/ 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 — Fall 2022

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.

100.02 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.

100.03 Christ and Caesar
This is an introductory course about the origin and spread of Christianity. It begins with Jesus of Nazareth and continues through the fourth century CE when Christianity became the only legal religion of the Roman Empire. We will learn by means of a careful examination of primary texts (Jewish, Christian and Greco-Roman writings) and a secondary text.

100.05 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).

100.06 Christianity and Other Religions
A survey of the ways the Christian tradition has thought about other religions and the varied practices Christians have adopted toward religious others throughout history. By studying this theme from the Bible to the present day, students will grow in their ability to think critically and creatively about religious diversity and inter-religious relations. Along the way, students will be exposed to several non-Christian religions and they ways they have responded to Christianity.

100.07 Religions of India
This course introduces the major religious traditions of India in light of their histories, practices, and ongoing life. Through a careful study of credible sources and recognizable claims, the course offers an opportunity to understand religions in India as internally diverse and alive.

100.08 Psalms and the Christian Life
This course will examine the Psalms in their biblical setting, in Christian theological understanding, in their historical use for Christian worship, and as they appear in art and culture around the world. We will also focus on the Psalms as expressions of human identity developing over time — identity lived in relationship with God and others.

100.09 Fierce and Faithful Women
This course explores the fierce, feisty and faithful women in the Bible. Some are heroic, some are mistreated, some are ordinary, all are fascinating, but most of them are rarely mentioned in sermons and Bible studies.

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 — Fall 2022

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.

369.01 Augustine’s Confessions
This course will be a high-level introduction to the theology of St. Augustine through the careful study of the Confessions. We will read the Confessions as an example of how to do theology. We will also attend to the structure and coherence of the whole work while also exploring theological topics as they arise: prayer, praise, creation, sin, evil, love, the nature of God, conversion, philosophy, family, friendship, grace, free will, memory, time, exegesis and eschatology.

460.01 Political Theology
One of the earliest Christian professions of faith was “Jesus is Lord.” And the term “Christ” or “Messiah” is a reference to a kingly office. These claims seem explicitly political, but if Jesus is king, what are we to make of earthly kings? This course introduces students to the history of Christian political thought and considers the relevance of this tradition in the modern, religiously pluralistic nation-state. We will address questions such as: What does Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God mean for the kingdoms of this world? Is one form of government more consistent with Christian thought than others? Is participation in state-sanctioned violence consistent with Christian belief, and, if so, under what circumstances? When is civil disobedience appropriate or even required by Christian faith?