Course Code Credits

CORE: Religious Studies Cornerstone

Only open to students that have not completed the Religious Studies Cornerstone requirement. Limited to 25. The Religious Studies Cornerstone courses are topical, with the topics changing each semester. See the Registrar's Course Listing page ( to view the individual course topic descriptions.

REL100 3

First-Year Seminar: Saints & Sinners in Church History

Saints and sinners, much like victors and vanquished in war, are often determined by those who triumph in Church conflicts. This course will address several Church controversies throughout the 2000 years of its history, review the issues and debates that arose through the reading of primary and secondary sources, and who in the end were considered victors, saints, and the vanquished, sinners, in Church history. Limited to 25.

REL112 3

First-Year Seminar: Sacred Space From Mt. Sinai to Ground Zero

What makes a place "sacred"? Who decides whether a place is sacred? What do people do in scared spaces? This seminar will examine the nature of sacred space in theory, history and practice with a focus on sacredness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In addition, the course will ask if "non-religious" places can be sacred. The course includes a fieldtrip to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Fulfills the Cornerstone Religious Studies Requirement. Limited to 16.

REL113 4

First-Year Seminar: The Journey Toward Religious Maturity

The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining the process by which a person achieves an adult faith in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Drawing from psychology and anthropology, we explore the phases of religious development in relation to myths and symbols, and we apply that understanding to a specific person and to a theological issue, while also considering how to read, critically and analytically, a non-religious text through the lens of religion. Limited to 25.

REL114 3

First-Year Seminar: The Subject is the Question of God

Religious traditions were established before humans were aware that they were subjects. With awareness of subjectivity, religious traditions have to be reconstructed on what we know today about the brain and universe. How is this possible in an atheistic universe? Beyond atheism, the very significance of the human as a subject open to freedom is the question of God. Limited to 25.

REL115 3

First-Year Seminar: Abrahamic Faith

This course is an investigation of the religious dimension of human experience, especially as it has been lived, understood and cherished among the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Its guiding focus is the centrality of "faith" as a relational response to God who, in line with Abraham's foundational claim, is experienced as living. The course considers significant questions in conversation with some of the most important writings in the tradition of Western religious thought, as well as some of the basic questions that arise in the academic investigation of religion: What is the nature of religious experience? How does religion provide motivation and direction for the life of individuals and communities? How does religion nurture or inhibit human development and well-being? Limited to 25.

REL116 3

First-Year Seminar: Gods, Myths, & Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean

This class investigates the diverse religions of the ancient Mediterranean world (ca. 600 BCE-400CE), including Greek and Roman religions, formative Judaism, and the earliest Christianity. The course explores the history and development of these traditions by examining topics related to issues of ritual, myth, sacred space, gender, and concepts of divinity within each group. Particular focus is placed on the ways in which these groups influenced one another and reshaped cultural and religious landscapes through competitive interaction. Through a critical analysis of the sources students will begin to understand the practices, beliefs, and experiences of the Greco-Roman world and the communities that produced them. Limited to 25.

REL117 3

First-Year Seminar: The Religious Quest

This course explores pilgrimage in Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism in light of theories of pilgrimage, ritual, and sacred space. The primary focus will be on the pilgrimages to Lourdes, Santiago de Campostella, Mecca, and Buddhist sites in Japan and India. The course also considers how for many people - even those who do not consider themselves religious - pilgrimage serves as a model for living a meaningful life. Limited to 25.

REL118 3

First-Year Seminar: Religion & How to Create One

Is there a future for religion in the 21st century? This course will consist of a semester - long conversation - fueled by readings and a lot of writing - about the nature of spirituality and religion. To promote deep learning about how religions work and why they might still be valuable to our society, the class will see if it can develop a new religion, one that might better meet its generation's need for a way to make sense of - and meaning for - their lives. Limited to 25.

REL119 3

First-Year Seminar: Deviance & the Divine

This course will use the concept of deviance as the lens through which we will study the three major monotheistic traditions of the world - Islam, Judaism and Christianity. What are the major tenets and beliefs of each? What do they share and where are the conflicts? What does each consider normative and why? When does a belief or practice cross the line in deviance? Ultimately, are they all simply deviants of one another? In our investigation, we will also look to some lesser known religious traditions as foils, such as Scientology, Raelianism, the Nation of Islam, Jews for Jesus, Mormonism, and Christian Science. Limited to 25.

REL120 3

First-Year Seminar: Religion as Pharmakon: Poison or Cure

For the ancient Greeks pharmakon meant both cure and poison depending on the context. Religion functions in the same way: it can heal us but can also poison us. We will explore the ambiguity and the power - both healing and destructive - of religious traditions. Limited to 25.

REL121 3

First-Year Seminar: Pilgrimage & Passage: Religion as "Sacred" Journey

The course begins with the premise that all religions are at their best when they are "betwixt and between," living in the threshold, open to new and unexpected horizons. After a close reading of the Book of Exodus, which will provide the opportunity to identify various themes associated with ritual passage, we will concentrate primarily on the study of the three chief monotheistic religions of Semitic origin: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course will end with a brief exploration of Hinduism and Buddhism. Through comparative analysis of these religions, we will strive to determine similarities and differences in particular approaches to God, worship, institution, and moral conduct. Limited to 25.

REL122 4

First-Year Seminar: God Doesn't Do Religion

We tend to think that religion is all about God, but why? And if God "doesn't do religion," who does? What do we even mean by "religion" in these questions? This course will inquire into the "building blocks" of religion and human religiousness, considering the practices of Jews, Christians and Muslims from an anthropological and historical perspective. Only open to students that have not completed the Religious Studies Cornerstone requirement. Limited to 25.

REL124 3

The Ten Commandments

An examination of the Ten Commandments in their original context and the history of their interpretation as a code of ethics in Judaism and in Christianity. Issues to be considered include biblical authority, the relevance of ancient laws for modern societies, and ways they have been selectively observed and ignored. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL200 3

Islamic Tradition

Studies the Arabian environment, Muhammed (founder), Qur'an (sacred writings), and mysticism, sects, and legal and social institutions of Islam. Limited to 25.

REL206 3

Religion & Culture of the Jewish People

A survey of key texts, beliefs, and practices of Jewish culture and religious practice, including the Bible, classic texts, holidays and holy days, Zionism, modern American Jews, and Israel. Limited to 25.

REL209 3

Religions of China & Japan

An exploration of Confucianism and Taoism in China, and Shinto and Buddhism in Japan, with an emphasis on nature in these religions. Limited to 25.

REL210 3

Women, Slaves & Sin: Paul & the Creation of Christianity

An investigation into the life, writings, and legacy of the Apostle Paul. The course will uncover the historical, philosophical, social, and religious forces that shaped the beliefs, practices, and experiences of the earliest Christians. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL226 3

American Catholic Social History

A historical presentation of the numerous social issues, conflicts, and varied solutions in American Catholicism from the late 19th century forward with emphasis on how the many issues of society impacted Catholicism. The course demonstrates how the application of faith and various theological and philosophical theories were used in resolution of social conflict. Cross-listed with the History Department as HIS 233. Limited to 25.

REL233 3

Introduction to the Old Testament

Literature of the Hebrew Bible. Survey of the religious, literary, and political history of ancient Israel. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Students may not receive credit for both REL 251 and REL 260. Limited to 25.

REL251 3

Intro to the New Testament

Literature of the New Testament in its religious and historical context. Life and ministry of Jesus, origins of earliest Christianity, the role of Paul, and the development of the Church. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL252 3

Models of the Church: Historical Developments

A study of various forms of the Church from its Apostolic beginnings, through the institutionalization process and Vatican II reforms, up to the present development of Base Christian Communities. Limited to 25.

REL253 3

Global Catholicism

Examination of the Catholic Church as it is understood in the historical, cultural, political, economic and religious context in various regions of the world. The course will utilize the documents of the five Special Synods of Bishops from Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas and Oceania Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortations in reaction to the Synods' deliberations. Limited to 25.

REL254 3

Religions in the Roman Empire

A study of ancient world views, mystery religions, gnosticism, and the rise of Christianity. Limited to 25.

REL255 3

Church & Social Justice

An examination of the Catholic Church's relationship to society and its responses to a variety of social, political, and economic issues. Limited to 25.

REL256 3

Religion in America

An examination of a variety of religious ideas, institutions, and traditions in the United States from the colonial period to the present. Special emphasis is placed upon questions of religious pluralism, religion and cultural identity, and religion in public life. Cross-listed with the History Department as HIS 263. Limited to 25.

REL262 3

Women's Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World

This class will explore the critical roles played by women in the religious traditions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as Judaism and earliest Christianity. It will introduce factors that led to the decline of women's influence as Christianity developed a more institutionalized religious system. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course or permission of the instructor. Limited to 25.

REL263 3

Images of Jesus

An introduction to Christology. After a strong grounding in the various biblical depictions of Jesus Christ, the course examines portraits of Jesus through the ages by close reading of theological, narrative, and visual images of Christ. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 22.

REL268 3

The Religions of Egypt

This course examines the diverse religious traditions of ancient Egypt by exploring how indigenous traditions reacted and adapted when encountering other cultures including Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. The course discusses how such mutual influence resulted in unique patterns of ritual and belief found only in Egypt. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL274 3

Hard Rockin' Jews: Judaism & Pop Culture in Israel

For 2000 years Judaism has been a minority religion in majority "other" cultures. With the establishment of Israel, Judaism became the majority culture of a nation-state. This course examine how the religion of Judaism both influences and is influenced by the secular culture of the modern State of Israel. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course.

REL275 3


This course will invite students to reflect on the insights that spiritual and religious movements of the modern West might bring to the ecological challenges faced by the world today. Students will encounter the work of several influential theologians, but they will predominantly be challenged to develop practical strategies through which they can take environmental action now, bringing spiritual reflection to the problem of physical climate change. Limited to 24.

REL276 3

The Catholic Tradition: Past & Present

A study of Catholicism from historical and theological perspectives to aid students in attaining an appreciation for the richness of the Catholic Tradition in the past and present. Scripture, sacramental life, doctrinal teachings and development, moral issues, and the future Church direction are explored. Limited to 25.

REL300 3

Islam & the Bible: Jewish & Muslim Morality & Ethics

As brother religions vying for the same sacred history, Islam and Judaism trace the genesis of their spiritual and biological communities back to the very same founding parents. Yet Islam is not Judaism, Muslims are not Jews, and vice versa. Rather, the two traditions are, and understand themselves to be, distinct entities with distinct value systems. By comparing the Jewish and Muslim accounts of the shared Biblical ancestors, as well the often colorful exegesis on these narratives, this course will investigate various matters of moral and ethical concern to these communities and the lessons thereby imparted by each tradition. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL301 3

Violence & Sex in the Bible

Examines the dynamics of sex and violence in ancient Israel as they are presented in the biblical text. Topics include the construction of gender, the status of women and men in society and law, holy war, the characterization of physical violence as positive or negative, the gender of God and its implications. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL302 3

The Virgin Mary & Visions of the Feminine in Christianity

The development of the Church's understanding of the Virgin Mary and of other feminine aspects of the transcendent in Christian spirituality. The course begins with Mary's ideological antecedents and the issue of the "historical Mary." It explores the relationship between images of the Virgin and theologies, controversies, and heresies, as well as contemporary feminist understandings of Mary and of the divine as feminine. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL303 3

Buddhist Ethics

An exploration of traditional Buddhist ethics, moral arguments Buddhists have advanced about contemporary issues, and points of comparison with philosophical and Christian ethics. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL307 3

Ethics & Sacrament: The Church in Crisis

The failure to integrate sexuality into Christian life has created a crisis. The failure to understand human intimacy has eroded religious belief. Theories of ethics and human behavior, however, illuminate why intimacy is at the heart of Christian belief and ethics. Limited to 25.

REL311 3

Archaeology & the Bible

Introduction to the archaeology of Palestine, with special focus on the interrelationship of excavated and textual data. Limited to 25.

REL312 3

Mysticism: The Experience of Transcendence

A study of mysticism from its origins in the Greek world to its expression in Christian and non-Christian forms. A "hands-on" approach to mystical practices is encouraged, and the reading of mystical texts is supplemented by field trips to contemplative communities. Limited to 25.

REL314 3

Dreams & the Sacred

A study of the role of dreams and other rites of divination in ancient and modern religious experience. Biblical and classical sources are examined, and contemporary attempts to recover the sacred dimension of dreams also are considered. Limited to 18.

REL315 3


A study of the seminal writings of the Neoplatonists, their sources, and their influence on the development of later religious traditions. Limited to 17.

REL316 3

Gods, Kings & Justice in the Ancient World

Who speaks for Justice? Where does Justice come from? This course examines these and related questions by analyzing and comparing ancient texts such as the Babylonian law code of Hammurabi, Egyptian hymns, Homer's Odyssey, and the biblical prophets. Ancient works of art treating issues of justice are also examined. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL317 3

Vatican II: Revolution or Reform

An in-depth reading and analysis of the principal Vatican II documents to demonstrate how Catholicism today is transformed from earlier history. Contemporary issues, as understood in the light of the Vatican II Church, are explored. Limited to 25.

REL327 3


An examination of death, dying, and bereavement from an interdisciplinary, biological/medical, sociological, psychological, philosophical, and theological perspective.

REL328 3

Justice, Peace, Ecology

The local and global environmental crisis is examined from the perspective of contemporary theological developments, recent biblical scholarship, ecumenical statements, and Roman Catholic social teaching communicated in various papal and episcopal statements on the current crisis. Limited to 25.

REL329 3

Topics in Religious Studies

This seminar offers students and faculty an opportunity to investigate in some depth a specific area of the study of religion not normally otherwise addressed by the department. Topics are announced prior to registration. This course can be taken more than once with permission of the department chair. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course.

REL330 3

The American Catholic Experience

A critical examination and analysis of the peoples, events, and ideas that shaped American Catholicism from the era of discovery to the 21st century. Catholicism's minority status and the perennial tension being American and Catholic are used as guiding principles in this study. Cross-listed with History Department as HIS 333. Limited to 25.

REL333 3

The Mystery of Evil

In a world of violence and vengeance, enmity and injustice, disease and natural disaster, the problem of evil is an ever present reality prompting the deepest and most urgent questions for humanity. This course introduces important philosophical and theological perspectives on evil, considers the persistent challenge of theodicy, as well as the inherent limitations of theodical projects,and examines questions on the origin of evil, the possibility of human evil, the ability to name evil in the context of cultural pluralism, and the possibility of hope for overcoming evil. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Cannot receive credit for both REL 234 and REL 334. Limited to 25.

REL334 3

Popular Religion

An exploration of the substance of popular religion: theories of ritual activity, superstition, theories of the body, the nature of worship and prayer, and the role of sacred space. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL335 3

Women in the Islamic Tradition

The treatment of women and women's issues in the Islamic tradition through both primary sources (in translation) and secondary sources: women in Muhammad's life and the role they played in Islamic society; the treatment of women and women-related issues in the Islamic tradition, including both legal and non-legal matters; and the writings of modern Muslim women scholars on Islam as they look at these same issues with a new perspective and present new interpretations.

REL336 3

Sex & God: Jewish & Muslim Erotic Love Poetry

An examination of the erotic love poetry penned by imams and rabbis of the 10th-13th centuries. We will explore the ways in which these pious standard-bearers of religion used sacred images and accounts from the Bible/Qur'an and exegetical traditions in their hetero-erotic and homoerotic secular poems and what messages were thus embedded. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL338 3

Jesus & Moral Decisions

Jesus and Moral Decisions challenges students to ask, "What would Jesus do?" when faced with contemporary moral decisions. Through the use of Gospels, and secondary sources, students will lead discussions and write essays that address Jesus' answer(s) to moral decisions today. Limited to 25.

REL340 3

Spiritual Autobiography

A close reading of a variety of spiritual autobiographies from the second half of the twentieth century to discern what personal spiritual, religious, and ethical values may be coming to the fore at a time when traditional expressions of communal religion are in decline. It will center on the question: what does it mean to be "spiritual" or "religious" in the twenty-first century. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course.

REL341 3

Christian Theology as Ideology

How the use of Greek philosophy and Roman imperial theory transformed the Gospel of Jesus in a society that regarded its culture as providential history. This synthesis created but eventually tore Christendom apart. The political, economic, intellectual, and scientific dynamics of Europe are incomprehensible without considering this theological development. Cross-listed with the History Department as HIS 343. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Limited to 15.

REL343 3

Feast or Famine? The Mass in the Modern Age

This courses focuses on the theological study of the celebration of the Roman Catholic Mass. Our task is broken into three essential sections. First, we will explore the historical development of the Eucharist. Second, we will study various models of eucharistic celebration. Finally, employing the writings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we will conclude by raising critical ecclesial and social issues that surfaces with regards to the Mass in the modern world. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL346 3

Topics in Religious Approaches to Moral Issues

Explores how religious traditions address moral issues, paying particular attention to assumptions about human nature and the good, the bases on which the moral system or religion(s) being studied generates arguments about specific issues, that system's modes of moral argumentation, and its applicability to contemporary issues. The course also includes comparative analysis of the moral system relative to at least one other religious tradition. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Course may be taken twice. Limited to 25.

REL347 3

Heretics, Martyrs & Monastics

This course will examine the growth of the early Christian movement during Late Antiquity. Discussions will focus on a number of important themes including persecution and martyrdom, monasticism and asceticism, the development and refutation of heresies (Gnosticism, Arianism, Nestorianism), and the creation of orthodoxy in belief, creed, and ritual. Limited to 25.

REL351 3

Buddhism, Nature & Environmental Ethics

An exploration of traditional Buddhist views of nature, especially in the Zen tradition, in relation to popular images of Buddhism and recent statements by Buddhist thinkers about environmental issues. Drawing from the field of Environmental Ethics, this course will also consider what a rigorous Buddhist environmental ethic might entail. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Limited to 25.

REL373 3

Approaches to Study of Religious Traditions

A study of the basic questions and themes in the academic study of religions. To provide Religious Studies Majors with knowledge of how their discipline developed and how it continues to change. Pre-requisite: One Religious Studies Cornerstone Course. Open to Religious Studies majors and minors or by permission of the instructor. All students planning to take REL 412 must take REL 411. Limited to 25.

REL411 3

Senior Thesis

Research, reflection, writing, and public presentation under the direction of a member of the Department, as well as participation in senior seminar. Pre-requisite: All other Cornerstone requirements must be fulfilled prior to taking this course. Permission of instructor. Limited to 10.

REL412 3

Internship in Religious Studies

Registration must be approved by Department Chairperson. Limited to 10.

REL475 3

Internship in Campus Ministry

Familiarizes students with campus ministry fundamentals beyond Stonehill. Based on the particular host institution's faith tradition and goals, students will plan retreats, justice and peace initiatives, liturgical practices and similar functions. Permission by Department Chair and host site's Director of Campus Ministry required. Minimum GPA of 3.0 required. Limited to 10.

REL476 3

Directed Study

Supervised reading and research directed by Department member. Written consent of the Instructor is required.

REL490 3

Independent Research

Approval of both the faculty member directing the project and the Department Chair.

REL496 3