Religion department courses are designed to expose students to the variety of modes of religious expression, both past and present. Courses often emphasize student participation and dialogue, giving students the opportunity to think critically about the material and develop their own viewpoints. Research papers and reading of original sources, from Saint Augustine to the Bhagavad Gita, help students to also develop critical reading, writing, and analytical skills important for any career. Because religion traditions are so diverse, Thiel's course selection offers something for everyone, whether you are planning to go on to the ministry, seeking to deepen your faith experience, or just curious about the religious traditions of our global village.
REL/GREK 150/151—Introduction to Greek Language Skills (6 CH) A basic course designed to give students a knowledge of the structure of the Greek language and begin preparing them for the reading of Greek literature. The primary emphasis is on Koine (New Testament) Greek.Offered in alternating years.
REL 120—Interpreting the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (3 CH) An introductory course to the Scriptures of the Jewish and Christian traditions. The writings of the Old and New Testaments are surveyed, utilizing literary and historical criticism. Students will be exposed to major questions raised in interpreting the Bible in the 21st century. A prerequisite to all other courses in religion. (P: INDS 115)
REL 180—Christian Worship (3 CH) Christian Worship introduces students to the academic methods and techniques used by scholars in the study of Christian Worship practices and what the results of that study are, particularly in recent years. The course is ecumenical in focus, and seeks to free students from preconceived notions about religious ritual while developing the students’ powers of observation and analysis. The course focuses on ritual practices of the Christian faith and on texts and sources which are available in English translation.
REL 200—Contemporary Ethical Issues (3 CH) Different methods of Christian ethics are examined in relation to current social issues in the areas of sexual relationships, bio-medical advances, economic order, political liberation, and environmental survival. (P: REL 120) (WIC)
REL 210—Religion and the Sciences (3 CH) This interdisciplinary seminar will investigate how religion and science have related and should relate to one another. The aim of the course is to present a comprehensive survey, comprehending both the historical developments of the relation and the current prospects for interaction and dialogue. The course will emphasize the relation between the natural sciences (especially the physical and biological sciences) and Western religion (especially Christianity) while at the same time recognizing diversity, especially at the level of philosophical and religious commitment. (WIC)
REL 215—Intermediate New Testament Greek I (3 CH) In this course students will read selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, or extra-canonical Greek writings in their original language. Questions about the transmission of the text and its theological implications will be discussed. Along the way, we will review the basic vocabulary, grammar, and syntax learned in Rel/Grek 150 and 151.
REL 220—Women in Jewish and Christian Traditions (3 CH) This course introduces women and religion as a discipline within the academic study of religion. Students engage in review, analysis, and discussion of representative literature in the history, theology, and spirituality of women in Jewish and Christian traditions. (P: REL 120) (WIC)
REL 230—Philosophy of Religion (3 CH) Deals with philosophical reflection upon such questions as the nature of religion, the concept of God, the problem of evil, the religious dimension of human experience, the justification of religious claims, and the character of religious language. Explored in relation to these matters are the thoughts of representative figures from skepticism, existentialism, and pragmatism. (P: REL 120) (WIC)
REL 240—African American Religion in the U.S. (3 CH) Investigates the history of black religion from its African roots through the period of slave trade to the experience to blacks in the United States over the past two centuries. (WIC)
REL 260—Religion, Fiction, and Popular Culture (3 CH) Science fiction remains a powerful vehicle for ideas in popular culture and has the highest religious content of any popular genre. The course examines science fiction to uncover understandings of religion in popular culture. By reading best-selling novels, examining films and television shows, and reading scholars’ examinations of religious themes in science fiction, students will learn to identify how religious themes are used, manipulated and promulgated in popular culture. Course topics will include the history of science fiction; the role and significance of aliens, apocalypse and utopias, modernist critiques of religion; and postmodern attitudes toward religion. (WIC)
REL 270—Judaism (3 CH) An exploration of Judaism from its biblical origins to the present day. Particular attention is given to Jewish history and the meanings of festivals and “life-cycle” events. Additional topics may include biblical monotheism and its impact on Western civilization, strategies for Jewish survival throughout history, the implications of the Holocaust, and the impact of feminism on contemporary Jewish life.
REL 281—History of Christianity (3 CH) An historical study of Christianity concentrating on its major teachings, practices and institutional forms from its origin to the present day. (P: REL 120) (WIC)
REL 290—Luther and His Legacy (3 CH) An examination of the theological writings of Luther, the immediate context that influenced him, and the rich legacy of theological reflection that he has evoked. (WIC)
REL 352—Currents in Late Modern Theology (3 CH) Contemporary currents in theology
from the death of God movement and process theism of the 1960s to hermeneutical and
deconstructionist theologies of the 1980s are investigated. The investigation proceeds
through an analysis of various attempts to articulate the meaning and truth of God in the
postmodern situation of relativism and pluralism. (P: REL 120) (WIC)
REL 382—Foundations of Parish Education (4 CH) This course is designed to introduce
students to the basic theory of parish education. It also has a field work component that
provides practical experience and fulfills the required supervised field training for parish
education majors. (P: REL 152)
REL 392—Liberation Theology in a Latin American Context (1-6 CH) The writings,
ideas and dynamics of liberation theology are explored with an eye on the Peruvian
situation in a seminar which culminates in a three-week immersion experience during
which students and faculty encounter the lived praxis of liberation theology among the
people of Peru. (WIC)