Graduate Level Courses in the Department of Religion
See the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for all courses offered by the Division
Spring 2014 Graduate Courses
GRS RN601/STH TH817
Varieties of Early Christianity
Surveys the many different and often competing forms of Christianity that arose and flourished in the second to the seventh century, from the “apostolic period” to the Arab conquest in the Middle East.
Prereq: junior standing. At least one prior course in biblical or New Testament literature recommended.
GRS RN626/STH TX818
Jewish Mystical Movements and Modernization, 1492–2000
Mysticism, spiritual, and social influences. Early modern, modern periods. Focus on “conservative” and “revolutionary” tendencies. 1492 and Iberian, German, Polish Jewry; leadership of “third generation” of survivors; Christian and Islamic influences; Kulturkampf precipitated by popularization of Kabbala, antinomianism, Hasidism, magic, science.
GRS RN629/STH TX829
Modern Jewish Thought
Reading Jewish thinkers from the radical Enlightenment to twentieth century existentialism and Zionism,this course introduces some of the great philosophical debates on religion and secularism, revelation and scientific reason, and ethnic particularism and universal ethics.
GRS RN637/STH TX837
Gender and Judaism
In this course, we will explore the role of gender and sexuality in Judaism and Jewish experience, historically and in the present. Subjects will include constructions of masculinity and femininity, attitudes toward (and uses of) the body and sexuality, textual traditions, and the gendered nature of religious practice and religious authority.
GRS RN663/STH TT808
A study of Zen teachings and practices as a sect of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, as a philosophic system, and as a pattern of culture.
History of Religion in Pre-Colonial Africa
The study of the development of religious traditions in Africa during the period prior to European colonialism. An emphasis on both indigenous religions and the growth and spread of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the continent as a whole.
GRS RN687/AN384/GRS AN784/STH TX887
Anthropology of Religion
Faculty: Frank Korom
Myth, ritual, and religious experience across cultures. Special attention to the problem of religious symbolism and meaning, religious conversion and revitalization, contrasts between traditional and world religions, and the relation of religious knowledge to science, magic, and ideology.
GRS RN697/PH656/STH TT819
Heidegger and Cassirer at Davos, 1929
Topics in Philosophy and Religion
Michael Zank/Thomas Meyer
Remembered as one of the seminal moments in 20th-century history, this great debate on the legacy of Kant pitted against one another science-oriented neo-Kantianism and a new, radical departure within the western tradition represented by Martin Heidegger. This course will review the basic texts, some of them newly published, and the philosophical problems at stake.
GRS RN720/PH609/STH TX879
A study of major aspects of the thought of Maimonides. Primary focus on the Guide of the Perplexed, with attention to its modern reception in works by Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Leo Strauss, and others.
GRS RN724/STH TT902
Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions: East
An intensive seminar in primary texts and key ideas of theology and religious philosophy as developed in representative world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism. Second course in a year-long sequence. Each semester may be taken independently.
GRS RN725/STH TX825
Sufism in South Asia
Topics in South Asian
Advanced seminar exploring the history and development of Sufism in the Indian subcontinent. Readings and lectures will focus on both historical and contemporary perspectives. The course will conclude with an exploration of the globalization of South Asian Sufism.
GRS RN739/STH TX859/SPH LW739
Exploration of Jewish perspectives on life, death and dying, abortion, the new reproductive technologies, organ transplantation and genetic engineering. Examination of the impact of the Nazi doctors, racial hygiene, euthanasia, and genocide on contemporary bioethics.
GRS RN766/STH TX854
Religion and the Problem of Tolerance
Explores the religious roots of tolerance as an alternative to secular, more liberal foundations for pluralism. Grapples with the challenge of tolerance to the revealed religions and the ways different societies have met or failed to meet this challenge.
CAS RN556/LI556/XL385/STH TX866
Dante: The Divine Comedy II: Purgatorio and Paradiso
Focus on the literary, philosophical, and theological ideas Dante uses to represent his experience of himself and of human nature. Bi-lingual texts. Lectures and discussions in English.
GRS RN795/STH TZ803
Humanities Approaches to Religion
Introduces major theoretical questions in the humanistic study of religion. Examines the nature and origin of religion as well as definitions and critiques of religion from comparative, historical, sociological, literary standpoints as well as postmodern and gender studies approaches.
GRS RN830/STH TX852
Topics in Theory of Religion
Seminar in Religion
Prospective students will meet with Prof. Lehrich in the fall 2013 semester to determine a focal topic for discussion and readings.
Fall 2013 Graduate Courses
CAS RN308/GRS RN608/STH TN809
The Open Heaven: Apocalyptic Literature in Early Judaism and Christianity
Faculty: David Frankfurter
Examines literary and historical roots of “apocalypticism” in early Judaism and Christianity. Attention to literary genre, symbolism, metaphor, heaven, hell, angelology, demonology, attitudes toward the end of the world. Examines relationship of apocalypticism to shamanism, mysticism, magic, magic, gnosticism, liturgy.
CAS RN312/GRS RN612/STH TX856
Buddhism in America
Faculty: Gina Cogan
The transplantation and transformation of Buddhism in the United States. Time period ranges from the eighteenth century to the present, but the emphasis is on contemporary developments, including the new Asian immigration, Jewish Buddhism, feminization, and engaged Buddhism.
CAS RN316/GRS RN616/STH TX856
Faculty: Teena Purohit
Focuses on formations of Islam in colonial and postcolonial periods. How modernist and Islamist thinkers have negotiated the encounter between tradition and modernity.
CAS RN323/GRS RN623/STH TT854/TX823
Classical Jewish Thought
Faculty: Diana Lobel
In this course we will explore basic human and religious issues as they have been understood in the classical Jewish tradition: creation and revelation, good and evil, the nature of suffering, the relationship between God and human beings, and the relationships of human beings to one another.
CAS RN325/GRS RN625/STH TX818
Jewish Mysticism I: Formative Traditions
Faculty: Steven Katz
Analysis of the development of Jewish mysticism from the biblical to the early medieval era. Emphasis on the forms of mysticism–and the texts in which they are embedded–from the rabbinic era. No knowledge of Hebrew is required.
CAS RN330/GRS RN630/STH TX896
American Jewish Experiences
Faculty: Hillel Levine
Examines history, culture, politics, and identities of American Jews and Judaism, 1654-2010. Communal documents, family histories, liturgy, sermons, music, films, literature, art, and artifacts are employed to study similarities and differences with other Jewish communities and other American minorities.
CAS RN334/GRS RN634/STH TX834
Dead Sea Scrolls
Faculty: Jonathan Klawans
Examination of the ancient Hebrew documents discovered in the Judean desert. Their authorship; the theological significance of the Scrolls; their relations to Ancient Judaism and early Christianity; the controversy over their release and publication.
CAS RN341/GRS RN641/STH TX844
Islamic Mysticism: Sufism
Faculty: Teena Purohit
Rise and development of the mystical movement in early Islam; analysis of the thought of leading Sufi brotherhoods, their organization, liturgy, and religious life; the impact of Sufism on classical and postclassical Islam.
CAS RN384/GRS RN684/STH TX884
Faculty: Steven Katz
Background of German (and European) anti-Semitism. Rise of Nazism and early oppression, initial Jewish reaction, mechanics of destruction, ghettos, camps, world response and nonresponse, literature of the Holocaust, and religious implications.
CAS RN390/AR342/GRS RN690/AR742/STH TX815
Archaeology in the Holy Land
Faculty: Andrea Berlin
In Israel, archaeology is part of current events. The study of remains from the Israelite to the Muslim conquests (c. 1200 BCE — 640 CE) to learn how material evidence created and still plays a role in a larger historical drama.
CAS RN396/GRS RN696/PH446/GRS PH646
Philosophy of Religion
Faculty: Alan Olson
Critical survey of the manner in which philosophers over the centuries have evaluated the truth and value claims of various religions. Focus on Hegel and the nineteenth-century emergence of “philosophy of religion” as a subdiscipline of philosophy and theology.
CAS RN397/PH456/GRS RN697/PH656/STH TT819
The Contemporary Face of Suffering
Topics in Philosophy and Religion
Faculty: Allen Speight
This course will explore several important philosophical, religious and literary aspects of the contemporary face of suffering. Recent attention to issues such as physician-assisted suicide and other end-of-life choices as well as global issues such as poverty and development call for contemporary philosophical attention to the nature of suffering. The course will parallel a series of interdisciplinary lectures by visiting and BU professors next fall in the Institute for Philosophy and Religion, which will be incorporated in the course design: speakers will focus not only on traditional topics in the philosophy of religion but also on work in emerging fields such as bioethics, narrative medicine and development ethics.
CAS RN468/GRS RN768/AN568/STH TX868
Symbol, Myth, Rite
Faculty: Adam Seligman
Historical overview of ritual behavior, the role of symbolism in the study of culture, and the narrative quality of worldview and belief. Emphasis on verbal performance and public display events in specific cultural contexts.
CAS RN470/GRS RN770/HI407/STH TX871
Christian, Muslim, and Jew: Religion, Community, and Culture in Medieval Spain
Faculty: Deeana Klepper
Interactions between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Europe’s most religiously diverse region – from the establishment of an Islamic al-Andalus in 711 CE to the final Christian “reconquest” of the peninsula and expulsion of the Jews in 1492 CE.
CAS RN555/LI555/XL383/STH TX888
Faculty: Dennis Costa
A close reading of one text, Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, with attention to its medieval contexts: philosophical, theological, and historical. Analysis of the poetic means by which Dante represents both human evil and human hope. Bi-lingual text. Lectures and discussion in English.
CAS RN561/IR561/STH TX874
Religion and International Relations
Faculty: Jeremy Menchik
Explores the role of religion in contemporary international relations in the context of questions about the common core of modernity. Reviews scholarly and policy literature, and case studies, in order to elucidate religions intellectual and operational diversity in international relations.
CAS RN563/HI596/AH539/AN548/STH TX847
Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History
Faculty: Houchang Chehabi
Examines the states, empires, faiths, and ideologies of the Muslim world over a 1500-year period, including states from North and West Africa, through the Middle East, to Turkey, Iran, and then to Central and Southeast Asia.
GRS RN796/STH TZ802
Social Science Approaches to Religion
Faculty: Nancy Ammerman
Introduces major theoretical questions in the social scientific study of religion. Examines approaches of Marx, Durkheim, and Freud among others.