Religion Department Courses
REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity, 4 credits. E. This course seeks to meet the needs of all students for a better understanding of religion as a basic feature of human life and of Christianity’s classic and contemporary expressions and the rich diversity of religion. The four modes of religious inquiry (interpretive, historical, comparative and constructive) that are appropriate to the study of religion will be used to examine the complexity of religion in the modern world. The course offers an important initial opportunity for integrative study that is characteristic of a liberal arts education. It invites students to engage in thoughtful and informed reflection upon religious questions.
REL 313 J – Jesus the Jew – Jesus the Christ, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is an examination of the Jewish context and character of Jesus of Nazareth. This course will investigate Jesus’ life, ministry, and death in the social and religious context of first-century Palestine. In addition, it will focus on the character of the Gospels as literary narratives that tell the stories of Jesus. Jesus also came to be the object of worship and devotion, and this course will investigate how it is that Jesus became the focal point of the church’s thought and ritual practice. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 314 J – Paul: Apostle or Apostate, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is a study of the historical circumstances of Paul, the religious and theological significance of his epistles, and his legacy for the Christian church. Paul is one of the most important people in the formation of early Christianity, and has left us some of the most significant documents in the New Testament, the Pauline Epistles. Paul, however, was not appreciated by many of his contemporaries or by many people in the church since his time. He has been a figure of much controversy historically, and this course will explore why that is the case. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 316 J – The Good Life: Old Testament Perspectives, 4 credits. E1 or E2. What is “the good life”? This course explores various perspectives on “the good life” contained in the writings of the Old Testament. Comparisons will be made to contemporary views. The course will also look at what the biblical writings picture as obstacles to “the good life” and what are viewed as challenges today. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 317 – Interpretation of the Bible, 4 credits. D. This course is an investigation that will present and integrate the various methods that biblical scholars have developed for the study of the Bible. Consideration will be given to the manner in which the biblical text, the biblical context and the interpreter of the Bible interact. The class will be conducted as a seminar and students will be expected to complete designated readings, contribute to class discussion and write interpretive papers on selected biblical texts.
REL 318 – Women, Religion and Literature, 4 credits. D. This course is an investigation of the images and status of women in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in Western literature from an interdisciplinary perspective. The interplay of these scripts in the psychosocial and spiritual formation of contemporary men and women will be assessed.
REL 362 J – Approaching the Qur’an, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This is an introductory course in the academic study of the Islamic scripture, the Qur’an. The course will provide some of the basic analytic tools needed for approaching and appreciating the text and teachings of the Qur’an, including an introduction to its historical context, literary qualities, esthetic reception and interpretive traditions – both classical and modern. The course is aimed at helping students understand the nature and function of the Islamic scripture both in its native context of Muslim history and cultural life, as well as in its relation to the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 225 – Religion in Film, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2012-2013). This course is a study of the religious content and focus of the place and importance of film in culture. As a 200-level course it is an introduction to the examination of film from a religious and critical perspective, in particular the four modes of inquiry (interpretive, historical, comparative and constructive). The types of films that will be examined range from historical classics, international films, documentaries, popular film, films from great directors, and much more.
REL 324 J – The Legacy of Luther, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is a study of the life and work of Martin Luther, who will be looked at in the context of Medieval and Reformation Europe. The legacy of Luther’s ideas and their impact on movements and denominations down to the modern age will also be examined. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 325 J – Studies in Religious History, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2012-2013). This course is an examination of the historical development of religious institutions and theological traditions. It will investigate diverse groups and significant individuals that have shaped specific religious traditions. It will study the development of the thought and religious practices, such as prayer, worship and other expressions of faith, of these traditions. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 326 J – Christian Theologies and Ethics, 4 credits. D. This course is a study of the historical development of central theological beliefs of the Christian Church and of its ethical thought through the centuries. The course will explore representative Christian teachings in theology and ethics, investigate their evolution over time, and consider their expressions in church creeds and wider cultural life. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 327 – Eastern Orthodoxy, 4 credits. D. This course is an introduction to the Eastern Orthodox tradition. This course will survey the roots, theology and development of Christianity in the East. It will then explore the particular manifestation of eastern Christianity in a variety of historical locations including Greece, Istanbul, Russia and/or elsewhere by examining the historical, theological and cultural expressions of Orthodox communities around the world.
REL 328 J – Catholicism, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2012-2013). This course explores the Roman Catholic tradition and its diverse expressions of faith. It considers historical developments within the tradition, with a particular focus on the changes initiated by Vatican II. Students will study topics ranging from official teachings of the Magisterium on particular issues, to the challenges facing the Catholic Church in the U.S., to the popular forms of Catholicism in a world church, to the struggles for social and environmental justice among Catholics. Tensions between official church teachings on particular issues (including women’s roles, the death penalty, homosexuality, war and peace, and religious pluralism) and the variety of beliefs among faithful Catholics will be considered. Students will be encouraged to develop a critical and complex understanding of this particular faith tradition. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 372 J – Christian Spirituality, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2012-2013). This course on Christian Spirituality is an examination of the historical development of Christian spiritual movements. In particular, this class will take a historical look at experiential expressions of the Christian faith as they are manifest in spiritual traditions, such as monastic and/or mendicant communities, mysticism, Christian social and political activist groups, fundamentalists and the like. It will do so by studying the development of the classic religious spiritual writings, art and artifacts, practices and thought, and public expressions of faith. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 374 J – Women in Religious History, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2012-2013). In this course, students use historical and feminist frameworks to explore some of the major themes, questions and tensions that shape the study of women in religious history. The course focuses on the lives and images of women in various traditions in different eras, using both primary and secondary texts. Students will investigate the ambiguous function of religion in the lives of historical women – its capacity for oppressing and/or empowering women in different circumstances, cultures, traditions and eras. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 234 – Symbol, Myth and Ritual, 4 credits. D. This course is an analysis of belief and action, concentrating on the symbols and metaphors employed to express, link and act meanings. For the purpose of examining two or more religious traditions, myths will be considered symbols in story or narrative, and rituals will be viewed as symbols in action. The aim will be to understand the various functions and goals of symbolic activity.
REL 331 – Understanding Religion, 4 credits. D. This course is an exploration of modern attempts to account for the presence of religion in all human cultures and societies. We will analyze and assess a variety of arguments about the nature, causes and effects of religious phenomena. Texts studied will be drawn from the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, sociology, theology, the history of religions and cultural anthropology.
REL 332 J, U – American Religions: Natives and Immigrants, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2013-2014). This course surveys the major teachings and practices of various religions in the United States, with special attention to religious diversity both within and among various traditions. In exploring the religious beliefs and practices of both “natives” and “immigrants” in America, students consider the various expressions of Protestant Christianity, as well as Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Native American religions. Of particular interest will be how these religions interact with aspects of American culture, the relationship between religious freedom and religious diversity, the ways in which members of different religious groups seek recognition and power, and the challenges and conflicts that result. Although the primary focus of the course will be on contemporary expressions of religion in America, we will also consider historical perspectives on and examples of the intersection of “religion” and “American culture.” Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 334 J – Monotheisms: Jewish, Christian and Muslim, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2013-2014). This course is a study of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions through introductory texts as well as the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Qur’an. Classroom work will focus on beliefs and faith; acts and rituals; history and tradition; persons and lives; and structures and themes. Theories and methods will be used to engage in the comparative study of religion. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 338 J – Religions of East Asia, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is an introduction to two or more of the major religious traditions of East Asia, focusing on the history, ideas and practices of these religions. The student will consider ways in which members of these traditions view themselves, society and the world. This course also provides an introduction to theories and methods for the comparative study of religion. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 339 J, G – World Christianity, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course looks at the current manifestation of Christianity as a global religion in its diversity and complexity, studying the most important contemporary developments in Christianity around the globe (outside the North Atlantic). These developments are considered, first, as social (religious) phenomena, which need to be studied in relation to local (and sometimes global) political, historical, economic, social and religious factors. Yet the course also engages specifically Christian theological questions that arise from the development of Christianity as a global yet diverse reality. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 382 J, G – Religion and the Body, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course explores the role of the human body in world religions (especially Buddhism but also Hinduism, Christianity, Taoism, Islam and indigenous religions) and in contemporary American culture. It examines the ambiguity of the body in these contexts: its function as both an obstacle and a vehicle on the path toward spiritual growth and well-being. This ambiguity raises a number of interesting questions about the relationship between “mind,” “body” and “spirit,” and students will explore these questions not only through assigned readings, papers and discussions but also through the study of Aikido, a Japanese martial art that emphasizes the neutralization of aggressive force through non-destructive resolutions. Students who enroll in this course must sign up for PED 112, which meets Monday and Wednesday evenings for an hour throughout the semester. Aikido training instills a sense of personal and social responsibility, which students will engage through a service-learning project. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 384 J – Exploring Islam, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This is an introductory course in classical Islamic history and tradition. It will examine the social, political and cultural environment, as well as the key figures and defining events, of the formative period of Islam (seventh to ninth centuries), before exploring the various dimensions of the Islamic tradition as articulated by some of the most influential Muslim authorities. While the focus of this course is on the classical period, it will frequently refer to modern Islam in terms of both continuations and ruptures, thereby illuminating the unique promise and predicament of contemporary Islam. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 386 J – Religion in the Postcolonial World, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course focuses on the role of religious traditions, communities, and leaderships during and after colonial rule with specific attention to the role of religion in the exercise and resistance of colonial power and postcolonial construction of national identity. The course considers how religions have been (re)constructed in the context of colonial encounters and postcolonial nationalism, and how religions are affecting postcolonial developments such as nation-building, economic development, regional stability and ethnic relationships. Close attention is also given to the interaction between religions in the colonial/postcolonial context, as well as the relationships between religious and other social identities, such as ethnicity, gender, race and class/caste. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 387 J – Religions of India, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course provides an introduction to two or more of the major religious traditions in India. Students will consider the many ways in which these religions have attempted to understand the nature of the world, the divine, human society and the place of the individual therein. Utilizing the theories and methods appropriate for the comparative study of religion, students will learn about the resources that each tradition provides for the construction of meaning, value and a moral vision. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 388 J – Religion, Violence and Nonviolence, 4 credits. E1 or E2. Religion can encourage acts of violent aggression and cruelty, as well as acts of peacemaking and compassion. This course will examine the roots of organized violence in human cultures, with particular attention to the role of religion in the genesis and justification of such violence. At the same time, it will explore the religious values and teachings that support nonviolence, both as a way of life and as a strategy for social change. Students will learn to appreciate the peacemaking potential of religion by engaging with a variety of primary and secondary sources, as well as by examining several case studies. Depending on faculty availability, the course will be offered in one or both of two versions, reflecting different modes of inquiry. The constructive version will focus on the resources of the Christian tradition regarding the legitimate and illegitimate uses of violence and the potential for nonviolent conflict resolution. The comparative section will survey and compare several religious traditions, including Christianity, to discern the role of religion in conceptualizing, explaining, encouraging and preventing the use of violence in human cultures. Despite this difference in approach and emphasis, both versions of the course will introduce students to the same spectrum of questions that arise in this increasingly important area of inquiry. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 244 U – Religion and Popular Culture, 4 credits. D. This course is a study of the interrelationship between religion and contemporary popular culture. This course will analyze how religious faith shapes culture, as well as how contemporary popular culture affects the understanding and expression of religious faith. It will focus upon the portrayal of religious faith in contemporary expressions of culture in mass media (e.g. print, film, television, music and computer technology), social issues and institutions. The course will introduce students to the variety of religious and theological understandings currently present in American society. Students will learn how to do theological analysis and critique of popular cultural movements and expressions.
REL 245 – Sex, Love and Death: God and the Human Life Cycle, 4 credits. A2 (2013-2014). This course focuses on the questions and issues related to human development from a theological perspective. It explores the foundational human experiences of sexual identity, love and death through developmental theories and faith understanding, including the spiritual quests for meaning that they elicit. The purpose is to place foundational personal and social events in a theological context that will seek to encourage transcendent perspective, as well as cultivate social and ethical critique. It will address issues of gender identity, sexual ethics, the nature of love, both human and divine, as well as the meaning and significance of human death.
REL 340 G – The Ethics of Aid and Development, 4 credits. A2 (2012-2013). This course is an examination of voluntary responses to war, civil conflict and natural disaster, with a focus both on individual action and organizations. The course addresses both “aid” (direct financial and material support) and “development” (the upward social, economic and political trajectory of escape from conflict and poverty), and explores what can be accomplished with reference to real-world cases.
REL 342 J – God: The Question and the Quest, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is a study of the questions, as well as the quest, for an understanding of God in contemporary life and thought. This course will address understandings of the concept of God in the face of such issues as the existence of evil and suffering, religious pluralism, gender identity and natural scientific analysis. It will also treat the spiritual quests for meaning that these issues elicit. After exploring several examples of such contemporary quests, this course will address responses from within the Christian tradition. Students will learn how to do theological analysis and critique of contemporary understandings of God and their religious implications. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 343 – Science and Religion, 4 credits. D. This course is an examination of the similarities and differences in methodology between several of the natural sciences and religion. Focusing upon issues of interdisciplinary importance, this course will assist in analyzing the interaction of different views and the presuppositions involved. The relation of creation and evolution, life and mind, and other such issues will be addressed.
REL 344 J – Christian Ethics in Human Community, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course is a study in constructive moral reflection on roles and relations in the Christian life. This course will examine questions about how Christians should live as people of God, as friends and family members, as workers, as citizens of a democratic state and a pluralistic global society. It aims to equip students to think critically and responsibly about living with persons in different social contexts and communities. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 347 – Biomedical Ethics, 4 credits. D. This course is a study in constructive moral reflection upon health and medical care in the Christian life. This course will examine questions about how Christians should respond to disease, disability, and bodily decline. It aims to equip students to think critically and responsibly about the “biomedical revolution,” its expressions and implications for our society and world.
REL 348 – Ethics of Sustainable Community, 4 credits. A1 or A2 (2013-2014). This course is a study in constructive moral reflection on human relations to nature within the Christian life. The course will examine questions about whether Christians should love nature and, if so, how. It aims to equip students to think critically and responsibly about the Christian and American environmental traditions, about current and expected challenges to sustainable planetary life, and about norms and practical strategies.
REL 349 J – Christian Ethics in the Material World, 4 credits. D. This course is a study in constructive moral reflection on roles and relations in the Christian life. This course will examine questions about how Christians should relate to planet Earth, to created things or artifacts, to the body. It aims to equip students to think critically and responsibly about living in a biophysical world, of which humans are parts, products and participants. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 392 G – Religion and World Affairs, 4 credits. D. This course looks at religion in the context of global issues that are relevant to the present day, especially on an international, but also local, level. Topics for the course will vary depending on the issues of the present day and scholarly expertise of the instructor.
REL 393 J – Religion and Ecology, 4 credits. E1 or E2. This course explores various perspectives on nature and the human-earth relations within world-religions against the background of the ecological crisis. Because world-religions importantly shape people’s worldviews, they greatly determine the way people interact with each other and the rest of nature. The course will engage teachings from all world-religions. Depending on the instructor, the course will have a special focus on Christianity, Islam, or Asian traditions. The course includes an overnight field experience at Concordia’s Long Lake Field Station. Prerequisite: REL 100 – Christianity and Religious Diversity
REL 211 and 212 are also counted in the “interpretive studies” category.
REL 211 – Biblical Hebrew I, 4 credits. A1 (2014-2015). This course is a study of the language of the Hebrew Bible, including basic grammar, and leading to the reading of prose passages.
REL 212 W – Biblical Hebrew II, 4 credits. A2 (2014-2015). This course is a study of the language of the Hebrew Bible, including basic grammar, and leading to the reading of prose passages. Prerequisite: REL 211 or equivalent
REL 250 – Pre-May Seminar, 4 credits. D.
REL 300 – May Seminar, 4 credits. D.
REL 380 – Special Topics, 4 credits. D. Courses covering various topics of interest in this particular discipline are offered regularly. Contact department or program chair for more information.
REL 390 – Cooperative Education, 1 to 8 credits. D.
REL 402 – Advanced Religion Seminar, 4 credits. D. This course is designed primarily for religion majors and minors (students must have completed at least five courses in religion before enrolling in the course). It offers students an opportunity to study a particular topic, theme or figure in significant depth. The course aims to expose students to advanced level work in the field of religion, in preparation for further work in the field after graduation. Students will be encouraged to pursue original research on the seminar topic/theme/figure through a variety of research opportunities. The subject of the course will rotate among the four areas for the study of religion (interpretive, historical, comparative and constructive) and credit will be assigned to one of these areas.
REL 410 – Research Seminar, 4 credits. E1. Limited to religion majors and minors, this course uses the seminar format to engage students in systematic reflection about the ways in which the modes of inquiry in the field of religion can contribute to the consideration of a common topic. Each student will complete a research project under the supervision of the instructor and present the results in a paper to the seminar for criticism and discussion.
REL 480 – Independent Study, 1 to 4 credits. D. This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct in-depth research of a particular topic under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Contact the department or program chair for more information.
REL 490 – Practicum, 4 credits. D.