RELG 110.01 Argument & Inquiry (The Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith)

Sonja Anderson, 3a
For nearly two thousand years, Christians have considered Jesus the unique, miracle-working Son of God who came to earth to save humanity from its sins. But does this picture hold up to historical scrutiny? Who do historians think Jesus was? This seminar introduces the tools of historical inquiry that scholars use to reconstruct Jesus’s original message. It also surveys how Americans in different cultural contexts have imagined Jesus, from the liberating Christ of Black theology, to the eastern sage and hippie of the 1960s, to the rabbi who never intended a non-Jewish movement.

RELG 110.02 Argument & Inquiry (The Qur’an as Literature)

Kambi GhaneaBassiri, 2a
How can we best understand the role of religion in the world today, and how should we interpret the meaning of religious traditions–their texts and practices–in history and culture? This class takes an exciting tour through selected themes and puzzles related to the fascinating and diverse expressions of religion throughout the world. From politics and pop culture, to religious philosophies and spiritual practices, to rituals, scriptures, gender, religious authority, and more, students will explore how these issues emerge in a variety of religions, places, and historical moments in the U.S. and across the globe.

RELG 110.03 Argument & Inquiry (Christianity and Colonialism)

Kristin Bloomer, 2/3c From its beginnings, Christianity has been concerned with the making of new persons and worlds: the creation of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It has also maintained a tight relationship to power, empire, and the making of modernity. In this course we will investigate this relationship within the context of colonial projects in the Americas, Africa, India, and the Pacific. We will trace the making of modern selves from Columbus to the abolition (and remainders) of slavery, and from the arrival of Cook in the Sandwich Islands to the journals of missionaries and the contemporary fight for Hawaiian sovereignty.

RELG 110.04 Argument & Inquiry (Religion, Science, and the Moral Imagination)

Lori Pearson, 4a How do we imagine the relationship between religion and science? Are they at odds, in harmony, or different ways of imagining ourselves, our world, and our futures? This course explores historical understandings of religious and scientific thought, and asks how the two came to be separated in the modern world. We use the imagination to explore the power dynamics and moral judgments embedded in assumptions about matter, nature, bodies, persons, and progress. We draw on literature, philosophy, and theology to consider questions about authority, ethics, and existential hope, focusing on climate crisis, AI and personhood, racism, and the possibility of alternative futures. Argument & Inquiry.

RELG 110.00 Understanding Religion

Sonja Anderson, 5a
The Qur’an is best known as the sacred text of Islam, but it is also one of the most widely read, dynamic, and influential texts in human history. It is not every text that can compel people to regard it as divine revelation. In fact, Muslims consider the Qur’an’s literary composition a miracle. This course explores the literary style and structure of the Qur’an through close reading of its English translation. It also introduces students to the history of the Qur’an and its significance in Muslims’ everyday lives. No background knowledge is assumed; nor is this an introduction to Islam.

RELG 120.00 Introduction to Judaism

Chumie Juni, 4/5c
What is Judaism? Who are Jewish people? What are Jewish texts, practices, ideas? What ripples have Jewish people, texts, practices, and ideas caused beyond their sphere? These questions will animate our study as we touch on specific points in over three millennia of history. We will immerse ourselves in Jewish texts, historic events, and cultural moments, trying to understand them on their own terms. At the same time, we will analyze them using key concepts such as ‘tradition,’ ‘culture,’ ‘power,’ and ‘diaspora.’ We will explore how ‘Jewishness’ has been constructed by different stakeholders, each claiming the authority to define it.

RELG 130.00 Native American Religions

Michael McNally 2/3c This course explores the history and contemporary practice of Native American religious traditions, especially as they have developed amid colonization and resistance. While surveying a broad variety of ways that Native American traditions imagine land, community, and the sacred, the course focuses on the local traditions of the Ojibwe and Lakota communities. Materials include traditional beliefs and practices, the history of missions, intertribal new religious movements, and contemporary issues of treaty rights, religious freedom, and the revitalization of language and culture.

RELG 278.00 Love of God in Islam

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, 4a As the chosen messenger of God’s final revelation, Muslims consider Muhammad to be God’s beloved par excellence. He is believed to have not only received God’s words but to have also experienced the divine. For Muhammad’s followers, love has been a central means of attaining experiential knowledge of God. The Islamic tradition, particularly in the form of Sufism, developed a highly sophisticated literature for understanding God through love. This course will trace and analyze the historical development of this literature and the practices associated with it from the Qur’an (600s) to Rumi (1200s).

RELG 282.00 Samurai: Ethics of Death and Loyalty

Asuka Sango, 2a This course explores the history of samurai since the emergence of warrior class in medieval times, to the modern developments of samurai ethics as the icon of Japanese national identity. Focusing on its connection with Japanese religion and culture, we will investigate the origins of the purported samurai ideals of loyalty, honor, self-sacrifice, and death. In addition to regular class sessions, there will be a weekly kyudo (Japanese archery) practice on Wednesday evening (7-9 pm), which will enable students to study samurai history in context through gaining first-hand experience in the ritualized practice of kyudo.

RELG 392.00 Modernity and Tradition

Lori Pearson, 2a How do we define traditions if they change over time and are marked by internal conflict? Is there anything stable about a religious tradition—an essence, or a set of practices or beliefs that abide amidst diversity and mark it off from a surrounding culture or religion? How do people live out or re-invent their traditions in the modern world? In this seminar we explore questions about pluralism, identity, authority, and truth, and we examine the creative ways beliefs and practices change in relation to culture. We consider how traditions grapple with difference, especially regarding theology, ethics, law, and gender.