Religious Studies (RELS)

Major Courses
 

RELS A215 The Pentateuch 3 crs.

The various theological traditions which comprise the Pentateuch and related writings are studied for their literary value, religious insights, and theological importance for their age and our own.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A216 Biblical Wisdom Literature 3 crs.

Proverbs, Koheleth, Job, Sirach, and Wisdom are studied in terms of their literary quality, philosophical and existential attitudes towards life, theological content, and intellectual relationship to the rest of scripture and the ancient Near Eastern intellectual tradition.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A222 Religions of the World 3 crs.

This course surveys the history, literature, theology, practices and institutions of the world’s major living religions. It critically and comparatively assesses the patterns of behavior and organizational strategies that religions inspire.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A224 Christianity and Society 3 crs.

This course surveys the history, literature, core theology and doctrines of Christianity as well as the significant persons and formative events that shaped and continue to shape Christianity from its origins to its influence on contemporary society.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A236 Hebrew Prophets 3 crs.

The message of the Hebrew Prophets, with its religious, social, political, and economic implications, is studied in order to see its relationship with the rest of the Scriptures and the development of prophetic criticism which continues into our own age.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A255 Synoptic Gospels 3 crs.

After a brief introduction to the question of the literary genre of the gospel, the course deals with the different theologies of the first three gospels as they relate to the social concerns of the communities to which they were addressed.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A300 Pauline Writings 3 crs.

This course explores the development of Paul’s thought through his epistles, focusing on major themes such as sin, justification, faith, and the body of Christ. Influences on his thought such as Hellenistic philosophical and theological speculations and rabbinic theologizing are also considered.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A305 Theology of Liberation 3 crs.

Liberation theology is a facet of Catholic theology relating to Jesus Christ’s views of liberation from unjust conditions. The course covers a wide range of topics under this multi-disciplinary and unique way of viewing and practicing theology. Significant focus is placed upon understanding how the Latin American context impacts theological praxis. This course is cross-listed with LAS-A305.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A310 Religions of Asia 3 crs.

This course is a study of the history and contemporary status of at least two of the following religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, the Chinese religious tradition, and Islam.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A315 Johannine Literature 3 crs.

Using literary, historical, and socio-contextual approaches, this course examines the Gospel of John and the epistles of John with focus on the Johannine themes of glory, salvation, love and service. It also explores the Book of Revelation and its message for ancient and contemporary Christians.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A320 The Christian God 3 crs.

This course is a study of the problem of belief as it evolved from the enlightenment period to the present. It also examines the bearing of the secularization process on God-talk and traditional approaches to God, and investigates recent efforts by process thinkers to reconstruct the idea of God with implications for Christian theologies and life.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A350 Christology 3 crs.

This course includes a look at New Testament Christology, a brief study of the pre-Nicene views of Christ, the rise of counter-positions, and the official response in the Councils of Nicea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, as well as  contemporary critiques of the classical model and recent revisions.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A354 Dynamics of Salvation 3 crs.

This course is a study of the history and contemporary status of theories of redemption.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A358 Ecumenical Theology 3 crs.

This course begins with a review of the origins of Christian division and the motives for the restoration of Christian unity. It then analyzes progress towards this goal by reviewing the recent theological literature and focusing particularly on the joint statements of the official Lutheran-Catholic dialogues.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A368 Christianity and the Environment 3 crs.

This course will involve participants in the developing understanding of the universe and Earth as divine manifestation. We focus particularly on the Creation-affirming tradition within the Christian tradition and discern its capacity to inform contemporary scientific perspectives and interpretations with an appreciation and articulation of their sacred dimension.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A370 Religion and Media 3 crs.

This seminar encourages awareness of the manifestations of religion in media -- the uses of media by religious groups, news coverage of media, and the treatment of religious themes in various media --to foster critical consumption and production of media relating to religion.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A396 Religious Studies Research Seminar 3 crs.

An in-depth research and writing seminar. Topics vary by semester.

RELS A400 Theology of Vatican II 3 crs.

This course is a study of the documents of Vatican II and the changes in Roman Catholicism since Vatican II. Also discussed is why the changes occurred and what fundamental shifts were behind the changes.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A411 Hindu Theology 3 crs.

This course is a study of the rise and development of Hindu theistic thought in the millennium following Shankara (788 — 820 A.D.) The schools of identity, of difference, and of difference-in-identity are studied critically.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A417 Women, Religion, and Culture 3 crs.

This course investigates the mutual impact of religious belief and gender roles: Special topics include the origin of patriarchy, structures of patriarchy, function of shamanism in women’s lives, women in patriarchal religions, violence perpetuated against women in patriarchal cultures/religions, and women creating women’s religion.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A441 Psychology of Religion 3 crs.

This course is a general introduction to the psychological study of religious behavior, comprising a short history of the subject with special attention to classic writings since 1890, a review of outstanding theories and methods, and a representative sampling of recent research, especially on personality and developments.

Christianity Major Course

RELS A470 The Spirituality of the Nature Writers 3 crs.

This course utilizes an interpretive methodology to probe the deeper spiritual meaning, significance, and relevance of the nature writers as spiritual guides who immerse themselves in the mysteries of Creation and share their experience through words, films, music, and other art forms.

World Religions Major Course

RELS A495 Special Project, credits vary

This project focuses on the creative or productive efforts of one or more students. A special project is distinguished from a research project in its lack of the historical or experimental method and perspective characteristics of research.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS T124 or RELS H295

RELS A496 Seminar/Workshop, credits vary

This course is comprised of a supervised group of students participating in a common effort and sharing the results of their research on a common topic.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS T124 or RELS H295

RELS A498 Research Project, credits vary

This project focuses on empirical or historical investigation, culminating in a written report.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS T124 or RELS H295

RELS A499 Independent Study, credits vary

Independent work done under professorial supervision. 

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS T124 or RELS H295

RELS H295 Honors Religious Studies 3 crs.

An Honors-level Religious Studies course - topics vary.

Prerequisite: RELS T122 or RELS T124 or RELS H295

Loyola Core

RELS T121 First-Year Seminar 3 crs.

Foundation Courses: First-Year Seminar

All first-year students take a 3-credit First-Year Seminar during their first semester as one of the core course in the Loyola Core. First-Year Seminars at Loyola are small, discussion-based seminars that introduce new college students to academic inquiry at the university level by investigating a relevant topic. Specially-trained faculty lead these seminars in a way that instills in students the academic skills necessary to become successful Loyola students. A list of upcoming First-Year Seminars can be found on the First-Year Experience homepage

RELS S220 Biblical Literature in the Roman and Medieval Context 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

Usually part of the Italy Study Abroad program entitled The Ancient Crossroads of Culture, Literature and Religion, this course require students to immerse themselves into the ancient and medieval Roman world where they will explore the social structures and materials that gave shape to the daily life, worship, ethical practices, community structure, organization, and literature of primitive and medieval Christians. May count for credit in the Catholic Studies program.

This course replaces RELS U220.

RELS S225 Humor in the Bible 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

In this dicussion-and-project-based course on humor in the Bible, we will learn the forms, functions, and effects of humor in the social and cultural contexts of the ancient Mediterranean world. In particular, we will study humor in Mesopotamian myths and we will explore humor in Jewish, Greek, and Roman narratives, rhetoric and comic materials. We will apply two critical methods to our study of biblical humor: a literary analysis and a contextual analysis situated in the ancient world.

RELS S236 Political Theologies 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

Theology can be understood as discourse about God. The political can be understood as the use of structural power to organize a society or community of people. Political theology, then, is the intellectual and practical struggle to relate these two discourses to each other.

RELS S238 Christianity and Liberation 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course is a study of the historical development of the theology of liberation in Latin America and -- following the Ignatian paradigm of experience-reflection-action-- explores the relevance of its themes to the current situation in the region and in Latino communities in the US.

RELS S242 Christian Ethics 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This class is an introduction to the broader Christian conversation on ethical issues with a view towards creating intelligent participants: Students gain a coherent set of concepts to both identify and think through the ethical decisions they face every day -- not what to think, but rather how to think through these scenarios.

This course satisfies a Advanced Common Curriculum: Religious Studies requirement for students who began their program of study before fall semester 2013.
This course replaces RELS V242.

RELS S245 Christian Ethics & Business 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

Economically productive work occupies a major part of the lives of most adults. Many are unaware of how Christianity informs business life or how to face practical ethical issues of business. Informed citizens must develop an ethical framework for ideas like fair compensation, treatment of employees, privacy, etc. Consumers must be aware of the moral implications of their buying activity. This course draws upon philosophical and theological literature to develop a Christian view of business.

RELS S247 New Testament as Literature 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course explores the fundamentals of how the Christian Scriptures came to be and identifies the critical issues that challenge modern interpretations of biblical texts. Covers the basic structure, background, content, and theologies of New Testament literature with insights into the social, cultural, literary, and the religious contexts in which the early Christian texts arose.

This course replaces RELS U247.

RELS S249 Old Testament as Literature 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course examines the literary, theological, and social-cultural development of the Old Testament with frequent references to the ongoing implications for our modern day situation, both in regard to our religious institutions and society in general.

This course replaces RELS U249.

RELS S251 Protestant Christianity 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course describes and analyzes the characteristic ethos of Protestantism. It traces the historical development of this form of Christianity, from the Reformation of the 16th century until today, focusing on the central personalities involved, their beliefs, their values, their self-understandings, and the movements they gave rise to. Special attention is given to those elements which have had a formative influence on American Christianity.

RELS S252 Catholicism 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

What does it mean to be Catholic?  Contrary to our expectations, the Roman Catholic tradition does not ofer one single, unproblematic answer to this seemingly simple question; rather, Catholicism can be described in terms of ongoing negotiations in which it struggles with this question.  This course explores the "hotspots" of these negotiations, both historical and contemporary.

RELS S270 Jesus Christ 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course examines the life and influence of Jesus of Nazareth.  Study of his theological significance equips students for work in "Christology": learning methods for understanding Jesus and what he taught. Historical, theological, and spiritual perspectives are all employed, both to note the results of each method, as well as to see the benefits and limits of these difficerent perspectives.  The historical depth of the course empowers students to undertake and suggest Christological possibilities for the 21st century.

This course satisfies an Advanced Common Curriculum: Religious Studies requirement for students who began their program of study before fall semester 2013. 

RELS S285 Heretics and Heresy 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course examines “heresy” both as a broad concept and as a phenomenon occurring throughout the history of the Christian Church from its inception to the time of the Reformation. Focus will be on major “heretics” whose beliefs and practices were deemed outside the acceptable parameters of Christian orthodoxy.

This course replaces RELS U285.

RELS S330 Faith, Science, and Religion 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course critically analyzes various ways of knowing: faith, science, and theology (the critical analysis of faith.) The methods of the physical sciences and the life sciences are discussed. Topics include the epic of creation, evolution, quantum theory, environmental issues, and medical ethics. This course is cross-listed with PHYS Y230.

RELS S332,  Ethics of Death and Dying 3 credits

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course explores differing views of death and dying within the North American context: Drawing primarily on the pre-modern literature of Christianity with select readings from the "death and dying" movement of the 1970s, ethical questions related to life and death, suicide, euthanasia, abortion, and capital punishment are examined.

RELS S336 Parables of Jesus 3 crs.

Advanced Common Curriculum: Religious Studies II
RAC: Catholic Traditions; Premodern

This course studies the cultural and literary contexts of the parables of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and in the Gospel of Thomas. From within the Roman world of imperial politics and the honor-shame culture of the Mediterranean world, students examine how the parables might have been heard by ancient Christian audiences, and how they challenge modern Christians.

This course replaces RELS U336.

RELS S339 Experiences of Grace 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course starts with a reflection on the methodology and the politics of a theology of grace: How can we experience and talk about God's grace and how does this change our world? By tracing how the concept of grace has been defined and refined in the historical controversies on grace and works, grace and sin, and grace and nature, this course traces the language of grace as a critical tool for negotiating what it means to be/become human.

This course replaces RELS U339.

RELS S343 Women in Christianity 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course examines in historical terms the tension between the significant religious opportunities available to women in the Christian tradition, and the subordination of women in Christian institutions. This examination begins with women in the scriptures, traces women’s roles in European Christianity through the Reformation, and then focuses on Christian women in America to gain understanding of women’s roles in contemporary American society and in American Christian churches.

This course replaces RELS U343.

RELS S344 Social Policy and the Christian 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course explores current social and moral problems such as terrorism, economic recession, peace and war, and environmental disasters. Drawing on principles of Catholic social ethics, the class examines these events from the diverse assessments that reflect the moral disposition of individuals and nations. An historical perspective is included to enable understanding of the development of social and moral stands of country and church.

This course replaces RELS V344.

RELS S348 Christian Origins 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course focuses on the development of Christianity during its first four centuries. Differing theological views as well as social and political tensions that eventually gave rise to the “Great Church” and its authoritative structure are investigated.

This course replaces RELS U348.

RELS S358 Ignatius Loyola 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

Covers the life of Ignatius Loyola and his spirituality as expressed in his “Spiritual Exercises” and other texts. Provides an intensive introduction to Ignatian primary sources from the 16th century and traces their subsequent influence and contemporary relevance. Examines concrete events, interactions, and relationships of the founder of the Society of Jesus to reach an understanding of his teachings, as well as learn how they may apply to other’s lives and relationships with God.

This course replaces RELS U358.

RELS S364 Contemporary Theologies 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

 This course offers a survey of 20th and 21st century theological approaches starting with an introduction into theological methodology and then critically discussing liberation theology, feminist, queer, and liberal and post-liberal theology, as well as other approaches. The goal of the course is an understanding of how theology works: It does not deal with a stable, unchangeable set of “doctrine,” but offers creative responses to the complexities of our world.

RELS S386 Medieval Synthesis 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course is a survey of Christian life and thought in the Middle Ages, approached with a view to grasping what might be called “the medieval worldview.” It emphasizes the intellectual foundations of this worldview in thinkers like Augustine, and traces their influence on subsequent thinkers such as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas. It attempts to show how religious, political, economic, social, and emotional facets of life were integrated into a relatively comprehensive, cohesive, and synthetic approach to life.

This course replaces RELS U386.

RELS S388 Sin: History of an Idea 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course links central human questions of personal, social, and moral responsibility, with questions about the relationship of humans with God. Sin is studied in historical and biblical contexts. Moral and psychological perspectives are used in reappraisal of this key category of Judeo-Christian tradition.

This course replaces RELS U388.

RELS S483 Christian Traditions 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies I
Christian Theology

This course aims to help students develop a historically informed understanding of Christianity. It begins with Christianity in the New Testament period and outlines the ways in which it developed from a tiny Jewish sect into a world religion, and then how it was forced to adapt in every historical period to its new social, politcal, and intellectual context.

RELS V226 Anthropology of Religion 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course explores relationships between religion and culture, society, and human mental faculties including mythology, contact between cultures with distinct religions, religion as a mechanism of regulating social order, and aspects of human cognition that contribute to the development and maintenance of religious perspectives.

This course replaces RELS U226.

RELS V228 Islamic Law 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course provides students with an overview of Islamic legal systems and their underlying ethical framework through a comparison of theories and examples of implementation. Students are furnished with a foundational understanding of Islamic law and Muslim ethics, as well as the ability to contextualize the contemporary legal discourse of Islam. 

This course replaces RELS V228.

RELS V232 World Religions and Music 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course studies the important role of chant and music in the major world religions, using textual readings and audio/visual experiences to explore Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, as well as the music of many normally under-represented or minority religious traditions such as Shinto, Sikhism, Islamic Sufism, Jewish sects, and little-known branches of Hinduism and Buddhism. It also focuses on issues of sound and music as aspects of ritual and liturgical action in religion. While abilities in playing music or reading musical notation will enhance the class experience, these are not requirements for the course. 

RELS V234 World Religions and Ecology 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

The course explores questions concerning the intersection of religious diversity and ecological perspectives. Within the context of the major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, and representatives of indigenous traditions) students will look closely at scriptures, stories, myths, symbols, and rituals that convey teachings regarding the relationship between Ultimate and Phenomenal realities and between human beings and non-human nature.

RELS V240 The Qur’an 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course provides students with an introduction to the Qur’an and its interpretation in English translation. The weekly topics facilitate a thematic progression through various passages of the Qur’an in a manner which highlights important aspects of the text and its various interpretations in the Islamic tradition.

This course replaces RELS U240.

RELS V246 Judaism 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course provides an overview of Jews and Judaism from religious, historical, and contemporary perspectives including the study of Jewish practices, rituals, beliefs, and the holiday structure.

This course replaces RELS U246.

RELS V253 Varieties of Hindu Tradition 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This introduction explores the many facets of India's most diverse religious tradition. The approach is historical, beginning with Vedic religion and continuing on to material from the Rāmāyana and the Bhagavad Gītā. The use of primary sources allows voices from India's past to represent Hindu traditions on theological concepts such as dharma, moksha and samsāra. Ritual practices and ethical concerns supplement the exploration of these ancient religious traditions.

This course replaces RELS U253.

RELS V260 Introduction to Islam 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course provides students with an introduction to the historical and intellectual development of the broader Islamic tradition. It acquaints students with major themes contributing to the evolution of Islam as a religion from the time of its emergence to the present. The topics covered demonstrate the diversity of the Islamic tradition and familiarize students with the appropriate methodologies involved in the academic study of religion.

RELS V265 Eco Feminist Theologies 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

Ecofeminist Theologies looks at how "feminism" and "ecological awareness" came together in the late twentieth century to forge a new social and intellectual movement, "ecofeminism," and in turn how that movement affected and continues to transform theological thought. The course examines ecofeminist theology's primary claim that patriarchal and supernaturalist concepts of the divine in Abrahamic religions have been mutally reinforcing, serving to create and maintain a hierarchical worldview in which men are above women and God is divorced from the natural world. Beginning with a careful look at the early writings of ecofeminist theology (and/or spirituality), the course progresses to consider further developments that pay attention to diverse social locations (including racial, economic, geographic, and sexual-identity) and the differences they make in environmental thinking and theological thinking. Throughout, the course asks whether and how ecofeminist theologies help transform people's commitments toward social justice in genger relations and toward becoming sustainable citizens of Earth.

RELS V267 Native American Religions 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course explores the history and continuing development of traditional Native American Religions in North America. Students learn about common Native American values and representative religious changes in indigenous religions induced by contact with Christianity and colonialism. Case studies of selected Native American cultures serve to assist students in understanding continuing worldviews and specific practices of several Native American cultures.

RELS V277 Tibetan & Indian Religions 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course surveys the primary religious traditions of India as well as the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in northern India and its elaboration and preservation in Tibet. Attention is paid to discovering contemporary expressions of the Indian and Tibetan religions in order to consider the ways they are changing to remain relevant in today’s postmodern and globalized societies.

This course replaces RELS U277.

RELS V281 Women in World Religions 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course is the historical and cultural study of women in the world’s religions: It seeks to understand the ways religious beliefs and women’s roles in society are interrelated and affect one another. It examines women’s roles, experiences, and contributions in religions, as well as the ways women are depicted in scriptures, myths, and theologies. Theories of the factors supporting women’s subordination, as well as the factors promoting women’s equality in religions are examined.

This course replaces RELS U281.

RELS V283 Religious Response to Disasters 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course examines religious responses to disasters in the context of diverse faiths, with special attention paid to the 2005 Katrina and Rita disaster in New Orleans. A comparative religions approach is combined with a service learning assignment. Students learn that religious worldviews influence the ways that individuals and congregations respond to disasters, and they are encouraged to evaluate which religious responses to disasters are most conducive to personal and community resilience, and hope.

RELS V325 Public Policy: Ethical Perspectives 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course examines issues of public policy, ethics, and religion as they play out in the U.S. constitutional system. Readings are drawn partially from selected case studies, with both a domestic and an international focus. The subject is approached through an analysis of political, economic, and religious conceptions of social order. The class explores economic globalization, environmental issues, bioethics policies, the moral obligations of public officials, and the relationship between domestic and foreign policy.

This course replaces RELS V325.

RELS V377 Buddhism Across Asia 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course explores the many-faceted world of Buddhism, particularly in its historical contexts from the 5th century BCE to rise of the Mahāyāna movement. Primary sources cover teachings on cosmology, ritual and monastic life, ideas on nirvāna and how one pursues it. Two segments of the course focus on older traditions (India, China, Japan) while a third explores contemporary Asian developments in Tibet and Vietnam through literature and political developments.

This course replaces RELS U377.

RELS V396 Law: Ancient World 3 crs.

Knowledge-Values Courses: Religious Studies II
World Religions

This course examines the place of law in ancient society, emphasizing Semitic codes of the ancient Near East (Bible and Greco-Roman laws) and its relationship to morality. It shows how a meeting of Semitic-Judaic and Greco-Roman in the first Christian centuries produced natural law and canon law of later times. Relevant social issues are examined.

This course replaces RELS U396.