Course Descriptions

Religious Studies Courses


Professors Emeriti: Lee W. Gibbs, David E. Bynum, Frederick H. Holck; Associate Professors:  Matt Jackson-McCabe (Chairperson), Derwood C. Smith, Stephen Cory; Associate Professor Emeriti: Edward P. Brennan, James E. Royster; Assistant Professors: Sucharita Adluri, Stephen Taysom.

Course Descriptions

REL 101 Understanding Religion (4-0-4). A study of religions of the world through their myths, symbols, rituals, practices, and teachings. Return to top

REL 217 Religion in Black America (4-0-4). Historical study of the religious movements of Black Americans. Return to top

REL 227 Science and Belief (4-0-4). Inquiry into modern scientific and religious consciousness in the light of modern scientific approaches to "reality" and the influence of Eastern religious thought in the West. Return to top

REL 231 Introduction to the Old Testament (4-0-4). Examination of the literature of the Old Testament in the light of its historical context. Return to top

REL 232 Jesus and the Gospels (4-0-4). The life and teachings of Jesus in their historical context, and examination of the ways in which Jesus is interpreted in the gospel materials. Return to top

REL 233 Paul and the Development of Christianity (4-0-4). Study of the emergence of the early Christian movement from its beginning through the time of the Apostle Paul. Return to top

REL 234 The Later New Testament (4-0-4). Study of the development of the early Christian movement from the middle of the first century through the second century. Return to top

REL 235H Origins of the Christian Religion - Honors (4-0-4). Prerequisite: Honors standing or permission of university Honors Program. An introduction to the critical study of Christian origins and the New Testament as seen from the perspective of comparative religion. After a brief introduction to religion in the ancient Mediterranean world, the course investigates the evolution of early Christian religion from Jesus to his earliest followers in this context, with special attention to issues of myth, ritual, spirit possession, ethics, social identity, and institutional authority. Underlying themes include the relation of the first Christians to other groups of the ancient Mediterranean world, and the question of unity and diversity in the New Testament. Emphasis on close, critical analysis of primary texts. Return to top

REL 236 Introduction to the New Testament (4-0-4). A survey of major issues in the critical study of the New Testament and Christian origins with emphasis on close reading of the primary literature. Students may not receive credit for both REL 235H and REL 236. Return to top

REL 245 Religion in America (4-0-4). Exploration of major religious issues arising out of the development and encounter of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism in America. Return to top

REL 249 Current Moral Issues (4-0-4). This course seeks to clarify moral frameworks for examining such important personal and social moral issues as the taking of human life, race relations and poverty, patterns of sexual behavior, and business practices. Return to top

REL 250 Stages of Life (3-0-3). An overview of stages of life topologies in various spiritual traditions, such as the Hindu topology of student, householder, forest-dweller, and wandering ascetic. The course focuses on maturing to old age. Contemporary problems of the aged are addressed from the spiritual perspective. Return to top

REL 251 Perspectives on Death and Dying (4-0-4). Interdisciplinary examination of death and dying as seen from the viewpoints of religion, psychology, biology, and law. Return to top

REL 260 Women and Religion (4-0-4). An historical approach to the questions surrounding women and traditional religious roles, ideals, and models. Return to top

REL 261 Religion and the Mystery of Evil (4-0-4). Exploration of the religious experience of evil as symbolically depicted in terms of magic, witchcraft, and the Devil. Return to top

REL 265 Religion and Culture (4-0-4). Interaction of religion and culture as seen in such areas as literature, art, film, music, and theater. Return to top

REL 268 Religion and Culture in Africa (3-0-3). Exploration of religious traditions in selected African cultures as represented in literary texts, drama, art, and theological writing. Return to top

REL 276 Eastern Religions (4-0-4). An introduction to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto. A consideration of their origins, development, and contemporary trends. Asian Studies course. Return to top

REL 280 Introduction to Mythology (4-0-4). An introduction to ancient Greek mythology and to the theory of mythology in general. The course will focus on the Homeric Iliad and later interpretations of the Iliad. Return to top

REL 285 Myths of Fate and Destiny (4-0-4). A study of fate and destiny in the Hebrew story of Abraham, the Tsimshian Indian legend of Asdiwal, and the Odyssey of Homer. Return to top

REL 317 Religious Ethics of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (4-0-4). This course explores the religious ethics of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., as presented in their own speeches and writings and the works of various interpreters. Return to top

REL 321 Contemporary Christian Thought (4-0-4). Selected topics in the background and development of recent Christian thought. Return to top

REL 336 Hellenistic and Roman Religions (4-0-4). Study of Graeco-Roman religions of the Hellenistic period. Topics include mystery religions, emperor worship, miracle workers, magic, astrology, and savior figures. Return to top

REL 340 Folktale (4-0-4). This course examines the interplay of human, demoniac, and divine elements in folktales. Return to top

REL 341 The Origin of Judaism (4-0-4). History, institutions, and thought of Judaism from the Exile (587 B.C.E.) to the formation of the Babylonian Talmud (circa fifth century C.E.). Return to top

REL 342 The Rise of Modern Judaism (4-0-4). Cultural, social, and religious history of the Jews in the Middle Ages and modern times, with particular emphasis on Judaism in America in the 20th century. Return to top

REL 343 Ancient and Medieval Christianity (4-0-4). Historical development of Christianity from the early period to the Renaissance. Return to top

REL 344 The Rise of Modern Christianity (4-0-4). Historical development of Christianity from the Reformation to the present. Return to top

REL 346 Christian Mysticism (4-0-4). An exploration of the tradition of mystical thought and practice in Western religious culture. The course begins from the beliefs of the ancient world about the human person and divinity that are the primary enablers of mystical thinking and goes on to examine the development of the mystical tradition of the Christian West in its social, literary, religious, aesthetic, and personal dimensions. Return to top

REL 355 Religion After Freud and Jung (4-0-4). Examination of the psychological interpretation of religious experience, myth, and rituals, as set forth in some of the most relevant works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung. Return to top

REL 360 Hinduism (4-0-4). Origin and historical development of Hinduism, including its systems of thought, religious literature, institutions, and practices. Return to top

REL 362 Buddhism (4-0-4). Origin and historical development of Buddhism, including its systems of thought, religious literature, institutions, and practices. Return to top

REL 364 Islam (4-0-4). Origin and historical development of Islam, including its theology, institutions, and practices. Return to top

REL 366 Modern Islamic Movements (4-0-4). Course will explore works of modern Islamic writers from a variety of backrounds and perspectives. Review will include arguments of more radical Islamists such as Sayyid Qutb or the Ayatollah Khomeini, but also will examine the works of Muslim thinkers who represent a different, more liberal interpretation of Islam. Topics include: Islam and Democracy, Role of Women in Islam, Islam and Modernity, Islam and Holy War, and Islamic views on religious and political authority. Return to top

REL 367 Muslim Relations with Christians and Jews (4-0-4). In this course, we will study the history of conflict and cooperation between Christians, Muslims and Jews, read foundational, historical, and modern texts exemplifying views from each faith community towards the others, examine modern conflicts, and learn about recent approaches at inter-faith dialogue and cooperation. Background knowledge of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is helpful, and introductory information on all three faiths will be available on two hour reserve at the library for those who are interested. Return to top

REL 368 Religion in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (4-0-4). In this class we will study the role that religion has played and continues to play in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, both positive impacts and difficulties it has created. We will become familiar with different variations within the religious traditions of Judaism, Christrianity, and Islam and the involvement that each has had in the conflict. Course requirements include a 10-12 page original research paper, ten reading responses, participation in five case study debates, a map assignment and a final examination. Return to top

REL 370 Sexual Ethics (4-0-4). A critical examination of some current topics in sexual ethics from religious and social perspectives. Return to top

REL 374 Paul and Christian Origins (4-0-4). An investigation of Paul's role in the emergence of Christianity through a critical examination of his own writings and the writings of his earliest interpreters. Special attention will be given to Paul's efforts to create and maintain communities with a distinct social and religious identity within the ancient Mediterranean world; to the beliefs and practices that defined those communities; and to the controversies Paul's efforts generated, both in his own day and in subsequent Christianity. Return to top

REL 376 Women in Early Christianity (4-0-4). An examination of the attitudes toward, and roles of, women in the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds; in the teaching of Jesus; in Paul; and in early Christianity through the second century. Return to top

REL 380 Ancient Greek Mythology: The Gods (4-0-4). A study of ancient Greek gods, godhead, and folk religion based primarily on Homer, The Hymns and Hesiod. Return to top

REL 463 Myth, Legends, and Folk Tales (4-0-4). Examination of the symbolism in, and the interrelationships between, typical myths, legends, and folk tales. Several archetypal stories are read and discussed. Return to top

REL 466 Advanced Topics in the Historical Jesus (4-0-4). Prerequisite: REL 232. Selected topics in the study of Jesus and the origin of the early Christian movement. May be repeated for credit with change of topic. Return to top

REL 468 Advanced Topics in Paul (4-0-4). Prerequisite: REL 233. An advanced study in the place and significance of Paul in early Christianity. Return to top

REL 495 Seminar in Religion (4-0-4). Prerequisite: Two courses in religion or permission of instructor. Intensive examination of the works of specific religious thinkers and movements. Specific topics listed in the quarterly course schedule. May be repeated with a change of topic for up to 12 credit hours. Return to top

REL 496 Research in Religion (2 to 4 credits). Guided independent research, term paper and/or examination required as appropriate. Application for permission to register must be submitted to the chairperson during the semester prior to the enrollment in the course. May be repeated for up to 12 credit hours. Return to top

REL 498 Senior Seminar (2 credits). Capstone seminar for Religious Studies majors. Senior standing. Return to top

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Mailing Address
Office of Undergraduate Studies
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, MC 107A
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
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