Religious Studies Course Descriptions 

Note: ENGL 102 or 120 is a prerequisite for all religious studies courses.

RELST 210: The Roman Catholic Tradition (3)

This course is a study of the foundational elements of the Catholic faith, namely the Catholic understanding of God, Jesus as the Christ and human personhood, and how these elements interrelate in the contemporary Catholic theology. Special attention will be given to the changes introduced in the Second Vatican Council and some of the more contentious issues in the American Catholic church.

RELST 220: Bible I - Old Testament Religion (3)

This course is a study of the religion, history and culture of ancient Israel based upon a critical examination of the Hebrew scriptures within the context of ancient Near Eastern civilizations. Attention is given to the contemporary relevance of Israel's faith to the Christian church.

RELST 221: Bible II - New Testament Christianity (3)

This course is a study of the basic religious and cultural characteristics of early Christianity based upon a critical analysis of the New Testament as understood within the context of Jewish and Greco-Roman religious and literary traditions.

RELST 240: The Religious Other (3)

This course is an introduction to the comparative religious enterprise in ancient literature and modern scholarship. Focusing on the problems of contact, coexistence and conflict between religious communities, this course will explore the perennial struggle to make sense of other religions. Special attention will be given to the strategies of inclusion, exclusion and dialogue that have characterized the history of religions from the earliest times to present day.

RELST 241: The Hindu Tradition (3)

This course is an introduction to the Hindu religious tradition. The course will focus on the most important periods, movements and aspects of the development of this multi-layered belief system in South Asia. Attention will be given to mythology, ritual practice, the arts and society from the earliest archaeological evidence to the modern period.

RELST 242: The Buddhist Tradition (3)

This course is an introduction to the Buddhist religious tradition. Attention will be given to its mythology, ritual practice, sacred texts and society. The course will begin with the origins of the Buddhist tradition in India and examine its development in various regions and periods up to the present day.

RELST 244: East Asian Religious Traditions (3)

This course is an introduction to the major ideas and movements that have shaped the religious landscape of East Asia. Focusing on the religious history and experience of a particular region (China, Vietnam, Korea or Japan), the course investigates the complex interactions and intersections of Confucian, Daoist and local spirit-worship traditions, as well as the influence of religious movements originating outside the East Asian cultural area, especially Buddhism and Christianity.

RELST 247: The Jewish Tradition (3)

This course is a survey of the history and characteristic religious beliefs and practices of Judaism from its beginning to modern times. Emphasis on major themes (God, Torah, Chosen People, Messianism) and movements.

RELST 249: The Islamic Tradition (3)

This course is an introduction to the religion of Islam. Attention will be given to its mythology, ritual practice, sacred texts and society. The course will focus on the origins of the Islamic tradition in Arabia, examine its spread through various regions, and culminate in an examination of more recent developments.

RELST 252: Third World Religious Views (3)

This course meets both religious studies requirements and state certification requirements for education majors in a non-Western, Third-World humanities course. It examines contemporary Catholic theology by looking at perspectives generated by Asian, African, indigenous and Central American persons. After examining several of these "voices" and hearing their stories both in print and through film, we will then explore what they have to say about such areas in Catholic theology as church, God, Jesus, sin, liberation and redemption.

RELST 253: Christian Theology: Sacraments (3)

This course is a study of sacramentality and how this fundamental stance towards the world is the basis for understanding Jesus, the community of disciples called church, and the individual sacraments of the Catholic faith. Special attention will be given to the post-Vatican II emphasis on active participation, the Ecclesial nature of the sacraments, and elements of effective liturgy.

RELST 254: Catholic Social Teaching (3)

This course is an examination and evaluation of 20th-century Roman Catholic moral teaching on the social order. Includes a close reading of major documents issued by the hierarchy and the theological commentary on these documents. Focus on the themes of the freedom and dignity of human life, war and peace, and economic and political justice.

RELST 257: Religion and Film (3)

This course is a cultural studies approach to religion that examines the perspectives and concerns of contemporary Americans through the medium of film. The course concentrates on theological themes, symbols and beliefs that are central to the Christian faith and the frequent subject of American films, such as perceptions of God, Jesus Christ, the story of redemption, the belief in and encounter with the dead and perceptions of judgment and the afterlife.

RELST 260: Christian Theology: Church (3)

This course is a survey of the development of the Christian church, beginning in the life of the historical Jesus and culminating in the rich diversity and complexity of the church today. Special attention will be given to post-Vatican II developments, especially the role of church as servant, the ecumenical character of the church and the challenges confronting the church today.

RELST 262: Christian Theology: God (3)

This course will survey the development of the Christian doctrine of God, beginning with the scriptures and concluding with the present. Special attention will be given to post-Vatican II developments.

RELST 263: Christian Theology: Christ (3)

This course is a study of the person and significance of Jesus of Nazareth, understood by Christians as the Christ. The course will move from a detailed examination of the historical Jesus, through the development of Christological claims, and conclude with an exploration of contemporary issues in Christology. Particular attention will be given to the understanding of Jesus as liberator and contemporary perspectives on soteriology.

RELST 264: Christian Theology: The Human Person (3)

This course is an examination of the various Christian understandings of what it means to be a human person and how personal fulfillment is achieved. Although some attention is given to the positions expressed in the New Testament and in the history of theology, the main emphasis is on the contemporary Christian attempts to articulate a coherent theology of the human person.

RELST 265: Christian Ethics (3)

This course is an introduction to ethics in the context of the Christian tradition. This course devotes attention to ethical theory and its application to contemporary issues.

RELST 266: Suffering and Death (3)

This course is a study of central themes, resources and methods employed in Christian theological reflection upon human suffering and death.

RELST 267: Spirituality (3)

This course is a critical analysis of texts and traditions of spirituality in the West. Focus of study varies, e.g., classic texts, major figures or movements, contemporary approaches, etc.

RELST 271: Jesus and the Gospels (3)

This course is a study of the life and teachings of Jesus based upon a critical analysis of both canonical and non-canonical Gospels together with an investigation of the ways in which the image of the historical Jesus was transmitted and transformed within the Christian communities that produced and utilized these gospels.

RELST 273: Women in the Bible (3)

*This course fulfills a requirement in the Women and Gender Studies Program
This course is a study of the Bible (both Hebrew and Christian scriptures) with the specific aim of recovering the place and role of women in this tradition of thought. Such study will draw upon a multidisciplinary approach to critically selected texts in which women are explicitly remembered in a culture and tradition dominated by patriarchal values and systems.  

RELST 278: Encountering the Bible Through the Centuries (3)

This course introduces students to the history of biblical interpretation and how biblical interpretation relates to theology. It will examine methods of biblical interpretation in the Early Church, Middle Ages, Reformation and the Enlightenment, including the rise of the historical-critical method and theological responses to it. The course will emphasize readings from primary sources.

RELST 284: Religious Experience in the Early Church (3)

This course introduces students to the theology and liturgical practices of the Early Church. Beginning with texts from the late first century, the course will examine what early Christians believed about God, Jesus Christ, and the Church and how they expressed their faith in liturgical worship and spiritual writings. The course will emphasize readings from primary sources.

RELST 286: Medieval Spirituality (3)

This course introduces students to the spiritual theology of the Middle Ages. Beginning with Benedict of Nursia and the rise of Western monasticism, this course will examine how spiritual writers from this period understood God and the world and the roles played by prayer, contemplation, Scripture and the liturgy in the ascent to ineffable union with the divine. The course will examine such themes as Byzantine spirituality, spirituality in medieval universities, women mystics and the lay spirituality of the Late Middle Ages. The course will emphasize readings from primary sources.

RELST 287: Christianity and Modernity (3)

This course introduces students to how Christianity and modernity have developed historically and theologically. Beginning with early modern humanism and a renewed interest in the natural world and ancient texts which developed in the Renaissance, the course examines how religion, philosophy and politics shaped both Christianity and Western culture. Of particular interest will be the role of the Reformation and the Enlightenment in shaping current notions of modernity. The course will emphasize readings from primary sources.

RELST 290: Religion and Literature (3)

This course is an examination of selected themes that relate religion and theology to literature. Focus of the course varies, e.g., religious autobiography, religious epic, the Bible as literature, women writers, etc.

RELST 291: Feminist/Womanist Perspectives on Religion (3)

*This course fulfills a requirement in the Women and Gender Studies Program
This course is a critical study of various texts and traditions that critique Western patriarchal culture from a feminist/womanist perspective. The course studies the influence of patriarchy on the Christian church and examines alternative models.

RELST 292: Religion and Society (3)

This course examines the often-complex relationships between Christianity and American culture in the face of 21st-century challenges posed by religious pluralism, secularization, fundamentalism, alternative spiritualities and the media.

RELST 295: God and Social Action (3)

*Cross Ref: PASTM 295
This service-learning course is a creative blend of off-campus experience in social outreach and on-campus coursework in the methods of Christian theological reflection. Justice themes in Catholic social thought are also explored. In addition to a weekly two-hour meeting on campus, participants will give three hours of service each week at sites such as: Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, Southwest Chicago P.A.D.S. (Public Action to Deliver Shelter), Youth Ministry Teen Outreach, Aquinas Literacy Center, Brother David Darst Center for Justice and Peace Spirituality, Faith and Fellowship Pastoral Outreach to the mentally ill, plus other specialized social service opportunities. Enrollment is limited.

RELST 299: Issues in Religion (3)

This course includes religious issues that will vary from semester to semester.

RELST 390: Senior Study (3)

For this course, along with collaboration with a faculty consultant, students will design and develop an academically mature synthesis project. Outcome of the project includes a formal presentation with a written component either as a paper prepared for publication or some other project and report approved by the department.