Texts & Ideas
This course provides an overview of the major trends, developments, and issues in modern Islam and the global Muslim world, which is expected to grow to one third of the human family within our lifetimes. This course begins in the nineteenth century with the transformations caused by European colonialism, modern science and technology, and the emergence of the nation state. Muslims around the world responded to these transformations through several strategies including modernism, fundamentalism, secularism, and neo-traditionalism. We will examine these and other trends, as well as Muslim perspectives on a range of pressing contemporary global issues such as politics, violence, gender, economics, the environment, and interfaith dialog. The course concludes with a look at possible futures of the global Muslim world.
The Qur’an is an immensely important but widely misunderstood text that is sacred to the world’s second largest religion, Islam. This course introduces students to the vital role of religion in human experience through the life of Muhammad and the scripture he proclaimed, the Qur’an. During this course, we will examine: methods and best practices in the academic study of Religion, the life of Muhammad, the text of the Qur’an, the Qur’anic worldview, the stories of the Qur’an (which are similar to but often different in significant ways from those of the Bible), Muslim interpretations of the Qur’an, and the role of the Qur’an in Muslim life. RT, HUM
If we want to grow in our understanding of ourselves and others, sometimes we need to find a new place to stand—a place from which we can gain a new perspective. In this course, we will attempt to find such a place in the fascinating but unfamiliar world in which Christianity was first formed. We will work together as historical detectives, reading documents left behind by the earliest Christian writers nearly 2000 years ago. From these writings, we will attempt to discern how a new religious movement centered on a Judean prophet named Jesus could spread throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and eventaully become one of the most influential and widespread religions of human history. RT, HUM (CLST minor)
While many contemporary Americans might say that they “believe” the Bible, it has become an increasingly unfamiliar and mystifying text to them. This class seeks to address this estrangement by inviting students to explore the Bible’s origins, history, context, and contents in order to develop a critical understanding of this remarkable book. As an introductory course in the academic study of Religion, this course will also encourage students to reflect on the vital role of religion in the human experience. A product of ancient religious communities, the Bible contains myriad elements that represent religious experience, reflect religious practices, and encode religious beliefs. As such, it is a prime portal into the study of religion—past and present. RT, HUM
This course introduces students to the vital role of religion in human experience by exploring literary, historical, cultural dimensions of religious texts, patterns of belief, and related ritual and ethical practices within the religious expressions of ancient Israel and early Christianity. For our purposes, we will apply six major dimensions of religion as a method for analyzing these expressions via biblical texts whereby to understand these ancient religious worlds and, at times, modern religious expressions born out of these traditions. RT, HUM