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AddRan College of Liberal Arts

Department of Religion

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Texts & Ideas


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

“The Bible says . . .” is a phrase often invoked when a speaker wishes to assert the unquestioned authority of their position on a controversial topic. As an iconic book, the Bible has had a formative impact on our world. Through its narratives, laws, poetry, prophecy and letters, the Bible has helped to shape ethical norms, cultural assumptions, and social self-understandings of Jewish and Christian societies for hundreds of years. 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. RT, HUM

An examination of the nature of religion by close reading of the scriptures of ancient Israel and early Christianity. We will attempt to understand how religion functioned in those cultures by surveying the contents of the Jewish and Christian Bibles. RT, HUM

This course introduces students to the vital role of religion in the contexts of ancient Israel and earliest Christianity  by exploring their mythical, experiential, ritual, ethical, social, and doctrinal components while also attending to the literary, historical, and cultural dimensions of these religions' sacred texts. As a byproduct, these explorations will also illumine modern iterations of these ancient religions. RT, HUM

Some might say the Hebrew Bible’s Wisdom Books (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes) challenge us to slow down enough to ask ourselves: What is the difference between living and being alive? If God exists, why is there so much pain and suffering in our world? To what cause, ideal, faith, may I surrender without destroying my integrity? What does it mean to experience the sacred? Is there continued conscious existence beyond bodily death? Students taking this course will scrutinize the Wisdom Books, debating the questions they stimulate in light of contemporary as well as traditional scholarship. Special attention will be paid to the way “Wisdom themes” surface in different cultures across time, from Joel Osteen’s “Prosperity Gospel” to the Star Wars movie franchise and from Holocaust-related Jewish fiction to Bob Marley’s Rastafari discography. Experiential learning occurs in the form of a D/FW Megachurch site visit as well as an excursion to a musical revue about Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel Music, at the Jubilee Theatre in downtown Fort Worth. RT, HUM

We will focus on the sources of the first two Christian centuries that feature Jesus of Nazareth, especially upon the Gospels and the ‘gospel’ genre that emerged in the second century as representing the life and significance of Jesus, whether in more ‘orthodox’ or more ‘heterodox’ ‘church’ movements. Discussions of the meanings of Jesus depicted in art and film in specific cultural settings will help compare and contrast a variety of interpretations of the central figure of Christianity that we encounter today. HUM, WEM
This course provides an introduction to the major trends, developments, and issues in modern Islamic thought. This course begins with a brief introduction to the scriptures and interpretive traditions of Islam as they were developed in the pre-modern periods. Next we move to the nineteenth century, with the ruptures caused by the rise of European power, colonialism, modern science and technology, print, mass education, and the nation state. Muslims responded to these challenges through several strategies: secularism, modernism, fundamentalism, and neo-traditionalism. We will examine these and other trends in modern Islamic thought and then examine Muslim perspectives on a range of pressing contemporary issues such as politics, violence, gender, science, the environment, finance, and interfaith dialog. It concludes with a look at possible futures of the Muslim world. NOTE TO RELIGION MAJORS: Experimental Courses can carry credit in any of the three Religion course categories. Please submit requests for particular category designations to the department chair.


Course Catalog