Track I: Texts & Traditions
Track I Coordinator: Jonathan Klawans
Affiliated Track Faculty
Kecia Ali, Alejandro Botta, Christopher Brown, Kathe Darr, M. David Eckel, Christopher H. Evans, David Frankfurter, Steven Katz, Jonathan Klawans, Deanna Klepper, Jennifer Knust, Anthony Petro, Teena Purohit, Dana Robert, Jon Roberts, Rady Roldan-Figueroa, James Walters, Karen Westerfield-Tucker
This program guides students to develop skills in historical, cultural, and textual analysis, combined with relevant linguistic proficiency, to illumine texts, traditions, artifacts, phenomena, or events of particular significance for the understanding of religion. The faculty members of this track are experts in specific religious traditions, with particular strengths in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Track faculty stress methodological rigor and theoretical engagement; many have particular interests in religious interactions and inter-religious boundaries. Students in this program will typically develop mastery in the history, literature and language(s) of a specific religious tradition, or a particularly significant body of religious writing, and gain the ability to examine this material in a broader religious, material and cultural context. Current areas of strength within this track include: Ancient Mediterranean Religions (from ancient Israel through early Christianity), World Christianity, Jewish Studies, and Islamic Studies.
Track-Specific Admission Requirements:
Students entering the Texts and Traditions track should show transcript evidence of a strong background in their chosen area of specialization, including advanced knowledge of the languages relevant to such study. Further background in the humanities, literary studies, fine arts, or social sciences is strongly encouraged.
Track-Specific Course Requirements:
Students in the Texts and Traditions track are required to take Humanities Approaches to Religion (RN 795). Students may be required to take further coursework in cognate disciplinary methods or approaches (e.g., History or Classical Studies).
Track-Specific Language & Research Competence Requirements:
Beyond two modern foreign languages, students in the Texts and Traditions track who are working with primary written sources in foreign language(s) will need to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary in these language(s), at a level of expertise appropriate to the particular area of specialization. Normally, this expertise will be evaluated directly by Division faculty, during the stage of Qualifying Examinations.
Track-Specific Basic Structure of Qualifying Examinations:
Students will normally take four comprehensive examinations. The first examination consists of a written research paper in the student’s area of specialization that explicitly integrates into the analysis a careful selection of relevant theories or approaches to religious and theological studies. This paper should include, but need not be restricted to, approaches covered in the divisional course, Humanities Approaches to Religion (RN 795). This paper may, in the first instance, be produced within the context of required coursework. Once evaluated by the student’s advisor, a final version of the paper will be submitted to the Director or Track Coordinator to verify successful completion of this requirement. For most students, the second examination will test the student’s competence in the primary source language(s) most relevant for the chosen area of study, at the level of expertise appropriate for quality academic work in that field. In the case of students doing research on English language sources, the second exam should focus on a relevant method or approach (e.g., textual criticism or literary theory). The third exam will define the student’s specialization in a broad sense. For most students this will be a broad-based exam in a single religious tradition or, in some cases, a particularly significant body of religious literature. The fourth comprehensive examination will seek to establish that the student has a deep expertise in a particular area of focus, usually limited within a particular religious tradition by space and time, but working out from that focus, as needed, to other contemporary or otherwise related religious traditions and phenomena.