Courses

This page is for informational purposes. To register, or to see class times and meeting locations when they become available, visit the University Registrar. The Registrar provides information on when and how to register for courses.

Anthropology and Sociology of Religion

AASR 32900 Classical Theories of Religion
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S106

This course will survey the development of theoretical perspectives on religion and religions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thinkers to be studied include: Kant, Hume, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Marx, Müller, Tiele, Tylor, Robertson Smith, Frazer, Durkheim, Weber, Freud, James, Otto, van der Leeuw, Wach, and Eliade.

Ident. HREL 32900/ANTH 35005

Bible

BIBL 31000 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: Jewish Literature and Thought
T/Th, 11:00 am-12:20 pm S106

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is a complex anthology of disparate texts and reflects a diversity of religious, political, and historical perspectives from ancient Israel, Judah, and Yehud. Because this collection of texts continues to play an important role in modern religions, new meanings are often imposed upon it. In this course, we will attempt to read biblical texts apart from modern preconceptions about them. We will also contextualize their ideas and goals through comparison with texts from ancient Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine, and Egypt. Such comparisons will demonstrate that the Hebrew Bible is fully part of the cultural milieu of the Ancient Near East. To accomplish these goals, we will read a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible in English, along with representative selections from secondary literature. We will also spend some time thinking about the nature of biblical interpretation.

Ident. *RLST 11004 / JWSC 20120 / NEHC 2/30504

BIBL 44003 Philo of Alexandria
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S208

In this course we will read the Greek text of Philo’s de opificio mundi, with other brief excerpts here and there in the Philonic corpus. Our aim will be to use this treatise to elucidate the thought and character of one of the most prolific theological writers of the first century. We will seek to understand Philo as a Greek author and the nature and origins of his style, Philo as a proponent of middle Platonism, and Philo as a Jew in the context of Alexandrian Judaism. We will also examine his use of the allegorical method as an exegetical tool, and its implications for pagan, Jewish and early Christian approaches to sacred texts. 

PQ: At least two years of Greek

Ident. GREK 2/35117

BIBL 44700 The Book of Samuel
W, 9:30 am-12:20 pm MMC Library

Introduction to textual criticism (= manuscript analysis) of the Bible through comparison of the book of Samuel in the Hebrew Massoretic Text (MT), the Greek Septuagint (LXX), the Dead Sea scrolls, and parallels in the book of Chronicles.

Ident. NELC 30061

BIBL 45250 "Christians" and "Jews," Rhetoric and Reality
T, 6:30-9:30 pm S403

A critical assessment of different scholarly positions on the relationship between “Christians” and “Jews” in the imperial period up until the end of the fourth century (e.g., “the siblings model,” “the parting of the ways,” the “wave theory model,” the “ways that never parted,” and others) as tested against close analysis of such literary sources as the letters of Paul, the gospels of Matthew and John, Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, Melito of Sardis’ Peri Pascha, Tertullian’s “Against the Jews,” various works of Origen, and John Chrysostom’s 8 homilies “Against the Jews/Judaizing Christians.”  Our goal is careful methodological and historiographical analysis of whether or how from such sources we might discern and reconstruct historical reality – local and/or trans-Mediterranean – about persons and groups, and their identities, viewpoints, practices and interactions. 

PQ: Greek skills; students who may be interested in this course but do not yet have Greek skills should contact the instructor

Ident. HCHR 45250

BIBL 45602 Giving and Receiving in Jewish Literature
M, 3:00-5:50 pm S200

Emphasis will be on care of the indigent. The focus will be textual (classical biblical and rabbinic sources, also some medieval legal codes), but will include comparative issues drawn from anthropology. The larger concern of this course will be on theological matters.

Ident. HIJD 45600/RLVC 45600

BIBL 52100 Galatians and James: Traditions in Conflict?
M/W, 1:30-2:50 pm S400

Is salvation by faith or by works (or by some combination of the two)? This seminar will involve a close exegetical analysis of two early Christian documents, both purportedly letters by first generation Christians, which use suspiciously similar vocabulary and even invoke the same exemplum (Abraham) to debate this religious question. First we shall study the historical context, religious world-view, rhetorical purpose and theology of each document on its own terms, and then test various theories of their literary and historical relationships with one another, while simultaneously engaging κατὰ πρόσωπον with the long and intertwined history of reception of both. Ongoing discussion of the nature, purpose, meaning and challenges of a biblical canon, its authority and negotiability in Christian traditions of thought and practice over time. 

 

PQ: Greek skills (Koine)

Ident. HCHR 52100

BIBL 53510 Early Jewish Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible
M, 2:30-5:20 pm S403

Explores Jewish iseas and hermeneutics at Exodus 19-20 and select other biblical texts, in sources from the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls through Targumim and Rabbinic literature to Medieval Jewish commentaries.

PQ: Biblical Hebrew; Biblical Greek or Aramaic; professor approval.

Ident. HIJD 53510 / NECL 30060

Divinity School

DVSC 30400 Introduction to the Study of Religion
M/W, 9:30-10:50 am S106

This course is required for all first-year master's students in the Divinity School.

DVSC 51000 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
M, 5:15-7:15 pm MMC Library

This course is required for all first-year doctoral students in the Divinity School. It is meant to introduce basic issues in theory and method in the contemporary study of religion in the academy, with special focus on the range of approaches and disciplines represented in the field. 

Note: this course is required for all first-year PhD students in Divinity.

History of Christianity

HCHR 30200 History of Christian Thought II
M, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S106

This second class in the History of Christian Thought sequence deals with the period from Late Antiquity until the end of the Early Middle Ages, stretching roughly from 450 through 1350. The following authors and themes will be analyzed and discussed:

1. The transition from Roman antiquity to the medieval period: Boethius and Cassiodorus
2. The rise of asceticism in the West: the Rule of St. Benedict and Gregory theGreat;
3. Connecting East and West: Dionysius the Areopagite and John Scottus Eriugena
4. Monastic and Scholastic paragons: Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard
5. High-medieval monastic developments: Cistercians (Bernard of Clairvaux) and Victorines (Hugh and Richard of St. Victor), beguines (Hadewijch) and mendicants (Bonaventure).
6. Scholastic synthesis and spiritual alternatives: Thomas Aquinas, Marguerite Porete and Eckhart.

Ident. THEO 30200 / HIST 31902

 

 

HCHR 39402 Race and Religion in 20th Century America
W, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S201

This course examines how religion has been shaped, constructed, and formed in response to and in the context of changing racial realities in America in the 20th century. Most of our emphasis will be attuned to the central black/white divide and Christian communities, though you are encouraged to write your final paper on a topic of your choosing that does not fit into any of these categories.

Ident. RAME 39402

HCHR 42999 The Religious Thought of Emerson and W. James
W, 1:30-4:20 pm S403

This seminar focuses on late nineteenth-century American religious thought, centering on R.W. Emerson and William James, to see how their thought can be used productively today in light of contemporary constructive theological pressures. The theme will be on the interplay of nature and human nature, both in Emerson’s view of nature, moral perfectionism and religion, and in James’ view of religion. The work of Stanley Cavell (for Emerson) and Charles Taylor (on W. James) among others will help guide our discussions.

Ident. HIST 62208

HCHR 43301 Religion in Modern America, 1865-1920
M, 8:30-11:20 am S201

This course is a general history of religion in America from the Civil War to the 1920s. Special emphases include religious practice, interreligious encounters and conflicts, race, confrontation with modernity, and the changing social and public dimensions of religion in the U.S

Ident. RAME 43301

HCHR 45200 The Holy Land in the Middle Ages
T, 5:00-7:50 pm CWAC156

This course will examine written and visual material testifying to the medieval encounters of the Abrahamic religions in a sacred landscape where the histories of Jews, Christians, and Muslims overlap. While bearing witness to the cultural wealth and religious pluralism that characterize the Holy Land during the Middle Ages, texts and visual artifacts from the period likewise testify to religious competition, conflict, loss, and exclusion.

Among the primary textual sources we will read (in English translation) are accounts by pilgrims and other travellers to the Holy Land written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries, extracts from medieval chronicles, and eye-witness accounts drawn up during the period of the Crusades. These writings illuminate how individuals of different religious backgrounds experienced sacred space and rituals performed at various holy sites. On a broader scale, they offer insight into perceptions of religious identity, superiority, and “otherness.“ Last, but not least, these texts inform us about the physical appearance of sites and buildings that no longer exist or have undergone multiple refurbishments. In addition to the textual material, we will study art and architecture created in the Holy Land for different religious communities (e.g., synagogues and their richly decorated mosaic floors, sites and souvenirs of Christian pilgrimage, major works of Islamic art and architecture).

The sacred sites and dynamic history of the Holy Land have of course stimulated human imagination and creativity well beyond its geographical confines as well. We will thus also study phenomena of its reception in medieval Europe as manifest, for instance, in the illumination of manuscripts, stained glass windows, architectural replicas of the Holy Sepulchre, narratives of the “Holy Grail,“ or notions of the “Heavenly Jerusalem.” 

Ident. RLVC 45200/ARTH 42205

HCHR 45250 "Christians" and "Jews," Rhetoric and Reality
T, 6:30-9:30 pm S403

A critical assessment of different scholarly positions on the relationship between “Christians” and “Jews” in the imperial period up until the end of the fourth century (e.g., “the siblings model,” “the parting of the ways,” the “wave theory model,” the “ways that never parted,” and others) as tested against close analysis of such literary sources as the letters of Paul, the gospels of Matthew and John, Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, Melito of Sardis’ Peri Pascha, Tertullian’s “Against the Jews,” various works of Origen, and John Chrysostom’s 8 homilies “Against the Jews/Judaizing Christians.”  Our goal is careful methodological and historiographical analysis of whether or how from such sources we might discern and reconstruct historical reality – local and/or trans-Mediterranean – about persons and groups, and their identities, viewpoints, practices and interactions. 

PQ: Greek skills; students who may be interested in this course but do not yet have Greek skills should contact the instructor

Ident. BIBL 45250

HCHR 52100 Galatians and James: Traditions in Conflict?
M/W, 1:30-2:50 pm S400

Is salvation by faith or by works (or by some combination of the two)? This seminar will involve a close exegetical analysis of two early Christian documents, both purportedly letters by first generation Christians, which use suspiciously similar vocabulary and even invoke the same exemplum (Abraham) to debate this religious question. First we shall study the historical context, religious world-view, rhetorical purpose and theology of each document on its own terms, and then test various theories of their literary and historical relationships with one another, while simultaneously engaging κατὰ πρόσωπον with the long and intertwined history of reception of both. Ongoing discussion of the nature, purpose, meaning and challenges of a biblical canon, its authority and negotiability in Christian traditions of thought and practice over time. 

Ident. BIBL 52100

History of Judaism

HIJD 35350 Cultivation of Character in Jewish Moral and Spiritual Literature
T, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S400

This course will survey classical texts and practices in Jewish religious literature from antiquity to the modern period.  Selections will include key portions from: Book of Proverbs; Ethics of the Fathers; Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan; Dererch Eretz; Maimonides’ ‘Eight Chapters’; Bachya ben Asher’s moral proems; Asher ben Yechiel’s ‘Orchot Hayyim’; Moshe Cordovero’s ‘Tomer Devorah’; Jewish Ethical Wills (diverse periods); Tracts of Spritual Practices (Safed and modern Hasidism); Moshe Hayyim Luzatto, ‘Mesilat Yesharim’.  Contemporary literature on moral and spiritual self-formation and practice will be considered; and pertinent comparisons will be made to classical Catholic sources. 

Texts in Hebrew with English translations. No prerequisites.

Ident. THEO 35350

HIJD 35500 Introduction to Kabbalah
T, 3:30-6:20 pm S201

A general introduction to the origins and development of Kabbalah, focusing on the classic period of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. We will read samples from the major texts and most important movements, including the Bahir and Isaac the Blind in Provence, the Gerona circle (Ezra, Azriel, Nachmanides), and developments in Castile, from Ibn Latif and Ibn Sahula to Abraham Abulafia and Joseph Ibn Gikatilla to Moses de Leon and the Zohar. 

HIJD 44500 Religion in the European Enlightenment: Spinoza to Kant
T, 6:30-9:30 pm S200

Readings in primary texts that are understood to constitute the historical phenomenon denominated “the Enlightenment,” with particular attention to major themes and the variations played upon them by thinkers at this time: the status of the Bible as sacred and/or historical text; conceptions of truth as revealed, as natural, and/or as revealed by nature; the category of the miraculous, and its relation to conceptions of providence and natural orders; and the place of religion in emerging political structures that have their basis in conceptions of citizenship and rights.

Ident. RLVC 44500

HIJD 45600 Giving and Receiving in Jewish Literature
M, 3:00-5:50 pm S200

Emphasis will be on care of the indigent. The focus will be textual (classical biblical and rabbinic sources, also some medieval legal codes), but will include comparative issues drawn from anthropology. The larger concern of this course will be on theological matters.

Ident. BIBL 45602/RLVC 45600

HIJD 47200 Modern Jewish Intellectual History
W, 3:00-5:50 pm S201

A diachronic and synchronic survey of the major figures and themes of modern Jewish thought.  With due regard to the distinctive dynamics of modern Jewish history, we will examine how various Jewish thinkers from the 17th century on confronted the challenges to theistic faith posed by modern epistemologies and conceptions of the good. We will conclude with a critical reading of Hilary Putman, Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life. Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (2008). 

HIJD 49700 Readings in Abraham ibn Ezra
Th, 3:30-6:20 pm S403

Close readings of select texts from the diverse corpus of Abraham Ibn Ezra: medieval poet, linguist, biblical exegets, neoplatonic philosopher, and astrologer. The emphasis will be on his biblical commentaries, but the commentaries will be read together with his philosophical, linguistic and astrological writings.

HIJD 53510 Early Jewish Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible
M, 2:30-5:20 pm S403

Explores Jewish iseas and hermeneutics at Exodus 19-20 and select other biblical texts, in sources from the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls through Targumim and Rabbinic literature to Medieval Jewish commentaries.

PQ: Biblical Hebrew; Biblical Greek or Aramaic; professor approval.

Ident. BIBL 53510 / NECL 30060

History of Religions

HREL 32900 Classical Theories of Religion
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S106

This course will survey the development of theoretical perspectives on religion and religions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thinkers to be studied include: Kant, Hume, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Marx, Müller, Tiele, Tylor, Robertson Smith, Frazer, Durkheim, Weber, Freud, James, Otto, van der Leeuw, Wach, and Eliade.

 

Ident. AASR 32900 / ANTH 35005

Islamic Studies

ISLM 30337 Persian Lyric Poetry I: History of the Ghazal
The ghazal developed from a lyrical poem in Arabic on the topic of heterosexual love, to a fixed form in Persian on love (often homoerotic) and loss, wine, praise of the patron/ruler, or meditation on the divine Beloved, to a melancholy meditation on the human condition and personal defeat.  It took European romanticism by storm and has recently become a canonical form in English poetry.  This class traces the development of the Persian ghazal from Rudaki (d. 941) up through Jami (d. 1492), with emphasis on some major pracitioners of the form (Sana'i, Attar, Sa`di, Rumi, Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun, etc.).

Ident. PERS 30337 
 
ISLM 30339 Persian Sufi Texts
M, 3:00-5:50 pm P218
Themes covered in this introductory course will include: Sufism as an interior personal response to the Qur’an and the numinous; Sufi visions; the psychology, spiritual disciplines and practices of Sufism; Sufism as a social reaction against legalism and literalism in religious institutions; the development of institutions and rituals within Sufism itself (shrines, lodges, orders, rules, etc.); saint worship and hagiographies; the body in Sufism; Sufi poetry; Sufi music; theological attacks against Sufism as an antinomian or heretical movement; modernist critiques of Sufism as escapism from political and social responsibility; and Sufism as perennial de-Islamicized theosophy in the modern middle east and in the west.  In addition to lectures and discussion, students will keep an introspective "sufi" diary, observe or participate in Sufi meditation/contemplation.

Ident. PERS 30332
ISLM 40101 Advanced Arabic Syntax
T/Th, 11:00 am-12:20 pm P218
This two-quarter sequence is an introduction to the classical Arabic language. It is useful for students whose research includes the reading of classical Arabic texts in varied fields such as literature, history, political science, theology and philosophy. In the class 1) rules of Arabic grammar are studied intensively, topic by topic; 2) parsing (i'rab) is an important component, with a view to understanding the structure of the language; 3) brief texts from different fields of classical Arabic are read focusing on their grammatical structure, and 4) some theory about the development of the grammatical genre is introduced, as are the basic features of prosody ('arud) and rhetoric (balagha).

IDENT. ARAB 40101
ISLM 44604 Arabic Manuscript Editorial Techniques and Textual Criticism
W, 10:30 am-1:20 pm S403

This hands-on course is designed for graduate students who wish to acquire basic techniques required in working with handwritten sources of the pre-modern Islamic world. The primary objective is to learn the textual-editorial skills to establish critical texts of works transmitted in Arabic manuscripts. The first half of each class will be devoted to the basic theories and methods of textual criticism, editorial techniques, paleography, and codicology. In the second half of the class, we will apply those techniques to reading and editing medieval Arabic manuscripts. At the end of the course, students will submit their critical edition of a short Arabic manuscript. 

PQ: At least two years of Arabic. Students from all disciplines are welcome, but preference is given to those in the fields of the history and thought of the pre-modern Arabic world

ISLM 50210 The Muhammadan Reality
W, 4:30-7:20 pm S403

Readings of medieval Arabic Andalusi and Maghrebi meditations on the life, names, attributes, and cosmic function of the Prophet of Islam. We will read selections from the writings of Qadi Iyad, Harrali, Ibn Arabi, and the prayers of Ibn Mashish, Jazuli, and Ahmad al-Tijani. These authors meditated on Muhammad as the interface between God and creation, the Perfect Human Being (al-Insan al-kamil) whose earthly life in 7th century Arabia personified a metahistorical, protological, and therefore eschatological reality that mirrors the full range of attributes of the divine Essence (dhat ilahiyya). Muhammad’s precosmic function anticipates his “praiseworthy station” (maqām maḥmūd), the unfolding of the “banner of praise” (liwāʾ al-ḥamd) on Judgment Day, and supreme intercession for humanity (shafa‘a). 

PQ: At least two years of Arabic or consent of instructor.

 

ISLM 50300 Arabic Sufi Poetry
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm MMC Library

Ident. RLVC 50300 / ARAB 40390

Ministry and Religious Leadership

CHRM 30500 Colloquium: Introduction to Ministry Studies
T, 12:30-1:50 pm S400

This year-long integration seminar grounds first year M.Div. 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

CHRM 35150 Arts of Ministry: Ritual, Worship, Preaching and Speaking
F, 8:30-11:20 am 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 MDIV students and complements their work in field education. In this course, students have the opportunity to visit and observe religious practice in several religious communities, as they are reading ritual theory and researching their own traditions' practices.  Weekly "practice labs" offer students the opportunity to practice speaking to and on behalf of religious communities, instruct students on ritual performance, and invite students to engage their classmates in a life cycle ritual of their own construction.

CHRM 40600 Practice of Ministry I
W, 9:30-10:50 am S400
Part I in the practicum series for MDiv students

Philosophy of Religions

DVPR 41800 The Buddha-Nature: Mahayana Sutras/Zhanaran's Diamond Scalpel
T, 3:30-6:20 pm S208

In this course we will trace the development of the idea of the Buddha-Nature or Tathāgatha-garbha (womb or embryo of the Buddha) through several Mahāyāna Sūtras (Tathāgatha-garbha Sūtra, Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Mahāyāna Parinirvāna Sūtra), with special attention to the ways each text handles the apparent reneging of the basic Buddhist tenets of Non-Self and Emptiness suggested by this concept, and the “anxiety of influence” concerning Upanishadic notions of Ātman and Brahman, here as previously hotly denounced in spite of the apparent similarity of these ideas to the Buddha-Nature idea.  Is this mere polemical sectarian posturing, or is there a genuine philosophical issue at stake?  Or?   We will also explore the philosophical implications of this idea in Chinese Buddhist schools, in particular the Chan School’s identification of Buddha-nature with sentience per se, and the Tiantai School’s insistence on the “Threefold” Buddha-Nature and the resultant claim that “Insentient Beings have the Buddha-Nature.”  The latter ideas will be explored at length through a close reading of Jingxi Zhanran’s classic polemical work, The Diamond Scalpel (Jin’gangpi金剛錍).  All readings will be in English.

DVPR 41900 Nietzsche as Metaphysician: Non/Self, Recurrence and Deep Eternity
Th, 3:30-6:20 pm S208

An exploration of the themes of Will-to-Power and Eternal Recurrence as presented in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, supplemented by readings from other works, with special attention to the posthumously published notes critiquing commonsensical and scientific notions of causality, things, selves, atoms, will, and forces.   Of particular interest will be the comparative horizon of the anti-substantialist and anti-essentialist Buddhist notions of Non-Self and Emptiness; in both cases we will be focusing on how these extreme forms of anti-essentialism, denying that any entity from atoms to forces to humans possess a substantial existence, nonetheless both end up lending themselves to some form of the idea of immanent “deep eternity” for all things, and on whether and to what extent these two parallel explorations have any convergences or divergences that will help illuminate both, or even, better yet, illuminating substancelessness and eternity.  All readings in English.

Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

RLVC 36000 Novel Traditions: English & African-American
M/W, 3:30-4:50 pm S400

This course asks how a modern literary form instantiates de facto a religious tradition, with its emphases on national contexts, practices of intertextuality, and iterative formal conventions.  It pursues this question via comparison of early English and twentieth-century African-American works of prose fiction: Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Ellison’s Invisible Man (1951); Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1724) and Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); and Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847) and Morrison’s Beloved (1987).  Interspersed throughout the course will be readings on three topics: the relationship between nation- and novel-building; the literary-historical accounts of “the rise of the novel” in eighteenth-century England and of “African-American literature” in twentieth-century America; and explicit analyses from each period that index the controlling thematic of these imaginative works: for eighteenth-century England, the questions of death, the afterlife, and theodicy as addressed in the essays  written by Addison and Steele for The Spectator; and for twentieth-century America, the question of dual identity and the “color line” in W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk.  

RLVC 44500 Religion in the European Enlightenment: Spinoza to Kant
T, 6:30-9:30 pm S200

Readings in primary texts that are understood to constitute the historical phenomenon denominated “the Enlightenment,” with particular attention to major themes and the variations played upon them by thinkers at this time: the status of the Bible as sacred and/or historical text; conceptions of truth as revealed, as natural, and/or as revealed by nature; the category of the miraculous, and its relation to conceptions of providence and natural orders; and the place of religion in emerging political structures that have their basis in conceptions of citizenship and rights.

Ident. HIJD 44500

RLVC 45200 The Holy Land in the Middle Ages
T, 5:00-7:50 pm CWAC156

This course will examine written and visual material testifying to the medieval encounters of the Abrahamic religions in a sacred landscape where the histories of Jews, Christians, and Muslims overlap. While bearing witness to the cultural wealth and religious pluralism that characterize the Holy Land during the Middle Ages, texts and visual artifacts from the period likewise testify to religious competition, conflict, loss, and exclusion.

Among the primary textual sources we will read (in English translation) are accounts by pilgrims and other travellers to the Holy Land written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries, extracts from medieval chronicles, and eye-witness accounts drawn up during the period of the Crusades. These writings illuminate how individuals of different religious backgrounds experienced sacred space and rituals performed at various holy sites. On a broader scale, they offer insight into perceptions of religious identity, superiority, and “otherness.“ Last, but not least, these texts inform us about the physical appearance of sites and buildings that no longer exist or have undergone multiple refurbishments. In addition to the textual material, we will study art and architecture created in the Holy Land for different religious communities (e.g., synagogues and their richly decorated mosaic floors, sites and souvenirs of Christian pilgrimage, major works of Islamic art and architecture).

The sacred sites and dynamic history of the Holy Land have of course stimulated human imagination and creativity well beyond its geographical confines as well. We will thus also study phenomena of its reception in medieval Europe as manifest, for instance, in the illumination of manuscripts, stained glass windows, architectural replicas of the Holy Sepulchre, narratives of the “Holy Grail,“ or notions of the “Heavenly Jerusalem.” 

Ident. HCHR 45200/ARTH 42205

RLVC 50300 Arabic Sufi Poetry
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm MMC Library

Ident. ISLM 50300 / ARAB 40390

Religions in America

RAME 39402 Race and Religion in 20th Century America
W, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S201

This course examines how religion has been shaped, constructed, and formed in response to and in the context of changing racial realities in America in the 20th century. Most of our emphasis will be attuned to the central black/white divide and Christian communities, though you are encouraged to write your final paper on a topic of your choosing that does not fit into any of these categories.

Ident. HCHR 39402

RAME 43301 Religion in Modern America, 1865-1920
M, 8:30-11:20 am S201

This course is a general history of religion in America from the Civil War to the 1920s. Special emphases include religious practice, interreligious encounters and conflicts, race, confrontation with modernity, and the changing social and public dimensions of religion in the U.S

Ident. HCHR 43301

Religious Ethics

RETH 30100 Minor Classics in Ethics

This is an informal, non-credit reading group of RETH Faculty and all students interested in religious ethics to discuss minor classics in contemporary ethics, philosophy, and theology.  Discussions address a pre-circulated article for each meeting.  Selected articles have revitalized forgotten themes or have launched new problems for moral philosophy and religious ethics.   The 2017-18 academic year will return to the first of the two-year reading cycle.  No background is required. 

Thursdays 12:15-1:30pm: 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th weeks of the quarter. 

No Credit - DO NOT REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE.

Please send email contact information to Professor Richard Miller (  ) to gain access to the Google Drive, which posts the reading list and the readings in PDF.   

RETH 31200 History of Theological Ethics I
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S403

This is the first part of a two-part history.  It is conducted through the study of basic, classic texts. The course moves from the philosophical ethics of the Greek and Roman worlds through strands of Hebrew scripture, the origins of the Christian movement, the end of the Roman age to the emergence of Islam, and, finally, Christian and Jewish scholastic and mystical thought in the Western middle ages. While the golden thread of the history is the origin and differentiation of Christian moral thinking, this is set within with the complexity of traditions (Hellenistic philosophical, Jewish, Islamic) that intersect and often collide throughout these formative century in Western thought. The course proceeds by lectures and discussion. Most readings are in translation. There will be a final examination. No previous work in theology, philosophy, or ethics is required but it is suggested.

Ident. THEO 31100

RETH 36002 The Ethics of War: Foundational Texts
M/W, 1:30-2:50 pm S200

This course will focus on foundational texts in the just-war tradition and the ethics of using force, drawing on the works of Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria, Grotius, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Ramsey, Michael Walzer, and Frantz Fanon, along with those who have critically engaged their ideas.

PQ: Previous work in philosophy or political theory is recommended but not required. 

 

RETH 44802 Contemporary Political and Social Ethics
T, 2:00-4:50 pm S200

This seminar will focus on the work of John Rawls and critical engagements with Rawls in the 1980s and 1990s by Michael Sandel, Michael Walzer, Susan Moller Okin, Richard Rorty, Seyla Benhabib, and Will Kymlicka.Topics include theories of distributive justice, gender equality, cultural rights, religion and politics, and, more generally, the relation between the right and the good in political thought.  

The course will provide helpful background for future coursework in RETH in Winter 2018 (Religion and Democracy) and Autumn 2018 (Rights and Justice).  

 *Limit: 18.  Students wishing to enroll are to petition Professor Miller, describing their background and stating their reasons for wishing to enroll in the seminar by September 15.  

RETH 51516 Henry Sidgwick
The most philosophically explicit and rigorous of the British Utilitarians, Henry Sidgwick made important contributions to normative ethics, political philosophy, and metaethics.  His work also has important implication for law.  His great work The Methods of Ethics, which will be the primary focus of this seminar, has been greatly admired even by those who deeply disagree with it – for example John Rawls, for whom Sidgwick was important both as a source and as a foil, and Bernard Williams, who wrote about him with particular hostility.  Sidgwick provides the best defense of Utilitarianism we have, allowing us to see what it really looks like as a normative ethical and social theory. Sidgwick was also a practical philosopher and activist, writing on many topics, but especially on women’s higher education, which he did much to pioneer at Cambridge University, founding Newnham College with his wife Eleanor.  A rationalist who helped to found the Society for Psychical Research, an ardent feminist who defended the ostracism of the “fallen woman,” a closeted gay man who attempted to justify the proscriptions of Victorian morality, Sidgwick is a philosopher full of deep tensions and fascinating contradictions, which work their way into his arguments.  So we will also read the work In the context of Sidgwick’s contorted relationship with his era.
 
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.  This is a 500 level course.  Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission. 

Ident. PHIL 51516
 
RETH 54900 Reformation Ethics: Freedom and Justification
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm S200

This is an advanced seminar for students in theology and ethics. Given the worldwide celebration this year of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this seminar will explore seminal texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Menno Simons as well as their critics, Catholic and contemporary. The seminar will proceed through close reading of texts and discussion. Reading knowledge of German and/or French helpful but not required. Each seminar participant will lead a session of the seminar and write a seminar paper. William Schweiker. Autumn

PQ: Previous doctoral work in theology or ethics required.

Ident. THEO 54900

Theology

THEO 30200 History of Christian Thought II
M, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S106
This second class in the History of Christian Thought sequence deals with the period from Late Antiquity until the end of the Early Middle Ages, stretching roughly from 450 through 1350. The following authors and themes will be analyzed and discussed:

1. The transition from Roman antiquity to the medieval period: Boethius and Cassiodorus
2. The rise of asceticism in the West: the Rule of St. Benedict and Gregory theGreat;
3. Connecting East and West: Dionysius the Areopagite and John Scottus Eriugena
4. Monastic and Scholastic paragons: Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard
5. High-medieval monastic developments: Cistercians (Bernard of Clairvaux) and Victorines (Hugh and Richard of St. Victor), beguines (Hadewijch) and mendicants (Bonaventure).
6. Scholastic synthesis and spiritual alternatives: Thomas Aquinas, Marguerite Porete and Eckhart.

Ident. HCHR 30200 / HIST 31902

 
THEO 31100 History of Theological Ethics I
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S403

This is the first part of a two-part history.  It is conducted through the study of basic, classic texts. The course moves from the philosophical ethics of the Greek and Roman worlds through strands of Hebrew scripture, the origins of the Christian movement, the end of the Roman age to the emergence of Islam, and, finally, Christian and Jewish scholastic and mystical thought in the Western middle ages. While the golden thread of the history is the origin and differentiation of Christian moral thinking, this is set within with the complexity of traditions (Hellenistic philosophical, Jewish, Islamic) that intersect and often collide throughout these formative century in Western thought. The course proceeds by lectures and discussion. Most readings are in translation. There will be a final examination. No previous work in theology, philosophy, or ethics is required but it is suggested.

Ident. RETH 31200

THEO 35350 Cultivation of Character in Jewish Moral and Spiritual Literature
T, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S400

This course will survey classical texts and practices in Jewish religious literature from antiquity to the modern period.  Selections will include key portions from: Book of Proverbs; Ethics of the Fathers; Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan; Dererch Eretz; Maimonides’ ‘Eight Chapters’; Bachya ben Asher’s moral proems; Asher ben Yechiel’s ‘Orchot Hayyim’; Moshe Cordovero’s ‘Tomer Devorah’; Jewish Ethical Wills (diverse periods); Tracts of Spritual Practices (Safed and modern Hasidism); Moshe Hayyim Luzatto, ‘Mesilat Yesharim’.  Contemporary literature on moral and spiritual self-formation and practice will be considered; and pertinent comparisons will be made to classical Catholic sources. 

Texts in Hebrew with English translations. No prerequisites

Ident. HIJD 35350

THEO 42301 Contemporary Models of Theology
W, 8:30-11:20 am S200

This course compares and contrasts various systems and methods in contemporary theology. By contemporary, we mean theological developments in the U.S.A. from the late 1960s to the present. Specifically, we reflect critically on the following models: progressive liberal, post liberal, black theology, feminist theology, womanist theology, postcolonial theology, and theology and economics. As we engage these systems of thought, we want to examine the logic of their theologies and the sources used to construct theology.

THEO 42610 Theology from the Underside of History
T, 9:30 am-12:20 pm S200

This course compares and contrasts various systems and methods in contemporary Third World theologies, that is, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As a backdrop for this critical comparative engagement, we will use the recent theological dialogues taking place in the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT). As we engage these systems of thought, we want to examine the logic of their theologies and the sources used to construct theology.

THEO 43304 Contemporary Ecclesiologies
M, 12:30-3:20 pm S201

This course will examine a variety of recent ecclesiologies, paying special attention to post-Vatican II ecclesiologies, contextual & liberationist ecclesiologies, and 'peculiar peoplehood' ecclesiologies. 

THEO 50211 Between Theology and Sociology: Ernest Troeltsch, H. Richard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich

Instructor: Professor Hans Joas

In the history of the scientific study of religion we find intense processes of mutual exchange between sociology and theology. They go far beyond a mere use of the other discipline as a source of information about society or religion. This course deals with three of the most important figures in this intellectual history: Ernest Troeltsch, whose epochal achievements have become overshadowed by the writings of his friend and rival Max Weber; H. Richard Niebuhr, the often neglected younger brother of the famous Reinhold, who, after having written a dissertation on Troeltsch, developed his crucial contributions on American religion and the tensions between “Christ and Culture”; and Paul Tillich who connected German and American intellectual traditions and became one of the most influential theologians ever including his role as inspiration for the lifework of the sociologist Robert Bellah.

Ident. SCTH 50211/SOCI 50107
THEO 54900 Reformation Ethics: Freedom and Justification
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm S200

This is an advanced seminar for students in theology and ethics. Given the worldwide celebration this year of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this seminar will explore seminal texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Menno Simons as well as their critics, Catholic and contemporary. The seminar will proceed through close reading of texts and discussion. Reading knowledge of German and/or French helpful but not required. Each seminar participant will lead a session of the seminar and write a seminar paper. William Schweiker. Autumn

PQ: Previous doctoral work in theology or ethics required.

Ident. RETH 54900