/ Religion Department

Courses

Our classes help you understand the Christian faith and the role of religion in human society.

Religion department courses are an integral part of the college curriculum. Six credits in religion are required for graduation: a two-credit basic Studies in Religion course (REL 100) and one four-credit course (REL 220s, 240s, 260s or 280s).

Our majors and minors have a wide range of introductory and advanced courses from which to choose, from courses on the Pentateuch to world religions, from Christian ethics to the Gospels.

View full course descriptions in the catalog 

Special Topics (REL 100)

Catalog course REL 100 consists of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.

Religion section descriptions — spring 2023

100.01 Which Jesus?
“Which Jesus?” — Everyone seems to have a different opinion about Jesus. Where did these ideas about Jesus come from? Which one is the “real” Jesus? What do those around me and in society believe about Jesus? These are the questions we will address as we explore Jesus through the centuries and search for The Historical Jesus.

100.01 Faith and Food
Food is basic to human life. It therefore comes as no surprise that food is also deeply intertwined with religious belief and practice. In fact, one of the most central Christian practices, the Eucharist (or the Lord’s Supper or Communion), involves eating. But although food is basic, decisions surrounding food in 21st century are not simple. Food is caught up in the most pressing moral issues of our time, including our environmental crises, globalization, and poverty. This course will bring together the study of food in the Christian tradition with consideration of these and other ethical issues. We will probe the meaning of food in Christian thought and practice and ask about the implications of this tradition for socially concerned eaters today.

100.02 God and Humanity
This course will trace the Christian understanding of the unfolding relationship between God and humanity as narrated in the Christian Bible. The course will explore questions such as: What does the Bible say about who God is? What does it say about who we are as human beings? What is the Christian articulation of the meaning and purpose of human life? We will explore these questions in relation to three concepts in particular: vocation, transformation and destiny. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and develop a clear articulation of their own spiritual convictions in dialogue with classic scriptural and religious texts.

100.03 & 06 Many Faces of Christianity
Christianity embraces more believers than any other religion on earth. Scholars and scientists estimate that one out of every three people on the planet claims to be a follower of Jesus the Christ. Moreover, no other religion matches the global range and cultural influence of Christianity. While all Christians share certain core beliefs and practices, there are also a dazzling range of expressions, ideas and lifestyles that Christians embody. For the past 2,000 years people have often lamented this diversity as a tragic curse — as disunity in the very body of Christ. But today many see such complexity as a strength of the religion, as a standard feature of its life and as a blessing for the devoted. In fact, it is precisely this mix of core beliefs and practices along with broader freedom and flexibility that has made Christianity appealing and adaptable to so many peoples and cultures around the world. This course explores some of these many faces of Christianity.

100.05 Earth and Ethics
Global warming, holes in the ozone layer, toxic wastes, oil spills, acid rain, drinking water contamination, overflowing landfills, topsoil erosion, species extinction, smog. The earth and its many inhabitants are in trouble, claim numerous professional earth-watchers. In this course we will ask these and other crucial questions. And we will learn how religious folk – Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists — answer such questions. This course, in short, is an inquiry concerning earth and ethics.

100.07 Mystery of the Incarnation
This course is an introduction to Christology; it is a study of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. Our starting point and norm of reasoning will be the New Testament, but we will also be guided by the early Church Fathers as well as the conciliar teachings of the undivided Church (especially the councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Chalcedon). By reflecting on Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium (the official teaching authority of the Church), we will explore the Church’s answer to Christ’s ever-relevant question to us, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29).

Special Topics (Upper-Level Courses)

Several upper-level religion courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below.

This is not a complete list of available religion classes for the semester. For a complete list of upcoming classes or to see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.

RELIGION UPPER-LEVEL SECTION DESCRIPTIONS — spring 2023

221.01 & 02 Introduction to Biblical Literature
In this course, we will read most of the books of the Bible, explore their backgrounds, purposes, key themes and connections to the rest of the Bible. We will gain clarity about biblical ideas like “covenant” and “Kingdom of God” and “Gospel” while tracing out the history of ancient Israel, the life of Jesus, the journeys and letters of Paul, and the developments of the early church.

221.03 & 04 Introduction to Biblical Literature
This courses aim is to study the Bible, which includes the Old Testament, New Testament and what Protestant Christians call the Apocrypha. Questions like, “What is the Bible?” “What kinds of books are in the Bible?” and “What do these books teach?” will be answered in the context of the academic study of the Bible.

325.01 Jesus and the Gospels
This is an upper-division course on the Gospels of the New Testament and their chief subject, Jesus of Nazareth. It introduces Religion majors and minors to the study of Gospel literature, including some non-canonical versions (e.g., the Gospel of Thomas), as well as what scholars identify as the study of the historical Jesus.

460.01 God, Suffering, and Hope in Modern Literature
This course is an advanced undergraduate seminar devoted to the study of certain perennial questions of human existence. We will with care read and discuss a wide range of thought-provoking texts in 19th and 20th century literature--many of them award-winning works by widely acclaimed authors--in order to better wrestle with and seek answers to questions concerning the existence and attributes of God, the reality of human suffering, and the presence and character of hope.