Course Offerings

Religion Department Course Offerings

Spring Semester 2014

RELI 110 The World's Religions: An Introduction 
Instructors: McDaniel, Sanders, Harris

This course introduces students to the teachings, practices, spiritualities, and histories of many world religions. The religions include to be covered include Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and indigenous traditions. Since this course introduces Asian religions in an abbreviated way, students who take this course may also wish to take Introduction to Asian Religions. 

RELI 123 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)
Instructor: Williamson

An introduction to the major texts, themes, and history of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament that employs tools of modern biblical scholarship (including literary, historical, source, form and redaction criticisms, as well as reader-response theory).  The course examines biblical texts in light of the texts, history, culture and material remains of ancient Israel and the Ancient Near East.  In addition, some attention is paid to hermeneutics and the reception of the Bible in contemporary culture.

RELI 222 Chinese Religions
Instructor:  Harris

A survey of the major religious traditions that have shaped Chinese culture:  Confucianism, Taoism/Daoism, and Buddhism with some consideration of the minority traditions that constitute elements of contemporary religious life in China, including Islam, Christianity, and selected ethnic beliefs and practices.  Themes such as ancestor worship, sacrifice and divination, ethics, meditation, and longevity techniques will enrich an understanding of some characteristics of Chinese ways of experiencing the self, society, and the world.

RELI 225 An Introduction to Buddhism (VA)
Instructor: McDaniel

This course is an introduction to Buddhism, spanning its origins in India, its spread throughout Asia, and its arrival in the West.  the course explores the core doctrines, practices and key historical developments that have shaped the Buddhist tradition in India; considers the ways this tradition has been assimilated in an Asian context; and finally reflects upon the perspectives of leading Buddhist writers and practitioners on the relevance of Buddhism for modern society.

RELI 231 Modern Christianity since Reform
Instructor: Sanders

A survey of Christian thought and institutions from 1500 to the present. Special attention is given to the Protestant Reformation and the ongoing impact of cultural trends on Christian beliefs and practices. 

RELI 243 Contemporary Currents in American Religions
Instructor:  Harris

An attempt to understand and to analyze what contemporary social institutions, the arts, politics, and ideas reveal about American's religious perceptions regarding such questions as the means of human fulfillment, the state of the world, and the nature of religious or spiritual experience.

RELI 327 Race, Gender, Empire and the Bible:  Contemporary Approaches to Interpretation (LS, W2)
Instructor: Williamson

The course explores contemporary methods in biblical interpretation such as feminist criticism, postcolonial criticism, critical race theory, and queer theory.  While some attention is given to scholarly works employing these theories and methods, the focus of the course is on students developing their own interpretive abilities.  The specific biblical texts considered varies by semester.  Prerequisite:  RELI 123 or RELI 124 recommended.

RELI 332 Concepts of God (VA)
Instructor:  Sanders

What is God like?  Should God be understood as a person or a force?  How is God related to the world?  This course surveys primarily Western thinkers from the times of the biblical writers, through Plato, Aristotle and early Jewish and Christian sources to the development of modern atheism and beyond it to contemporary understandings of God.  Issues such as evil, human responsibility and prayer are discussed in relation to divine power and knowledge.  Cross-listed as PHIL 332.

RELI 339 Contemporary Islamic Thought (CW, VA)
Instructor: McDaniel

In the twenty-first century Muslims are developing ways of thinking and approaches to life that are intended to be relevant to contemporary Muslims and the wider world.  Some build upon the mystical traditions of the Muslim past, especially Sufism; some build upon what they call "liberal' or "progressive" currents of more recent Muslim history, seeking to show how Islam can promote freedom of thought, democracy, respect for the rights of women, appreciation of science.  In a different vein, other strands of contemporary thinking emphasize that Islam provides a constructive alternative to western ways of thinking.  This course is  intended to introduce students to a wide array of contemporary Islamic thinking:  mystical, militant, liberal, feminist, and conservative.

RELI 336 Wesley and Methodism
Instructor:  Clark

A study of the life and thought of John Wesley followed by a survey of the leading people, organizations, ideas and practices of the Wesleyan tradition in America.

RELI 337 Contemporary Buddhist Thought
Instructor:  McDaniel

Religions evolve over time.  In the twenty-first century Buddhists are developing ways of thinking and approaches to life that are explicitly intended to be relevant to people throughout the world.  Some forms of contemporary Buddhist thought engage in dialogue with the natural sciences; others stress the relevance of Buddhism to environmental concerns; still others emphasize the role that Buddhism can play in enabling people to live spiritually in an age of consumerism.  Special focus is on contemporary Zen and Tibetan writing.  The course includes an engaged component that involves undertaking a regular practice of breathing meditation or doing a creative art project at the end.

RELI 339 Contemporary Islamic Thought (CW, VA)
Instructor: McDaniel

In the twenty-first century Muslims are developing ways of thinking and approaches to life that are intended to be relevant to contemporary Muslims and the wider world.  Some build upon the mystical traditions of the Muslim past, especially Sufism; some build upon what they call "liberal' or "progressive" currents of more recent Muslim history, seeking to show how Islam can promote freedom of thought, democracy, respect for the rights of women, appreciation of science.  In a different vein, other strands of contemporary thinking emphasize that Islam provides a constructive alternative to western ways of thinking.  This course is  intended to introduce students to a wide array of contemporary Islamic thinking:  mystical, militant, liberal, feminist, and conservative.

RELI 497 Senior Colloquium
Instructor: Williamson 

Building upon the theoretical and methodological principles explored in previous coursework in religion, a program of research will be developed in consultation with a departmental thesis advisor. Individual projects will be subject to peer-review prior to final presentation before the department faculty. 

* * * For up-to-date meeting times, places, and courses open for enrollment, check the college's Course Offerings.  For a full listing of courses offered by the department, see the Hendrix Catalog.