor.  We will study The Scarlet LetterMoby-Dick, or The WhaleUncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, and Little Women in comparison with D.W. Griffiths’ The Birth of a Nation, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.
 
Prerequisites: at least one course in either Religion in America or Religion and Literature, or permission of the instructors.
 
Ident. RLIT 51400

Religious Ethics

RETH 30802 Contemporary Religious Ethics I
T/TH 9:00-10:20 S106

This is the first of a two-quarter survey of the rise and development of religious ethics.  It will examine pioneering work that established a new style of scholarship during the “quiet revolution” when Religious Studies programs gained an institutional footing in North American colleges and universities, starting in the late 1960s.  Readings probe ethical resources within specific religious traditions, methodological proposals for carrying out work in religious ethics, and new paradigms in the humanities and social sciences that catalyzed work in religious ethics.  Much of the reading during the first quarter will focus on matters of theory and method.   Readings for the second quarter will focus more on normative resources within religious traditions or on specific ethical problems. Students may enroll in either or both quarters.  Doctoral students in the RETH area are encouraged to enroll in both quarters.  

RETH 43302 The Ethics of Belief
T 2:00-4:50 Swift 403

This course will examine authors who ask, Is religious belief and practice good for its adherents and for society more generally?  We will thus explore how European and North American theologians, philosophers, and social theorists have seen religion as either an object of critique or commendation, focusing their ethical, political, psychological, or sociological claims and criteria.  Throughout the course, we will explore how religion as a concept is theorized in the critical discourses surrounding it.  Authors include Las Casas, Locke, Hume, Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Dewey, and Reinhold Niebuhr. 

RETH 51206 Utilitarian Ethics
T 3:00-5:30 LBQ 34

Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.  Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation.  The British Utilitarians were social radicals who questioned conventional morality as a basis for both personal and public choice and proposed an alternative that they believed to be both more scientific and more morally adequate.  In part because of the widespread acceptance of pieces of their views in economics and political science, the original subtlety and radical force of the views is often neglected.  This seminar, focusing on John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick, aims to examine sympathetically what classical Utilitarianism may still offer to philosophical ethics, and to see how the strongest criticisms of Utilitarianism measure up to the texts of its founders.  Although it is hardly possible to study Utilitarianism as an ethical theory without attending to its political role, we shall focus for the most part on ethics, and on two works above all: Mill’s Utilitarianism and Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics, combining these with Mill’s The Subjection of Women, his Autobiography, and several key essays.  Along the way we shall be investigating the views of Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick about animal suffering, women’s equality, and sexual orientation.  Among the critics of Utilitarianism, we shall consider writings of Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Jon Elster, Elizabeth Anderson, and John Harsanyi.
 

Ident.  PHIL 51206/LAWS 51206/PLSC 51206/GNSE 51206

Theology

THEO 30100 History of Christian Thought I
M 9:00-11:50 S106

This first course in the History of Christian Thought sequence deals with the post New Testament period until Augustine, stretching roughly from 150 through 450CE. The aim of the course is to follow the development of Christian thought by relating its structural features to the historical context in which they arose without adhering to schematic models such as East vs. West, orthodoxy vs. heresy, Alexandrian vs. Antiochene exegesis. The following authors and themes will be analyzed and discussed:

1. Martyrdom and the Authority of Christian Witness: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr

2. Platonism and Exegesis: Philo and Origen

3. Incarnation and Asceticism: Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa

4. Ecclesial Unity and Episcopal Authority: Cyprian, Ambrose and Chrysostom

5. Projecting Historical Authority: Eusebius and Jerome

6. Normative Belief and Gnostic Dissent: All About the Creeds

7. Ancient Thought Baptized: Augustine of Hippo.

Ident HCHR 30100

THEO 30700 History of Christian Thought V: Modern Religious Thought
T/TH 10:30-11:50 S106

This course traces the history of Modern Christian thought from Kant, Schleiermacher, and Hegel through Troeltsch and Barth.

Ident. HCHR 30900

THEO 38504 Levinas and Talmud
M 1:30-4:20 S201

This course will focus on a selection of the Talmudic ‘Readings’ or ‘Commentaries’ of Emanuel Levinas.  In each case students will first be introduced to the Talmudic texts on their own terms, and then engage in an analysis of the contemporary philosophical hermeneutics of Levinas.

PQ:  All texts in English translation.

Ident. HIJD 38504/DVPR 38504

THEO 44804 Virginity and the Body from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages
T 1:00-3:50 S400

What did virginity mean to Christians in Late Antiquity, and how did this change and develop in the early medieval period?  What notions of the body and bodilyness did an ideal of virginity encourage and support?  We will begin by reading Peter Brown's classic, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, together with some of the primary sources Brown uses to make his case, and selected recent studies.  We will take this theme into the early Middle Ages through a reading of monastic rules, hagiographies, and other texts.

Ident. HCHR 44804/HIST 60606/GNSE 44804

THEO 45010 Historical Theological Debates: Predestination and the Augustinian Legacy in the Carolingian Era
W 1:30-4:20 S403

Co-taught with Michael Allen (Classics)

The Carolingian era (750-875CE) saw a number of important theological debates. The debate on predestination, which involves the legacy of Augustine, is perhaps the most important one. It inspired a number of Carolingian intellectuals to produce among their finest writing, including: Gottschalk of Orbais, Johannes Scottus Eriugena, Hincmar of Rheims, Lupus of Ferrières, and Florus of Lyon. In this seminar we will try to get at what is at stake for the Carolingian intellectuals who take up this difficult topic. We will look to the theological issues involved, especially grace and free will, to the socio-cultural background and intellectual milieu of the contributing authors and to the aftermath of the debate in 17th-century Jansenism.

PQ: Basic knowledge of Latin is recommended but not required.

Ident. HCHR 45010/CLCV 27413/CLAS 37413/HIST 22114/32114

THEO 53357 Philosophy and Theology of Judaism
T 1:30-4:20 ARR

PQ: Reading knowledge of French is required. An examination of the works of some of the most significant twentieth-century philosophers of Judaism.  In the first part of the seminar we will examine the philosophical, theological, and ethical foundations of Modern Orthodox Judaism. The principal readings will be Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man and Aharon Lichtenstein's By His Light. The second part of the seminar will focus on the post World War II emergence of a new philosophy and theology of Judaism in France. Primary readings will come from Emmanuel Lévinas, Léon Askénazi, Alexandre Safran, and Henri Meschonnic. Special attention will be given to the relation between philosophical argument and analysis, and theological conception and method. Autumn. 

Ident. PHIL 53357/HIJD 53357/DVPR 53357/CMLT 43357.