Requirements and Courses

Requirements for a Minor in Religious Studies
A minimum of 5 units

Religious Studies Course Descriptions

RE 103(I) Religions of the West. An introduction to the major religions of the Western world. The beliefs and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will receive primary attention. Particular attention will be paid to similarities and differences among these three faiths. Offered as needed.

RE 105(I) Religions of the East. An introduction to the major religions of Asia with particular attention to those traditions which have attracted attention in the West. Certain distinctions between Eastern and Western culture are suggested. Offered fall and spring semesters.

RE 110(I) Introduction to Religion. An introduction to the study of religion as an academic discipline. The focus of the course is on religion as a dimension of human life. Its aim is to acquaint the student with the complex problems and issues which arise in the attempt to study and understand religious phenomena in their broadest human context. Offered fall and spring semesters.

RE 120(I) Introduction to the Bible. An introduction to the literature, history, and religious thought of the Bible and its interpretation. Study focuses on the origins of Judaism and Christianity, their institutions, beliefs, and major personalities as contained in the Jewish/Christian Bible. Offered fall and spring semesters.

RE 202 Ethics in a Religious Perspective. A study of contemporary ways of applying the insights of biblical faith to the solution of pressing moral problems relating to sex and marriage, population, race, poverty, environment, government, and war. Offered as required.

RE 203 Spiritual Quest in Literature. An examination of some major pieces of fiction concerned with heroes on a search for meaning and purpose in their lives? Their search often leads them far from traditional religious beliefs. (Cross-listed as English 203). Offered either fall or spring semester.

RE 204 Death and Beyond. A cross-cultural study of beliefs and practices regarding death and the afterlife. Among the issues considered will be funeral rituals, the judgment of the dead, immortality of the soul, karma and reincarnation. Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, ancient Egyptian and other systems will be considered. Offered spring semester.
RE 205 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  This course is offered under the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) program in spring semester with an experiential learning at overseas during the spring semester.  The course examines the comparative religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and analyzes the origins of these faith communities' histories in light of current religio-political conflicts in Israel.  Primary reading is from Molloy's "Experiencing the World's Religions."  The course includes a field trip to Israel supplemented by in-class discussions.  Cross-listed with GOV 250.  Prerequisite:  Permission of instructor (Course fee to cover overseas trip is required.)

RE 209 Is Religion "Man-made?" Are religious "truths" divinely given or are they created by human beings. We will unravel this issue by approaching the question from various perspectives. We will consider, for example, the psychological approach of Freud as well as the anthropological approach of Malinowski. We will also consider the manner in which Christian beliefs are conditioned, even determined, by historical and political circumstances. The creative use of religious symbolism may be illustrated through an examination of various novels and movies. (Cross-listed as Psychology 209.) Offered either fall or spring semester.

RE 220 Forbidden Knowledge: The Power of Myth in Genesis. This course is an intensive reading and discussion of the meanings of the Book of Genesis. The mythic themes and literary motifs of its magnificent but often infuriating stories are examined: e.g., the moral ambiguity and imperfection of Genesis' human heroes, the desire of the first man and woman's for knowledge despite the consequences, the relationship between Creation and why we die, the idea of Original Sin, the ultimate reason for human suffering, and the paradox of a God who is both blessed and flawed. In addition, this course attempts to uncover the narrator's perspective not only of Israel's patriarchs but also of the paradigmatic role that its matriarchs play in the sensitive treatment of the fragile nature of God's promise. Offered spring semester.

RE 221 The Bible as Literature. The purpose of this course is to explore the rich variety of literary forms found in the Bible; e.g., parables, allegories, prophetic oracles, gospels, epistles and apocalypse. Offered spring semester of even-numbered years.

RE 222 Jesus and the Gospels.  An introduction to the first-century figure, Jesus of Nazareth, and the New Testament books known as the Gospels. This course proceeds through three stages of inquiry: (1) an introduction to the diverse religions and culture of the first-century Mediterranean world, (2) the critical interpretation of the Gospels in the life of the early church, and (3) the reconstruction of the portrait of Jesus. Offered fall semester.

RE 223 Paul and the Early Church.
An introduction to the New Testament writings that are most helpful in illuminating the origin and development of the early Christian church. The course focuses on the discovery of the earliest Church in the Book of Acts, Paul as the first Christian theologian and molder of Christian thought, and the expansion of the church as depicted in the Pastoral letters, Catholic letters, and the writings of John. Offered as required.
RE 224 Mary Magdalene and Judas:  Prostitute and Betrayer, or Chief  Apostle and the One Who Saves Jesus. This course will examine the roles of Mary Magdalene and Judas in the New Testament Gospels as well as in the second-century Gospels of  Mary Magdalene & Judas and also in the other so-called Gnostic gospels that were not canonized.  The course will focus on gender-related issues regarding these two figures.  Students will participate in oral reports, papers and a research paper.  Offered biannually fall semesters.

RE 291 Special Topics in Religious Studies. Discussion of one or more areas of current research in religious studies not covered in other courses offered by the department. Content varies with interests of students and departmental faculty and is specified in an announcement when the course is offered. Offered periodically.

RE 322 Quest for the Historical Jesus. The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the primary sources for the historical Jesus and some representative literature of the "Lives of Jesus." Offered spring semester of odd-numbered years.

RE 593 Independent Study. A program offered to undergraduate students with special needs and showing strong capacity to do independent work. Consent of the department chair is required.