* on sabbatical, fall 2012
** leave of absence, spring 2013
The Theology concentration enables participants to explore new directions that have emerged since the removal of theology as a dogmatic discipline from most liberal arts curricula. The focus is on how the divine or ultimate is conceived. Two principal approaches to that issue may be combined. The first approach is referential; it begins with the evaluation of texts, works of art, or other aspects of human production that claim to express the meaning and purpose of experience. The second approach is constructive; it involves the investigator in an analysis aimed at evaluating or contributing to religious discourse. While the critical study of religion is designed to describe and analyze religious systems within their historical settings, theology’s purpose is to engage what these systems claim to refer to. The ethical, political, literary, and cultural are all contexts in which theological elements may be significant.
The principal issues of theology demand competence in several disciplines. For that reason, the Theology concentration involves courses from every division and competence (in the form of Moderation) in a discipline. Moderation in theology is to be associated with Moderation in another discipline or disciplines. By Moderation, a student should have pursued three courses in theology. In addition to the Senior Project, majors should complete four cross-listed theology courses from at least two divisions. The board for Moderation and the Senior Project shall include at least one member of the theology faculty. During the semester of Moderation, students who wish to concentrate in theology are to participate in a seminar, which the director of the concentration arranges.
Theology 201 / Religion 201
See Religion 201 for a course description.
Archaeology of the Bible
cross-listed: jewish studies, philosophy, religion
This seminar examines the way the social histories of Israel and the early Church shaped biblical texts. The unfolding of meanings within texts during the whole of their development explodes the claim of a single, exclusive meaning in biblical exegesis. The seminar attends to the variety of meanings inherent within the Scriptures, without limitation to a particular theory of interpretation and with constant attention to issues of historical context.
Visions of the Social Order in Formative Judaism and Christianity
cross-listed: jewish studies, religion
The focus of this seminar is how selected texts from Western antiquity envision human collectivity, and the normative pictures they construct and project of how human beings should live in community. The basic question of our inquiry is: How does religion imagine society?.
The Gnostic Quest
Between the first century and fourth century of the Common Era, gnostics quested for a single, integrating insight into the divine world. The traditional religions of ancient society talked about transcendence, but restricted the delivery of their truths to their different constituencies, which were often mutually exclusive, defined by race, history, family, or status. Students look at how Gnosticism claimed to smash through those barriers, making it the most potent cultural force in this period of the Roman Empire.