Introductory classes

The "Introduction to the Study of Religion" class is required for all students in master's programs.

Other courses listed are suggested introductory courses appropriate for meeting the MA distribution requirement.  Other courses not listed here may also be appropriate.


The Introduction to the Study of Religion

The academic study of religion(s) is complex not simply by virtue of its diverse subject matter, but because of the many different perspectives from which scholars investigate and define the subject. Scholars of religion throughout the academy engage in research that emphasizes historical, comparative, literary critical, philosophical, social scientific, or ethical methods and questions. The Divinity School faculty believes that the capacity to engage in this interdisciplinary conversation will enrich the student’s scholarly agenda. For that reason, the MA program requires enrollment during the first year of the program in the “Introduction to the Study of Religion” course. Focusing on a selected text and theme, problem, or issue, faculty from a variety of disciplines engage the text in dialogue with the lead instructor and students. This course accomplishes three purposes. First, it illustrates the types of questions that are pursued within the eleven areas of study. Second, it situates these methods and questions in the broad history of scholarly inquiry into the nature of religion. Third, it assists the MA who aspires to advanced study to help define the distinctive character of his or her PhD project, and the group of written examinations that would best enable the student to pursue that project.

Because students in all master's programs at the Divinity School are required to take this course, the conversation is enriched by the diverse perspectives of scholars who plan careers across a variety of fields, from the academy to religious organizations and beyond. Requirements for each course will be determined by the instructor.  This course may not be taken pass/fail. Successful completion requires receipt of a letter grade of B- or higher.  Requirements for each course will be determined by the instructor. This course may not be taken pass/fail. Successful completion requires receipt of a letter grade of B- or higher.



Introductory-Level Courses 

A number of courses meet  requirement 3b for the Master of Arts program, i.e., of satisfactory completion of one additional course from each of the three committees of the faculty.   Satisfactory completion signifies work completed at the level of B- or higher. 

N.B.: Unlike the other nine areas of study, two areas of study – Religion in America (RAME) and Islamic Studies (ISLM) – are not formally affiliated with one of the committees of the faculty.  RAME courses listed below may be completed toward the requirement for an introductory course in Historical Studies.  Students who wish to take a listed ISLM course should consult with Dean Owens regarding the requirement it will fulfill before enrolling for the course.

The following list is for 2014-2015 and is for informational purposes. The 2015-2016 list will be posted shortly.

Autumn Quarter 2014                                                                           

HR/AASR 32900 Classic Theories of Religion
BIBL 31000 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
HCHR 30100 History of Christian Thought I
HCHR 30400 History of Christian Thought V
HIJD 36802 Jewish Writings of Hannah Arendt
HIJD 38504 Levinas & Talmud
PR/HR 30200 Indian Philosophy I: Origins & Orientations
RETH 30802 Contemporary Religious Ethics I

Winter Quarter 2015

ISL/ASR 33404 Religion in Modern Iran
RAM/HC 34900 The Age of Walter Rauschenbusch
TH/HC 37500 The Spirituality of the 16th Century
HIJD 32702 Jewish History & Society III: Messianism in Modernity
HIJD 35115 Topics in the Philosophy of Religion: The Challenge of Suffering from Job to Primo Levi
PR/HR 30300 Indian Philosophy II
HREL 35000 Mahabharata in English Translation
PR/HR 35100 Indian Buddhism
RETH 30802 Contemporary Religious Ethics II
TH/RE 31100 History of Theological Ethics I

Spring Quarter 2015

AASR 33600 Anthropology of Religion
BIBL 32500 Introduction to the New Testament: Texts & Contexts
TH/HC 30300 History of Christian Thought III
HIJD 35502 Bialik on Language & Tradition
HREL 33702 Ethical & Theological Issues in Hinduism
HREL 35200 Tibetan Buddhism
HREL 35802 Religions of Tang China & the Eastern Silk Road
TH/PR 31802 Introduction to Phenomenology: Husserl
TH/PR 32900  Kant on Religion & Rational Theology
RLIT 32400 Theory of Literature: The 20th Century
TH/RE 31200 History of Theological Ethics II
THEO 31600 Introduction to Theology