Current Courses

Course Offerings (Spring 2023)

View a full list of religious studies courses, including those not offered this semester.

General education courses are marked with an asterisk (*). 

*REL1000: Religions of the World

This course provides a general introduction to the world's religions, including major traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with smaller indigenous traditions. The approach of the course is objective and academic, it is not designed to advocate any particular religious perspective or ideology. This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit; it is also one of the basic requirements for the Religious Studies major.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 7:30 - 8:50 Kenneth Smith 103 Julian T. White Hall
002 TTh 9:00 - 10:20 Kenneth Smith 026 Hatcher Hall
003 TTh 9:00 - 10:20 Lauren Horn Griffin 102 Allen
004 TTH 10:30 - 11:50 Lauren Horn Griffin 102 Allen

REL 1004: Old Testament

This course is a broad survey that covers most of the literature of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and addresses literary, historical, archaeological, and theological issues. We will employ historical-critical methods to examine the religious ideas and practices of ancient Israel against the background of the cultures of its near eastern neighbors, including Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Syria. To prepare for each topic of lecture/discussion, we will read numerous narratives from the Bible, related passages from the required textbook, and selected articles by modern scholars.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 9:00 - 10:20 Stuart Irvine 109 Tureaud

*REL 1005: New Testament

This course will introduce you to the history, literature, and religion of the earliest period of Christianity (from about 30 to 150 CE). We will see how Christianity arose out of the Jewish religion and how it spread in the Greco-Roman world. We will examine a variety of writings from this period, including the collection of early Christian literature known as the New Testament. You will learn the historical, critical methods by which scholars study these writings as sources for our knowledge of the origins of Christianity. This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 MWF 10:30 - 11:20 Delbert Burkett 100 Dodson

*REL 2001: Faith and Doubt

This course considers how religious faith is challenged or supported by various factors, such as reason, morality, organized religion, and the experience of suffering. The course uses a selection of readings from Paine, Hume, Clifford, James, Kierkegaard, Hesse, Weil, Kushner, and others to address the following questions of religious faith and skepticism:(1) Is belief in God compatible with reason? (2) Is it valid to evaluate religious faith by critical reason? (3) What are the limits, if any, of religious knowledge? (4) To what extent is religious belief validated by the existence of moral norms? (5) To what extent does an individual's faith depend upon or come into conflict with organized religion? (6) How has traditional theistic belief and language been challenged or modified by modern religious thinkers? (7) Is religious faith compatible with the experience of suffering and evil? This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 3:00 - 4:20 Madhuri Yadlapati 054 Allen 

*REL 2027: Asian Religions

Asian civilizations have a long history with far-reaching impact and influence on our global community today. One does not need to travel to Asia to be affected by Asian people, economic and political activities, cuisine, arts, and entertainment, health treatment options, and religious orientations. The religious landscape of Asia is crucial to understanding Asian civilizations. This course focuses on a variety of Asian religious traditions, including fundamental teachings of the Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, and Buddhist traditions of India, Tibet, China, and Japan. We explore how religious values influence decision-making processes in personal and public spheres. This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit; it is also one of the basic requirements for the Religious Studies major.

Section  Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 1:30 - 2:50 Madhuri Yadlapati 102 Allen

REL 2028: Philosophy of Religion (Cross-Listed as PHIL 2028)

Is there an all-powerful, infinitely intelligent, loving being (i.e., God) who created the visible universe and all within it? If so, can the existence of such a being be proven rationally? And if so, is there a rational explanation for the presence of evil in the world that this being created and governs? Does human consciousness survive the death of the physical body? Is it reasonable to believe in miracles, e.g., the claim that Jesus walked on water or that some Hindu saints have brought human beings back from the dead even after they had been cremated? In approaching these, and other, religious questions philosophically, we will focus upon the reasons, evidence, arguments, and counterarguments that have been advanced with respect to these questions. The goal of this class is not only to make students familiar with those theories falling under the general rubric of the philosophy of religion, but also to further refine each student's ability to reason critically through any sort of logical argument, religious or otherwise.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 MWF 3:30 - 4:20 Daniel Felty 220 Coates

*REL 2029: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

This course introduces students to the histories, teachings, beliefs, and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to engage with guest speakers, take field trips to synagogues, churches, and mosques, and watch a number of videos pertaining to contemporary issues (e.g., women's roles, waging war) within these religions. This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit; it is also one of the basic requirements for the Religious Studies major.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 12:00 - 1:20 Maria Rethelyi 209 Coates

*REL 2033: American Religions

This course is a chronological and thematic survey of American religious history, with special consideration for both religious diversity and the impact of religious ideologies on American culture. Each student will be obligated to think critically about definitions of religion and approaches to the academic study of religion. Beginning with the colonization of the Americas by the Spanish, French, and English peoples, we move to the Great Awakenings, slave religions, Mormonism, Native American religions, Fundamentalism, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism, as well as new immigrant religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. We'll be interested in asking how religious groups influenced, and were influenced by American culture. This is an Integrative Learning Core (ILC) course that awards general education credit.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 MWF 7:30 - 8:20 Kenneth Smith  209 Coates

REL 3010: Abortion and Religion

The course looks at how major religious traditions understand abortive practices and procedures. Within the contexts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and religions indigenous to the Americas and Africa, we will examine and compare definitions of life's beginning, contraceptive and abortifacient practices, and the rights and/or obligations of pregnant persons. We will look at what each tradition's sacred texts or scriptures say about the topic and consider how and why different religious traditions approach in the ways that they do.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 10:30 - 11:50 Maria Rethelyi 202 Coates

REL 3090: Comparative Mythology (Cross-Listed as CLST 3090)

Comparative Mythology offers a wonderful opportunity to explore myths from various cultures, past, and present. Students will be introduced to theories of myth and asked to apply these theories to the myths in order to gain insight into the different thought patterns. Students will also learn methods of comparison so that students will be able to recognize both the similarities and differences of myths from different cultures. Textual and visual sources will be examined.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTH 1:30 - 2:50 Albert Watanabe 127 Coates

REL 3203: Religion and Parapsychology

This course explores the role of the paranormal in the history of religions, and in the history of scholarly thought about religion. Perhaps most importantly, this course takes seriously alternate ways of understanding the nature of reality and human experience that fall outside the norms and methods of contemporary thought and science.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 MWF 10:30 - 11:20 Kenneth Smith 202 Coates

REL 4050: A History of God

This course explores a significant dimension of religion: belief in a divine being or beings. It is focused on, but not limited to, conceptions of divine beings in Western civilization. From a historical perspective, we trace early conceptions of the gods from animism to polytheism to Jewish monotheism. From a literary perspective, we consider God as a character in the Hebrew Bible, using Jack Miles's Pulitzer-Prize-winning study God: A Biography. Turning to Greek traditions, we consider the god of Greek philosophy and Hellenistic conceptions of the divine human. We consider how Christian belief in Jesus as God developed into the concept of the Christian Trinity. From philosophical and scientific perspectives, we consider arguments for and against the existence of God. From a modern perspective, we consider the "death" of God in the thought of writers such as Feuerbach and Freud. In contemporary developments, we consider the rebirth of the goddess in goddess-centered religions. In contemporary literature, we read Franco Ferrucci's novel The Life of God (as told by Himself). We also view the Carl Reiner film,  "Oh, God!" starring George Burns as God. 
Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 W 6:00 - 8:50 Delbert Burkett 32 Allen

REL 4097: Political Theology (Cross-Listed as POLI 4097)

In this course, students will explore the relationship between theology and politics, from the ancient Greeks and Hebrews to contemporary political theologians. While we will emphasize the Judeo-Christian tradition, the political theology of other religious traditions, such as Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism, may be included.
Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 MWF 9:30 - 10:20 Cecil Eubanks 220 Stubbs

REL 4507: Body and Soul in Early Christianity (Cross-Listed as History 4507)

If there was one thing early Christians were continually focused on, it was the health of the soul. But what is the soul? And how is it connected to the body? Do the condition, habits, actions, and disposition of the body affect the present and future condition of the soul? If so, why? Can soul-health lead to bodily health? This seminar will investigate some of the earliest Christian investigations of these questions by placing them in their ancient contexts. Our course will touch on subjects like psychotherapy, monasticism, medicine and physiology, liturgy and ritual, philosophy, visions of the afterlife, and more. Students can expect to critically read primary sources from Greek and Roman antiquity as well as from the early Christian period (ca 50-565 C.E.) We will also engage with modern scholarly analyses of texts.

Section Date & Time Instructor Location
001 TTh 12:00 - 1:20 Bradley K. Storin 267 Woodin