Religion Department Courses...


Lower division courses at the 1000-level carry no prerequisites.


RELI 1310 Contemporary Religious Thought

An examination of philosophical, theological, literary, and cinematic approaches to

spirituality, gender, suffering, and transcendence in contemporary religious thought

from among Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, humanist, and other traditions.


RELI 1320 Ethical Issues in Religious Perspective

Inquiry into the religious dimension of issues such as environmental pollution,

violence, capital punishment, economic injustice, hunger, homosexuality, feminism,

pornography, abortion, and euthanasia.


RELI 1330 Asian Religions

A study of Hindu, Buddhist, and East Asian religious traditions in theory and

practice; attention to such topics as reincarnation, yoga and meditation,

shamanism, ritual, salvation, personal religious experience, gender roles, spiritual

ideals of art, and the relation of humankind to nature and the cosmos.


RELI 1351 Anthropology of Ancient Israel

An analysis of the Hebrew Scriptures from the perspective of the social sciences in

order to understand the structure and organization of societies that are described

in the literature of ancient Israel . (Also listed as ANTH 2312.)


RELI 1360 Religion in the United States

A study of religious diversity in the United States with emphasis on the Protestant,

Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. Attention may be given to such topics as

Native American religion, civil religion, new religious movements, women in religion,

and televangelism.



Lower division courses at the 2000-level carry no prerequisites but presuppose of

the student either (a) a particular interest in the subject matter of the course, (b) a

certain familiarity with the specific subject matter of the course, or (c) a certain

familiarity with Religion as an academic discipline.


RELI 2309 Religion and Prejudice
A comparative and historical examination of religion and religious communities as both sources and victims of prejudice.  Topics may include modern anti-Semitism, race and American religion, religion and apartheid in South Africa, the Hindu-Muslim conflict in South Asia, Tibetan Buddhism and China, and Euro-American stereotypes about Islam.


RELI 2317 African-American Religion
An examination of the meaning and function of religion as understood and practiced by black Americans in the United States.  Topics may include the African origins of African-American religion, religion in slave life, the Black Church, issues of gender, religion and civil rights, African-American religious thought, and Islam in black America.


RELI 2318 Religion and the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement remains one of the most compelling and influential

movements in U.S. history. This course examines the significant role of religion in

framing the African American, Native American, and Latino community efforts to

seek substantive social and economic change. We also explore the role of religion

in structuring the various responses from majority populations. Finally, we study

how the movement influenced modern theologies. Some attention may also focus

on the role of religion on the feminist, anti-war, and gay rights movements.


RELI 2354 The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

A study of the books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures in English translation.

Some of the books will be read in their entirety, and substantial excerpts of most of

the others will also be read so that all of the major types of literature present in the

Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures will be represented. The course will approach its

subject matter primarily as literature, but attention will be given to the historical,

cultural, and religious aspects of its production. The course will also consider the

trajectory of its subject matter in Jewish and Christian thought, and in Western

Culture. May not be taken for credit if credit has been received in RELI 1354.


RELI 2355 The New Testament

A study of the writings that comprise the New Testament, with attention also to

certain other early Christian documents not included in the New Testament. Most of

the writings are read in their entirety, and they are examined with reference to their

historical, cultural, religious, and literary contexts; their use as historical sources for

the reconstruction of Christian origins; their role as a basis for Christian belief and

practice; and their wider influence in Western and world cultures. May not be taken

for credit if credit has been received in RELI 1355.


RELI 2356 The Qur'an

Islam and Muslims have been embroiled in some of the most searing controversies of our age, and the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an, has been at the center of a number of these controversies. This course introduces students to the Qur'an, and how it is perceived by Muslims themselves. RELI 2356 deals with the importance of this sacred text for the religion of Islam, including its beliefs, rituals, and rites. The course also covers the history of the Qur'an and engages with key themes of the scripture. Students will be introduced to the content of the primary text and a selection of accessible secondary readings. Current hot-button questions such as "What does the Qur'an say about women? or "Does the Qur'an legitimate violence?" will also be addressed.



Unless otherwise specified, completion of 3 semester hours in the academic study

of Religion or consent of instructor is prerequisite to taking 3000-level courses.


RELI 3301 Gender and Religion

An examination and discussion of issues relevant to the study of religion and ethics

raised by contemporary feminists; offered from the perspective of gender and

religion; the roles played by religious traditions in relation to cultural expectations

placed upon women and men; implicit and explicit values reflected in religious

traditions regarding women; and the diversity of women’s responses to cultural

expectations in a religious context.


RELI 3303 Death and Beyond

A comparative study of the perspectives and attitudes within various world religious

traditions regarding the significance of death for human existence and selfunderstanding;

attention to contemporary accounts of near-death experiences,

compared to traditional religious accounts of other-world journeys; special

emphasis on the concepts of heaven, hell, reincarnation, universal salvation, and

divine justice, and the relation of such notions to moral, philosophical, and

theological ideals pertaining to life.


RELI 3312 Religion and Science in the West

An examination and discussion of issues in the history of the relation of religion and

science in the Western world, with emphasis on developments from the

Renaissance to the present. The course focuses on significant religion-science

debates, such as those surrounding evolution and the mind/soul/body relation, and

on methods and models in religion and science. Attention will be given to ways

religion has influenced science, and science religion.

Prerequisite: RELI 1340, 3313, or consent of instructor.


RELI 3313 Religion and Science in Asia

An examination and discussion of issues in the history of the relation of religion and

science in Chinese, Hindu, and Islamic cultures. Topics will include cosmology,

astronomy, and astrology, on one hand, and biology and traditional systems of

medicine, on the other. Major theoretical issues will include the colonized discourse

on religion and science in the Asian context, the variety of traditional Asian

responses to modern science, and the impact of cultural perspectives on the

scientific enterprise.

Prerequisite: RELI 1330, 3312, or consent of instructor.


RELI 3314 Problems in Religious Thought

An examination in depth of specific contemporary issues in theology and

philosophy of religion. Issues vary and may include: theism and atheism; faith and

knowledge; religion and the rise of the modern spirit; religion and culture; modern

critiques of religion and theological responses; and approaches to theological



RELI 3315 The Holocaust: Jewish and Christian Responses

An examination of the crisis of faith for Jews and Christians in response to the

systematic murder of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others. Attention to the

perspectives of perpetrators, bystanders, victims, and survivors; religious

explanations and ethical responses.


RELI 3318 Religion, Literature, and Film

An examination of perennial religious themes, such as estrangement and

redemption, meaning and value, and the question of God in modern literature and

in film; attention to the intersection of theory of religion with literary theory and film

theory in terms of commonalities and differences in regard to human creativity.


RELI 3321 Issues in Religious Ethics

A study of important thinkers or topics in religious ethics. Possible thinkers include

Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Ramsey; potential topics include narrative ethics,

Christian socialism, Liberationist Ethics, and Feminist Ethics.


RELI 3331 The Hindu Tradition

A study of the major developments and schools within the tradition, from ancient

times to the present; attention to mythological/theological perceptions and

interpretations of the world, as well as to meditational, devotional, and ritual

practices. Field trips and/or interviews are an integral part of the course.

Prerequisite: RELI 1330 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3332 The Buddhist Tradition

An inquiry into the meaning of the Buddha’s life, and an examination of his

teachings and their expression in the Buddhist community; attention to meditational

practices, ritual, ethics, and major religious-philosophical issues within the various

schools of South and East Asian Buddhism.

Prerequisite: RELI 1330 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3333 Chinese Religions

A study of the indigenous religious traditions of China in cultural and historical

perspective, including Religious Taoism, Confucianism, and Yin-Yang cosmology.

Topics for discussion will include cosmology, ritual and myth, religious selfcultivation,

and the interaction between humankind and the sacred.

Prerequisite: RELI 1330 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3334 Japanese Religions

A study of the Japanese religious experience in cultural and historical perspective,

including indigenous traditions (Shinto) and Japanese appropriation of religions

imported from China and the West. Traditions to be examined will include village

and state Shinto; Esoteric Buddhism, Zen, and Pure Land sectarianism; Shinto-

Buddhist interaction; and new religious movements.

Prerequisite: RELI 1330 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3338 Greek Religious Experience

A study of Greek religious festivals designed to produce a coherent image of a

year in the religious life of the ancient Greeks. Through a combination of

archaeological and literary evidence, we will attempt to reconstruct the rituals

performed at the various festivals and explore the ways in which they organized

and articulated the community through shared religious experience. We shall also

consider the ways in which religion organized civic space and gave it meaning.

(Also listed as CLAS 3338.)


RELI 3341 The Jewish Tradition

A study of the major religious developments and issues within Judaism, as reflected

in selected literature drawn from the biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and early modern


Prerequisite: RELI 1340, 2354 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3342 The Christian Tradition

A study of the historical development of Christian doctrine and practice as reflected

in selected scriptures, creeds, and theological works from the early church to

modern times. Attention will be given to Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.

Prerequisite: RELI 1340, 2355 or consent of instructor.

RELI 3343 The Islamic Tradition

An examination of Islam as a diverse, living tradition practiced by hundreds of

millions of people around the world. Will include discussion of the foundations of

Islamic religion and of issues such as women and Islam, the jihad, and Islamic



RELI 3345 Women in Islam

A study of the contributions and roles of women in the Islamic tradition, including

such topics as Muslim women in the Qur’an and early Islamic history, women in

classical Islamic mysticism, Muslim women’s spiritual practices, Islamic feminism

and “Islamist” women’s spiritual and political revival in the late twentieth century,

and women of diverse Muslim communities of the world, including the American

Muslim community.


RELI 3346 Islamic Literatures

The course will examine a range of literary writings from the early and modern

Islamic worlds with a view to gaining insights into the prevailing themes of these

literary works and their relevance for understanding the historically changing

interconnections between self, society, and religion. Students will read an array of

literary genres from two broad successive epochs of Islamic history: the Age of

Empires (9th to late 18th centuries, C.E.) and the Post-Colonial Age (19th to 21st

centuries, C.E.). The course also lays stress upon exposure to the cultural and

regional diversity of Islamic civilization, and hence students will be exposed to

literary works in translation from the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu languages.

Prerequisite: RELI 1340, 3343, or 3345; or consent of instructor.


RELI 3351 Narratives in the Hebrew Bible

Detailed studies in English translation of selected narratives found in the Hebrew

Bible (Old Testament), using procedures derived from recent applications of literary

theory of narrative to biblical studies.


RELI 3352 Poetry in the Hebrew Bible

Detailed studies in English translation of selected poetry found in the Hebrew Bible

(Old Testament), using procedures derived from recent applications of literary

theory of poetry to biblical studies.


RELI 3353 The Gospels, Jesus, and Christian Origins

A study of the earliest extant literary portrayals of Jesus, with attention to what can

be known about his life, message, activity, and fate as well as his significance for

the origins of Christianity.


RELI 3354 The Letters of Paul

A study of the extant writings attributed to Paul and included in the New Testament,

with attention to the historical, cultural, religious, and literary context of these

writings and to Paul’s influence in early Christianity and in the history of Christian


RELI 3360 Philosophy of Religion

A critical discussion of philosophical issues arising in religion and theology. Typical

topics covered include: religious language, arguments for God’s existence, religious

experience, miracles and revelation, the relationship of faith and reason, the nature

of God, the problem of evil, death and immortality. (Also listed as PHIL 3338.)

Prerequisite: PHIL 1301 or 1354, or 3 semester hours in the academic study of

religion, or consent of instructor.


RELI 3370 Sociology of Religion

A study of institutionalized and non-institutionalized forms of religious expression.

Various forms of religious expression, their social sources, and their societal

consequences will be examined. The relation between religion and secular

institutions (the economy, polity, education, etc.) will be investigated. Particular

attention will be focused on emerging forms of religious expression in modern

urban-industrialized society. (Also listed as SOCI 3333.)


RELI 3380 U.S. Latino Religious Practices and Traditions

This course examines the beliefs, theologies, and practices of diverse U.S. Latino

communities. In addition to Catholicism and Protestantism, the course will review

the impact of African and Native American religious traditions. The course critically

examines how U.S. Latino religious experiences impact race, class, gender, and

sexuality with a particular emphasis on examining the Latino community in San


Prerequisite: RELI 1360 or consent of instructor.


RELI 3-90 Reading and Conference

Individual work under supervision in areas not covered by other courses.

Prerequisites: 12 semester hours in religion and approval of the department chair

and instructor.


RELI 3-91 Special Topics in Religion

From time to time, the department will offer special topic courses not described in

the Bulletin. The topics may be in any area and may be offered at the initiative of

departmental faculty or upon petition of interested students. Announcements of

such courses will be by special prospectus. May be repeated on different topics.

Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.



Junior standing and completion of 9 semester hours in the academic study of

Religion or consent of instructor is prerequisite to taking 4000-level courses.


RELI 4371 Topics in the Social Scientific Study of Religion

An introduction to classic and contemporary social scientific studies of religion. The

course may focus on a specific method applicable to the study of religion, or on a

particular topic commonly arising in social scientific inquiries. An example of the

former would be the functionalist approach; an example of the latter would be the

problem of the sacred/profane distinction.


RELI 4394 Approaches to the Study of Religion

An inquiry into the nature of religion and ways in which it is studied and described;

topics may include self and other within religious traditions, religious pluralism,

comparative studies of religion, sociological and psychological functions of religion,

and the relation between religion and culture. This course fulfills the Senior

Experience requirement of the University’s Common Curriculum.

Prerequisites: Senior standing and 15 hours in Religion.