REL 103 Buddhist Thought and Practice

Professor: B. Clough

CRN: 11639

Distribution: A/C

Time: M W 1:20 pm - 2:40 pm LC 115

cross-listed: Asian Studies

The purpose of this course is to provide a historical overview of the Buddhist tradition. Through the reading of narrative, philosophical, and practical texts, we will examine the problems of the historical Buddha and the development of early Buddhism, master the basic terminology of Buddhist thought, use that terminology to study the development of Buddhist doctrine, and examine the significance of monastic life and meditational practice in Buddhism.


REL 109 Religious Ethics and Modern Moral Issues

Professor: J. Brockopp

CRN: 11640

Distribution: A/C

Time: M W 2:50 pm - 4:10 pm PRE 128

Part of religions' role in society is determination of the value of acts, whether good, evil or indifferent. Such ethical constructs are not only a means to modify individual behavior, they are also tied to fundamental myths of creation, redemption, salvation, etc. This course addresses the religious response to a series of moral questions: war, abortion, euthanasia and sexual relations. While the course presumes no previous study of religion, it will introduce students to the problematic of comparative and theoretical work. Source material will be drawn primarily from the writings of the three monotheistic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Likewise, although contemporary religious thought will be emphasized, these debates will be placed within their historical context.


REL 205 Muhammad and the Qur'an

Professor: J. Brockopp

CRN: 11641

Distribution: A/C

Time: M W 10:30 am - 12:00 pm OLIN 303

The two most fundamental religious phenomena of Islam are its holy book and its prophet. This course will study the texts of the Qur' n and of The Life of Muhammad to come to a clearer understanding of the Islamic religious tradition specifically, and of religious writing in general. The class will engage both traditional methods of commentary and modern textual criticism; students will also be urged to develop their own skills of interpretation and insight. Prerequisite: familiarity with Islamic religious history or other religious scripture.


REL 209 Critical Portraits

Professor: B. Chilton

CRN: 11642

Distribution: A/C

Time: Tu Th 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm OLIN 202

The last twenty years have seen a reversal of the consensus that Jesus could not be known as a figure in history. Now, both in academic and popular debate, the issue has changed. Discussion turns on the kind of historical figure Jesus was, and significantly divergent critical portraits compete with one another. The purpose of the course is to adjudicate among the positions of Marcus Borg, Bruce Chilton, John Dominic Crossan, Richard Horsley, and E. P. Sanders, and to have students develop their own critical portraits of Jesus.


REL 237 Tibetan Civilization

Professor: B. Clough

CRN: 11643

Distribution: A/C

Time: Tu Th 1:20 pm - 2:40 pm OLIN 202

cross-listed: Asian Studies

This course is a historical introduction to the civilization of the greater Tibetan cultural area of central Asia, from its origins to Tibet's annexation by China in the 1950s and the subsequent relocation of Tibetan communities in exile. The major topics include Buddhist and Bon religious traditions, geography and ethnicity, political history, social life and customs, and arts and literature. There are no prerequisites, but some knowledge of Buddhism would be helpful. Students who have no previous courses in Buddhism will be expected to do some additional reading at the outset.


REL 275 Taoist Traditions

Professor: L. Raphals

CRN: 11644

Distribution: A/C

Time: Tu Th 10:30 am - 12:00 pm OLIN 202

cross-listed: Asian Studies, History

The word Taoism refers to two distinct but related aspects of Chinese religion and culture. It refers to a body of ancient mystical and politico-philosophical writings, such as the Tao Te Ching, which challenged dominant Confucian political and philosophical authority. It also refers to a rich, ancient, and still living religious tradition with an ordained priesthood, a massive scriptural canon, a complex set of meditative visualization and alchemical techniques aimed at the achievement of long life or immortality, and an elaborate liturgy. This course surveys both aspects of Taoism, their relationship to each other, and their relation to and expression in Chinese culture and civilization overall. In the first part of the course we will examine the content and context of the two great classics of the early Taoist tradition: the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang Tzu. In the second part, we turn to the emergence of a new kind of Taoist religion, studying its core ideas and practices, and also its expression in poetry and other literature. In the third part of the course we study actual Taoist rituals to explore the world of meaning they contain and construct, and also reflect on ritual itself as a human activity.


REL 366 Maimonides: A Revolution in Reason

Professor: M. Paley

CRN: 11759

Distribution: A/C

Time: W 3:00 am - 6:00 pm ASP 302

cross-listed: Jewish Studies
Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) was the greatest post-Talmudic Jewish thinker and possibly one of the greatest of all time. This course will concentrate on The Guide for the Perplexed, the foundation text for Jewish philosophy. We will work through texts on the issues of creation, providence, evil, prophecy and the possibility of spiritual insight. The texts will also include some of Maimonides' legal writing from his comprehensive Mishneh Torah. Philosophical interest rather than philosophical background will be useful for this course. The text will be the Pines translation of The Guide for the Perplexed. All Mishneh Torah texts will be handed out in class.