Religious Studies, B.A. Requirements

Department Chairperson:Mary Joan Leith

Office: Old Student Union 202

Phone: 508-565-1494
mleith@stonehill.edu

The major in Religious Studies requires the completion of ten courses beyond the Religious Studies Cornerstone course.

Complete One Biblical and Ancient Religions Course

Code Course Credits

LC 308

Learning Community: Power & Propaganda in the Ancient World

Offered: Spring 2018

By examining public art-palaces, temples and churches- and primary texts from ancient cultures such as Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and Israel, this course explores how people in power claim the right to rule over others. Critical methodologies include communication theory, post-colonial theory and the complicated political discourse of democracies. Students will connect ancient and modern political language by critiquing public monuments in the Boston area while also considering the current conversation about removing public monuments in the U.S.

May count as a Biblical and Ancient Religions course for Religious Studies majors and minors.

4

REL 251

Introduction to the Old Testament

Offered: Spring 2018

Literature of the Hebrew Bible. Survey of the religious, literary, and political history of ancient Israel. Students may not receive credit for both this course and REL 260.

3

REL 252

Introduction to the New Testament

Offered: Fall 2019

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.

3

REL 255

Religions in the Roman Empire

Offered: Spring Semester

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

3

REL 263

Women's Religions in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 301

Islam and the Bible: Jewish and Muslim Morality and Ethics

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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.

3

REL 302

Violence and Sex in the Bible

Offered: Fall 2019

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.

3

REL 312

Archaeology and the Bible

Offered: Spring Semester

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

3

REL 315

Dreams and the Sacred

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 317

Gods, Kings and Justice in the Ancient World

Offered: Alternate Years: Spring 2018, 2020

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.

3

REL 490

Directed Study

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

Supervised reading and research directed by Department member. Permission of the faculty member directing the project and the Department Chairperson.

3

Complete One Christian History, Theology, and Practice Course

Code Course Credits

REL 226

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

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 233

American Catholic Social History

Offered: Fall 2018

An 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 HIS 233.

3

REL 238

Migrants, Immigrants, Refugees: Justice Issues and Catholic Responses

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

An examination of the "immigrant" dimension of the American Catholic Church, past and present, exposing the injustices experienced by the marginalized outsider/newcomer, exploring the Catholic Church's responses to these injustices utilizing Catholic social thought, and focusing on Hispanic culture and presence in the Catholic Church and American society.

3

REL 248

Christian Prayer, Liturgy and Sacrament

Offered: Fall 2018

An introduction to the fundamentals of Christian liturgy, including the meaning of the assembly, ritual symbol and gesture, proclamation of sacred scripture, and blessing prayers in the context of relating liturgy to life.

3

REL 249

Sacraments, Justice, and the Moral Life

Offered: Spring Semester

The course is an introduction to the fundamentals of sacraments, including ritual, symbol, and participation, all examined in the context of right relationship with God, others, and the material world. The seven official sacraments of the Catholic Church will be explored historically and critically according to the ways in which they may build or may destroy God's Kingdom of justice.

This course was formerly offered as REL 348 Sacraments, Justice, and the Moral Life.

3

REL 252

Introduction to the New Testament

Offered: Fall 2019

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.

3

REL 253

Models of the Church: Historical Developments

Offered: Fall 2019

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.

3

REL 256

Church and Social Justice

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

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

3

REL 262

Religion in America

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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 HIS 263.

3

REL 267

Liberation Theology: Latin American Perspectives

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

An examination of the development of liberation theology in the historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts of Latin America's struggle to move from colonialism to freedom. The course also explores feminist theology, ecological theology, and indigenous people's theology that are rooted in liberation theology.

3

REL 288

Religion and Sports

Offered: Spring 2018

Most sports originated in ancient religious ceremonies and rituals. This course will examine both the religious and historical beginnings of sports, while also exploring the many phenomenal similarities between religion and sports. The course will investigate the ways that both religion and sports influence, alter, and even fulfill the spiritual, social, and psychological needs of their respective adherents.

3

REL 300

The Catholic Tradition: Past and Present

Offered: Spring 2019

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.

3

REL 303

The Virgin Mary and Visions of the Feminine in Christianity

Offered: Spring 2019

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.

3

REL 316

Neoplatonism

Offered: Spring 2019

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

3

REL 325

Theology and Community Service

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

An exploration of questions about the relationship of theology and community service in contemporary society, in the context of a search for insight and understanding into personal experiences while volunteering service in a local social service agency. Offered jointly by Religious Studies and Campus Ministry.

4

REL 327

Vatican II: Revolution or Reform

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 329

Justice, Peace, Ecology

Offered: Spring 2019

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.

3

REL 333

The American Catholic Experience

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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 of being American and Catholic are used as guiding principles in this study.

Cross-listed with HIS 333.

3

REL 334

The Mystery of Evil

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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.

3

REL 337

The God Question: Modern Challenges to Faith and Christian Responses

Offered: Fall Semester

This course traces the historical development of the character of both modern theism and atheism in response to certain views about human knowing that arose in the age of modern science and in confrontation with particular strains of Western Enlightenment thought. It also considers some of the changing perspectives on the divine mystery that have arisen from certain significant theological projects of recent time, among them liberation, feminist, ecological, political, and various contextual theologies.

3

REL 340

Jesus and Moral Decisions

Offered: Spring 2019

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

3

REL 346

Feast or Famine? The Mass in the Modern Age

Offered: Fall 2019

An exploration of the theological study of the celebration of the Roman Catholic Mass, with a focus on the historical development of the Eucharist, various models of eucharistic celebration, and, the writings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as a window on critical ecclesial and social issues that surface regarding the Mass in the modern world.

3

REL 476

Internship in Campus Ministry

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

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.

Must complete the "U.S. Internship Request for Approval" process found under the myPlans tab in myHill to register for this Internship.

3

REL 477

Internship in Parish Ministry

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

A parish internship provides the opportunity to be involved in planning and carrying-out a multi-level religious education program, youth ministry activities, community service projects, and spiritual/liturgical events.

Must complete the "U.S. Internship Request for Approval" process found under the myPlans tab in myHill to register for this Internship.

3

REL 478

Internship in Catholic Ministry

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

This internship provides experience with the practical aspects and operations of a Catholic campus ministry program. Working with campus ministers, and applying theological and social principles, students will be introduced to retreats, liturgical ministry, service (local and overseas), and student ministry.

Must complete the "U.S. Internship Request for Approval" process found under the myPlans tab in myHill to register for this Internship.

3

REL 490

Directed Study

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

Supervised reading and research directed by Department member. Permission of the faculty member directing the project and the Department Chairperson.

3

Complete One World Religions Course

Code Course Credits

LC 342

Learning Community: Yoga, Mindfulness and Indian Philosophy

Offered: Spring 2018

This Learning community has two parts:

A theoretical component where we study Indian philosophy and its Western adoption. We will study classical Indian philosophy (including but not limited to the Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist scriptures), investigate our Western fascination with 'the mystical East', including the hatha yoga tradition, and examine some of the current research on the benefits of contemplation and on the mindfulness movement. A practicum, where we practice hatha yoga (first hour) and discuss the experience of doing yoga on and off our yoga mats, exploring how you might use mindfulness and yoga as tools to slow down and to center, becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and better balancing your priorities (second hour).

4

PHL 253

Asian Philosophies

Offered: Fall Semester

What is the nature of the self? What is the divine like? How should we live? What happens when we die? In this course, we discuss answers to these and many other questions from some of the rich philosophical traditions outside the Western world.

Course may be applied to the Asian Studies minor.

3

REL 206

Islamic Traditions

Offered: Alternate Years: Fall 2017, 2019

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

3

REL 209

Religion and Culture of the Jewish People

Offered: Alternate Years: Spring 2018, 2020

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.

3

REL 247

Topics in Religious Approaches to Moral Issues

Offered: Offered Periodically

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.

This course was formerly offered as REL 347 Topics in Religious Approaches to Moral Inquiries.

3

REL 275

Hard Rockin' Jews: Judaism and Pop Culture in Israel

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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 examines how the religion of Judaism both influences and is influenced by the secular culture of the modern State of Israel.

3

REL 301

Islam and the Bible: Jewish and Muslim Morality and Ethics

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

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.

3

REL 307

Buddhist Ethics

Offered: Fall 2019

An exploration of traditional Buddhist ethics, moral arguments Buddhists have advanced about contemporary issues, and points of comparison with philosophical and Christian ethics.

3

REL 314

Mysticism: The Experience of Transcendence

Offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2019

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.

3

REL 315

Dreams and the Sacred

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 316

Neoplatonism

Offered: Spring 2019

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

3

REL 323

Gods and War: Religion, Ideology, and Nationalism in Japan and the United States

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

An exploration of how religions in Japan and the United States have helped formulate national identities and mobilize citizens for war.

3

REL 336

Women in the Islamic Tradition

Offered: Alternate Years: Fall 2108, 2020

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.

3

REL 338

Sex and God: Love Songs in Medieval Spain

Offered: Not Offered 2017-2018

An examination of the secular love poetry penned by religious scholars of the 10th-13th centuries in medieval Spain. 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 secular love poems, to both male and female beloveds, and what messages were thus embedded.

3

REL 373

Buddhism, Nature & Environmental Ethics

Offered: Fall 2018

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.

3

REL 490

Directed Study

Offered: Fall and Spring Semesters

Supervised reading and research directed by Department member. Permission of the faculty member directing the project and the Department Chairperson.

3

Complete the Approaches to the Study of Religious Traditions Course

Code Course Credits

REL 411

Approaches to the Study of Religious Traditions (WID)     (fulfills the Writing-in-the-Disciplines requirement)

Offered: Alternate Years: Fall 2017, 2019

An exploration of the basic questions and themes in the academic study of religions, with a focus on how the discipline of Religious Studies developed and how it continues to change.

4

Complete Five Elective Courses

With the advice of a faculty mentor, majors will, within these parameters, select and complete elective courses (typically 5) and a senior thesis topic that accord closely with the major's specific interests in Religious Studies, such as ancient religions, biblical studies, religion in the modern world, religion and gender, or comparative religious ethics. As appropriate, with the approval of the Chairperson, students may take a course in other departments to fulfill major requirements.

Complete a Senior Capstone Thesis

Normally in the spring semester of their senior year.

Code Course Credits

REL 412

Senior Thesis

Offered: Spring Semester

Research, reflection, writing, and public presentation under the direction of a member of the Department, as well as participation in senior seminar. Normally completed in the spring semester of their senior year. This paper should demonstrate a working knowledge of academic approaches to the study of religions and focus on a topic selected by the student in consultation with a Religious Studies faculty member with whom the student consults in tutorial meetings. Students must also present their research at a colloquium.

3