College of Arts and Sciences
General Information  |  Academic Information  |  Departments and Programs  |  Faculty
Course Descriptions

Department of Religious Studies

Halsey Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126
(434) 924-3741 Fax: (434) 924-1467

Overview The Department of Religious Studies is a multidisciplinary department that attempts to define and interpret dimensions of human culture and experience commonly regarded as "religious." Courses in the department stress skills such as critical thinking, clear writing, and persuasive use of evidence to support one’s views; these skills are central to the analysis and interpretation of the social and intellectual systems which constitute the data of religious studies.

The department offers a wide range of courses covering different approaches to the study of religion, and provides students with the opportunity to examine the major religious traditions of human history (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), as well as other traditions that have flourished independently of Asian and European influences. With one of the largest faculties of religious studies in the United States, the department is able to offer courses not only in traditional areas such as the history of Christianity and introductions to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, but also in Buddhist meditation, Hindu mythology, Islamic mysticism, Jewish social ethics, and African religions, as well as courses that are multidisciplinary in their emphasis such as theology, ethics and medicine, religion and science, and religion and modern fiction.

Faculty The thirty-member department is nationally recognized for its outstanding teaching and research. Several of the faculty are scholars of international repute, having recently been awarded fellowships for study and research in England, India, Israel, Jordan and Nigeria. Several have been recipients of University-wide teaching awards. All of the faculty teach undergraduate courses and are firmly committed to undergraduate education, holding office hours during the week in order to talk with students about ideas, paper topics, or future course work.

Students There are more than 180 students majoring in religious studies, a number of which are double majors. To complete a major in religious studies, students must take at least three courses in one world religion and at least two courses in another. The required majors seminar, taken in the third or fourth year, provides an overview of the different methodologies employed in the study of religion, emphasizing the development of the humanistic and social-scientific skills necessary for the interpretation of religious phenomena. Most students begin their study of religion in an introductory level course, which is generally large (between 100 and 250 students) and covers a broad topic (e.g., introduction to Eastern religions; archaic cult and myth). All large survey courses are supplemented by discussion sections of fewer than twenty students per section, which are led by advanced graduate students. Many of the faculty teaching the survey courses also lead one or two of these discussion sections themselves. Advanced courses generally have enrollments between twenty-five and fifty students and seminar enrollments are limited to twenty students. These courses focus on a more specialized topic (e.g., medieval Christianity, religion and the literature of American immigrants, Islamic fundamentalism). Independent study options are also available in which a student works closely with a faculty advisor.

Requirements for Major In order to complete a major in religious studies, each student must:

  1. complete a minimum of ten graded courses (30 credits) within the Department of Religious Studies
  1. Take at least three courses (9 credits) in one of the world’s major religious traditions as a primary concentration: African religions (RELA), Buddhism (RELB), Christianity (RELC), Hinduism (RELH), Islam (RELI) or Judaism (RELJ). At least one of these courses (3 credits) must be at the 300-level or above. Cross-listed courses must be counted toward the first concentration. RELG 101 and RELG 104 cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.
  2. Take at least two courses (6 credits) in another of the world’s religious traditions as a second concentration. (Both courses must be in the same religion.) RELG 101 and RELG 104 cannot be used to fulfill this requirement. If the first and second concentrations are in Buddhism and Hinduism, then one course must be taken in African religions, Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. RELG 101 can be used to fulfill this requirement.
  3. Take three courses of the ten required (9 credits) at the 300 level or above. Courses taken to fulfill requirements (1) and (2) may be used to fulfill this requirement.
  4. Take RELG 400 (Majors Seminar).
  1. Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.000.

Students interested in declaring a major may obtain the major declaration form in the Religious Studies Office, B10 Cocke Hall, or in Garrett Hall. Prospective majors must consult with a faculty member in order to plan their courses and to choose and advisor. The Department HEGIS code is 151510.

Requirements for Minor In order to complete a minor in Religious Studies, each student must complete a minimum of five graded courses (15 credits) within the Department of Religious Studies. Two courses (6 credits) must be in one of the world’s major religious traditions as a primary concentration. At least one of the five required courses (3 credits) must be taken at the 300 level, or above.

Distinguished Majors Program The Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in Religious Studies affords qualified students the opportunity to do advanced research, and to receive, at graduation, the honor of high distinction or highest distinction.

Entry into the program

  1. Students qualify for the program if they have achieved an average of 3.400 in all course work prior to application for the program.
  2. Students who declare religious studies majors in the spring of their second year will be eligible for entry into the program in the fall of their third year. Applicants cannot be considered earlier than the spring of their second year, but under special circumstances may declare as late as the spring of their third year.
  3. Application should be made to the director of the religious studies distinguished majors program or to the chair of the religious studies committee on undergraduate studies.
  4. Admission into the program will be considered by the department’s Committee on Undergraduate Studies.

Requirements for completion of the program:

  1. Completion of normal major requirements of 30 credits.
  2. At least six of these must be at the 500 level, to be completed by the end of the third year.
  3. At least three more credits must consist of directed reading with a faculty member in a specific field of study.
  4. A thesis, worth three credits, must be written within the directed field of general reading.
  5. Normally, the three credits of directed reading and the three credits of thesis may both be taken under RELS 496Y over two semesters. The director of the thesis is the instructor of RELS 496Y.
  6. The thesis should be thirty to fifty pages in length. The thesis will be read both by the director and at least one other reader from the department or University faculty.

Additional Information For more information, contact the Undergraduate Program Director, Department of Religious Studies, Halsey Hall, P.O. Box 400126 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126; (434) 924-3741; www.virginia.edu/religiousstudies.

Course Descriptions



RELG 100 - (3) (IR)
First-Year Seminar
Introduces a specific topic, research and study techniques, and use of the library.

RELG 101 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Western Religious Traditions
Studies the major religious traditions of the Western world; Judaism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam.

RELG 104 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG 214 - (3) (E)
Archaic Cult and Myth
Surveys scientific and popular interpretations of prehistoric, ancient, and traditional religions.

RELG 215 - (3) (IR)
Religion in American Life and Thought to 1865
Topics include the influence of Puritanism, the character of American religious freedom, and the interaction between religion and social reform.

RELG 216 - (3) (Y)
Religion in American Life and Thought from 1865 to the Present
Includes American religious pluralism, religious responses to social issues, and the character of contemporary American religious life.

RELG 219 - (3) (Y)
Religion and Modern Fiction
Studies religious meanings in modern literature, emphasizing faith and doubt, evil and absurdity, and wholeness and transcendence in both secular fiction and fiction written from traditional religious perspectives.

RELG 229 - (3) (IR)
Business Ethics
Studies contemporary issues in business from a moral perspective, including philosophical and religious, as well as traditional and contemporary, views of business. Topics include international business, whistleblowing, discrimination, the environment, and marketing.

RELG 230 - (3) (Y)
Religious Ethics and Moral Problems
Examines several contemporary moral problems from the perspective of ethical thought in the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions.

RELG 238 - (3) (Y)
Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age
Examines religious skepticism in the modern world.

RELG 239 - (3) (O)
Theism and Humanism
Studies contemporary understandings of religious faith in response to the challenge of humanism.

RELG 244 - (3) (Y)
Human Nature and Its Possibilities
Examines psychological, literary, philosophical, and theological perspectives on human existence with a view to seeing what possibilities are contained in the linguistic, theoretical, practical, poetic, and ecstatic capacities of human beings.

RELG 265 - (3) (O)
Theology, Ethics, and Medicine
Analyzes various moral problems in science, medicine, and health care (e.g., abortion and euthanasia) as viewed by religious and philosophical traditions.

RELG 305 - (3) (E)
Religions of Western Antiquity
Studies Greco-Roman religions and religious philosophies of the Hellenistic period, including official cults, mystery religions, gnosticism, astrology, stoicism; emphasizes religious syncretism and interactions with Judaism and Christianity.

RELG 321 - (3) (IR)
Major Themes in American Religious History
Examines a major religious movement or tradition in American history.

RELG 340 - (3) (Y)
Women and Religion
Introduces the images of women in the major religious traditions, the past and present roles of women in these traditions, and women’s accounts of their own religious experiences.

RELG 351 - (3) (Y)
Religion and Society
Critical appraisal of classical and contemporary approaches to the sociological study of religion and society.

RELG 353 - (3) (O)
Religion and Psychology
Major religious concepts studied from the perspective of various theories of psychology, including the psychoanalytic tradition and social psychology.

RELG 357 - (3) (Y)
Existentialism: Its Literary, Philosophical and Religious Expressions
Studies Existentialist thought, its Hebraic-Christian sources, and 19th and 20th century representatives of the movement (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Buber, and Tillich).

RELG 359 - (3) (SI)
Mysticism and Religious Experience
Examines classical and contemporary forms of mystical and religious experience, including the study of religious conversion and altered states of consciousness.

RELG 360 - (3) (Y)
Religion and Modern Theatre
Examines the works of several playwrights, some of whom dramatize explicitly religious themes or subjects, and others who are predominantly concerned with secular situations and contexts that imply religious questions and issues.

RELG 364 - (3) (E)
Religion, God, and Evil
Studies the "problem of evil," using philosophical, literary, and various religious sources.

RELG 365 - (3) (O)
Systems of Theological Ethics
Examines one or more contemporary systems of Christian ethics, alternating among such figures as Reinhold Niebuhr, C. S. Lewis, Jacques Ellul, and Jacques Maritain.

RELG 366 - (3) (Y)
Issues in Theological Ethics
Studies a moral problem or set of related problems (e.g., human experimentation, special moral relations, or warfare) in the context of recent work in theological ethics.

RELG 375 - (3) (Y)
Taoism and Confucianism
Studies classical Chinese and Taoist texts, their use by religious Taoist groups, and how they have influenced folk religion.

RELG 386 - (3) (E)
Human Bodies and Parts as Properties
Prerequisite: RELG 265.
An analysis and assessment of theological, philosophical, and legal interpretations of rights holders and rights held in living and dead human bodies and their parts, in the context of organ and tissue transplantation, assisted reproduction, and research.

RELG 395 - (3) (Y)
Evil in Modernity: Banal or Demonic
Prerequisite: Any course in religious studies.
Investigates how modern thinkers have understood the character of evil and the challenge it poses to human existence. Evaluates the proposals made in response to that challenge.

RELG 400 - (3) (S)
Majors Seminar
Introduces the study of religion as an interdisciplinary subject, utilizing methods in history of religions, theology, sociology, depth psychology, and literary criticism. Limited to twenty religious studies majors.

RELG 422 - (3) (IR)
American Religious Autobiography
Multidisciplinary examination of religious self-perception in relation to the dominant values of American life. Readings represent a variety of spiritual traditions and autobiographical forms.

RELG 503 - (3) (SI)
Readings in Chinese Religion
Examines selected readings from a specific text, figure, or theme. Readings emphasize possible structures of religious language and questions of translation.

RELG 506 - (3) (E)
Interpretation of Myth
Seminar with an interdisciplinary approach to the study of myth, focusing on structuralist, hermeneutical, and history of religions methodologies.

RELG 507 - (3) (E)
Interpretation Theory
Analyzes existentialist, phenomenological, structuralist, literary, historical, and psychological approaches to the interpretation of texts, especially narrative religious texts; and the interactions of language, history, and understanding.

RELG 508 - (3) (O)
Seminar on Religion and American Culture I
Prerequisite: A course in either American history or American religious history. Open to upper-level undergraduates.
Historical examination of Americans’ religious identities in relation to the dominant values of American social and intellectual life, with particular attention to the concept of community. Subjects include Puritanism, the Mennonites, the Shakers, Mormonism, and the growth of Evangelicalism.

RELG 514 - (3) (SI)
Seminar on a Major Religious Thinker
Studies the relationship between philosophical and religious thought as seen in a selected philosopher and theologian.

RELG 515 - (3) (Y)
Issues in Religious Ethics
Studies selected issues such as mysticism and morality, conscience, natural law, nonviolence, and methodology in religious ethics.

RELG 517 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in History of Religions
Introduces the basic thinkers in the field of history of religions and to fundamental problems in the study of religious sociology, mythology, and ritual.

RELG 518 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Philosophical Theology
Studies ideas of God in Western thought, selected topics, from Plato to the present.

RELG 524 - (3) (SI)
Problems in Philosophy of Religion
Examines classic and contemporary discussions of selected problems in philosophy of religion.

RELG 541 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Social and Political Thought
Examines the social and political thought of selected religious thinkers.

RELG 563 - (3) (Y)
Seminar: Issues in the Study of Religion and Literature
Analyzes terms of fundamental theory, the purposes, problems, and possibilities of interdisciplinary work in religion and literary criticism.

RELG 569 - (3) (IR)
Contemporary Religious Movements
Studies the psychological, sociological, and political dimensions of conversion and ideological commitment in selected contemporary religious movements.

RELG 571 - (3) (E)
The Victorian Crisis of Faith: Its Religious and Literary Expressions
Studies the religious dilemmas at the center of English thought in the 19th century, from the time of Keble’s Assize sermon and the advent of the Oxford Movement into the period of Thomas Hardy. The focal figures include Newman, Tennyson, Clough, Arnold, Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy.

RELG 573 - (3) (E)
Theology of Culture
Explores the relationship between religion and culture, including a theological assessment of the value of culture; the impact of secularization; the critique of religion levied by various disciplines; and the problems of doing theology in a pluralistic context.

RELG 575 - (3) (SI)
Myth and Ritual
Examines theories of myth and ritual from an interdisciplinary perspective, including selected mythological and ritual texts.

RELG 578 - (3) (Y)
Human Genetics, Ethics, and Theology
Prerequisite: RELG 265 or instructor permission.
Studies ethical problems in genetic screening, counseling, and prenatal diagnosis. Ideas of biological and theological determinism are explored critically.

RELG 585 - (3) (SI)
Narrative in Ethics and Theology
Examines the nature of narrative modes of representation and argument. Considers how narrative theory has been employed in contemporary ethics and religious thought.

RELG 590 - (3) (IR)
Ethics, Politics, and Rhetoric
Studies the perennial problems of politics and morals considered primarily by the reading of plays, novels, speeches, and historical documents.

RELG 592 - (3) (Y)
Theology and Politics
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Investigates the relationship between theological reflection and political thought, focusing on how theological positions may have implications for political theory and vice-versa.

African Religions

RELA 275 - (3) (Y)
African Religions
Introduces the mythology, ritual, philosophy, and religious art of the traditional religions of sub-Saharan Africa, also African versions of Christianity and African-American religions in the New World.

RELA 276 - (3) (Y)
African Religions in the Americas
Studies the African religious heritage of North America, South America, and the Caribbean.

RELA 389 - (3) (E)
Christianity in Africa
Prerequisite: A course in African religions or history, Christianity, or instructor permission.
Historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the second century C.E. to the present. Cross listed with RELC 389.

RELA 390 - (3) (O)
Islam in Africa
Prerequisite: RELA 275, RELI 207, RELI 208, or instructor permission.
Historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa. Cross-listed as RELI 390.

RELA 410 - (3) (Y)
Yoruba Religion
Studies Yoruba traditional religion, ritual art, independent churches, and religious themes in contemporary literature in Africa and the Americas.


RELB 210 - (3) (Y)
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 212 - (3) (Y)
Buddhist Literature
Introduces Buddhist literature in translation, from India, Tibet, and East and South East Asia.

RELB 213 - (3) (O)
Taoism and Confuscianism
Surveys the major religions of Chinese Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.

RELB 245 - (3) (Y)
Studies the development and history of the thought, practice, and goals of Zen Buddhism.

RELB 254 - (3) (IR)
Tibetan Buddhist Culture
Examines the Tibetan Buddhist culture, giving equal attention to religio-philosophical and contemplative systems, as well as historical and social contexts.

RELB 300 - (3) (Y)
Buddhist Mysticism and Modernity
Opens a dialogue between modern and post-modern critical inquiries in the twentieth century and classical Tibetan Buddhism by examining intersections between language and experience, as well as the individual and the larger self-constituting fields.

RELB 315 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Buddhist Studies
Studies selected aspects of Buddhist thought and action.

RELB 316 - (3) (Y)
The Religions of Japan
Surveys the development of Japanese religions from pre-history to modern times.

RELB 317 - (3) (Y)
Buddhist Meditation
Prerequisite: Any course in religious studies or instructor permission.
Studies traditional techniques and methods of Buddhist meditation.

RELB 319 - (3) (Y)
Buddhist Nirvana
Studies the meaning and methods of achieving Nirvana as described in the teachings of Indian and Tibetan adepts.

RELB 500, 501 - (4) (E)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan I, II
Introduces the philosophical and spiritual texts of Tibet: grammar, basic religious terminology, and structure.

RELB 502 - (3) (O)
Tibetan Perspectives on Tantra
Tibetan presentations of the distinctive features of Tantric Buddhism.

RELB 525 - (3) (E)
Seminar in Japanese Buddhism
Prerequisite: RELG 213 or RELG 316 or instructor permission.
Examines selected topics in the major schools of Japanese Buddhism, Tendai, Shingon, Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen.

RELB 526 - (3) (E)
Seminar in Tibetan Buddhism II
Studies the theory and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

RELB 527 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Chinese Buddhism
Studies selected doctrinal and historical issues in Chinese Buddhism.

RELB 535, 536 - (4) (E)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan III, IV
Intermediate course in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present.

RELB 539 - (3) (IR)
Tibetan Buddhist Tantra-Dzokchen
Examines the Dzokchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhist Tantra focusing on its philosophical and contemplative systems and its historical and social contexts.

RELB 543, 544 - (3) (SI)
Sanskrit Religious Texts
Prerequisite: SANS 501, 502, or equivalent and instructor permission.
Readings in Sanskrit religious and philosophical texts, their syntax, grammar, and translation.

RELB 546 - (3) (O)
Seminar in Mahayana Buddhism
Studies the Middle Way School of Madhyamika–Nagarjuna’s reasoning, its intent and place in the spiritual path.

RELB 547, 548 - (4) (O)
Literary and Spoken Tibetan V, VI
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present.

RELB 549 - (3) (Y)
Religious History of Tibet
Studies political, social, religious and intellectual issues in Tibetan history from the fifth to fifteenth centuries with an emphasis on the formation of the classical categories, practices, and ideals of Tibetan Buddhism.

RELB 555 - (3) (E)
Buddhist Philosophy
Prerequisite: RELB 249 or equivalent.
Advanced study of the stages and contents of insight according to the Pali and Sanskritic Buddhist traditions using such works as the Satipatthanasutta, Visuddhimagga, Vimuttimagga, and Abhidharmakosha (in translation).

RELB 560 - (3) (SI)
Elementary Pali
Prerequisite: SANS 501, 502, or equivalent.
Studies Pali religious and philosophical works, including grammar and translation.

RELB 561 - (1-3) (IR)
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
Prerequisite: SANS 501, 502, or equivalent.
Studies Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit works, including their grammar and translation.

RELB 566 - (3) (SI)
Approaches to Buddhist Studies
Focuses on the utility of different disciplines such as anthropology, history of religions, philosophy and psychology in the interpretation of Buddhist beliefs and practices.

RELB 591 - (3) (E)
Seminar in Chinese Buddhism
Examines the major schools of Chinese Buddhism: T’ien-t’ai, Hua-yen, Pure Land, and Ch’an.

RELB 599 - (3) (SS)
South and Inner Asian Buddhist Bibliography
Critical survey of Theravada and Mahayana literature including modern secondary and tertiary sources with practical exercises in using the materials for study and research.


RELC 121 - (3) (Y)
Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures
Studies the history, literature, and theology of ancient Israel and early Judaism in light of the religious writings of Israel (Old Testament).

RELC 122 - (3) (Y)
New Testament and Early Christianity
Studies the history, literature, and theology of earliest Christianity in light of the New Testament. Emphasizes the cultural milieu and methods of contemporary biblical criticism.

RELC 200 - (3) (E)
The Bible and Its Interpreters
Surveys Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Examines how the Bible becomes sacred scripture for Jews and Christians.

RELC 205 - (3) (Y)
History of Christianity I
Surveys the development of Christianity from the time of Jesus to the 11th century.

RELC 206 - (3) (Y)
History of Christianity II
Survey of Christianity in the Medieval, Reformation, and Modern Periods.

RELC 233 - (3) (E)
History of Christian Social and Political Thought I
Surveys the history of Christian social and political thought from the New Testament to 1850 including the relation of theological ideas to conceptions of state, family, and economic life.

RELC 234 - (3) (E)
History of Christian Social and Political Thought II
Surveys the history of Christian social and political thought from the rise of Social Gospel to the contemporary scene. Considers "love" and "justice" as central categories for analyzing different conceptions of what social existence is and ought to be.

RELC 236 - (3) (Y)
Elements of Christian Thought
Examines the theological substance of Christian symbols, discourse, and action.

RELC 240 - (3) (Y)
History of American Catholicism
Historical survey of American Catholicism from its colonial beginnings to the present.

RELC 246 - (3) (Y)
Aspects of the Catholic Tradition
Studies the distinctive theological aspects of the Catholic tradition, such as the sacramental system, the nature of the church, and the role of authority.

RELC 303 - (3) (Y)
The Historical Jesus
Topics include the problems of sources and methods; modern development of the issue of the historical Jesus; and the character of Jesus’ teaching and activity.

RELC 304 - (3) (O)
Paul: Letters and Theology
Intensive study of the theological ideas and arguments of the Apostle Paul in relation to their historical and epistolary contexts.

RELC 320 - (3) (IR)
Medieval Church Law
Surveys the origins and development of the law of the Christian Church, the canon law, from its origins to its full elaboration in the "classical period", 1140-1348. Readings and exercises from original sources will focus on general principles of the law, using marriage law as the particular case.

RELC 324 - (3) (O)
Medieval Mysticism
Introduces the major mystical traditions of the Middle Ages and the sources in which they are rooted.

RELC 325 - (3) (E)
Medieval Christianity
Studies the development of Christianity in the Middle Ages and how it reflected upon itself in terms of theology, piety, and politics. (Cross-listed as HIEU 318.)

RELC 326 - (3) (Y)
Reformation Europe
Surveys the development of religious reform movements in continental Europe from c. 1450 to c. 1650 and their impact on politics, social life, science, and conceptions of the self. Cross-listed as HIEU 326.

RELC 327 - (3) (Y)
Salvation in the Middle Ages
Studies four topics in medieval Christian thought: How can human beings know God? How does Jesus save? How does grace engage free will? How does posing such questions change language? Authors include Athanasius, Irenaeus, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Anslem, Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, and some modern commentators.

RELC 328 - (3) (O)
Eastern Christianity
Surveys the history of Christianity in the Byzantine world and the Middle East from late antiquity (age of emperor Justinian) until the fall of Constantinople.

RELC 336 - (3) (Y)
Judaism and Christianity
Studies the relationship between Judaism and Christianity from the origins of Christianity as a Jewish sect through the conflicts of the Middle Ages and modernity; and current views of the interrelationship.

RELC 338 - (3) (E)
The Legacy of Columbus
Studies Spanish settlement and evangelization of the Americas with emphasis on what is now the United States; comparison with French and English colonization.

RELC 348 - (3) (Y)
Dynamics of Faith
Studies a variety of contrasting contemporary accounts of the character and status of "religious faith."

RELC 355 - (3) (E)
Faith and Reason
Studies approaches to the relation between reason, faith, doubt, and certainty in selected classical writings (e.g., Aquinas, Pascal, Kant, Kierkegaard, William James).

RELC 358 - (3) (E)
The Christian Vision in Literature
Studies selected classics of the Christian imaginative traditions; examines ways in which the Christian vision of time, space, self, and society emerges and changes as an ordering principle in literature and art up to the beginning of the modern era.

RELC 361 - (3) (Y)
Female Saints in the Western Tradition
Prerequisite: one religious studies course.
This course is a study of the lives of female saints from the early Christianity through the present. The course focuses on the theological writings of female saints as well as exploring the cultural/historical importance of canonization.

RELC 365 - (3) (O)
Systems of Theological Ethics
Examines one or more contemporary systems of Christian ethics, alternating among such figures as Reinhold Niebuhr, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Ellul, and Jacques Maritain.

RELC 368 - (3) (SI)
Social Problems of American Catholicism
Studies the history of Catholicism in America from the viewpoint of the rise of cities, urbanizing immigrant groups, and tension between ethnic groups in the cities and between Catholics and Protestants.

RELC 369 - (3) (IR)
The Gospel and Letters of John and the Book of Revelation
Explores the five New Testament books associated with the name of John. Emphasizes the various genres and historical settings in which the books were written, key theological themes, and recent interpretations.

RELC 379 - (3) (IR)
Augustine of Hippo
Prerequisite: Any RELC course or instructor permission.
Examines the life and thinking of Augustine of Hippo, a major figure in Christian history and a formative influence on Christian thought to this day.

RELC 381 - (3) (IR)
Christian Intellectual Tradition
Studies major figures and ideas in the history of Christian thought from the beginning through the early modern period.

RELC 389 - (3) (E)
Christianity in Africa
Prerequisite: a course in African religions or history, Christianity, or instructor permission.
Historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the second century C.E. to the present. Cross listed with RELA 389.

RELC 391 - (3) (Y)
Women and the Bible
Prerequisite: Any religious studies course or instructor permission.
Surveys passages in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that focus specifically on women or use feminine imagery. Considers various readings of these passages, including traditional Jewish and Christian, historical-critical, and feminist interpretations. Cross-listed as RELJ 391.

RELC 510 - (3) (Y)
Natural Law in Judaism and Christianity
Prerequisite: Courses in religious thought and/or philosophy.
Studies the problem of natural law as a perennial issue in both Judaism and Christianity.

RELC 511 - (3) (SI)
Phenomenology and Christology
Systematic exposition of the phenomenon of selfhood on the basis of some traditional materials from Christology and of some recent investigations in phenomenology.

RELC 512 - (3) (O)
Development of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Catholic Liberalism
Analyzes and interprets major currents in liberal catholic thought in the 19th and 20th centuries.

RELC 513 - (3) (Y)
Being and God
Constructive treatment of questions related to the possibility of the experience of being and God or the being of God.

RELC 519 - (3) (E)
Theology in the Nineteenth Century
Analysis and interpretation of the theology of major thinkers in the 19th century, with special attention to Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher.

RELC 520 - (3) (E)
Contemporary Theology
Presents a survey, analysis, and interpretation of major developments in philosophical theology in the 20th century, beginning with dialectical theology in the 1920s.

RELC 530 - (3) (IR)
Early Christianity and Classical Judaism
Studies early Christian writings directed to Judaism; the role of Judaism in shaping the Christian intellectual tradition; the Christian interpretation of Jewish scripture.

RELC 531 - (3) (IR)
Early Christianity and Greco-Roman Culture
Studies pagan criticism of Christianity and the response of Christian apologists, and Christianity and the Greek philosophical tradition, especially Stoicism and Platonism.

RELC 551 - (3) (E)
Seminar in Early Christian Thought
Prerequisite: RELC 205 or instructor permission.
Intensive consideration of a selected issue, movement or figure in Christian thought of the second through fifth centuries.

RELC 552 - (3) (O)
Seminar in American Catholic History
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Examines a selected movement, issue, or figure in the history of Catholicism in America.

RELC 564 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Modern Christian Thought
Examines a major modern Christian thinker or movement, or of a major problem in modern Christian thought.

RELC 567 - (3) (SI)
Early Christian Ethics
Studies the nature of ethical responsibility as seen by several New Testament figures and documents (Jesus, Matthew, Paul, John, James).

RELC 580 - (3) (SI)
Advanced Exegesis of the New Testament I
Prerequisite: Intermediate knowledge of Hellenistic Greek.
Reading and interpretation of the Greek text of one of the Gospels.

RELC 581 - (3) (SI)
Advanced Exegesis of the New Testament II
Prerequisite: Intermediate knowledge of Hellenistic Greek.
Reading and interpretation of the Greek text of one or more of the Epistles.

RELC 583 - (3) (O)
Love and Justice in Christian Ethics
Examines the various conceptions of love and justice in selected Protestant and Catholic literature mainly from the last fifty years.


RELH 209 - (3) (Y)
Surveys the Hindu religious heritage from pre-history to the 17th century; includes the Jain and Sikh protestant movements.

RELH 211 - (3) (E)
Popular Hinduism
Introduces Hinduism through the examination of the religious lives, practices, and experiences of ordinary Hindus in the modern world.

RELH 314 - (3) (O)
The Jain Tradition
Prerequisite: RELG 104, RELH 209, 211, or instructor permission.
Examines Jain history, belief, and practice.

RELH 371 - (3) (O)
Hindu Traditions of Devotion
Prerequisite: Any course in Asian religions or instructor permission.
Examines the history of Hindu devotionalism in three distinct geographical and cultural regions of India, focusing on the rise of vernacular literature and local traditions of worship.

RELH 374 - (3) (E)|
Hinduism Through its Narrative Literatures
Prerequisite: RELG 104, RELH 209, RELH 211, or instructor permission.
Examines a major genre of Hindu religious narrative. Genre varies but may include the epics; the mythology of the Puranas; the "didactic" Kathasaritsagara and Pancatantra; the hagiographies of the great Hindu saints; and the modern novel.

RELH 553 - (3) (E)
Hindu Philosophical Systems
Prerequisite: RELH 209, RELH 211, or instructor permission.
Introduces the classical systems of Hindu philosophical thought through careful examination of primary texts and recent secondary scholarship.

RELH 554 - (3) (O)
Hindu Ethics
Explores the place of ethics and moral reasoning in Hindu thought and practice. Examines materials drawn from a wide range of sources, emphasizing the particularity of different Hindu visions of the ideal human life.

RELH 589 - (3) (IR)
Vedic Hinduism
Taking the Vedic textual tradition and the theories of Jan Heesterman as its dual starting point, this seminar investigates the interplay of myth, ritual, and society in ancient India.


RELI 207 - (3) (Y)
Classical Islam
Studies the Irano-Semitic background, Arabia, Muhammad and the Qur’an, the Hadith, law and theology, duties and devotional practices, sectarian developments, and Sufism.

RELI 208 - (3) (Y)
Islam in the Modern Age
Studies the 19th and 20th centuries in the Arab world, Turkey, and the Sub-Continent of India, emphasizing reform movements, secularization, and social and cultural change.

RELI 311 - (3) (E)
Muhammad and the Qur’an
Prerequisite: Instructor permission.
Systematic reading of the Qur’an in English, with an examination of the prophet’s life and work.

RELI 312 - (3) (O)
Prerequisite: RELI 207 or instructor permission.
Investigates some major figures, themes, and schools of Islamic mysticism.

RELI 367 - (3) (E)
Religion and Politics in Islam
Historical and topical survey of the roots and genesis of the religion, and political conceptions operating in the Islamic world today.

RELI 390 - (3) (O)
Islam in Africa
Prerequisite: RELA 275, RELI 207, RELI 208, or instructor permission.
Historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa. Cross-listed as RELA 390.

RELI 540 - (3) (Y)
Seminar in Islamic Theology
Prerequisite: RELI 207 or instructor permission.
Studies Islamic theology from its origins through the 14th century. The Sunni and Shi’ite traditions are discussed in alternate years.

RELI 541 - (3) (IR)
Islamic Theology: The Shi’ite Creed
Studies the Twelver Shi’ite Religious thought in comparison with other Shi’ite and Sunni sects.

RELI 542 - (3) (IR)
War and Peace in Islam: A Comparative Ethics Approach
Studies Islamic notions of holy war and peace as they relate to statecraft and political authority in Muslim history.


RELJ 111, 112 - (4) (O)
Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Prerequisite: For RELJ 112, RELJ 111 or instructor permission.
Studies the essentials of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Includes readings of narrative portions of the Old Testament.

RELJ 121 - (3) (Y)
Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures
Studies the history, literature, and theology of ancient Israel and early Judaism in the light of the religious writings of Israel (Old Testament).

RELJ 201, 202 - (3) (Y)
Advanced Readings in Biblical Hebrew
Prerequisite: RELJ 111 and 112.
Advanced readings in the prose narratives of the Bible. Emphasizes vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. Some introduction to the problems of interpretation.

RELJ 203 - (3) (Y)
The Judaic Tradition
Introduces the world view and way of life of classical Rabbinic Judaism.

RELJ 204 - (3) (IR)
American Judaism
Description and explanation of the diverse forms of Jewish religious life in America.

RELJ 307 - (3) (O)
Beliefs and Ethics after the Holocaust
Prerequisite: Any religious studies, history, or philosophy course, or instructor permission.
Examines how theologians and ethicists have responded to the human catastrophe of the Nazi Holocaust, 1933-45. Readings include twentieth-century reflections on the Holocaust, and previous Jewish and Christian responses to catastrophe from Biblical times through the nineteenth- and twentieth-century pogroms in eastern Europe.

RELJ 309 - (3) (E)
Israelite Prophecy
Surveys Israelite prophecy based on the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

RELJ 322 - (3) (Y)
Judaism and Zionism
Studies the complex relationship between Judaism–the sacred tradition of the Jews–and Zionism–the modern ideology of Jewish national revival.

RELJ 330 - (3) (Y)
The Jewish Mystical Tradition
Historical study of the Jewish mystical tradition, emphasizing the persistent themes of the tradition as represented in selected mystical texts.

RELJ 331 - (3) (Y)
Jewish Law
Studies the structure and content of Jewish law in terms of its normative function, its historical background, its theological and philosophical principles, and its role in contemporary society both Jewish and general.

RELJ 334 - (3) (Y)
Jewish Medical Ethics
Studies the classical Jewish sources as applied by contemporary Jewish thinkers to some of the issues raised by current advances in medical treatment, such as abortion, euthanasia, medical experimentation, etc.

RELJ 335 - (3) (Y)
Jewish Social Ethics
Studies major social issues such as war and peace, ecology, crime and punishment, as discussed by ancient, medieval and modern Jewish ethicists.

RELJ 336 - (3) (Y)
Judaism and Christianity
Studies the relationship between Judaism and Christianity from the origins of Christianity as a Jewish sect through the conflicts of the Middle Ages and modernity; and current views of the interrelationship.

RELJ 337 - (3) (Y)
Modern Movements in Judaism
Studies the modern religious movements in Judaism including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, as well as Zionism, both secular and religious, with an emphasis on their theological and philosophical assertions and historical backgrounds.

RELJ 391 - (3) (Y)
Women and the Bible
Prerequisite: Any religious studies course or instructor permission.
Surveys passages in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that focus specifically on women or use feminine imagery. Considers various readings of these passages, including traditional Jewish and Christian, historical-critical, and feminist interpretations. Cross-listed as RELC 391.

RELJ 505 - (3) (SI)
Judaism in Antiquity
Description and analysis of representative systems of Judaic religion which flourished in Palestine, Egypt, and Mesopotamia from 500 B.C. to 200 A.D.

RELJ 522 - (3) (SI)
The Shaping of the Rabbinic Tradition
Seminar investigating specific aspects of the pre-modern development of Rabbinic Judaism, e.g., "the holy man, mysticism and society, canon and exegesis, and law as theology."

RELJ 523 - (3) (O)
Modern Jewish Thought: From Phenomenology to Scripture
Studies postmodern trajectories in the Jewish philosophies of Rosenzweig and Levinas, with comparative readings in Derrida and Ricoeur. Includes supplementary studies of Descartes, Kant, Husserl, Cohen, Buber, and Lyotard.

RELJ 528 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in Israelite Religion
Advanced study in a selected aspect of the religion of ancient Israel.

RELJ 529 - (3) (SI)
Seminar in Hebrew Bible
In-depth study of a selected corpus of literature, specific book of the Hebrew Bible, or pervasive theme.

RELJ 594 - (3) (SI)
Judaism and Kantian Philosophy
Prerequisite: Courses in philosophy or Jewish thought, or instructor permission; reading knowledge of German helpful.
Studies the interaction of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Jewish theology in the 19th century and early 20th century, primarily concentrating on the thought of the German-Jewish thinker Hermann Cohen (1842-1918).

Special Topics

RELS 495 - (1-6) (Y)
Independent Research
Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor.
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision.

RELS 496 - (3-6) (Y)
Distinguished Major Thesis
Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.
Thesis, directed by a member of the department, focusing on a specific problem in the theoretical, historical or philosophical study of religion or a specific religious tradition. The thesis is based in part on at least three hours of directed reading in the field of the thesis.

RELS 498 - (3) (Y)
Senior Essay
Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor.
Studies selected topic in religious studies under detailed supervision. The writing of an essay constitutes a major portion of the work.

Undergraduate Record Home  |  College of Arts & Sciences