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.

Upcoming Introductory Courses

Autumn 2016

AASR/HREL 32900 Classical Theories of Religion
BIBL 31000 Jewish Thought and Literature: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
BIBL 42010 Ancient Sexualities and Early Christianity
HCHR 40608 Becoming Modern: Religion in America in the 1920s
HIJD/ISLM 30150 “Mediterranean Thinkers”: Jewish Thought in the Medieval Islamic World
HIJD 35503 Midrash and Revelation
HIJD 38607 Lament and Lamentation in Jewish Literature I
RLIT 32400 Theory of Literature: The Twentieth Century
RETH 30802 Contemporary Religious Ethics I
THEO 40102 Womanist Theology: 1st Generation
THEO 40500 Black Theology: 1st Generation

Winter 2017

AASR/HREL 34410 Anthropology of Religion I
AASR 42802 Ethnographies of the Muslim World
BIBL 32602 Introduction to the New Testament
BIBL 34601 Prophecy in Ancient Israel
BIBL 36216 Pagans and Christians: Greek Backgrounds to Early Christianity
HCHR 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America, 1619-1865
THEO/HCHR 30400 History of Christian Thought IV
BIBL/HCHR 33200 Interpreting the Gospel according to Matthew
ISLM 30602 Islamic Thought and Literature 2
DVPR/HREL 30200 Indian Philosophy I
HREL 34705 Histories of Japanese Religion
HREL 35000 Mahabharata in English Translation
HREL 45702 Sources and Methods in the Study of Chinese Buddhism
CHRM 32500 Theology in the Public Square
RLIT 37516 Religious Poetry: Donne, Herbert, Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot
RETH 30803 Contemporary Religious Ethics II

Spring 2017

AASR 42410 Material Religion
THEO/HCHR 30100 History of Christian Thought I
THEO/HCHR 30300 History of Christian Thought III
HREL 30300 Indian Philosophy II
HREL 33702 Ethical and Theological Issues in Hinduism
DVPR 30302 Indian Philosophy II
DVPR/THEO 33812 Descartes on the Self and God, and His Opponents
RETH 46502 Comparative Religious Environmental Ethics
RETH 45400 Ethical Issues in Care at the End of Life
RLIT 40010 Ruins
THEO 40600 Black Theology: 2nd Generation
THEO 44704 Womanist Theology: New Voices


The following list is from 2014-2015 and is for informational purposes only:

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