Chair: Associate Professor Denton-Borhaug
Professor: St. John; Assistant Professors: Naraghi, Radine; Faculty Associates: Chapman, Gordy
In the Department of Religion, faculty and students study the religious traditions of the world and explore the nature and function of religion in human experience. Through multidisciplinary methods engaging sacred texts, theology, ritual, belief, culture, history and more, we investigate the ways religion enriches and complicates the lives of people as a major source of people's values, ideals, and practices. Students acquire skills in thinking and reading, speaking and writing, and learn how to approach and understand cultures radically different from their own.
The Major in Religion
A major in religion consists of nine course units from among the following areas.
|Two courses each in:|
|Abrahamic Literature||Religion 112, 114, 115, 116, 217, 226|
|Historical Studies||Religion 125, 126, 214, 223, 224, 227, 250|
|One course each in:|
|Theological Studies||Religion 121, 131, 212, 215, 255, 261|
|Religion and Culture||Religion 110, 130, 133, 136, 225, 248, 251, 253|
|Ethics||Religion 211, 240, 245, 246|
|Advanced Study||Religion 370|
|All majors are also required to take Religion 385, in which they work one-on-one with a professor to do scholarly research in an area of interest.
The Minor in Religion
The minor in religion consists of Religion 370 plus four course units selected with the approval of the advisor. Not more than two 100-level courses may count towards the minor.
The Interdepartmental Major
The six courses of Set I of the interdepartmental major include Religion 370 plus five other courses. These five religion courses and the six courses of Set II are selected by the student with the approval of the advisor. Two distribution areas in addition to advanced studies in religion must be studied in Set I.
Opportunities: Additional Study and Careers
Students may enroll for religion courses at other LVAIC institutions or take additional classes at Moravian Theological Seminary.
Religion majors and minors go on to become teachers, pursue law, diplomatic, social and counseling services, journalism and business, while others pursue careers as religious leaders or become active in the non-profit sector. Some pursue graduate studies in religion or other fields.
Courses in Religion
110. What Is Religion? Students will attempt to arrive at their own "thick descriptions" regarding the nature, meaning, and phenomenon of religion(s) and religious experience. Introduction to psychological, theological, sociological, and anthropological methods in exploring the ways religion functions in the lives of individuals as well as in the construction, maintenance, and daily life of societies. Engagement in cross-cultural comparison and contrast. (M4)
112. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Examination of how the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament was written and what its original meanings were, using the tools of historical criticism, archaeology, and religious history. The diverse religious perspectives within the text will be explored. Knowledge of the Hebrew language is not expected. (M3)
114. Jesus and the Gospels. Exploration of what we can know historically about the life and activities of Jesus. Comparison of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament, so that their separate messages and emphases can be discerned. Gospels that present different views of Jesus and his teachings but were not included in the Christian Bible will also be studied. (M3)
115. Major Themes in the Qur'an. Characteristic features of Qur'anic worldview. Topics include Qur'anic views of God-world relation, Islam and other religions, Islam's ideals and identity, and ethics. An emphasis is given to whether the Qur'anic claim of universal salvation gives room to tolerance. As background knowledge to understand these issues, the course elaborates on Muslims' approach to the Qur'an and its various methods of interpretation. (M3)
116. Paul and Early Christianity. Movement of earliest Palestinian Christianity into the Hellenistic world, studied through a focus on the Book of Acts and on the life and letters of the Apostle Paul. Historical methods for study of the Bible as a whole. (M3)
121. Introduction to Roman Catholic Thought. An introduction to the Roman Catholic expression of Christianity. Use of historical, sociological, theological and ethical methods to explore the development of the Roman Catholic Church, its social structures such as the Magisterium, its ecclesiology, doctrines, rituals, and body of social teaching. The focus will especially address the concerns, experience, and practices of contemporary U.S. Catholics. (M3)
125. Introduction to Islam. A survey of the ideals and practices of Islam across its history. It includes ritual, theological, philosophical, mystical, ethical, and political dimensions of Islam. Special attention is given to Islam's primary message and its implementation in the life of Muslims. (M3)
126. Judaism. An introduction to Jewish religion, culture, and history. The course will explore major Jewish textual resources (the Jewish Bible, rabbinic commentaries, philosophy, and mysticism) as well as Jewish religious lifeways such as worship and holidays. The diversity of Jewish cultures and languages, Jewish political nationalism (Zionism), as well as the complex and ever-changing question of Jewish identity will also be studied. (M3)
130. Religion, Myth, and the Movies. Impact of mythology on mass media culture, its hidden means of communicating through entertainment, and comparison to biblical themes within the Judeo-Christian tradition will be studied through readings, films, and writing reviews. (M3)
131. Jesus Saves? Salvation Metaphors in Christian Thought. Introduction to the pluralism of Christian images, metaphors, and theories of salvation. Students will read ancient and modern theological texts, and learn from visual art, film, and literature. In addition to conducting theological investigation, students will explore the social and historical underpinnings of various salvation metaphors as they occur in various cultures and epochs. (M3)
133. Native American Religions. Traditional myths, rituals, and life-cycle ceremonies of native American peoples, representing several geo-cultural regions of North America. Attention will also be paid to issues of medicine and healing, gender relations, ecological values, and indigenous responses to threats of physical and cultural genocide. Fall, alternate years. (M5)
136. Seeing and Believing: Women, Religion, and Film. (Also Women's Studies 136) Students explore how films appropriate religion in the service of the cultural production of images of women and women's lives; and investigate the ways the creation and viewing of film might share similarities with the construction and practice of religion. (M3)
165. Life Walk of Justice: Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies. (Also Interdisciplinary 165, Sociology 165.) In this course students will be encouraged to identify and analyze (in)justice in our own lives, communities and world. In addition to course readings, we will use the contemplative practices of memoir and walking as resources for critical thinking. A majority of the course will involve students developing responses to (in)justice through various projects that reflect students’ own passion and design, including academic, artistic, political, social, service-oriented, and personal responses. (M3)
211. Christian Ethics and War. How should humans respond to the perennial human problem of war? This course provides an introduction to ethics from Christian perspective through focus on this social issue. Students will be exposed to a wide spectrum of responses, including pacifism, nonviolent direct action, just war theory, Christian realism, warrior ethics, and more; and will develop their own ethic as their final project for the semester. (U2)
212. Materialism: The Disenchantment of Nature. An exploration of the long history of "materialism" as a philosophical, scientific, and practical/technological orientation toward "the world." Students examine the thesis that the history of materialism as a philosophical and scientific orientation among Western societies is identical with the gradual secularization of these societies. Particular attention is given to the irony that materialism's roots are deep in the soil of the very religions that are now made so anxious in the face of the sciences, technocracy, and secularized social orders. (U1)
215. Christian Theology. Major issues within mainstream Christian faith, with attention to God, the nature of Christ, death and the ultimate Christian hope.
217. Paul through Jewish and Christian Eyes. An introduction to the complex, perilous and fascinating world of New Testament biblical interpretation through focus on the writings of Paul of Tarsus. We will explore the robustly debated topic of how to understand Paul, his letters, and his theology through study of the history of Christian antijudaism and antisemitism, exposure to contemporary biblical criticism, archeology, and other scientific findings, and via service learning. (M3)
223. Religions of India: Hinduism and Buddhism. An introduction to the basic beliefs and practices of Hinduism and Indian Buddhism through the study of primary sources. Secondary sources will be used to examine popular Hinduism and contemporary South Asian Buddhism. (M5)
224. Religious Thought of China and Japan. A study of the Confucian, Daoist/Taoist, and Buddhist traditions and their contribution to the intellectual, ethical, and spiritual life of East Asian cultures. Local traditions will also be discussed. (M3)
225. Theology and Culture. Christian thought and modern life, discussing how even a secular culture implies certain "signals of transcendence," a longing for spiritual meaning. Study examples include the modern novel, popular movies, comic strips, fairy tales, mythic patterns behind TV and mass media, rise of recent apocalyptic cults. Fall, alternate years. Two 70-minute periods. (M3)
226. From Prophecy to Apocalyptic. An exploration of the phenomenon of prophecy as a social institution as known in the ancient Near East as well as prophetic literature in biblical texts. The development of apocalyptic thought in Judaism and Christianity will be studied, up to the book of Revelation. (M3)
227. Ancient Near Eastern Religion. A study of the religions of the ancient Near East, this course will explore the myths and rituals of the peoples of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt before the Roman era. Foundational to western civilization in general, these religions also form the cultural context and background for the sacred scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (M3)
240. Jewish and Christian Feminism. (Also Women's Studies 240). Introduction to theological feminist theory, comparing and contrasting Jewish and Christian women theologians/ethicists on themes such as images of the divine, sacred text, halakhah, community, sexuality, ritual, etc. In addition, students will learn from the lives of women in our own community. (U2)
245. Religion and Politics. What is "civil religion"? This course examines the relationship between religious ideas and values, and political structures, decision-making, and culture. Topics include the historical background of civil religion in the U.S., church-state relations and the First Amendment, the role of religion in politics post 9/11, the intersection of politics, religion and race, and other current issues. (U2)
246. War and Peace in the Biblical World. This course will explore ideologies of warfare and other forms of sanctioned mass violence, as well as ancient hopes and expectation for peace. Ancient Near Eastern texts and practices will be studied in addition to biblical texts. (U2)
248. Topics in Religion and Literature. How the religious dimension of human experience is expressed and interpreted in literature, with focus on a particular author, group of writers, theme, or school of critical interpretation. Identification and evaluation of the way human religious experience is articulated through the literary imagination, whether classical, modern, or contemporary.
250. Environmental Philosophy. An overview of the ethical, metaphysical, cultural, and political issues involved in understanding humankind's complex relationship with the natural world and with other-than-human animals. Examines positions and philosophies of radical environmentalists, environmental ethicists, animal-rights advocates, and political ecologists. Fall, alternate years. (U2)
251. Modern Jewish Religious Movements. Modern Judaism exists in a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices, from ultra-traditionalism to secular humanism. This course will explore both the making of modern Judaism and the religious "map" of Jewish life today. Topics will include Hasidic Judaism, Zionism, and contemporary North American trends in Judaism.
253. Philosophy of Religion. (Also Philosophy 253) The nature of religion and beliefs concerned with existence, nature, and knowledge of God, with alternative positions to theism. (U2)
255. Latin American Liberation Theology. Introduction to the study and practice of liberation theology in the Latin American context through classroom study of the history, method, and content of liberation theology, especially in the contexts of Chile and El Salvador, and through service learning in our local community with people of Latin-American heritage. Our purpose will be to investigate how this movement emerged and the effects it continues to have culturally, politically, religiously, and personally. All students in the course will be required to participate in the service learning component. (M5)
261. Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Mysticism. (Also Philosophy 261) An exploration of key notions and figures in Islamic philosophy, theology, and mysticism. Some issues embedded in the enormous body of scholarship in Muslim intellectual heritage are employed to examine current global issues such as the struggle for justice and peace and the fight against violence and absolutism. Special attention is given to the structure of Being, the notion of the truth, and the way to attain the truth in the three systems. (M5)
263. Science and Theology. Is it (im)possible to hold religious beliefs and convictions, and simultaneously to be a modern person of science? This course will examine the interface between science and theology from a variety of perspectives. We will explore key questions and supposed conflicts between science and religion, emphasizing the interaction between the two, how science impacts religion and vice versa. A capstone paper, a Credo, will ask the student to reflect on how one’s understanding of scientific theories affects his/her beliefs about certain key religious ideas such as Creation or human nature. Prerequisites: Junior or senior class standing. (U1)
370. Seminar in Religion. Selected topics significant in current religious studies, drawing together several themes or methods within religious studies and posing issues of broader interdisciplinary significance. Required for majors, minors, interdepartmental majors, and open to others by permission of instructor. Spring, alternate years. Two 70-minute periods. Writing-intensive.
385. Directed Study in Religion. A required course for religion majors. Students will select and conduct an individual research project under the direction of a faculty member. Ideally the student will have already taken Religion 370. The first part of the course will be focused on methodology.
190-199, 290-299, 390-399. Special Topics.
286, 381-384. Independent Study.
288, 386-388. Internship.