Religious Studies

The study of religion invites you, in an academic context, into a long tradition of theological and historical questions about the nature of humanity in relation to God and to the world, and it engages you in the interreligious and intercultural encounter that is taking place today.

Majors and Minors: Students who are considering a major or minor in religious studies can select any of the courses listed on the First-Year Student website under Religious Studies. Courses at the 100 level are particularly well-suited to first-year students. A course taken in Montserrat carrying an R designation is usually counted toward the major; it might be counted toward the minor with the approval of the department chair.

RELS 107
Common Area: Cross-Cultural Studies or Studies in Religion

Examination of Islamic religious beliefs and practices from the origins of Islam to the present. Particular stress is placed on Islamic religious ideals, institutions and personalities. Central topics include: Islamic scripture and traditions, prophecy, law, rituals, theology and philosophy, sectarianism, mysticism, aesthetic ideals, art and architecture, pedagogy, and modern reinterpretations of the tradition. Also explores wider issues of religious identity by looking at the diversity of the Islamic tradition, tensions between elite and popular culture, and issues of gender and ethnicity.


RELS 108
Common Area: Cross Cultural

An examination of Hinduism and the Hindu tradition from the Vedas to the present day. Among the subject considered: the Upanishads; the Ramayana and Mahabharata; village Hinduism; Gandhi; and contemporary Hindu political thought. Evaluation will include both examinations and essays.

RELS 116
Common Area: Studies in Religion

Introduction to the academic study of the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholic Christianity, and of the situation of the church in the contemporary United States. Topics include: approaches to the study of Catholicism; creeds and doctrinal foundations of the Church; structure, authority, and community; spirituality, worship, and the sacramental tradition; Catholic moral and social teaching; current issues and controversies in Catholicism.

RELS 117
History of Christianity I
Common Area: Historical Studies or Studies in Religion

A survey of the origins and development of Christianity, both its theology and its structures, from the apostolic period to the eve of the Reformation. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Christian doctrine and worship during the early and medieval periods of the Christian history. The interplay between orthodoxy and heterodoxy will be stressed in a close examination of heretical movements and their impact on the formation of the tradition. The interaction between Church and society will also be addressed.

RELS 118
New Testament
Common Area: Historical Studies or Studies in Religion

This course provides an introduction to early Christian literature and thought in the context of the early Church. The biblical texts will be investigated as works of literature, historical witnesses to early Christianity, and expressions of theology.

RELS 126
Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Common Area: Studies in Religion

This course includes a study of the major themes of the Hebrew Scriptures: creation, exodus, covenant, promised land, the Davidic kingship, prophecy, wisdom, and apocalyptic. The course explores these themes through literary and theological analysis as well as through the reconstruction of the historical background of these themes with reference to ancient Near Eastern sources.


RELS 139
Understanding Jesus
Common Area: Religious Studies

An examination of the figure of Jesus as presented in the gospels with attention devoted to historical questions about Jesus' life and teaching, the theological claims about Jesus being made by the gospel writers, and the direct challenge which the gospel story presents to the church and the world today.

RELS 147
Common Area: Studies in Religion

Introduction to the history, theology, and practices of the Jews which uses the evidence of Judaism to exemplify the interrelationship between a religious civilization and the historical and cultural framework within which it exists. How does what happens to the Jews affect their formulation of their religion, Judaism? By answering this question and by learning the details of Jewish belief and practice, students will come to comprehend both Judaism and the social construction of religion in general.


RELS 170
The Worlds of C. S. Lewis
Common Area: Religious Studies

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