RLST - Course Descriptions

Courses coded (10) are also available by correspondence.

RLST 1005 E - What in the World Is Religion?
This introduction to the academic study of religion is concerned with the question of what we talk about when we talk about religion. By critically examining terms employed in various contexts (belief, God, scripture, etc.) we might better understand how religion is constructed by the media, by the courts, by academics, and of course by religious believers themselves. (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 2105 E (10) - Event and Meaning of the Bible
An introduction to the biblical traditions of the Jewish and Christian faiths.  Their setting in the near Eastern world is considered.  Archaeological, historical and literary studies are used to establish the nature of the event and the manner in which its meaning is disclosed.  (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 2106 E - The Bible in Context: Ancient Israel
In this course, students will study the biblical traditions common to both the Jewish and Christian faiths. Students will study the origin and development of the Hebrew Bible from both literary and historical perspectives. Students will examine the nature of biblical writings and will be introduced to exegesis of biblical texts. Students who have taken RLST 2105 for credit are not permitted to take this course for credit.) (Lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2107 E  - The Bible in Context: Christian Origins
This course will examine the Christian biblical traditions in their historical and literary context. Students will learn about the nature and content of the New Testament, as well as the social and political milieu from which it originated and developed. Students who have taken RLST 2105 are not permitted to take this course for credit. (Lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2146 E - The Bible, Society and Politics
This course explores the socio-political contexts of biblical texts. It examines ways in which the Bible has been interpreted, both past and present, including the role of the Bible in state authority, colonialism, slavery, war and peace, family, racism, sexuality, gender, and economic issues. The interdisciplinary nature of biblical interpretation is emphasized. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2186 E (10) - Jesus in Historical Context
Scholars continue to debate about who Jesus was, what he said, and what he did. This course examines the context of first century Palestine and the traditions associated with Jesus in order to make informed assessments about how one might characterize this first century figure. (S) (lec 3) cr 3. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2186 and RLST 2185.

RLST 2187 E - Jesus in Literary Context
The figure of Jesus has been interpreted in a range of ways. Students study some of the earliest Christian interpretations of Jesus, including gospel literature (canonical and non-canonical), letters, and apocalypses, as well as a few examples of more recent literature. (S) (lec 3) cr 3. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2186 and RLST 2185.

RLST 2205 E - The World’s Living Religions
Examines the history and meaning of the major living religions of the world, and at the same time attempts to explore the unique contribution of each to our understanding of religion as a whole. This elective course is of interest to students in the English Language Bachelor of Education program and counts toward the 18 required credits in integration courses for this program. (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 2226 E - Sacred Texts of the Religions of the East
This course examines the historical formation, social function, and literary character of the foundational texts of the religious traditions of the East (South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, etc.). The course introduces the plurality of interpretive strategies developed to construct meaning of these texts throughout their histories. It also explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these texts to address social, political, and ethical issues. (lec. 3) cr 3

RLST 2227 E - Sacred Texts of the Religions of the West
This course examines the historical formation, social function, and literary character of the major religious texts of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It introduces the plurality of interpretive strategies developed to construct meaning of these texts throughout their histories. By looking at a variety of interpretive methods, the course explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these texts to address social, political, and ethical issues. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2236 E - The Spiritual Life: Institutions and Practices
This course examines the variety of religious vocations in the religions of the world in their institutional settings. Primary emphasis is placed upon life in the formal setting of the monastery and avowed ascetic practices, but consideration will also be given to other forms of quasi-ascetic religious living, like among the Amish, and priestly vocations. We will look at the social organization, economies and politics of such communities, and the relationship of religious communities to the outside world. Other themes considered include the place of gender, celibacy, poverty, education and medicine in monasticism around the world. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2237 E - The Spiritual Life: Life Stories
This course examines the autobiographies, biographies and hagiographies of a variety of figures from the religions of the world. These spiritual life stories invite us to the consideration of the many facets of the religious life, such as conversion, confession, religious self-image, asceticism, veneration of saints, gender and religion, as well as the everyday life in religious communities. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2256 E (10) (12) - Islam: Origins and Development
This course will examine foundational themes in Islam with special emphasis on: Muhammed and prophethood; the revelation of the Qur’an; the development of the major Muslim sects; and ethics. Additionally, the course will touch upon the variety of religious practice throughout the Muslim world. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2257 E - Islam in the Modern World
This course will examine the relationship between Islam and the modern nation-state, the place of Islam in the highly pluralistic societies of the modern world, as well as the rise of states founded upon Islamic theology and Law. The course will also examine the “Orientalist construction” of Islam from the Colonial period to the present, including matters such as the so-called “Islamic Threat,” as it has been variously perceived, from the mid-twentieth century. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2266 E - Death and Immortality in the Religions of the East
Examines constructions of the problem of death and plans of salvation in Asian religion, in the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Topics explored also include disposal of the dead, the preservation of the body, funerary ritual, death-related art and architecture, ancestor worship, and the veneration of the "very special dead." (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2267 E (10) - Death and Immortality in Religions of the West
Examines constructions of the problem of death and plans of salvation in Western civilization in the ancient world, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and pre- or non-Christian Europe. Topics explored also include disposal of the dead, the preservation of the body, funerary ritual, death-related art and architecture, and the veneration of the "very special dead." (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2276 E (10) - Indian Buddhism
This course examines the origin and development of Buddhism in India with emphasis on its doctrines, monastic practices and techniques of meditation. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2275 & 2276. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2277 E - East Asian Buddhism
This course examines the origin and development of Buddhism in East Asia with emphasis on its doctrines, monastic practices and techniques of meditation as they evolved especially in China and Japan. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2275 & 2277. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2285 E (10) - North American Native People: Tradition and Culture
Develops an appreciation of the Native people’s tradition and culture. Origin myths, rites and ceremonies, values, customs and life cycle are examined, as well as certain major themes such as Shamanism, Power, Renewal, Soul concepts and Animal Beings. Native tradition and culture are presented as a sacred way of life, and students are introduced to the special way of thinking, world view and the special relationship to the earth and to other beings of the Original People of North America. The course also examines the effects of European contact on Native culture and contemporary expressions of the old ways. Cross-listed as NATI 2285. (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 2286 E - Chinese Religions
This course surveys the evolution of the major religious traditions in China. The course considers philosophies, beliefs, and practices of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Particular attention is paid to classic philosophical texts, but literatures in other genres might also be considered. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2296 E (10) - Religion and Ecology
This course seeks to provide a systematic cross-cultural survey of the relationship between religions and nature. Emphasis is placed on the exploration of the role of foundational religious cosmologies and narratives in human-earth relations. The course explores the construction of a spiritual ecology through a synthetic approach that integrates a plurality of religious and secular evolutionary models of the living environment. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2297 E - Western Mysticism
An exploration of Western mystical traditions. Topics may include: the mystic path, the vision of ultimate reality, and the mystic world-view in the Western traditions. The course also examines some of the problems and methods involved in the study of mysticism by making a case study of selected accounts of Western mystical experiences. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2295 & 2297. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2345 E (10) - Bioethics: Human Life Issues
Examines current controversies about the benefits and dangers to human life arising from recent developments in the biomedical sciences. Special attention is given to issues in the reproductive technologies, genetics, the care of the terminally ill, AIDS, research with human subjects, and to questions of abortion and euthanasia. Comprehensive understanding of the issues at stake and ability to evaluate the positions taken in these controversies define the aims of the course. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 2345 & PHIL 2345. Students may not retain credit for both RLST/PHIL 2345 and PHIL 3346. (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 2701 E - Islam in India
This course examines the history of the Muslims in India, from the merchants of the early Islamic era, to the establishment of Islamic empires, to the present. Major themes include Islamic governance in India, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the development of uniquely Indian forms of Islam. (lec 3) cr

RLST 2702 E - Islamic Art
This survey follows developments in the forms and functions of particular Islamic monuments and ornamentation in the history of the spread of Islam across the Middle East and into Europe and Asia. Emphasis is placed on the evolution of the mosque and the tomb, as well as traditions of calligraphy, crafts and illustration. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2706 E - Islam Spirituality
This course attempts to capture the philosophy and poetry of 'Islamic mysticism' as well as its institutionalization, politics, and folk expressions throughout the Islamic world. Thus, in addition to the poetry of Rūmī and the philosophy of al-Ghazālī for example, this course examines popular religiosity and the occult within Islamic communities in various contexts. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 2707 E - The Life of Muhammad
This course examines the life of Muhammad and its political and theological significance through an analysis of relevant Muslim sources In addition to primary sources, Western critical methods of the academic study of the biography of Muhammad are also reviewed. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3106 E - Varieties of Early Christianity
This course examines the religious and cultural differences of early Christianity, which in some cases caused conflict but also attests to its rich diversity of expression and thought. Topics include Jewish-Gentile relations, persecution, martyrdom, Church and State, leadership, monasticism, and the debate on the deity and person of Jesus Christ. The course spans the first four hundred years of Christianity. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3107 E (10) - The Church and the Modern World
Students explore the historical progress of the Christian Church in its institutional aspects and self-understanding, the meaning of Church in the modern world, different models of Church, the relationship of Church and Churches, the role of the Church(es) in political and social contexts. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 3105 & 3107. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3131 E - Magic, Witchcraft, and Divination in the Ancient Near East
This course examines the many forms of magic accepted and practiced in the ancient Near East. Through study of original sources dating from the earliest Mesopotamian civilizations until Alexander the Great, this course identifies these practices and the beliefs they involved in their various social, cultural, religious, and political settings. Topics covered include witchcraft, divination, blessings and curses, incantations, medicinal practices and exorcism. Although focused on the pre-Classical Near East, limited attention is given to the evolution of these traditions in later periods. Prerequisite: 18 university credits. 3 credits. Lecture.

RLST 3136 E - Wisdom Literature
A study of biblical wisdom literature in its Near Eastern context, the course examines how the perennial questions of life, death, suffering and justice were dealt with in biblical times. After a general overview of wisdom literature, the course concentrates on a specific theme and/or biblical book for more intensive study. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3137 E - Apocalyptic and the Book of Revelation
An intensive study of a particular style and type of ancient religious literature. The study of apocalyptic language and imagery creates a bridge between the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, sheds light on the Gospels, and opens up the rich complexity of the Book of Revelation. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3142 E - Gender & Sexual Identities in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
The course explores evolving views of sexuality and gender in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It examines the progression from scriptural and traditional teachings to fundamentalist attitudes, as well as secular and religious critiques of homophobia, patriarchy and sexual/gender marginalization, and studies the prospects for reconciliation with diverse sexual/gender identities. Prerequisite: 18 university credits (lec 3) cr 3.

RLST 3146 E - The Qur'an
This course introduces the Qur’an, with emphasis on its rhetorical and literary forms and content and structure as understood by Muslims in the past and the present. It studies traditional and modern interpretive techniques, and explores major Quranic themes, such as the nature of God, human nature, prophethood, the afterlife, ritual, law and ethics. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3156 E (10) - Exploring the Dead Sea Scrolls
Students will acquire an understanding of the content, history and community who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. Attention will be given to biblical interpretation at Qumran and the implications these texts have for our knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. This course will also verify if any correlation between the Scrolls and Early Christian texts and practices can be established. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3157 E - Secret Gospels: The Hidden Life and Teachings of Jesus
In this course we will evaluate the historical value of what some have called the Secret Gospels, such as for example, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Mary. Students will learn about the literary genre, the content, and the reception of these texts in Early Christianity. An introductory presentation of Gnosticism will also be given, since it is the underlying ideology of most of the Secret Gospels. The course will also enable students to engage in the interpretation of these enigmatic texts. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3176 E - Gender and Family in Early Christianity
This course examines ancient Christian understandings of gender and family, with an emphasis upon the social, sexual, political, and religious characteristics of Greco-Roman antiquity. It focuses upon reading primary texts critically with attention to social history and ideology. The course explores various ways in which concepts of gender and family shaped texts and practices both in the ancient world and today. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3235 E (10) - Judaism
A study of Judaism from ancient Palestine to modern Israel. The course looks at the beliefs and practices of Judaism in its historical context, particularly in the Western world. Topics may include: rabbinic Judaism, Jewish spirituality and the diversity of modern Judaism. Students may not retain credit for both SREL 3236 or RLST 3230 & RLST 3235. (lec 3) cr 6

RLST 3276 E - Hinduism: Origins and Development
A study of the origins and development of Hinduism in its major historical forms. Relevant sections of sacred texts as well as writings from selected classical and medieval thinkers are studied with reference to foundational themes. Included in these themes are world-views and sacrifice, gods, goddesses and God, the law of Karma and rebirth, duty and destiny, the paths to liberation and the caste system as the custodian of Hindu manners and customs. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 3275 & 3276. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3277 E - Hinduism: Modern Interpreters and Modern Movements
A study of modern interpretations of Hinduism by prominent thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and Radhakrishnan. Special attention is given to a critical study of historical movements and Hindu religious nationalism as responses to Western religious and political influences and as measures for the reformation and stabilization of Hinduism. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 3275 & 3277.  (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3366 E (10) - Religion and the Future of Humanity
This course is a survey of the relationship between religion, development, and peace.The course will explore international relations between the North and South and the West and non-West through the lens of sampling of the world's religions understanding of development, peace, justice and the hope for a human future. Through the analysis of the religious and ethical dimensions of global inequality and globalization, students will gain a clearer understanding of the role religion plays in envisioning and bringing forth a just world. Students cannot retain credit for both RLST 3365 and RLST 3366. cr 3

RLST 3396 E - Interfaith Dialogue: The History
A study of various significant moments in the encounter between religions. The course examines the contributions of religious figures such as Francis of Assisi, Matteo Ricci, Ramakrishna and Mohandas K. Gandhi to historic breakthroughs in the ways religions relate to one another. It familiarizes the student with the history of different positions taken on the question of dialogue by the world's major religions. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 3395 & 3396. cr 3

RLST 3397 E - Interfaith Dialogue: Present-day Issues and Methods
Examines the question of loyalty to one's own religion and also the question of openness to other religions. The course examines a number of contemporary figures, such as the Dalai Lama, Julia Ching, Raimon Panikkar, Diana Eck and Elaine MacInnes, who have contributed to inter-faith dialogue. It draws implications from their experiences for approaches to inter-faith encouter. The course aims to enable the student to formulate attitudes appropriate to inter-faith encounter. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 3395 & 3397. cr 3

RLST 3706 E - Islamic Philosophy and Theology
This course considers major issues, figures, and texts in Islamic philosophy and theology, and identifies the place of such inquires within Islamic tradition. Themes include the relation between revelation and reason, determination and free will, divine and human knowledge, God’s qualities, ethics, and political theory. The impact of European thought on modern Islamic intellectual history is also examined. (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 3707 E - Islamic Law
This course explores the textual bases, theology, and legal components of Shari’a. In addition, it considers the development of the major schools of law and modes of jurisprudence, including family law, finance, Islamic governance, international relations, and human rights. PREREQUISITE: 18 university credits (lec 3) cr 3

RLST 4005 E - Thesis in Religious Studies
This course provides students with the opportunity to engage in focused research in an area of Religious Studies. This course is intended to activate students' critical thinking skills and the ability to design and complete a research project culminating in a 10,000 word thesis outlining their findings. (sem 3) Cr 6 Prerequisites: 18 credits in Religious Studies at the 3rd or 4th year level with a 6.0 GPA or permission of the instructor.

RLST 4116 E - Biblical Studies I: Interpretive Methods
Examines various methods of interpretation of the Bible, from literal and allegorical interpretations, through the historical-critical method to more recent forms of criticism, such as reader-response, canonical and feminist criticism. Appropriate texts are utilized to illustrate these methods. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 4115 & 4116. (sem/tut 3) cr 3

RLST 4117 E - Biblical Studies II: Reading the Text
A particular biblical book or theme is studied, by the application of specific critical interpretive methods to the biblical text. Students may not retain credit for both RLST 4115 & 4117. (sem/tut 3) cr 3

RLST 4225 E - Special Readings in Religions of the World
A study of selected themes in the religions of the world. Includes a consideration of the human predicament, the nature of the universe, and the quest for ultimate liberation. (lec 3) cr 6