Speaking of God
(3 Cr.) (LER - TXT)
The premise of this course is that the way we speak of God is profoundly consequential. The metaphors we use for God and the ways we image God affect out understandings of ourselves and our world. This course will explore how our God-talk impacts economic justice, environmental justice, human oppression as well as our individual responses to the world. Offered Spring 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Introduction to World Religions
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV)
This course will introduce students to the major beliefs and historical development of the world's religions. Attention will be paid to how myth, doctrine, symbols, rituals and ethics shape these traditions. Students will engage with primary texts and will explore how these traditions have manifested in the United States and, through field trip opportunities, the Baltimore area. Fall Semester. Duncan.
Religion and Society
(3 Cr.) (LER-TXT)
This is a lecture discussion course designed to introduce students to the phenomenon and study of religion. This will be achieved by exploring the meaning and nature of religion, the role of religion in the life of the individual; and the role of religion in the construction, maintenance, and daily life of society. Fall semester, repeated in spring semester. Department.
The Hebrew Scriptures
A study of the literature of the Hebrew scriptures to discover its forms and the perceptions of reality and value it conveys. Myth, history, prophecy, poetry, wisdom, story, and their meanings in human experience. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Variable semesters.
(3 Cr.) (LER-TXT)
This course offers a general introduction to Judaism, its history, beliefs, and practices. Through an analysis of primary sources and consideration of diverse secondary materials, we will encounter Judaism as a dynamic tradition, in which innovation and change merge through a relationship and dialogue with the past. Topics of the course will include scripture and commentary, ritual and liturgy, the life-cycle, and festival calendar. We will also consider some of the ways in which Jewish tradition has responded to and has been shaped by the challenges posed by the modern world. Fall semester.
New Testament and Early Christianity
(3 Cr.) (LER-TXT)
This course will survey the text of the New Testament and the first three centuries of Christian history. Students will study the books of the New Testament with an eye to historical/critical methods of study and interpretation. In addition to close readings of the texts to explore the theology espoused within them, we will examine the Jewish roots of Christianity, non-biblical texts written during the same period and the cultural, political and religious Influences that lead to the beginning and growth of the Christian religion. No prior knowledge of the New Testament is needed. Fall 2015 and alternate years thereafter. Duncan.
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV)
This course provides an overview of Islam through the Koran and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. Study of Islam's fundamental beliefs and practice. Focus on the history and expansion of Islam, as well as an examination of Islamic culture, science, and its contribution to world civilization. Other topics include Islamic resurgence, contemporary Islam in the Middle East and the world in general, political life, and the concept of Islamic fundamentalism. Fall 21016 and alternate years thereafter. Duncan.
New Religious Movements
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV)
This course begins with the social scientific study of new religious movements and cults: How do we define these terms? Why do these movements develop and why do people join them? We will then study a variety of such movements, focusing particularly on apocalyptic movements, claims to supernatural powers and revelations, offshoots and combinations of pre-existent religions, nature religions and new age religious groups. Spring 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Duncan.
Judaism and Philosophy
For centuries Jewish thinkers have attempted to reconcile philosophy-knowledge based on human reason-with the authority of the Bible and the Jewish tradition. This course will consider of the relationship between philosophy and Judaism and illuminate the broader question of the relationship or conflict between reason and revelation. How has the dialogue between (secular) philosophy and (religious) tradition yielded new understandings of the meaning of Judaism and Jewish life? The course will probe these problems by means of a survey of the major Jewish philosophical works, from late antiquity to modern times. We will read such authors as Philo, Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Moses Maimonides, Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Herman Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss, and Emmanuel Levinas. Students will consider debates regarding the conflict or correspondence of reason and revelation, the creation or eternity of the world, the meaning of the law, and the problem of the particularity of the Jewish people. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Variable semesters.
Hermeneutics and Deconstruction
An overview of two current philosophical practices of mindful interpretation put forth respectively by Hans Georg Gadamer and Jacques Derrida. Both thinkers are at the forefront of the philosophical breakthrough of being "mindful" of meaning, of the ways we find meaning, create meaning, and expand meaning mindfully for ourselves and others. Examination and comparison of these practices of interpretation through their interpretation of Plato's Dialogues. Prerequisite: either sophomore standing, a 100-level philosophy course, or permission of the instructor. Spring semester. Offered 2015-16 and alternate years. Rose.
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV)
What is the meaning of faith for black women as they struggle for life and freedom? This course attempts to answer this question as it explores black women's religious/theological experience from a Christian perspective. Attention is given to the nature of the social/historical struggle that informs black women's understandings of themselves in relationship to God, church, and community. Reflective of the womanist tradition, this course accesses various media forms to discern the womanist religious experience. Prerequisite: one course in women, gender, and sexuality studies or religion or sophomore standing. Fall 2015 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Black Religious Thought I
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV AND TXT)
This course focuses on the historical roots of the black faith tradition. It seeks to explore the religious and theological tradition of the Black Church in America as this tradition emerged during slavery through the 20th-century Great Migrations. Primary literature from the enslaved and black religious thinkers are examined. Prerequisite: one course in religion or sophomore standing. Fall 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Religion and Politics in America
This course will cover the roots of the American separation of church and state, its practical application in the courts and in public policy and some of the trends and evolutions of this understanding resulting from changing aspects of the American political, social, and religious landscape. Using a combination of governmental documents, primary sources from politicians, theologians, and everyday Americans, students will examine the relationship between religion and politics in America in the context or race, gender, immigration, warfare, social reform and international relations. Spring 2017 and alternate years thereafter. Duncan.
Advanced study in a historical period, theme, issue, or thinker in a particular religious tradition. The field discussion is delimited differently each time the course is taught. Topics for a given semester are posted for registration. May be repeated with a different topic. Prerequisite: one course in religion or sophomore standing. Variable semesters. Department.
Modern Jewish Experience
(3 Cr.) (LER-TXT)
Through an analysis of various forms of literature and media-autobiography, theological and philosophical writings, political treatises, fiction and film-we will consider the ways in which secular Jewish identities and commitments in the modern world have been articulated and contested. We will look to define the meaning of "secular," "secularism," and "secularization" and consider how these terms may be applied to Judaism. We will be attentive throughout to the complex dialectical relationship between Judaism as a religion and secular manifestations of Jewishness. Topics will include Spinoza and the theological-political critique of Judaism, the varieties of Jewish nationalism, and the phenomenon of "non-Jewish" Jews. Fall semester.
Jewish Mysticism: Philosophy of Kabbalah
A comprehensive study of Jewish thought, from the time of the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash to the emergence of the religious and secular Jewish thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The course presents historical and conceptual developments of Jewish thought through a study of the works of the prominent Jewish philosophers, mystics, and ethical writers who shaped the major beliefs of Judaism. An exploration of the basic philosophical methods and terminology that are used in the literary research of the history of ideas will be included in the survey. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Spring semester.Department.
Issues in Contemporary Jewish Thought: Whither the 21st Century
What it means to be Jewish and how to live a Jewish life have always led to questions about God, about Torah, and about the Jewish people-and often in reaction to what is happening in the non-Jewish world. This course examines these question from writings of Ahad Ha-am, Herman Cohen, Leo Baeck, Franz Rosenweig, Abraham Issac Kuk, Martin Buber, Abraham J. Heschel, Emil Fackenheim, Joseph Soloveitchik, Rachel Adler (Jewish feminist), and Emanuel Levinas. Our goal is to see if we can detect a glimpse of the Jewish future. This course is sponsored in part by the Jewish Chautauqua Society. Prerequisite: one course in religion or philosophy or sophomore standing. Spring semester.
An analysis of Asian philosophical and religious texts with particular emphasis on the Chinese tradition. Students read selected works from the vast scholarly literature of the Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions, and situate these text, their authors, and the schools they represent within their historical context. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, one course in philosophy, or permission of instructor. Spring semester. Offered 2010-11 and alternate years. DeCaroli.
(3 Cr.) (LER-DIV)
What does human sexuality have to do with God? What has been the meaning of sexuality within the Christian tradition? How has Christianity shaped the meaning of sexuality for society? These are some of the questions this course explores as it examines sexuality and the Christian tradition in relation to matters of homosexuality. Special attention will be given to theological and biblical concerns. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Spring 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Through delving into the writings of particular theologians of liberation such as Jon Sobrino, Gustavo Guieterrez, James Cone, and others, students examine the meaning, significance, and methods of liberation theology. Their exploration will include the following questions. Why is it called "liberation" theology? What vision of God, the world, and human beings does it proclaim? What does it criticize about the world and the church? Students meet and interview people in the community who are linked with the practice of liberation theology in various contexts. Prerequisite: one course in religion or sophomore standing. Fall 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Independent Work in Religion
Special topics on study based on previous course work in the department and selected in conference with the instructor. Department.
Topics in Judaic Studies
Advanced study in a historical period, theme, issue, or thinker in Judaic studies. Topics for a given semester are posted for registration. Course may be repeated with a different topic. Topics may include: The Jewish Political Tradition, The Problem of Evil in Jewish Thought, or American Jewish Literature. Prerequisite: one 100- or 200-level course in Judaic studies, sophomore standing, or permission of the instructor. Spring semester.Department.
American Religion and Social Reform
This course will examine the historical and contemporary connections between social reform movements and the religious convictions and organizations that motivate them. Topics will include particular movements such as the Social Gospel Movement and its critics, anti-war movements, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the Religious Right and the Evangelical Left. In each of these historical cases, students will read primary documents from the movements to examine how religion is being used to justify certain action and decry certain realities in their current historical reality. Over the course of the semester, students will develop several parts of a research and service-learning project focusing on one Baltimore area organization that engages in religiously motivated social reform. Prerequisite: One course in religion and sophomore standing. Spring 2016 and alternate years thereafter. Duncan.
Problems of Evil and Suffering
What is the meaning of evil? How are we to understand human suffering? What is the meaning of the human being in relation to evil? What is the significance of God in relation to evil and suffering? What is the meaning of truth and justice in light of evil? These are some of the questions this course considers as it investigates the problem of evil and suffering. Theological, philosophical, literary as well as justice responses to particular social/historical manifestations of evil (i.e., slavery and the Holocaust) are examined in order to help students discern the complex issues with regard to evil/suffering and to develop their own theological, philosophical, and justice-related responses. Prerequisite: one course in religion or sophomore standing. Fall 2015 and alternate years thereafter. Douglas.
Christian Ethics and War
How do religions impact individual and communal self-understanding and decision-making? In this course students are introduced to the study of Christian ethics through investigation and analysis of one particular ethical issue: war. Students study war theory and its relationship to Christianity, as well as Christian pacifism and nonviolence. Their investigation will focus on how Christian sacred texts, history, theology, and practice are utilized by Christian ethicists to diverse ends. Prerequisite: one course in religion or sophomore standing. Fall 2016 and alternate semesters thereafter. Duncan
Special Topics in American Religious History
(3 - 4 Cr.)
Courses to cover specific religious movements, themes and topics in American Religious History. This course will involve either a field-work or community-based learning component. Offered most Spring semesters. Department.
Black Religious Thought II
This course focuses on the development of the black faith tradition from the Great Migrations to the present. The social/historical/political context that shaped black religious thought during this period will be explored. Particular attention will be paid to the development of a systematic black theology with a close examination of thinkers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Cone. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or one course in religion. Offered Spring 2017 and alternate semesters thereafter. Douglas.
Topics in Religion, Gender and Sexuality
Courses will cover specific religious and social movements, themes and topics in Religion, Gender and Sexuality. Prerequisite: one course in Religion or Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. First offered 2016. Department.
Religion Major Capstone
All senior Religion Majors will register for this course in conjunction with either RLG 399 Advanced Independent Work or RLG 450 Senior Thesis. Enrolled students will meet as a group regularly throughout the semester for faculty and peer mentoring related to independent research projects. The course will end with presentations of projects to the group and other Religion program students. Prerequisite: Religion major and Senior standing. Spring semester. Department.
Advanced Independent Work
What it means to be Jewish and how to live a Jewish life have always led to questions about God, about the Torah, and about the Jewish people—often in reaction to what is happening in the non-Jewish world. This course examines these questions from the writings of Ahad Ha-Am, Herman Cohen, Leo Baeck, Franz Rosenweig, Abraham Isaac Kuk, Martin Buber, Abraham J. Heschel, Emil Fackenheim, Joseph Soloveitchik, Rachel Adler (Jewish feminist), and Emmanuel Levinas. Our goal is to see if we can detect a glimpse of the Jewish future. This course is sponsored in part by the Jewish Chautauqua Society. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or religion, or sophomore standing. Variable semesters.Department.
Fall and spring semesters.Department.