Courses

Bible

BIBL 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity
T 6:30-9:20pm S208

A critical reading of influential narratives--both ancient and modern--of “the rise of Christianity” in the first four centuries, and the sources from which they are composed, asking the question: can such a narrative be told (if it can be told) in a way other than as a romance or a tragedy?  Each week we shall analyze select primary sources (textual, artistic, architectural, on which students will give presentations) that illuminate crucial issues (e.g. demographics, conversion, persecution, martyrdom, asceticism, gender, ecclesiological and ritual structures, intellectual lineages, orthodoxy and heresy), personalities (e.g., Ignatius, Perpetua and Felicitas, Irenaeus, Antony, Eusebius, Constantine, Augustine) and events.  On-going reflection on the nature of historiography as a science and an art, involving both discovery and invention.

PQ: Greek and Latin are not required for this course, but those who have these skills will have ample opportunity to exercise them.

Ident. HCHR 43200

BIBL 31000 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
T/Th 11:00am - 12:20pm 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 and Judah. Because this collection of texts continues to play an important role in modern religions, new meanings are often imposed upon this ancient literature. In this course, we will attempt to read biblical texts on their own terms and will also contextualize their ideas and goals with texts and material culture from ancient Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine, and Egypt. In this way, we will discover that the Hebrew Bible is fully part of the cultural milieu of the ancient Near East. To these ends, we will read a significant portion of the Hebrew Bible in English, along with representative selections from secondary literature. 


Ident. RLST 11004, JWSC 20120 and NEHC 20504/30504

 

BIBL 44600 Zion and Zaphon: Biblical Texts from 7th Century Judah
W 1:30-4:20pm S201

Students will examine biblical texts on the premise they respond to the astonishing turn of events in the eighth century bce, in which Assyria dissolved the Israelian kingdom and nearly destroyed the Judean, with: theoretical orientation from history and historiography, memory studies, and literary theory; survey of ancient written and image-based sources; archaeological evidence.

BIBL 54700 Critical Methods in the Study of the Hebrew Bible
M 3-5:50pm S400

This course will consider the development and application of critical methods in the study of the Hebrew Bible. We will focus especially upon the questions that each critical method is meant to address and what kinds of conclusions can plausibly be drawn from their use. We will apply these methods to texts from the book of Exodus. However, this is not a course on Exodus, and we will actually read very little of Exodus together during this quarter.

PQ: Strong biblical Hebrew; languages of ancient Bible translations also desirable

BIBL 42010 Ancient Sexualities and Early Christianity
T/R 1:30 - 2:50PM S400

A study of ancient Greek and Roman and early Jewish and Christian attitudes toward sex and constructions of sexuality, especially homosexuality and lesbianism, as well as sexuality as it relates to gender, prostitution, marriage, and virginity. We will closely examine and discuss many of the most important primary sources for these issues from the non-Christian world, including texts by Aeschines, Plato, Lucian, Ovid, Juvenal, Martial, Musonius Rufus, and Philo. In light of the map that emerges by examining these forms of erotic subjectivity in the premodern cultures of Greece and Rome, we will then focus on analyzing several Christian primary sources, including parts of Paul's epistles and the Gospel of John, and selections from Clement of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, and others. We will have the opportunity to think about Michel Foucault's revolutionary complication of the whole notion of "sexuality" as it relates to conceptions of desire, pleasure, and the self as we interpret and analyze several of the primary sources with which Foucault himself worked. We will also have the opportunity to assess the scholarship of several leading scholars in this area, including the work of John Boswell, Arnold Davidson, K.J. Dover, David Halperin, Martha Nussbaum, Craig Williams, Daniel Boyarin, Bernadette Brooten, Dale Martin, etc.

Note: open to undergraduates with permission of instructor

Ident HCHR 42010

BIBL 33900 Introductory Biblical Hebrew 1
MWF 8:30 - 9:20am
Instructor: S. B. Bae

This course is the first of a two-quarter sequence designed to introduce students to the language of biblical Hebrew, wih special emphasis on the fundamentals of its morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. The course follows a standard textbook supplemented by lectures, exercises, and oral drills aimed at refining the student's grasp of grammatically sound interpretation and translation. At the conclusion of the two-quarter sequence students will be prepared to take a biblical Hebrew reading course in the spring quarter.


 
BIBL 35100 Introductory Koine Greek 1
MWF 8:30-9:20am

Instructor: C. Trotter

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. 

BIBL 34118 Coptic Bible
T/Th 10:30am

The Coptic versions of the Bible present one of the earliest translation of Christian scripture as the new religion spread. Understanding how the Bible (canonical and non-canonical) was read and used in Egypt at this early stage implies studying the development of Christian communities in those agitated times, as well as paying attention to questions of literacy and linguistic environment, book production, Bible (both Greek and Coptic) on papyrus, and translation and interpretation in Antiquity. The course will draw on materials assembled from my work on the critical edition of the Gospel of Mark, but will also look into other materials like the Coptic OT, and non canonical scriptures as Nag Hammadi and the Gnostic scriptures. No previous knowledge of Coptic is required. A brief introduction to the Coptic language will be part of the class, and parallel sessions of additional language instruction will be planned for those who are interested in learning more.


Ident CLCV 24118, CLAS 34118, (also in NELC, RLST)

BIBL 45615 History of the Greek Language
T/Th 1:30pm

Greek is one of the oldest continuously written languages: we have testimonies of it across three millennia. This course will review the various stages of this language from its first written texts (Mycenaean Greek) to Medieval and Modern Greek, including the Greek dialects, the rise of the Koiné, Biblical Greek, and the contact of Greek with other languages through history. We will read and discuss texts from all phases, including literary texts, epigraphy, papyri and medieval manuscripts. Two years previous study of Greek is a requirement for enrollment.

Ident GREK 36515, GREK 26515, LING 21420, LING 31420, CLCV 25615

Divinity School

DVSC 30400 Introduction to the Study of Religion
M/W 4:30 - 5:50PM S106

Scholars in the humanities and social sciences commonly use the term "genealogy," but what exactly do they mean by it? How is genealogy something other than a history? What makes it unique as a method of analysis? This course will foster a wide-ranging conversation on the uses of the genealogical method in religious studies. Taking our cue from Talal Asad's 1993 book entitled Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, we will ask how the genealogical method informs contemporary scholarship on religion and on religious studies as a field of inquiry. In so doing we will also examine the origins of the genealogical method in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. This course will feature guest lectures by various Divinity School faculty members, who will explore the legacies of genealogy and its sources in their various sub-disciplines. For the final writing assignment students will then follow suit, placing the course readings in critical conversation with their own research.

History of Christianity

HCHR 51703 Theological Criticism: Christology
R, 3:30-6:20pm S201

The seminar on theological criticism aims to explore the problem of how constructive theology can best make use of historical sources and do so in responsible fashion. While simply adhering to one’s confessional tradition yields uncritical positions, an eclectic attitude towards historical sources may not be a wise alternative. Without forcing theologians to become historians, this seminar deals with the larger issue of how to select and use one’s source material in such a way that the historical work is methodologically sound and the theological end product accessible and informative, while remaining properly constructive. The seminar concentrates especially but not exclusively on the use of premodern sources but other, later sources will also be brought to the discussion. As the seminar is in large part student-driven, students are invited to bring in sources of their choice to the table as well. This year’s theological critical focus will be on Christology and is loosely structured around Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key. Authors to be included are Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Aquinas, Eckhart, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Barth, Rahner. 
 

Ident. THEO 51703 / HIST 66003

 

 

HCHR 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America
M 9:30am-12:20pm S200

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

HCHR 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity
T 6:30-9:30pm S208

A critical reading of influential narratives--both ancient and modern--of “the rise of Christianity” in the first four centuries, and the sources from which they are composed, asking the question: can such a narrative be told (if it can be told) in a way other than as a romance or a tragedy? Each week we shall analyze select primary sources (textual, artistic, architectural, on which students will give presentations) that illuminate crucial issues (e.g. demographics, conversion, persecution, martyrdom, asceticism, gender, ecclesiological and ritual structures, intellectual lineages, orthodoxy and heresy), personalities (e.g., Ignatius, Perpetua and Felicitas, Irenaeus, Antony, Eusebius, Constantine, Augustine) and events.  On-going reflection on the nature of historiography as a science and an art, involving both discovery and invention.

Note: Greek and Latin are not required for this course, but those who have these skills will have ample opportunity to exercise them.

HCHR 42010 Ancient Sexualities and Early Christianity
T/R 1:30 - 2:50PM S400

A study of ancient Greek and Roman and early Jewish and Christian attitudes toward sex and constructions of sexuality, especially homosexuality and lesbianism, as well as sexuality as it relates to gender, prostitution, marriage, and virginity. We will closely examine and discuss many of the most important primary sources for these issues from the non-Christian world, including texts by Aeschines, Plato, Lucian, Ovid, Juvenal, Martial, Musonius Rufus, and Philo. In light of the map that emerges by examining these forms of erotic subjectivity in the premodern cultures of Greece and Rome, we will then focus on analyzing several Christian primary sources, including parts of Paul's epistles and the Gospel of John, and selections from Clement of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, and others. We will have the opportunity to think about Michel Foucault's revolutionary complication of the whole notion of "sexuality" as it relates to conceptions of desire, pleasure, and the self as we interpret and analyze several of the primary sources with which Foucault himself worked. We will also have the opportunity to assess the scholarship of several leading scholars in this area, including the work of John Boswell, Arnold Davidson, K.J. Dover, David Halperin, Martha Nussbaum, Craig Williams, Daniel Boyarin, Bernadette Brooten, Dale Martin, etc.

Note: open to undergraduates with permission of instructor

Ident BIBL 42010

History of Judaism

HIJD 30402 Poetics of Midrash
Th 9:30am-12:20pm S208

An introduction to the modern literary study of classical rabbinic Midrash; its styles and genres.  Particular attention will be given to issues of hermeneutics and theology.

Ident. THEO 30402/RLVC 30402

HIJD 35500 Introduction to Kabbalah
Th 6:30-9:30pm S403

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. (ident. RLST 21205)

HIJD 46010 Martin Buber's Philosophy of Religion
W 4:30-7:20pm S208

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 45101 History and Memory in Jewish Thought
T, 6:30 - 9:30PM S208

The course will explore the relationship between culture memory and history in the religious and secular Jewish imagination. We will begin our deliberations with some reflections on the role of memory in traditional Jewish literature; consider how critical historiography and modern historical consciousness affect cultural memory; discuss Zionist reconstructions of the past; read 20th-century Jewish thinkers on the problem of “historicism”; and probing the limits of representation of traumatic history.

History of Religions

HREL 45705 Sources and Methods in the Study of Chinese Religions
W, 1:30 - 4:20p Room TBD (See classes.uchicago.edu)

A graduate-level introduction to the study of premodern Chinese Religion and to the field of Chinese religious studies, mainly as it has been practiced in North America and Europe over the last 50 years.  

 

Ident. EALC 45705

Islamic Studies

ISLM 40629 Nahj al-balagha: Virtue and Piety in the Teachings of Ali
T 11am-1:50pm

Through a close reading and analysis of the orations, epistles and words of wisdom attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib in the Nahj al-balagha, this course will explore an early stage of the development of these three important prose genres of classical Arabic literature, and Ali's key themes and stylistic features. A main focus of the class will be on themes of virtue and piety. 

ISLM 49630 Early Islamic Texts
R, 1:30 - 4:20pm
The course introduces students to Islamic texts of the first two centuries, covering early Islamic poetry, history, sira, hadith collections, law, theology, and political polemics. In the process, we address the overall questions of how and to what extent historical events and ideas of the early period can be reconstructed, what hitherto un- or underused sources might be at our disposal, and what approaches and methods could be appropriate for examining these sources.
 
2 years of Arabic or the equivalent
ISLM 49630 Early Islamic Texts

The course introduces students to Islamic texts of the first two centuries, covering early Islamic poetry, history, sira, hadith collections, law, theology, and political polemics. In the process, we address the overall questions of how and to what extent historical events and ideas of the early period can be reconstructed, what hitherto un- or underused sources might be at our disposal, and what approaches and methods could be appropriate for examining these sources.

ISLM 50200 Readings in Arabic Religious Texts
Thursday 2-4:50pm S208

Texts to be covered include the 27th Sura of the Qur'an, selections from the Adab work Muhadarat al-Abrar of Ibn `Arabi, and examples of the Hadith Qudsi genre (hadiths that report divine, non-Qur'anic messages given to the Prophet).

ISLM 30100 Introductory Qur'anic Arabic I
M/T/W/Th 8:30 - 9:20AM S208
This course is the first in a 3-quarter sequence “Introduction to Qur’anic Arabic” (IQA), which aims to provide students with foundational philological and reading skills by covering the essentials of Qur’anic/Classical Arabic grammar. The 3 quarters of IQA are sequential, and students are strongly encouraged to join in the first quarter. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis.
 
Graduate and undergraduate students from any department are welcome to register. The absolute minimum prerequisite for IQA I is knowledge of the Arabic script. Training equivalent to at least a quarter of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is highly desirable. The IQA sequence is also open to students who may have had more exposure to Arabic (modern or classical) but wish to acquire a solid foundation in Arabic grammar, and/or students who feel they are not yet ready for third-year Arabic courses.

Instr. Adi Shiran (

Ministry and Religious Leadership

CHRM 30500 Introduction to Ministry Studies
W 1:30-2:50 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. First year MDiv Students only.

CHRM 35100 Arts of Ministry: Ritual and Speaking
F 8:30-11:20am S400
CHRM 42800 Senior Ministry Thesis Seminar
W 3-5:50pm S400

Required seminar for M.Div. students in the year in which they are writing and presenting their theses.

Philosophy of Religions

DVPR 41100 Anglo-American Philosophy of/and Religion
W 9:30-12:20 Martin Marty Center Library (MMC or MEM)

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 42602 Alfred North Whitehead: Metaphysics
Th 9:30–12:20, S201

An introduction to Whitehead’s metaphysics. Principal attention given to his book, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, with attention also given to his book, Adventure of Ideas.

Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

RLVC 32400 Theory of Literature: The Twentieth Century
W 1:30-4:20pm S208

This course will cover the major movements in Twentieth Century Criticism from New Criticism to Psychoanalytic theory, New Historicism, Structuralism and Post-structuralism, as well as the various features of the literary text and interpretive dynamics which have played prominent roles in debates surrounding meaning, modes of expression and theories of reception in the last century. The course will not proceed as a survey of these movements, however.  Rather it will take up the Nietzschean question of how illusion relates to truth and how literary representation complicates the relation. It will create a series of debates between schools of thought and will consider the social and political ramifications of the question as well as its strictly theoretical consequences.

Religions in America

RAME 34900 The Age of Walter Rauschenbusch: The Social Gospel Movement
W 9:30am-12:20pm S200

This course is an intensive analysis of the origins, development, and historical significance of the Social Gospel as a religious and social reform movement in America. Particular emphasis is devoted to the theological works of Walter Rauschenbusch and broader intellectual and cultural developments in the US from the 1880s to the 1920s. Some basic knowledge of the history of biblical interpretation is helpful to make sense of the theological and biblical controversies of the time period. Some attention in class and in the readings will be devoted to the origin of these developments as a factor in the emergence of the Social Gospel.

RAME 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America
M 9:30am-12:20pm S200

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

Religious Ethics

RETH 30802 Contemporary Religious Ethics I
M/W 1:30-2:50pm S200

This is the first quarter of a two-quarter sequence surveying the rise and development of contemporary religious ethics. The course will examine pioneering work that established a new style of scholarship and ethical argumentation during the “quiet revolution” when Religious Studies departments gained an institutional footing in many North American colleges and universities in the 1950s and 60s. This quarter’s readings developed in the wake of that revolution and addressed various moral controversies that arose in the cultural and intellectual ferment of the 1970s and 80s. We will also be asking meta-disciplinary questions about the shape, contours, and directions of religious ethics. The course presupposes no prior work in ethics, but prior work in moral philosophy, theology, or religious studies is recommended.

RETH 32700 Religion, Society and Culture
Th 2:00 - 4:50pm S200

Classic and contemporary theories of society and culture help frame understandings of religion and religious practices.  This course will examine social and cultural sources of morality and the relationship of individuals, culture, and society.  Universal theories of society and culture will be considered alongside those self-consciously informed by race, gender, class.  The relationship between human and nonhuman animals will also be considered.  Authors will include Emile Durkheim, W.E.B. Du Bois, Clifford Geertz, Mary Midgley, Alasdair MacIntyre, Cornel West, Sandra Lee Bartky and others. 

RETH 30100 Minor Classics in Ethics
Thursdays*, 12:30 - 1:50PM MMC Library *Note: Meetings take place weeks 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9. Students do not register for this course.

This is an informal, non-credit reading group consisting of RETH Faculty and Master’s and doctoral students interested in religious ethics. Readings are article-length.  They have revitalized forgotten themes or have launched new problems for moral philosophy, social thought, theology, and religious ethics.  Autumn quarter readings include writings by Martin Luther King, Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, Max Weber, Stanley Hauerwas, and Stephen Toulmin.   The format is informal.  Students should come prepared to identify one sentence or paragraph that they find illuminating, obscure, or problematic.  Each session’s reading will be sent out to the group about a week before each meeting.   Please send Professor Richard Miller (rbm1@uchicago.edu) your email address to receive the readings.  

Theology

THEO 51703 Theological Criticism: Christology
R, 3:30-6:20pm S201
The seminar on theological criticism aims to explore the problem of how constructive theology can best make use of historical sources and do so in responsible fashion. While simply adhering to one’s confessional tradition yields uncritical positions, an eclectic attitude towards historical sources may not be a wise alternative. Without forcing theologians to become historians, this seminar deals with the larger issue of how to select and use one’s source material in such a way that the historical work is methodologically sound and the theological end product accessible and informative, while remaining properly constructive. The seminar concentrates especially but not exclusively on the use of premodern sources but other, later sources will also be brought to the discussion. As the seminar is in large part student-driven, students are invited to bring in sources of their choice to the table as well. This year’s theological critical focus will be on Christology and is loosely structured around Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key. Authors to be included are Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Aquinas, Eckhart, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Barth, Rahner. 

 

Ident. HCHR 51703 / HIST 66003

 

 
THEO 36705 Guilt, Shame, and Redemption
W 3:30-6:20pm S403

This course will consider recent analyses of guilt and shame, on the one hand, and of the possibilities of addressing these negative self-assessments through forgiveness and friendship, on the other.

THEO 51703 Theological Criticism: Christology
Th 3:30-6:20pm S201

The seminar on theological criticism aims to explore the problem of how constructive theology can best make use of historical sources and do so in responsible fashion. While simply adhering to one’s confessional tradition yields uncritical positions, an eclectic attitude towards historical sources may not be a wise alternative. Without forcing theologians to become historians, this seminar deals with the larger issue of how to select and use one’s source material in such a way that the historical work is methodologically sound and the theological end product accessible and informative, while remaining properly constructive. The seminar concentrates especially but not exclusively on the use of premodern sources but other, later sources will also be brought to the discussion. As the seminar is in large part student-driven, students are invited to bring in sources of their choice to the table as well. This year’s theological critical focus will be on Christology and is loosely structured around Kathryn Tanner’s Christ the Key. Among the authors to be included are Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Aquinas, Eckhart, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Barth, Rahner.

THEO 42602 Alfred North Whitehead: Metaphysics
Th, 9:30 - 12:20pm S201

An introduction to Whitehead’s metaphysics. Principal attention given to his book, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, with attention also given to his book, Adventure of Ideas.