Religious Studies

RS 100. 3 cr.
Introduction to Religion
Examines the various methods scholars employ for describing and understanding religious phenomena. The course focuses on the various dimensions of religious belief, experience, and practice and explores the main religious themes, such as the nature of God, the human condition, and salvation, in the context of different religious traditions. It also draws attention to the values that religions promote and to the major religious issues commonly discussed in academic and/or public circles.

RS 202. 3 cr.
Eastern Religions
A survey of those religious traditions usually labeled "Eastern," namely, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Chinese and Japanese religions, and the various forms of Buddhism. A brief history, the major scriptures, and the beliefs and rituals of each religious tradition are covered. Current developments, especially the presence of some of these religions in the Western world are also explored.

RS 203. 3 cr.
Western Religions
A survey of those religious traditions usually labeled "Western," namely, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also included are prehistoric religion, the religions of contemporary nonliterate societies, and several religions of ancient civilizations. The historical background, the major religious developments, and the beliefs and rituals of the main religious traditions are outlined. Some problems, such as secularization, which these great religions face in the modern world, will be discussed.

RS 212. 3 cr.
Introduction to Judaism: An Ecumenical Approach to Jewish Life and Thought
An introduction to the essentials of basic Judaism: beliefs, practices, customs, ceremonies, holidays, and institutions of the Jewish people. Current trends in contemporary Jewish life, as well as the concerns of the Jewish people are examined.

RS 215. 3 cr.
The Rise of Christianity
An introduction to the history of Christianity from its Jewish roots to the eve of the Protestant Reformation. A study of the historical setting, worship, theological controversies and institutional development of Christianity. An examination of the role of Christianity in ancient and medieval history, as well as how the historical milieu has affected Christianity.

RS 217. 3 cr.
Religion in U.S.A.
An historical introduction to the variety of religious orientations in the U.S.A. together with a consideration of the relationship of religion to American culture.

RS 218. 3 cr.
Black Religion in America
Introductory exploration of the spirituality and religious understandings of African Americans, attending to gender and class, and the identification of related key social streams.

RS 219. 3 cr.
20th Century American Jewish Life
An examination of the immigration of Jews to America and the development of Orthodox Reform and Conservative Judaism in response to the American experience. Jewish survival in America and religious developments indigenous to America are addressed, including contemporary issues of anti-Semitism, relationships to Israel, the Holocaust, interfaith activities, and the Jewish cultural renaissance.

RS 222. 3 cr.
From Adam to David
A survey of portions of the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and the historical zbooks of the Hebrew Bible (Joshua through 2 Kings).

RS 223. 3 cr.
Prophets and Visionaries
A survey of portions of the books of the prophets, the Wisdom writers, and the apocalyptic visionaries in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

RS 224. 3 cr.
Jesus and Gospels
A survey of the gospels in the Christian Testament (New Testament): Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

RS 225. 3 cr.
Paul and Revelation
A survey of the letters of Paul and the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) in the Christian Testament (New Testament).

RS 229. 3 cr.
The Bible as Religious Literature
A literary-historical survey of the biblical writings, concentrating on the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and their influence of the New Testament. Attention is also paid to post-biblical literature influenced by the Bible (e.g. Milton’s Paradise Lost).

RS 230. 3 cr.
Roman Catholic Theology Since Vatican II
An introductory survey of Roman Catholic Theology both in its traditional form and in the light of its transformation during and since Vatican Council II, focusing chiefly on doctrinal issues: God, Christ, Revelation, the Church, relationship to the modern world.

RS 231. 3 cr.
Introduction to Theology
A basic introduction to the nature and method of theology using both classical and contemporary theologians as models.

RS 234. 3 cr.
Christian Ethics
An introduction to the field of Christian ethics, this course discusses the sources of Christian moral thought and the ways in which Christians have approached a variety of moral issues, e.g., war, economic and social justice, sexuality.

RS 235. 3 cr.
Christ in Faith, Fiction, and Film
An introduction to Christology, concentrating on the narrative depiction of Christ in the New Testament and in selected short stories, novels, and films. The course begins by comparing the gospels of Mark and of John, in the context of the developing understanding of Jesus in early Christianity, and proceeds to study the Christ-image as it appears in such works as Dostoyevsky’s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, Kazantzaki’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Webber and Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.

RS 236. 3 cr.
Religion and Film
An introduction to religious themes, perspectives, stories and traditions in film. Special attention is paid to the unique ways in which cinematographic techniques can convey religious meanings and perspectives.

RS 240. 3 cr.
Social Ethics
A survey of selected contemporary social ethics issues. Interest will focus on the disciplined methods of understanding the nature, function, and validity of values in socially structured situations.

RS 242. 3 cr.
Religion and Science in the West
A study of changing relations between religious outlooks and scientific methods, from the 17th to the 20th century. Special attention is paid to the shifting boundaries between "religion" and "science."

RS 245. 3 cr.
Sex, Race, and Class: Feminist/Womanist Ethics
An introduction to white feminists’ and black womanists’ ethical thought. This course explores important themes in religious ethics, such as how to discern the good, the relationship between love and justice, and between objectivity and subjectivity. It provides an introduction to women’s critical contributions in such areas as ethics, theology, and science.

RS 248. 3 cr.
The Holocaust
This course examines events leading up to the Holocaust and the systematic decimation of European Jewry during the Third Reich. The course will trace the historical roots of anti-Semitism, the societal impact of WWI and WWII, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis' annihilation of six million Jews. Students will explore their own personal responses to the information learned and the implications of the Holocaust for society.

RS 249. 3 cr.
Violence, Nonviolence and Religion
This course examines the ways in which Christianity has both encouraged violence and condemned it, while proposing ways of stopping the cycle of violence and enabling its victims to heal from its destruction.

RS 250. 3 cr.
The Quest for God Today
The contemporary search for the meaning of life as expressed in literature, psychology, and theology. This course explores both Christian and non-Christian forms of spirituality, from prayer and social action to recovery movements, focussing on the individual’s experience of the divine.

RS 251. 3 cr.
Theology and Literature
An investigation of theological themes such as faith, the search for meaning, the mystery of suffering, death, conscience, hope and love. It uses a variety of literary texts, classic and contemporary, in the course of an experiential reflection of these topics in the light of the Christian tradition.

RS 252. 3 cr.
American Jewish History and Thought
Unfolds the rich and fascinating story of three centuries of Jewish life in America. Jewish immigrants from many lands have come to America and redefined a new identity. Sephardic Jews came to these shores in Colonial times. German Jews developed a special acculturation in the 19th century. East European Jews flooded here in the wake of Russian persecutions. How these three separate waves of Jewish immigration linked American Jewry to the broader stream of Jewish history is analyzed and discussed. Students are introduced to the historical processes which compose the Jewish experience in America.

RS 255. 3 cr.
Theology of Christian Marriage

A study of Christian marriage from a number of perspectives: historical (from Old Testament Judaism through early Christianity to today); theological (the meaning of Christian commitment in relation to God, the community, and the couple themselves); psychological (questions of intimacy, sexuality, faithfulness, developmental stages in the life process, effective communication in marriage).

RS 256. 3 cr.
God and the Human Condition
An introductory course in theology which uses literature and film to explore basic questions about human existence, such as the following: What forces or powers–chance, luck, fate, providence–are at work in our lives? What are the natures and causes of human tragedy, suffering and evil, and what difference might faith in God make in responding to them?

RS 301. 3 cr.
Anthropology of Religion
An introduction to current anthropological approaches to the study of religion. The main themes include symbolism, myth, magic, and witchcraft. Contemporary viewpoints on primitive religions and on the great religions are discussed.

RS 302. 3 cr.
Contemporary Religious Movements
An investigation into the presence and significance of religious movements (sects, cults) in the West, especially those which became prominent since the 1960s. These movements are examined from historical, psychological, sociological, and theological perspectives. The social, religious, and legal implications of this new religious pluralism are also discussed.

RS 303. 3 cr.
History of Hinduism from its classical and pre-classical origins to contemporary manifestations. Studies in religious and philosophical movements, their change and continuity in the development of religious thought and institutions.

RS 305. 3 cr.
Understanding and living with religion, politics and culture in the Middle East. This course studies the origin and growth of Islamic civilization, emphasizing the principal religious teachings, including selections from the Quran, the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and later developments in Sufi mysticism, sectarian differences, and the recent Muslim experience in America.

RS 306. 3 cr.
History of Buddhism from its origins to later manifestations, differentiations into Mahayana and Theravada. Also, a study of major philosophical schools and Buddhist institutions in South Asia and East Asia.

RS 320. 3 cr.
Traces apocalyptic literature from its origins in the books of the late Old Testament prophets to the New Testament. It will be studied as the revival of ancient mythical patterns and as resistance literature written in times of persecution.

RS 321. 3 cr.
A study of the prayers of Israel in their worship settings, their symbolism and imagery, mythological elements, poetical style, and literary forms. Comparison with the Qumran Hodayot and New Testament hymns. The use of the psalms in the New Testament and their meaning in the canonical context are examined.

RS 322. 3 cr.
Wisdom Literature
A study of the books of Proverbs, Job and Qoheleth and several psalms in the Hebrew canon, and of the books of Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon in the larger canon. Wisdom themes in the inter-testamental, rabbinic and gnostic literature are traced, and in the New Testament special attention is given to the Johannine and Matthean Christologies and the Corinthian correspondence of Paul.

RS 324. 3 cr.
Feminist Biblical Interpretation
Focuses on texts that deal with the following issues: female subordination/male dominance; images of God; power and leadership in institutional religion; differences in the ways African Americans and white Americans read the Bible; women in Israelite societies, in early Judaism, in the Jesus movement, and in Gnosticism. Students read major American and European feminist/womanist literary criticism. This course also hosts lectures or panel discussions for the UDM community.

RS 326. 3 cr.
Synoptic Studies
An examination of one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, or Luke): its sources, composition, distinctive theological and Christological emphasis, historical community context, place in the canon, contemporary relevance.

RS 327. 3 cr.
Johannine Studies
A study of one of the works of the Johannine community (the Gospel of John, letters of John, or book of Revelation). Same aspects covered as for Synoptic Studies (RS 326).

RS 332. 3 cr.
Modern Christian Theologians
An introduction to the thought of some influential modern interpreters of the Christian message–Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox. After a survey of developments in Christian theology since the Enlightenment, the course will focus chiefly on the work of a few seminal thinkers representing the major traditions.

RS 334. 3 cr.
Theology of Death and Resurrection

An approach to the deepest of life’s mysteries, using literature and theology to shed light on the darkness of human destiny. The New Testament accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection will be studied, along with experiential attempts to confront (or avoid) the reality of dying, and the means various religions and cultures employ to deal with death or to envision an afterlife.

RS 337. 3 cr.
Black Theologies
A focused study of black theologies which have developed through the African Diaspora. Special attention is given to current developments.

RS 338. 3 cr.
Latin American Liberation Theologies
An introduction to liberation theologies through reading major theorists; understanding the significance of connecting faith with action; and exploring the dynamics of social analysis.

RS 339. 3 cr.
Ecology and Justice
An exploration of relationships between justice and the environment, the varied religious meanings and ethical dimensions, and global connections and implications. Special application is made to ecology in the Detroit metropolitan area.

RS 343. 3 cr.
Ethics and Economic Theories
An in-depth analysis of the underlying assumptions about human nature, community, and social justice as expressed in contemporary economic theories. Economic theories, as expressions of social values, are analyzed in light of religious teachings, particularly Jewish and Christian teachings, in social ethics.

RS 345. 3 cr.
Ethical Theories and Society
An examination of some of the more important theories as they relate especially to social order. Emphasis is on recent works in the field.

RS 347. 3 cr.
Christian Social Thought
An examination of the positions major Christian thinkers have proposed on the responsibility of men and women towards each other, government, the legitimacy of dissent, and issues of justice.

RS 348. 3 cr.
Justice: Contemporary Issues and Theories
An examination of contemporary problems of justice in the areas of economics, law, government, and international relations. These issues are analyzed in the light of philosophical and religious theories of justice.

RS 349. 3 cr.
American Religious Social Thought
An introduction to theologically-oriented social thought in America from colonial times to the present. Special attention is paid to key thinkers and the issues of democracy and social ethics.

RS 350. 3 cr.
Religion and Psychology
An exploration of the interface between psychology and religion, as each addresses such issues as the nature of human beings, the development of conscience, freedom, the quest for meaning, the origins of the idea of God, the nature of faith, etc. A blend of readings from both disciplines will be included, with special attention to humanistic psychology and its approach to the problem of becoming fully human and fully alive.

RS 355. 3 cr.
Poets, Mystics and God
The reality of the divine, as revealed to the great mystics and poets of the western tradition, including Juliana of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T.S. Eliot. Beginning with such classic studies as those of William James and Evelyn Underhill, the course examines mysticism in the Jewish and Christian scriptures as well as its later manifestation.

RS 357. 3 cr.
Spiritual Autobiographies
A careful reading of some of the great religious autobiographies, beginning with The Confessions of St. Augustine and proceeding on to such 20th century classics as the works of Gandhi, Dorothy Day, and Anne Frank. Each student also writes an account of his or her own spiritual journey up to the present.

RS 358. 3 cr.
Theology of the Imagination
A study of human creativity and the way the imagination works to disclose the divine. The role of imagining in dreams, scientific discovery, art and literature are explored en route to a deeper understanding of the process of religious revelation.

RS 359. 3 cr.
Religion, Health and Healing
Explores the ways in which health, illness and healing are integrally related to religious and moral concerns, beliefs and practices in all cultures. Special attention to the ancient healing traditions of shamanism and energy medicine.

RS 414. 3 cr.
Women and Religion
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
This course examines, from women’s perspectives, their experience in a variety of religious traditions. It examines the relationship between religious definitions of women and their social status, analyzes the causes of women’s subordination in some religious traditions, compares the values of such traditions with those values affirmed in religious traditions primarily shaped by women, and presents feminists’ and womanists’ critical theories relating to dogmas, traditions, and ethics.

RS 422. 3 cr.
Torah to Kings
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
A critical, scholarly introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) from Genesis and the Torah to the Kings of Israel and Judah.

RS 423. 3 cr.
Prophets, Wisdom, and Daniel
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
A critical, scholarly introduction to the major and minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the Wisdom Literature (such as Psalms and Proverbs) and the emergence of apocalyptic in the Book of Daniel.

RS 424. 3 cr.
Christian Gospels
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
A critical, scholarly introduction to the four gospels of the Christian Testament (New Testament) and to the other gospels not included in the Christian Bible.

RS 425. 3 cr.
Acts, Letters, Revelation
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
A critical, scholarly introduction to the Christian Testament (New Testament) accounts of the development of the Christian churches in the first century of the common era.

RS 432 3 cr.
Classical and Contemporary Catholicism
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
Exploration of the historic Catholic tradition from the patristic to the modern era, with special attention to the philosophical and theological foundations and implications of key beliefs, symbols, doctrines and rituals. Focus on the distinctiveness of Roman Catholicism.

RS 434. 3 cr.
Christian Ethics
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
An in-depth study of several methods used in the development of Christian ethics and the underlying assumptions of such methods. Contemporary issues are used to illustrate the diversity that constitutes Christian Ethics.

RS 443. 3 cr.
Sexuality and Justice
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
Explores western concepts of gender and sexuality in order to analyze how such concepts have effected the religious quest for social justice regarding women, racialized groups, the poor, and humanity’s relationship to nature.

RS 444. 3 cr.
Sexuality and Love in Contemporary Christian Thought
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
Among issues to be discussed are the following: the nature of human sexuality and its relationship to love; contemporary theories of psychosexual development; the history of Christian teaching regarding sex; changing attitudes to sexuality; homosexuality, married love, and celibacy; sexuality and gender roles; sexual love and its relationship to religious love.

RS 458. 3 cr.
Issues in Christian Love
Prerequisite: One prior RS course or instructor permission.
Exploration of the traditional doctrines of Christian love, agape and caritas, and their related doctrines of grace and sin. Special attention paid to the issues raised by gender differences, and to recent attempts by feminist theologians to reconstruct a model of Christian love in terms of care.

RS 495. 1-3 cr.
Directed Readings
Private readings on a selected problem. Permission of instructor required.