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Department of

Theology and Religious Studies

Course Descriptions

The department offers a wide range of courses that address a rich variety of issues in theology and religious studies. These include special topics courses and courses for majors and minors only.

SPECIAL TOPICS COURSE OFFERINGS AND DESCRIPTIONS | COURSES FOR THRS MAJORS & MINORS ONLY

THRS STUDY ABROAD COURSES


THRS 110 Exploring Religious Meaning
THRS 112 Introduction to World Religions
THRS 114 Introduction to Catholic Theology
THRS 116 Introduction to Biblical Studies
THRS 119 Christianity and Its Practice
THRS 202 Special Topics in Theology
THRS 203 Special Topics in Religious Studies
THRS 301 Religion Café: Majors' Seminar*
THRS 312 The Hindu Tradition
THRS 313 Jewish Faith and Practice
THRS 314 Buddhist Thought and Culture
THRS 315 Islamic Faith and Practice
THRS 316 The Daoist Tradition
THRS 317 Religions of China
THRS 318 Islam, Women, and Literature
THRS 320 Native American Religious Traditions
THRS 321 Afro-Latin Religions
THRS 330 Foundations of Christian Ethics
THRS 331 Sexual Ethics in the Catholic Tradition
THRS 334 Christian Social Ethics
THRS 335 Catholic Social Thought
THRS 336 Religious Peacebuilding
THRS 341 Christian Worship
THRS 342 Christian Sacramental Practice
THRS 343 Christian Marriage
THRS 353 Early Christianity
THRS 354 The Medieval Church

*Open to THRS majors and minors only.

THRS 355 The Reformation Era
THRS 356 Catholicism in the United States
THRS 357 Protestantism in the United States
THRS 358 Latino/a Catholicism
THRS 360 Jesus in Christian Tradition
THRS 361 Christian Understanding of the Human Person
THRS 362 Christian Understandings of Salvation
THRS 363 Belief and Unbelief
THRS 364 Theology of the Church
THRS 366 The Problem of God
THRS 367 Feminist Theology
THRS 368 Latino/a Theologies
THRS 369 Liberation Theology
THRS 370 Gender and Religion in the United States
THRS 371 Cults and Sects in the United States
THRS 381 The Five Books of Moses
THRS 382 The Prophetic Traditions of Israel
THRS 383 The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke
THRS 385 Paul, the Man and his Message
THRS 386 Johannine Theology
THRS 388 The World of the Bible
THRS 390 The Holocaust: Death of God or Death of Humanity?
THRS 394 Topics in Theology and Religious Studies
THRS 450W Themes in Theological Studies*
THRS 451W Themes in Religious Studies*
THRS 499 Directed Individual Study

   
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110 Exploring Religious Meaning (3)
A thematic and topical introduction to the study of religion. Drawing material from at least four religious traditions, including Christianity, this course considers a range of possible themes and topics such as symbol, ritual, mysticism, myth, material culture, gender, ethics, ecology, death and the afterlife, and contemplative practice.

112 Introduction to World Religions (3)
A survey of the major religious traditions of the world, focusing on an understanding of the religious world views and practices that shape culture across the globe. Selected readings from these traditions, which will include Christianity, the religions of India and East Asia, Judaism, Islam, and the religions of indigenous oral cultures.

114 Introduction to Catholic Theology (3)
This course is an introductory survey designed to prepare students for upper-division courses in Christian theology. Topics may include the scriptures, history of the Church and/or theology, the nature of theological discourse, introduction to theological terms and definitions, and examination of select topics or issues in theology. Emphasis will be placed on the constitutive dimensions and characteristics of the Roman Catholic tradition.

116 Introduction to Biblical Studies (3)
A study of the Old and New Testaments and their formation, historical character, primary themes, and interpretation.

119 Christianity and Its Practice (3)
An introduction to Christian belief and practice through reflection on classic and contemporary expressions of the Christian life.

202 Special Topics in Theology (3)
An examination of selected issues or themes in theology and/or theological ethics, from one or more Christian perspectives, to be chosen by the instructor. Topics will vary semester by semester. See our special topics course list for a description of current offerings.

203 Special Topics in Religious Studies (3)
An examination of selected issues or themes in religion to be chosen by the instructor. Topics will have a comparative focus. Topics will vary semester by semester. See our special topics course list for a description of current offerings.

301 Religion Café: Majors' Seminar (3)
Through the study of exemplary texts and presentations from invited Theology and Religious Studies faculty members, this seminar will introduce students to the various methodologies in the academic study of religion, as well as to the research interests of current faculty members in the department. This course will also address basic research methodologies, the use of the library and the internet, and the construction of a research paper. This seminar is required of all majors and is open to minors. The course should be taken as soon as possible following the declaration of the major. Prerequisites: Declaration of major or minor in THRS and THRS 110, 112, 114, 116, or 119.

312 The Hindu Tradition (3)
A study of key aspects of the multiple ways of being religious that form the Hindu tradition, including scriptures, theologies, spiritualities, rituals, social practices, images of divinity, important figures, and contemporary developments. Points of contact with other Indic traditions, Christianity, and Islam will be considered as appropriate. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.

313 Jewish Faith and Practice (3)
An examination of Jewish beliefs and practices, their historical and biblical foundations, and their theological and cultural expressions. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 116, or consent of instructor.

314 Buddhist Thought and Culture (3)
An introduction to the academic study of Buddhism. The course systematically explores the historical development, philosophical premises, religious practices, social institutions, and cultural expressions of the world's Buddhist traditions, with special emphasis on points of contact between Buddhist and Christian thought. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of the instructor.

315 Islamic Faith and Practice (3)
An introduction to Islam. The montheistic belief system and the concept of Qur'anic law will be the focus of the early part of the course. Brief overview of its early history will be followed by discussions on questions of interpretation, reform, and renewal. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 203, or consent of instructor.

316 The Daoist Tradition (3)
An introduction to the Daoist (Taoist) tradition as both an indigenous Chinese religion and global cultural and religious phenomenon. This course provides a systematic overview of Daoist history and explores important and representative Daoist concerns such as cosmology, dietetics, ethics, meditation, ritual, and scripture study. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.

317 Religions of China (3)
An introduction to Chinese religions with specific emphasis placed on the indigenous Chinese religions of Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism) as well as on Chinese forms of Buddhism. This course explores not only Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism as Chinese cultural traditions, but also the transformation of those traditions in contemporary China and in contemporary America. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.

318 Islam, Women, and Literature (3)
The course will set in perspective the diversity of cultural manifistations of Islam in its regard for women. It will require a selective exploration of literary works. The writings reflect debates regarding the ever-changing role of Muslim women within various religious, social, geographic, economic, and political contexts, primarily in the last fifty years, a period of significant historical change in the Muslim world. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 203, or consent of instructor.

320 Native American Religious Traditions (3)
A historical and systematic investigation into the spiritual contribution of Native Americans, their ethos, and their meaning for Christianity and the future of humanity. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, or consent of instructor.

321 Afro-Latin Religions (3)
This course studies the three main religions of African origins in Latin America and the United States. Lukumí/ Candomblé, Vodoun, and Umbanda are approached and interpreted from diverse perspectives: historical, cultural, theological, etc. Their formation and development are contextualized in the Latin American experience of slavery. Their contemporary significance is discussed. Prerequisite: THRS 110, 112, 358, or consent of instructor.

330 Foundations of Christian Ethics (3)
A study of the life of Christian discipleship, centered on the development of moral character, on the role of communities in the living of Christian life, and on norms for the personal and social actions of Christians. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

331 Sexual Ethics in the Catholic Tradition (3)
An examination of human sexuality from the perspective of the Roman Catholic tradition. After an introduction to Catholic ethical method, the course examines traditional and contemporary understandings of sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, love, and justice. This provides a foundation for consideration of moral norms regarding such issues as marriage, non- marital sex, LGBTQ sexuality, masturbation, pornography, birth control, prostitution, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

334 Christian Social Ethics (3)
A study of the Christian community’s relation to civil society and of socioethical problems in light of Christian tradition. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

335 Catholic Social Thought (3)
A study of modern Catholic social teaching with a focus on major official Catholic documents since the late nineteenth century that have dealt with moral issues of contemporary social problems: from the economic aftermath of the Industrial Revolution to globalization, international relations, environmental change, and contemporary warfare. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

336 Religious Peacebuilding (3)
An exploration of the theory and practice of religious peacebuilding, and a survey of constructive religious resources for conflict transformation, violence prevention, and reconcilliation processes in divided societies. Prerequisite: any lower division THRS course, or consent of instructor.

341 Christian Worship (3)
An introduction to the study of Christian liturgy through an examination of the history of liturgical practice, of myth and symbol as dimensions of sacramentality, and of theological and cultural principles of celebration. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or consent of instructor.

342 Christian Sacramental Practice (3)
A study of the practice, history, and theology of Christian initiation, eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or consent of instructor.

343 Christian Marriage (3)
A theological study of Christian marriage with consideration of the historical development and current pastoral understanding of this sacrament. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

353 Early Christianity (3)
A study of the theology and religious practices of the first five centuries of Christianity. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

354 The Medieval Church (3)
A study of the theology and religious practices of Western Christianity from the sixth through the 15th centuries. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

355 The Reformation Era (3)
A study of the theologies and religious traditions leading to, and expressed in, diverse ecclesial communities in Christianity during the 16th and 17th centuries. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

356 Catholicism in the United States (3)
The history of the Catholic Church in the United States of America and theological reflection upon its unique development and characteristics. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

357 Saits and Sinners in U.S. Protestantism (3)
The histories and theologies of U.S. Protestantism from the perspective of individuals and movements that have had significant intellectual and cultural influence, for example on issues of gender, politics or science. This course is usually taught through role-playing, simulation games. Prerequisite: any lower division THRS course, or consent of instructor.

358 Latino/a Catholicism (3)
A culturally contextualized study of the beliefs and practices of Latino/a Catholics in the U.S., with particular emphasis on popular Catholicism. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

360 Jesus in Christian Tradition (3)
A critical investigation of the person and ministry of Jesus in light of Scripture and the Christian tradition. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

361 Christian Understanding of the Human Person (3)
A theological exploration of the meaning and dignity of human persons in terms of their relationships to God and to creation. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

362 Christian Understandings of Salvation (3)
An examination of Christian understandings of salvation from biblical, historical, and contemporary perspectives. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

363 Belief and Unbelief (3)
An investigation in the context of modern atheism and secular humanism into the validity of the claim of religion to speak truthfully of God and to describe the adequate response of human beings to the divine being.

364 Theology of the Church (3)
An investigation of the origin, nature, and function of the Church, primarily from the Catholic perspective. Recommended: THRS 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

366 The Problem of God (3)
The questions “What is God?” “Does God exist?” and “What does it mean to believe in God?” are investigated against the background of classical theism and modern thought.

367 Feminist Theology (3)
An exploration of contemporary feminist theology from the Christian perspective to gain knowledge of its contribution and challenges to the whole of the Christian tradition. Included is a survey of its historical emergence, methods and approaches, major theological themes, tasks, commitments, and spirituality. Prerequisite:  THRS 112, 114, 116, 119, or consent of instructor.

368 Latino/a Theologies (3)
An analysis of the contexts, methods, major themes, authors, and texts of U.S. Latino/a theologies. Liberation and cultural theologies will be emphasized. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

369 Liberation Theology (3)
A study of the origin, characteristics, method, central themes, and current expressions of liberation theology. Special emphasis on the understanding of revelation, God, Jesus Christ, the Church, the human being, Christian ethics, social justice, and Christian spirituality. Prerequisite: THRS 114, 116, or 119.

370 Gender and Religion in the United States (3)
An examination of religion’s role in shaping womanhood and manhood, and the roles men and women have played in shaping religious communities in the U.S. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 119, or consent of instructor.

371 Cults and Sects in the United States (3)
An examination of new religious movements commonly called cults and sects in the U.S. Prerequisite: THRS 112, 119, or consent of instructor.

381 The Five Books of Moses (3)
A study of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and their composition and most important themes and concepts. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

382 The Prophetic Traditions of Israel (3)
A study of Old Testament prophets in their historical, social, and political backgrounds. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

383 The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (3)
A study of the sayings and deeds of Jesus as handed down by the early Christians and recorded in the first three Gospels. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

385 Paul, the Man and his Message (3)
A study of Paul, his social-historical context, and his theological thought. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

386 Johannine Theology (3)
A study of the Gospel and the letters of John. Prerequisite: THRS 116 or consent of instructor.

388 The World of the Bible (3)
A study of the historical, political, social, cultural, and religious issues of selected periods of biblical history.

390 The Holocaust: Death of God or Death of Humanity? (3)
A study of the Holocaust focused on the moral and religious dilemmas it raises for Jews and Christians.

394 Topics in Theology and Religious Studies (3)
A study of selected major figures or problems or movements or periods in either Christianity and/or other religions. Specification will be made by the instructor. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. See our special topics course list for a description of current offerings.

450W Themes in Theological Studies (3)
A study of selected issues, problems, or themes of relevance across the various specialties and subfields in theological studies. The selected issue or theme will be explored both deeply and broadly. Specification will be made by the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different course content. This course meets the requirement for a USD W course. Students will produce and orally present substantial term papers. Prerequisites: THRS 301; declared major or minor in THRS.

451W Themes in Religious Studies (3)
A study of selected issues, problems, or themes of relevance across the various specialties and subfields in religious studies. The selected issue or theme will be explored both deeply and broadly. Specification will be made by the instructor. This course may be repeated for credit with different course content. This course meets the requirement for a USD W course. Students will produce and orally present substantial term papers. Prerequisites: THRS 301; declared major or minor in THRS.

499 Directed Individual Study (1-3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor and approval of the department chair and the dean.