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2006-2007 CLA Catalog


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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Course Listings

Religious Studies

REL 110 History of Christianity I: 100-700 C.E. (1)

The history of Christianity from the Apostolic period through the age of asceticism and persecution to the dominance of Augustinianism in the West with Gregory the Great. Emphasis is placed on the theological pluralism and institutional development of Christianity toward theological exclusivism and institutional rigidity in this crucial 600-year period of growth.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey, Wallace

REL 111 History of Christianity II: 700-1648 C.E. (1)

The history of Christianity from its medieval hegemony over Europe to the slaughter caused by the religiously and economically motivated Thirty Years War in the 17th-century. With respect to theological developments, the course examines the transformation of Christian theology set in motion by Aquinas, which resulted in the crumbling of the Augustinian theological dominance and eventually in the fragmentation of Christendom with the rise of Protestantism. Institutionally, the course focuses on the various threats to a unified Christendom from within and outside the church.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey, Wallace

REL 113 (TH) Introduction to Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (1)

An introduction to the history and literature of ancient Israel and to modern methods used in studying the Old Testament and the Apocrypha. The course has three basic aims: to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel on the basis of archaeological and form-critical methods, to survey the spectrum of literary forms in the Old Testament and to identify the major theological themes and symbols used to express Israel's faith.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 114 (IT) Early Christian Literature (1)

An introduction to early Christian literature and to the methods of literary analysis used by New Testament scholars (e.g., form and redaction criticism and structuralism). The course is organized in terms of a typology of the forms of religious discourse in late antiquity, moving from oral forms (parables, sayings and sermons) to written forms bordering speech (letters and dialogues) to consciously constructed pieces of literature (Gospels, theological essays and apocalypses). Some attention will also be given to the history and social world reflected in these texts.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 115 (AR) Introduction to the Study of Religion (1)

The course seeks to illuminate three central components shaping the human condition: (1) the human paradox of the perceptive and the imperceptible enabling a distinction between matter and spirit; (2) the necessary role of models for establishing a communal reality; and (3) the necessary dependence of the human upon tradition. These components will then serve for investigating at least one unfamiliar religious community to provide a sympathetic understanding of the variety of religious phenomena.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 116 (IT) Introduction to Major Religious Texts (1)

An analysis of several primary religious documents in light of modern theories of interpretation. Texts will be selected in light of a thematic concern from such writings as the Gilgamesh Epic, Job, John, Augustine's Confessions and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 135 Religions of Asia (1)

A survey of the major religions of India, China and Japan, emphasizing historical development of their various dimensions - theoretical, practical, experiential and sociological. Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Shinto traditions will be explored.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 214 (TH) Religion in America (1)

Religion in North America from prehistory to the present, emphasizing the diverse traditions brought to these shores in continuing waves of immigration and the reshaping they received in the New World context. Popular and civil, as well as traditional institutional manifestations and new traditions made in America will be studied — all in creative interplay with other social, cultural and intellectual forces.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey, Wallace

REL 221 Hellenistic Mystery Religions (.5)

A survey of the religions of personal salvation which engulfed the Mediterranean world during the Hellenistic age (c.330-30 BCE), including the worship of the Magna Mater in Asia Minor, the Egyptian cult of Isis and Serapis, the Syrian worship of Bel (Ba'al), Persian Mithraism and Babylonian astrology. Special attention will be given to the theodicy problem, the rise of redeemer figures and religious syncretism.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 222 Gnosticism (.5)

An introduction to the religio-philosophical system known as Gnosticism. The course will explore both the dualistic principle which underlies Gnosticism (that matter is inherently evil and that the good God is revealed only through esoteric knowledge) and the major Gnostic sects including Valentinianism and Manichaeism. Survey of the Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945. Discussion of the influence of Gnosticism on Judaism and Christianity.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 223 Judaism in the New Testament (.5)

An introduction to the religious and social world of Judaism from the time of Herod the Great to the completion of the Mishnah (c. 200 CE). The course will survey the various Jewish movements of the period including the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots and the Essenes. The rabbinic schools of Hillel and Shammai, the writings of Josephus and Philo and the Dead Sea scrolls will also be discussed.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 224 Early Christianity (.5)

A historical reconstruction of early Christianity with special attention to the Acts of the Apostles as a historical source. The course will explore contemporary theories of early Christian social formation and investigate the missionary movement within the religious context of the Roman Empire. The transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect to a Gentile religion after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE will also be studied.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 230 Modern European Christian Thought (1)

Designed to introduce the student to the intellectual issues that transformed Christian theology between the 17th- and 19th-centuries in Europe. The course is not comprehensive, but is selective in investigation of issues and individuals revolutionizing Christian theology during these centuries, e.g., Enlightenment Rationality, Romanticism, Idealism and Christian Existentialism. Students will work with primary materials.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 233 (TH) History and Culture along the Silk Road (1)

[Crosslisted with HIST 233]

The goal of this course is to help students develop their understanding of a region of the world that has played an enormously important role in both world and Asian history. Stretching from China to the Mediterranean world, the Silk Road has for thousands of years been alive with dynamic interactions among various Asian cultural groups. It also has served as a vital link in the economic and cultural exchanges that occurred among the civilizations of Eastern Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. The course will specifically focus on the roles played by the natural environment, historical events, and individuals in the origins of and changes in Silk Road cultural forms.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically; Asia Cluster

Prerequisite: At least one previous course in Asian Studies recommended

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 237 (W; 4th Sem Lang Req) Introduction to Syro-Palestinian Archaeology (1)

An introduction to the history and current directions of archaeological research in the Holy Land, concentrating on modern Jordan, Israel and Syria. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relationship between archaeological research and biblical studies. This course is a prerequisite for REL 337 Archaeological Methodology.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered; Fourth Semester Language Requirement

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 239 Introduction to Chinese Religions (1)

An introduction to the foundations of Chinese religious thought with an emphasis on Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 242 Hebrew Prophets (1)

An examination of the nature of Ancient Near Eastern prophecy in general and the Israelite prophetic tradition in particular. Primary focus will be on the prophetic books of the Old Testament, examining their historical setting, cultural context and theological message. The impact of the Old Testament prophetic tradition on the early Christian Church, New Testament and modern religious thought will also be addressed.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 244 Introduction to Judaism (1)

A survey of Jewish texts, thought, practices and sancta. Attention will be given to the development of Judaism from the biblical period to the present.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 252 Soul Food: Eating and Drinking in Western Religion (1)

An examination of Western religious rituals involving food and drink, both as they have been practiced and rationalized in teaching in various contexts. Reading, discussion and writing will center on such phenomena as ritual sacrifice, Dionysian excess, kashruth and the Passover seder, the Eucharist, religious feasts and fasts, the American temperance movement, health food (both in its 19th-century sectarian manifestation and in its later, more pervasively secular, "New Age" and "simple living" forms) and ethnic "soul food" (church-supper fare and other identity-conferring dietary practices).

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Wallace

REL 254 Three American Traditions of Spirituality (1)

This course focuses on the theme of spirituality in the 18th- and 19th-century American theology. Three traditions of spirituality will be addressed: (1) the tradition of spiritual quietism that shaped the predominantly White, Anglo-Saxon tradition rooted in Christian Platonism of New England; 2) the tradition of spiritual activism that shaped the Afro-American tradition; and 3) the tradition of spiritual ideological emotionalism that shaped the revivalist traditions on the frontier.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 256 (IT) Goddesses and Ghosts: Images of Women in Chinese Tradition (1)

[Crosslisted with WGS 256]

This course examines images of women represented in various forms of texts including Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist scriptures, novels, poetry, Chinese art and films. Through close reading of these texts from 600 BCE to modern times, the course seeks to explore women's power, spirituality, and gender roles in different periods of Chinese history. The course will also focus on a comparison between the "woman" as an ideological construct and the actual living experiences of women, and between images constructed by male and female writers.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts; Asia Cluster

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 262 Japanese Religions (1)

A survey of Japanese religious traditions, this course presents a comprehensive overview of the Shinto and folk traditions. The course covers topics such as Japanese Buddhism and Confucian influence in Japan. The course will examine these issues through myths, rituals and religious texts.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 320 Religion and Science (1)

Relation of religious and scientific perspectives: the historic and philosophical tensions between the Christian tradition and the natural and social sciences and the ways of mutual clarification of these perspectives in the 20th-century.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 330 Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels (1)

A comparative study of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) in terms of their verbal similarities and differences, their oral and written sources and their different portraits of Jesus of Nazareth. Special attention will be given to the modern quest for the historical Jesus, to Jesus' teaching methods based on parables and aphorisms and to the various images of Jesus in Medieval and Modern culture. Students will use the major scholarly methods for the study of the Gospels in their research projects.

Prerequisite: REL 114 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 331 The Gospel of John (.5)

An intensive study of the language, symbolism and themes of the Fourth Gospel. The following topics are covered: the literary sources of John, the relation of John to the Synoptics, the nature of the Johannine community and the compositional strategies of the author.

  • Offering: Half-semester, alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 333 Topics in Contemporary American Theology (1)

An intensive investigation of such issues in American contemporary theology as models and understandings of God, Christology, metaphysics, the nature and function of the Scriptures in Christianity, and feminism.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 334 (AR) Liberation Theology and Social Change (1)

A survey of Third World (particularly Latin American) liberation theology and its potential and actual impact on movements for human freedom in the North American context (e.g., those working on Black, Hispanic and Native American issues, feminism, gay liberation and economic justice).

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Wallace

REL 335 (W) The Legacy of Paul (1)

A systematic study of the major historical, literary and theological issues arising from the missionary work and letters of Paul of Tarsus, one of the founders of Christianity. These issues include the chronology of Paul's career, the literary form of Paul's letters, Paul's formulation of Christian faith, the influence of Paul on subsequent Christian history and the significance of Paul's thought for the modern world.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: REL 114 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 336 Women in World Religions (1)

This course will examine women's roles in various, especially Asian, religious traditions focusing on gender roles, family rituals and social identity in religious literature.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 337 Archaeological Methodology (1)

An overview of the current state of archaeological research in the Middle East, concentrating on the techniques used in surveys, excavations and the interpretation of archaeological material. The course is designed to introduce students to the more technical side of archaeological research and provide the background needed for participation in a middle eastern archaeological field project.

Prerequisite: REL 237

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 340 (4th Sem Lang Req) Hebrew Torah/Pentateuch (1)

A critical analysis of the first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy. The course will focus on modern literary analysis of the pentateuchal traditions and archaeological discoveries which are helping to clarify the historical and cultural context from which the first five books of the Bible emerged. Topics will include the formation of the canon, biblical saga and history and the origins of Israelite law.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Fourth Semester Language Requirement

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 341 Religions of the Ancient World (1)

Selected topics and texts from Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Israelite, Greek and Roman religious traditions. These religious traditions will be investigated both theologically (as unique expressions of the religious sensibility) and historically (their development and impact on Judaism and Christianity). Special attention will be given to religious syncretism and the theodicy problem.

Prerequisite: REL 113, REL 114, REL 116 or REL 237 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McCreery, McGaughy

REL 344 Topics in Contemporary European Theology (1)

An introduction to 20th-century European theology. Particular attentions is given to the definition of key theological issues in their historical context as well as an investigation of the thought of individual thinkers.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 348 Buddhism (1)

This course is an introduction to the basic beliefs of Buddhism in East Asia. It will examine three main Buddhist traditions: Theravadan, Ch'an/Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Primary texts of each tradition, such as Dhammapada, the teachings of Vimalakirti and the platform sutra will be examined. Topics also include Buddhist practices and rituals.

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 352 (IT) Shamanism (1)

The course introduces beliefs and practices of various shamanic traditions in Asia and North America. It will examine the meaning of shamanic myths, symbols and rituals. It will also discuss the relationship between environmental concerns and the increasing interest in shamanism.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts; Indigenous Peoples and Cultures Cluster

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 354 (IT) Topics in Asian Religions (1)

This course studies specific topics in Asia traditions. It investigates either a theme such as ritual, religious literature, good/evil, death and afterlife; or a religious tradition that is normally not offered, such as Hinduism, Islam, Manichaeism or Zoroastrianism

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 356 Taoism (1)

An examination of classical Taoist philosophical texts such as Tao Te Ching and Chaung Tzu. The course focuses on the development of Taoist religious beliefs and rituals. The relationship between Tao, Ch'I, Chinese medicine and martial arts will be discussed.

  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Zhou

REL 370 (AR) Ethics and Vocation (1)

Examines the nature and role of internal and external ethical norms for understanding the human condition and obligations. Writings of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill, Ricoeur, among others will be examined.

Mode of Inquiry: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 381 and 382 Department Colloquium (.25 each)

Monthly meetings of majors and minors in the department. Serves as the venue for seniors to present their Senior Experience Project (HUM 497W, etc.) to the department (credit/no credit only).

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 385 (W) Theory and Method in Religious Studies (1)

Examines theories on the origin and development of religion and methodological issues related to the study of religion. The intent of the course is to help students encounter successfully the academic literature in religious studies concerned with issues as the origin of religion, methods for studying religion and the role and meaning of symbol and ritual. A writing-centered course required of all majors and minors in the Department of Religious Studies.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 390 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Intensive study of a selected area. Normally for juniors or seniors who are majors in Religious Studies.

Prerequisite: Departmental approval

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 420 (IT) The Bible in the American Tradition (1)

An investigation of the ways in which the Bible has been interpreted in American history in distinction from dominant European approaches, and of the influence of biblical themes and language in American literature and popular culture. Primary documents from four phases of the history of American biblical interpretation will be examined: early 19th-century New England higher criticism, the Chicago school, the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy and recent trends.

Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughy

REL 437 (W) Archaeological Field Experience (1)

A four- to eight-week field experience on an archaeological project in the Middle East. Students will serve as staff members on an archaeological excavation or survey, collecting, recording and interpreting archaeological data under the supervision of the project director. In addition to the firsthand archaeological field experience, students will visit ancient sites in the region and receive briefings on various aspects of the modern political situation in the Middle East.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: REL 237, REL 337

  • Offering: Post-session
  • Instructor: McCreery

REL 444 (W) Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment (1)

A careful reading of Kant's third critique that addresses the central issues of aesthetic, moral, and teleological judgments for understanding Kant's view of the human vocation.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey

REL 481 and 482 Department Colloquium (.25 each)

Monthly meetings of majors and minors in the department. Serves as the venue for seniors to present their Senior Experience Project (HUM 497W, etc.) to the department (credit/no credit only).

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 496 (W) Directed Senior Thesis (1)

Under only rare circumstances, this course enables a student to undertake an independent study leading to a major paper satisfying the Senior Experience Requirement of the major.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

REL 498 (W) Heidegger and Theology: Being and Time (1)

This senior seminar will engage in a careful reading of one of the most significant 20th-century texts particularly with respect to its influence on New Testament scholarship as well as Roman Catholic and Protestant theology. Attention will be paid to the ethical ambiguities surrounding the place of Heidegger in the Nazi movement to illustrate the illusion of the academy as an ivory tower and to emphasize the political importance of thought.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: McGaughey