Course Offerings

For 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


General Course Descriptions


RELS 1010 The Religious Dimension of Life

Analyzes the philosophical, psychological and theological foundations of human faith and religious belief. Considers the attitude and practices that characterize humanity as religious. 3 credits


RELS 1102 (ARCH 1203) Introduction to the Bible

Formation of the Bible. Its literary, archaeological, historical and theological dimensions. The religious communities of biblical times; their world views, beliefs and religious commitments. 3 credits


RELS 1103 Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

This course introduces students to the academic study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Focus  on the literary, historical, cultural, and religious contexts from which the Hebrew Bible emerged. Examines the place of the Hebrew Bible in Jewish and Christian traditions and its relevance within contemporary global culture. 3 credits


RELS 1104 Introduction to the New Testament

This course introduces students to the academic study of the New Testament. Focus on the literary, historical, cultural, and religious contexts from which the New Testament emerged. 3 credits


RELS 1202 (CAST 1202) Christian Belief and Thought

Introduction to significant doctrines and an exploration of Christian theology in a historical context. Emphasis on the development of Christian faith and theology. 3 credits


RELS 1302 (CAST 1302) Introduction to the Catholic Vision

Approaches to revelation and theology, the reality of God and the triune nature of God; cosmology; and the problem of evil, the Church and the sacraments in the teaching of Vatican II. Traditional and nontraditional eschatology. 3 credits


RELS 1402 (ASIA 1101) Religions of the World

Basic issues in major faith traditions of the world. Special emphasis on the religious experience as expressed in sacred literature and specific worldviews and mythologies. Considers traditional rituals and symbols, as well as nontraditional forms used to express a response to the sacred. 3 credits


RELS 1403 (ASIA 1403) History of Asian Religious Reflections

Origin and development of religious speculations in India from the Vedic period to Shankara; in China from Confucius to Chu Hsi; in Japan from the Nara to the Meiji periods. 3 credits


RELS 1502 Contemporary Moral Issues

Explores personal and communal moral experience in the light of faith, and the relationship between human values and Christian belief. Examines methods of moral decision-making and the norms that guide human behavior. 3 credits


RELS 1503 Christian Ethics

Systematic study of the distinctive contribution of Christianity to ethical norms. Comparison of various theories and moral systems with each other and with the ethical systems of non-Christian traditions. 3 credits


RELS 1504 Faith and Justice

This course assesses various leading, historical and contemporary theories of justice and considers their implications for the life of religious faith. This course considers two, interrelated sets of questions. First, what is the nature of justice, and what kind of political, economic, and social practices do various theories of justice recommend?  Second, what might justice mean from the perspective of religious faith, and does the life of faith necessarily require the pursuit of justice in the world?  In considering these questions, this course pays particular attention to the challenges of globalization and poverty and the question of human rights. Special emphasis placed on Catholic and non-Catholic Christian moral traditions, with some engagement in non-Christian religions. 3 credits


RELS 2010 Methods in the Study of Religion and Theology

Primarily for religion majors and minors. Methodologies used in academic study of religion and theology. Emphasizes major figures and theories in each of the various approaches. Prerequisites: three courses at the introductory level. 3 credits


RELS 2011 (CAST 2011) Catholicism and Art

This course considers the relationship between the Catholic faith and artistic expression and why art is an inextricable aspect of Catholicism. Particular attention is paid to the various forms and ages of Catholic art, and the rich theological/spiritual messages conveyed through nearly two millennia of painting, sculpture and architecture. 3 credits


RELS 2112 The Prophets

Prophetic faith in historical perspective. Formation of the prophetic literature in relation to other biblical books. Prophetic “charisma” as expressed in the Bible and other cultures analyzed through psychology of religion, sociology of religion, comparative religion and modern theology. Prophetic awareness of individual and social responsibility. 3 credits


RELS 2113 Ancient Wisdom and Modern Ethics

Values promoted in the wisdom literature of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel. Particular emphasis upon Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. Critique of values compared and contrasted with modern social mores. 3 credits


RELS 2121 (ARCH 1114) Archaeology and the Bible

Archaeological discoveries pertaining to the world of the Bible. The value and limitations of using archaeological and other scientific data for interpreting biblical narratives. Topics include creation/evolution, the flood, the exodus from Egypt, the rise and fall of Israel and Judah, the Babylonian exile, Jerusalem and other biblical sites. 3 credits


RELS 2122 Practicum in Biblical Archaeology

Application of archaeological method to specific biblical topics. 3 credits


RELS 2130 Jesus in Film and Theater

Examines the relationship between religious tradition and artistic expression. Studies classic artistic portraits of Jesus and the tension between religion and the arts. Introduction to historical Jesus research; critical film theory; and attitudes toward Jesus in film, novels and plays. 3 credits


RELS 2151 The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke

Gospels as literary testimonies to Christ risen and present. The writers distinctive theological viewpoints passed from the lifetime of Jesus through a period of oral teaching to the final forms. 3 credits


RELS 2152 The Gospel and Letters of John

Analysis of the background and text of the fourth Gospel. Discussion of its understanding of Christian experience and belief in Jesus as Word Made Flesh. Analysis of the Letters of John in relationship to early Christianity. 3 credits


RELS 2153 (CAST 2153) The Letters of Paul

The life, letters and theology of the Apostle Paul. His Jewish heritage, his relationship to Christ and his mission as “Apostle to the Gentiles.” 3 credits


RELS 2160 (ARCH 1250, WMST 2160) Women in the Biblical Tradition

Examines the role and place of women in the Ancient Near East, Biblical Israel, Judaism and the New Testament. Compares textual and mythic traditions of Near Eastern and Greco-Roman society, women in the archaeological artifacts and introduces recent feminist interpretations of biblical texts. 3 credits


RELS 2221 Early Christian Thought

Study of Christianity from Jesus and the apostolic preaching to the end of the great ecumenical councils. Emphasis on the development of theology, the structure of the Church and its interaction with society and culture, including Christian art and literature. 3 credits


RELS 2222 Medieval Christian Thought

Tracks the development of Christian thought from Augustine to the eve of the Reformation. Influence of Augustine in the West; widening breach between Eastern and Western Christendom; rise of Islam and the interaction of the monotheistic faiths; religious orders and the universities; scholasticism and the achievement of Thomas Aquinas; dissolution of the medieval synthesis. 3 credits


RELS 2223 (CAST 2223) Modern Christian Thought

This course examines the development of Christian thought from the Reformation to modern times. Topics include: Early attempts at Church reform; the Protestant reformation in Germany, Switzerland and England; the Council of Trent and the Catholic Reformation; the Orthodox Churches; the Peace of Westphalia and the religious settlement; the challenge of rationalism and the Christian response in modern times. We will explore the relation of free will and grace, clashes between religion and politics on a variety of fronts, including the Peasant Revolt and the French Revolution, the rise of nationalism, and Enlightenment and Romantic views of religion. The course will be grounded in close examination of theological texts, but will also include works of art, poetry, historical accounts, and film. 3 credits


RELS 2224 (CAST 2224) Eastern Christianity

The course will provide an in depth analysis of the historical road of Eastern Christianity from the apostolic time to our own. It will facilitate students’ efforts to understand the essential dogmatic position of Eastern Orthodoxy, and the basic dogmas about Scripture, tradition,  the Church, and ecclesiastical authority. 3 credits


RELS 2231 Jewish-Christian Relations

A survey of the historical and theological relationship of Jews and Christians beginning with the New Testament and culminating with the events of the twentieth century and the present day. The history of relations between Jews and Christians is a tormented one and has often been quite negative. During the last several decades, however, the Church and the Jewish people have reached a rapprochement that is honest, repentant and enriching of both. 3 credits


RELS 2241 Introduction to Ecumenism

Contemporary movement toward Christian unity and human solidarity, described in terms of its biblical roots and theological principles. Persistent theological obstacles in attaining unity and solidarity; ecumenical progress of recent decades and future possibilities. 3 credits


RELS 2261 (AFAM 2517) The Black Church

A survey of the major institution for religious expression developed by African-Americans from its origins in slavery until the contemporary urban period. The social, economic and political role of the Black church as well as its cultural and religious functions are examined. 3 credits


RELS 2312 The Church

Relationship between society and Church with a view toward determining the authentic nature and function of the Church.
3 credits


RELS 2313 Christian Spirituality

Religious experience as the heart of various forms of Christian spirituality. Conceptual frameworks that influence the manner of experiencing God. Examines several fundamental models of the Christian experience to gain insight into a personal and communal contemporary spirituality. 3 credits


RELS 2315 Theology of Marriage

Past and present Christian understandings of the marital relationship in light of Scripture and sacramental theology. Insights about marriage based on knowledge from psychology and anthropology. Christian marriage as promise, symbol and vocation.

3 credits


RELS 2316 Theology of Death

Consideration of death and dying, particularly from a Christian perspective. Death as a part of life; death as something in itself; death as a beginning. 3 credits


RELS 2322 Religion and Contemporary Culture

Explores the relationship between Christian faith and American culture. Themes of creation, incarnation and redemption are related to democracy, scientific evolution and ecology. Fullness of faith is challenged by the culture in which it is lived.

3 credits


RELS 2411 Jewish Beliefs and Practices

Survey of the beliefs and observances of Judaism designed particularly for the Christian student. Jewish religious texts, the Sabbath and festivals, the family’s role within Judaism, dietary laws, prayer and contemporary religious movements within Judaism. Prerequisite: CORE 1101. 3 credits


RELS 2412 The Holocaust

Survey of Nazi policies and actions against the Jews of Europe from 1933 to 1945. Historical Christian anti-Semitism and its relationship to the Holocaust; an historical description of the Holocaust, Christian reaction to it, and the reflections of Jewish and Christian theologians on the meaning of the Holocaust. 3 credits


RELS 2415 Introduction to Islam

Introduction to basic elements of the Islamic tradition: the Koran, Prophet Muhammad, beliefs, rituals, mysticism, the arts, social and political history. Prerequisite: CORE 1101. 3 credits


RELS 2416 Islamic Spirituality and Mysticism

Islamic culture and religion explored through the lens of the development of Muslim forms of spirituality, including the dimension known as Sufism or Islamic mysticism. Major doctrines and practices associated with Muslim spirituality in its varied cultural forms – philosophical treatises, poetry, prose, rituals, prayer and the arts. 3 credits


RELS 2418 (ASIA 2118) Buddhist World of Thought and Culture

This course is intended as an introduction to Buddhist traditions in South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the West. Progressing both chronologically and thematically, the course begins with the earliest known strata of Buddhist ideas created in India some 2500 years ago. After an introduction to basic Buddhist doctrines and practices, students study the spread of Buddhism southward to Sri Lanka and Thailand and northward to Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea. The course will culminate in a brief overview of Buddhist practices in America. Prerequisite: CORE 1101. 3 credits


RELS 2419 (AFAM 2515) African Religions

Explores the complex nature of the African system of thought concerning God, man, animate and inanimate things, and the meaning of religious experience in African society. The effect of Christianity and Islam on African religious thought. 3 credits


RELS 2511 Christian Values and Health Issues

Overview of some of the more significant ethical issues in medicine, biological research adn healthcare confronting society, including genetic engineering, behavior modification, abortion, human experimentation, allocation of healthcare resources. Special emphasis on the Catholic moral traditions, with some examination of other Christian, Jewish and secular moralists. 3 credits


RELS 2513 War, Peace, and Theological Ethics

This course examines the ethical dimensions of war and peace as presented in the Christian theological and moral traditions.  The following areas will be examined: biblical reflections on love and violence, the formation of just war theory in the early Church and its maturation in medieval and post-medieval theology and moral and legal philosophy; the tradition of non-violence and pacifism, and modern Catholic social teaching and contemporary Protestant and philosophical-secular formulations on the use of force.  Major thinkers in theological ethics such as Augustine, Aquinas, Reinhold Niebuhr, and John Courtney Murray, SJ, will be considered as well as the writings of influential contemporary thinkers such as Lisa Sowle Cahill, George Weigel, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Paul Ramsey, and John Howard Yoder. 3 credits


RELS 2514 Theology of Sexuality

Examines the Catholic Christian view of sexuality first historically, then with a positive, contemporary approach. Considers present-day issues of sexuality in the light of faith. 3 credits


RELS 2516 Religion and Revolution

Relationship between religion and social change. Topics include the role of religion in discerning the future direction of individuals and society; resources the religious dimension brings to an evaluation of social, political and cultural change.

3 credits


RELS 2517 The Sacred and the Political

Examines the deepest ground upon which life is founded. No religion or political dogma, or institution is taken for granted. Compares radically different responses to the question: In the service of what ultimate way of life do we respond to the sacred and the political faces of life? This question is explored from the perspective of a theory of transformation. 3 credits


RELS 2520 (CAST 2520) Catholic Social Teaching

Emphasizing the Catholic social encyclical tradition, the course investigates the theoretical and practical relationships between Christian belief and thought, and social and economic life (involving issues of economic justice, peace, race, gender, family, etc.). In so doing, we explore the lives of those who have worked to shape Christian social justice movements, and other concrete contemporary applications of Catholic social teaching. 3 credits


RELS 2551 (ASIA 3113) Eastern Mysticism

Compares the Western model of “spiritual journey,” the intuitive approach of the Upanishads, the devotional orientation of the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Yogic path of spiritual transformation. The early Buddhist notion of “nirvana” and subsequent Zen emphases. The Chinese search for “Tao” and “li.” 3 credits


RELS 3102 (CORE 3270)  The Bible, Film, and Popular Culture

The course examines the interaction of the Bible, film and popular culture by considering how stories, ideas, and themes from the Bible have been portrayed in Hollywood movies. Specific biblical texts will be analyzed in their historical context and in their depiction in popular films. The course will address such questions as: How has the Bible shaped the way the stories told in film? How has popular culture shaped the way the Bible is read or understood? In particular, the course will focus on ideas of how religion, faith, the God/human relationship, and gender roles are shaped in the intersection of the Bible and popular culture. 3 credits


RELS 3190 (ARCH 3190) Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

Near Eastern religious, aesthetic, cultural and social patterns as expressed in art, sculpture, architecture and literature retrieved through archaeology from specific sites representing earliest times to the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Development of archaeology, especially in relation to museums, with practical applications of reconstruction, conservation and exhibition. Prerequisite: junior class standing. 3 credits


RELS 3191 Special Questions in Biblical Studies

Select topics in biblical studies chosen by the instructor.

3 credits


RELS 3201 (CORE 3721) Catholicism and Ecumenism

The course will have two major foci as expressed in Catholic ecumenical life and commitment. The first part of the course will focus on the history of Christendom and its many-fold divisions and the impulses that have historically contributed to ecumenism. Catholic ecumenical principles and foundations as found in primary sources including the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the theology of koinonia will be some of the topics to be explored within the first part of the course. The second part of the course will be praxis oriented. It will focus on specific relationships among Churches and the results of ecumenical dialogue. The role of the World Council of Churches, Catholic-Eastern Orthodox, Catholic-Oriental, Catholic-Anglican, and Catholic-Lutheran ecumenical dialogue and the documents produced from such encounters will be analyzed. Furthermore, inter-religious dialogue as expressed in the Catholic -Jewish and Catholic-Muslim dialogues will also be included in the second part of the course. 3 credits


RELS 3392 Special Questions in Christian Tradition

Select topics in biblical studies chosen by the instructor. 3 credits


RELS 3433 (WMST 3335) Women, World Religions and Human Rights.

Examines the role of the world’s religions in defining the nature, roles, and rights of women. Reviews both traditional religious sources and contemporary discussions on women and gender from a variety of perspectives, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism. 3 credits


RELS 3434 (WMST 3318) Women, Gender and Islam

Examines the concept, role, and status of women in Islamic religion and societies, both historically and in the contemporary world, looking at both traditional and modern sources on gender and human rights. 3 credits


RELS 3491 Special Questions in World Religions

Select topics in biblical studies chosen by the instructor. 3 credits


RELS 3503 (CORE 3723) Race, Politics, and Theology

This course explores questions of race, ethnicity, and political community. More specifically, is a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society viable? Alternatively, is a post-racial society more preferable?  What might it mean to “recognize” and value one’s ethnic or racial identity? Should one’s ethnicity or race be recognized at all? If so, then how?  What, then, are the political implications? Questions such as these underscore the larger question of difference and cultural pluralism: in what normative sense can difference and cultural pluralism be considered public goods—what is the limit and extent of these goods? We will pursue this question through a theological-ethical perspective that is in dialogue with contemporary issues in U.S. politics, constitutional law, and moral philosophy. 3 credits


RELS 3522 (CORE 3722) Religion, Morality, and the Problem of Suffering

This course explores the relationship between morality and religious belief. More specifically, it deals with the question of whether moral knowledge is possible without belief in God, and the manner in which religious belief is necessary for moral knowledge and action. These questions will be considered by turning to the problem of suffering and evil as a case study. We will pay particular attention to whether a religious point of view offers distinctive insight into the reality of suffering and evil. Classic theological, philosophical, and biblical reflections on this question will be studied.3 credits


RELS 3591-3599 Special Questions in Ethical Studies

Select topics in biblical studies chosen by the instructor.

3 credits each


RELS 3991-3993 Independent Study of Religion and Theology

Individual study of a student-selected topic under an appropriate professor in a program approved by the department chair. 1/2/3 credits


RELS 3998 (CAST 3998, HONS  4195) Italy in the Footsteps of the Saints

Italy enjoys a pre-eminence as a spiritual center for the Christian world alongside its importance in the development of Western civilization’s art, music, architecture and political thought. The course will examine the interplay between Italy’s profound spiritual heritage and cultural achievements, focusing on the contributions of such key figures as the Apostles Peter and Paul, Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This course is part of the Catholic studies foreign study tour program. 3 credits


RELS 4010 Religious Studies Seminar

Final project in religion relating to current trends in the study of religion, theology and other disciplines. Prerequisites: 75 credits overall, with 27 credits in religion (including RELS 2010). 3 credits