Courses

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Descriptions of course offerings are included below. For advice on course selection be sure to speak with a faculty adviser.

Course Offerings: Foundations

101. The Bible: Texts and Contexts.

Fall. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

The first in a two-course sequence that introduces the Life curriculum, this course focuses on introducing students to the academic study of the Bible. Students will survey representative texts from each genre of biblical writing in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Particular attention will be paid to understanding the role of historical and cultural context in shaping biblical views on theological issues (God, sin and evil, Jesus’ significance, e.g.).

Religious Studies 101 is a prerequisite for 200-level courses in biblical studies. Humanities 101-102 can substitute for Religious Studies 101.

102. The Bible: Texts and Contexts.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1, F2.

This course continues the introduction to the Life sequence begun in Religious Studies 101 by examining the development of central themes in the Christian theological traditions. The course begins with classical figures from the early and medieval periods, and follows the impact of modernity on Christian thought. The course concludes with major theological developments in the 20th and 21st centuries, including the advent of the comparative study of religion. Religious Studies 102 is a prerequisite for upper level courses in theology, ethics, and history of religions. Students who have not had Religious Studies 102 may take these courses with the permission of the instructor.

BIBLICAL STUDIES

260. Archaeology and the Biblical World.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

A detailed study of the major archaeological finds from the biblical period and their impact on biblical interpretation. The course uses the material evidence of archaeology to reconstruct ancient life, customs, and cultural influences in the biblical lands and then compares this portrait with those presented in the biblical texts. Depending upon the expertise of the instructor, the course may focus on lands and finds associated with the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament or those associated with the New Testament. Familiarity with general biblical history is presumed.

270. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

271. Pentateuch.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

272. Historical Literature.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

273. Prophets.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

274. Wisdom Literature/Psalms.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

276-277. Selected Topics in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

280. Introduction to the New Testament.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

281. Synoptic Gospels.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

282. Gospel of John.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

283. Paul’s Letters.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

285-286. Selected Topics in New Testament.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

Theology and Ethics

211. Contemporary Theology.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

A survey of the major issues and figures in theology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The course focuses on the special challenges to theology posed by the modern world.

220. Topics in Theology.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

An in-depth study of a particular problem, topic, or perspective in modern theology.

232. Social Issues in Ethical and Religious Perspective.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

This course examines selected social issues in theological, ethical and biblical perspective. Topics include Holocaust, Religion and the Bible, Religion and Racism, and Religion and Sexuality.

233. Pain, Suffering, and Death.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1, F11.

A seminar that examines critical issues and problems of crisis experience involving pain, suffering, and death using various disciplinary perspectives and pedagogical methods, including interviews with health care professionals. Designed primarily for students considering health or human service vocations (e.g., medical professions, counseling, social work, ministry), but also of interest to others.

History of Religions

210. History of Christian Thought.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

The faith of the earliest New Testament communities will be examined, and developments in biblical theology from the early church onward will be considered.

214. Early Christian Literature.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

A study of selections from the early Greek Fathers (e.g., Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and the Epistle of Barnabas) whose writings extend the biblical tradition into the second century CE and mark a formative stage in the development of Christian creed and canon.

251. Religion in America.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

A historical analysis of American religion, examining the diversity of religions in America through the study of selected beliefs, practices, and institutions.

253. Judaism.

Fall. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

A survey of the history of the Jewish people and its formative experiences, the sources of Judaism as a religious tradition, its distinctive ideas and values, and what it means to be a Jew today.

255. Living Religions in Today’s World.

Fall. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1, F9.

A survey of the major living religions in the modern world. The course will consider both the rise of the classic traditions and the shape that their followers are giving them today. Religions to be considered may include Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religion, Japanese religion, and Islam.

256. Methods and Theories of the Study of Religion.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1, F11.

An introduction to the phenomenological, sociological, anthropological, and psychological approaches to the academic study of religions. This course reviews the methodologies and theories of foundational thinkers in the modern study of religions. Students learn to apply the ideas of these theorists in field studies of local religious phenomena.

258. Topics in the History of Religions.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

An exploration of a specific tradition or subject in the history of religions. Subjects include Islam, African-American Religion, Women in American Religion, and Women in World Religions.

259. Topics in the History of Christianity.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: Life Then and Now, F1.

This course will consider selected aspects in the Common Era history of communities of biblical faith and practice. Topics include Catholicism and Reformation.

ADVANCED STUDIES AND SEMINARS

Courses in Religious Studies at the 300 level and above are not part of the Life curriculum and cannot count for Life or F1 credit.

300-301. Selected Topics in Biblical Studies, Theology, and the History of Religions.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: None.

Open to majors and minors only, except with the permission of the instructor.

399. Junior Honors Tutorial.

Spring. Credits: 1.

Open to junior majors by permission of the instructor only.

451-452. Research in Religious Studies.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 1-4.

This course involves advanced students in Religious Studies in collaborative work with faculty on original research projects.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

460. Health Equity Internships.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 1-4.

A supervised learning experience in the community outside the College (e.g., faith-based community health providers, churches, hospitals, or social agencies).

In collaboration with Methodist Healthcare, the Nancy Hughes Morgan Program in Hospital Chaplaincy offers a special internship each spring semester designed for students considering health or human service vocations (e.g., medical professions, counseling, social work, and ministry).

In collaboration with several faith-based community health and social service providers, the department offers health equity internship placements that integrate academic work on health disparities with professional experience in agencies working to promote health equity in Memphis. The health equity internships focus on the intersection of faith commitments, social justice concerns, and health outcomes for economically and socially marginalized groups in Memphis.

461. Internships.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 1-4.

All internships that do not fit the description found under Religious Studies 460 (Health Equity Internships.)

485. Senior Seminar: Senior Paper.

Spring. Credits: 4.

The seminar culminates in the senior paper, a major research project reflecting a semester-long engagement with a significant topic for Religious Studies.

Prerequisites: Two 300-level courses.

495-496. Honors Tutorial.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4-8.

Prerequisite: Permission of the department only