“The Study of Religion: A Gift Received and Given,” by Dr. Michael Maloney

The following is an address by Dr. Michael Maloney to the new members of Seton Hall’s chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology.  These remarks were delivered on May 5, 2015, to students and faculty at Seton Hall.  Dr. Maloney is a systematic theologian in the Department of Religion.  His address is a thoughtful and challenging account of why studying religion matters.  Check it out!


“The Study of Religion: A Gift Received and Given”

By Dr. Michael Maloney, Seton Hall University

We gather together here today to celebrate the accomplishments of these students and in witness to their induction into Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology.

In an age dominated by technical knowledge, and the predominance of an analytical approach to reality resulting in an increased differentiation and specialization of areas of study, the study of religion, and thus these students, provide a unique service both to the university and to the larger society.

1. The study of religion is an act of faith: the receipt of a gift from God – The movement to study religion can itself be understood as a witness to faith, and, as an extension of the Church’s mission of evangelization, of bringing the “good news” to the world. Whether those undertaking these studies understand them in this way, conceptualize and thematize the meaning of their actions in this way, is largely immaterial. The movement to investigate reality is itself an affirmation of the intelligibility of that reality: to pose a question is to trust that an answer will be forthcoming. In this light, the movement to investigate theology and religion is itself the manifestation of a trust not only in the meaning of one’s own existence but in the meaning of reality as a whole in which that existence is grounded, and, ultimately, in the source of that reality, God. In a word, to undertake investigations into theology and religion is to trust that answers to one’s questions will be forthcoming, from no less than God Himself. Thus, the intellectual study of religion and theology can be understood as an act of faith. It is an affirmation of the reality of God as holy mystery and a commitment to this mystery in an act of trust: it is a movement of love, the activity of faith seeking understanding.

2. The study of religion is a gift given to the university and to the world –Those who undertake these studies are a gift to the world. The labor of your studies can be understood as a response to your first being loved by God: as a witness to this act of primordial love. As a living witness and testimony to this love, you provide a singular function to both the university and the larger society. What is this? Well, in an age marked by the increasing differentiation and specialization of knowledge, by an increasingly analytical approach to reality, and by the factionalization of society into different interest groups, the study of religion and theology, which has as its object not the knowledge of a dimension of being, but knowledge of the ground of being itself, the living God: He Who Is, can serve as a reminder of the desire of the human heart for unity. Thus, those who undertake these studies remind us that analysis, however good and useful, is not enough, that the human heart longs for unity, for synthesis, for a vision of the whole as Plato put it, in which we can find that rest the desire for which has been so eloquently described by Augustine: a rest in which we can find respite from a world marked not only by increasing differentiation and factionalization, but by the sin of absurdity, violence, and general stupidity.
Your studies, viewed by much of the world as wholly without utility, as a question mark spoken to the world, at least if this world, as it increasingly is, is equated with the marketplace, bring a real gift to the world. The very act of donating yourself to this area of study is itself a witness to the emptiness of much of what the world unthinkingly offers to us as meaningful: it is a provocation to the world. You stand as witnesses to a secret, hidden behind the appearance of the world, and one the world, though perhaps unaware of it, desperately longs to know, this being that the world is indeed grounded, and that this grounding ground is not a thing, but a gracious and loving person, one who invites us to enter into relationship with Him and call him Father.

So, I congratulate you all on your past accomplishments, for the path you have undertaken to travel, and wish you fortune and grace in your future endeavors.



Fall 2015 Course Offerings


Introductory Level Undergraduate Courses

RELS 1010 Religious Dimensions of Life (Foley)

RELS 1102 Introduction to the Bible (Carter, Gibbons, Emanuel)

RELS 1202 Christian Belief and Thought (Ahr, Clark)

RELS 1302 Introduction to Catholic Theology/Vision (Deacon Frank)

Crosslisted with CAST 1302

RELS 1402 Religions of the World (Aburaya, Webb, Parikh)

RELS 1502 Contemporary Moral Issues (Fr. Holmes, Gibbons, Esposito)

RELS 1503 Christian Ethics (Choi, Dunn, Baechle)


Upper Level Undergraduate Courses

RELS 2160 Women in the Biblical Tradition (Conway)

Cross listed with WMST 2160/ARCH 1250

RELS 2221 Early Christian Thought (Baechle)

Crosslisted with CORE 3765

RELS 2223 Modern Christian Thought (Sciglitano)

Crosslisted with CAST 2223/CORE 3723

RELS 2415 Introduction to Islam (Aburaya)

RELS 2513 War, Peace, and Theological Ethics (Choi)

Crosslisted with CORE 3758

RELS 3220 Religion in the U.S.: Meetinghouse to Megachurch


Crosslisted with HIST 3386/CORE 3426

RELS 3434 Women, Gender, and Islam (Webb)

Crosslisted with WMST 3318

RELS 3480 Encountering Other Religions (Rabbi Brill)

Crosslisted with JCST 7544/CORE 3470

RELS 3491 Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity in Dialogue


RELS 3523 Jewish Ethics (Rabbi Brill)

Crosslisted with JCST 7570

RELS 3594 Environmental Theology (Carter)

Crosslisted with ENVL 3052

RELS 3993 Internship in Catholic Studies (Murzaku)

Crosslisted with CAST 3891


Graduate Level Courses in Jewish-Christian Studies

JCST 6001 Christian-Jewish Encounter (Fr. Frizzell)

JCST 6005 Readings in Hebrew Bible I (Fr. Frizzell)

JCST 6014 Lessons from the Holocaust (Fr. Bossman)

JCST 6017 Jewish-Christian Social Service (Fr. Bossman)

JCST 7035         Jewish Roots of Christian Spirituality (Fr. Frizzell)

JCST 7544 Judaism and Other Religions (Rabbi Brill)

Crosslisted with RELS 3480/CORE 3470

JCST 7570 Jewish Ethics (Rabbi Brill)

Crosslisted with RELS 3523


Dr. Brad Gregory of Notre Dame to Speak at Seton Hall on Modern Consumerism and the Reformation

Dr. Brad Gregory, a distinguished historian at Notre University, will deliver a lecture at Seton Hall titled “Buying In: The Makings of Modern Consumerism in the Reformation Era.”  This event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, 5pm, Jubilee Auditorium.  This lecture is sponsored by the University Core Curriculum, and is co-sponsored by the Department of Religion. For more information please go to https://www.shu.edu/news/article/505451#.VRHHUkKRs6A

Rabbi of Park Slope Jewish Center in Brooklyn to Speak at Seton Hall

The Departments of Religion, English, and Political Science, and the Environmental Studies Program, will be sponsoring a lecture titled “Social Justice, Sustainability,  and Stewardship:  Bringing the Sabbatical Year  Beyond the Bible.”  This lecture will be given by Rabbi Carie Carter of the Park Slope Jewish Center in Brooklyn, New York (it is a conservative Jewish synagogue).  The date of the lecture is Tuesday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 4pm, in the Chancellor’s Suite, University Center.

This lecture focuses on how the Sabbath year, as described in the Hebrew Bible, may extend to issues of environmental justice and sustainability.  For more information, please go to http://www.shu.edu/news/article/503939#.VQHe022XRA4

Rabbi Brill to Speak at Emory University

Rabbi Alan Brill, a Religion Professor who teaches in the Department’s Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program, will be giving a talk at Emory University titled:

“A Rabbi on the Ganges: A Jewish Hindu Encounter”

Below is the description of the talk and event details:

Professor Brill recently spent a sabbatical in India teaching Judaism and encountering Hinduism from within the Brahmin world. He notes that Indian works on religion typically reference Judaism based on the ancient practices of Leviticus, with its animal sacrifice, while Judaism understands Indian religions using the categories of Talmudic understanding of idolatry. Neither side understands much about the other one and its living reality. Exploring the commonalities of ideas on priestly rituals, purity, meditation, and text study, this talk will look at how what is first seen as completely other and foreign, can, with asking the proper questions and an appropriate lens, be appreciated on its own terms and create a space for a shared spiritual language of understanding.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 7:30pm

Oxford Presentation Auditorium
311 Oxford Road Building
1390 Oxford Road; Atlanta 30307
Visit http://transportation.emory.edu/visitors/index.html for information about visitor parking.


Islamic Theologian Jerusha Lamptey to Speak at Seton Hall

Dr. Jerusha LampteyThe Department of Religion, in its efforts to further dialogue between the Abrahamic traditions, will be sponsoring a lecture titled “Encountering the ‘Other’: Islam, Religious Diversity and Muslima Theology” by the Islamic theologian Dr. Jerusha Lamptey. This event will take place on Wednesday, March 4, at 4pm in the A&S Hall Amphitheatre, Room 109

The lecture will address theological debates over the legitimacy of multiple, diverse traditions. Are all religious traditions true? Are all religions essentially the same? If religions are actually different, is one more authentic than others? Dr. Lamptey will explore these questions in reference to Islam and contemporary Muslim scholarship. The lecture will highlight the intimate connection between ‘theological’ questions and practical interactions, survey Islamic sources on the topic of religious diversity, and critically assess existing contemporary approaches to religious diversity. Dr. Lamptey will conclude by offering some constructive possibilities drawn from Muslima (Islamic feminist) theological thought.

About the Speaker
Dr. Jerusha Lamptey is currently Assistant Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She previously taught at Georgetown University, where she also received her Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies with a focus on Religious Pluralism in Catholic and Islamic Thought. She has published several articles and book chapters on religious pluralism, ecumenical relations, John Paul II, Vatican II, and African traditional religion. Her book, Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014.

About the Department of Religion
The Department of Religion is Seton Hall’s home for comparative religion, comparative theology and theological ethics, inter-religious dialogue, and ecumenical studies, offering a comprehensive yet focused Bachelor of Arts program, as well as undergraduate minors in religion and archeology. The department’s curriculum focuses on the theological, cultural, and ethical dimensions of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity and other global religious traditions, particularly Judaism and Islam.

On the graduate level, the Department of Religion offers a Master of Arts in Jewish-Christian Studies, the first and only one of its kind in the United States. The Jewish-Christian Studies program focuses on analyzing complex religious, ethical and social issues that promote peace and justice and prepares students for many facets of interreligious and multicultural relations, dialogue and diplomatic encounters.

For more information, visit here. Find us on Facebook.

Rabbi Alan Brill’s Interview with Dr. Anthony Sciglitano

Rabbi Alan Brill, who teaches in the Religion Dept.’s Jewish-Christian Studies Program, interviewed his Religion Dept. colleague Dr. Anthony Sciglitano on his book examining Judaism and the Catholic theologian Hans urs von Baltasar. Read the interview on Rabbi Brill’s blog at https://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/interview-with-anthony-c-sciglitano-balthasar-on-judaism/

Professor Alan Brill to Deliver a Lecture at the University of Pennsylvania

Rabbi Alan Brill, who teaches in the Religion Department’s Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program, will be giving a talk at the Collegium Institute (their mission is to foster the Catholic Intellectual Tradition within the University of Pennsylvania community).  The event is scheduled for Feb. 5.  For more information, go to http://collegiuminstitute.org/2015/01/varieties-of-modern-orthodoxy/

Check out the Religion and Jewish-Christian Studies course offerings for Spring 2015

Welcome back to Campus–Welcome to the Spring 2015 semester!

Here is a reminder of the Religion Department course offerings for this semester:

-Spring 2015-

For Undergraduates:
RELS 3598/CORE 3: Science and Theology
MW, 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
KC Choi, Ph.D.

RELS 3592/POLS 2690: Religion, Politics, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Issam Aburaya, Ph.D.

RELS 3102/CORE 3: Bible, Film, and Popular Culture
Monday, 5 – 7:30 p.m.
Colleen Conway, Ph.D.

JCST 7047/RELS 3402/CORE 3: Philosophic Perspectives on the Holocaust
Tuesday, 5 – 7:10 p.m.
Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D.

RELS 2416: Islamic Spirituality and Mysticism
Wednesday, 5 – 7:30 p.m.
Gisela Webb, Ph.D.

RELS 2121/ARCH 1114: Archaeology and the Bible
Monday/Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Charles Carter, Ph.D.

RELS 2520/CAST 2520/CORE 3: Catholic Social Teaching
Tuesday/Thursday, 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Michael Maloney, Ph.D.

RELS 3598/CAST 4391/CORE 3: Faith and Fashion
Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Nancy Harding

RELS 1302/CAST 1302: Introduction to Catholic Theology
Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Monsignor James Cafone

For Graduate Students in Jewish-Christian Studies:

JCST 6014: Lessons from the Holocaust: Trauma and Resilience
Wednesday, 5 – 7:10 p.m.
David Bossman, Ph.D.

JCST 6020: Jewish History I: Bible to Talmud
Tuesday, 5 – 7:10 p.m.
David Bossman, Ph.D.

JCST 7585: Comparative Study of Judaism and Christianity
Monday, 4:00 – 6:10 p.m.
Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D.

JCST 7047/RELS 3402/CORE 3: Philosophic Perspectives on the Holocaust
Tuesday, 5 – 7:10 p.m.
Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D.

JCST 6006: Hebrew Bible Readings II
Rev. Lawrence Frizzell, D.Phil

JCST 6011: Biblical Thought II: Paul and John
Monday, 6:15 – 8:25 p.m.
Rev. Lawrence Frizzell, D. Phil.

JCST 6022: Judaism of the Second Temple Period
Thursday, 6:15 – 8:25 p.m.
Rev. Lawrence Frizzell, D.Phil