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Religious Studies
Wendell Phillips Center 151
Beth Moreno
Administrative Assistant
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211


(This list of courses may not be up to date. Please see the latest General Catalog for a complete list of current courses.)

RELI 023. Hebrew Bible (4) The Hebrew Bible is a central book of western culture, serving as a foundation for Judaism and Christianity. This course surveys the biblical literature, familiarizes students with critical methods for the study of the Bible, situates the Bible within the literature and culture of the ancient Near East, and discusses the religion of ancient Israel. Issues of history and archaeology will also be addressed.

RELI 025. New Testament and Christian Origins (4) This course offers a socio-historical and literary introduction to the writings of the earliest Christians. It will emphasize the importance of the historical context of these writings and will investigate the ways these texts fit into Mediterranean cultures. Topics include: the Jewish origins of the “Jesus movement;” the formation of early Christian communities and their varying patterns of belief and practice; the development of oral and written traditions about Jesus, especially in the gospels and letters of Paul; and various images of Jesus and their significance. Students will learn how to read ancient texts closely, gain an understanding of the various methods of scholarly biblical interpretation, and learn how to evaluate these interpretations critically.

RELI 027. Portraits of Jesus (4) In this course, we will examine some of the different “Jesuses” that have emerged from the “Quest for Jesus” through the ages, including historical studies, art, and literature. Was Jesus an itinerant, charismatic teacher? A healer and miracle-worker? A social revolutionary? Or is he an ahistorical figure on whom we have projected our own needs and desires for two millennia?

RELI 034. Introduction to Religion (4) What is religion? Is it a belief in God? Is it a realization of the limits of human powers? Is it a set of moral laws and regulations, or all of the above? But how about religions which do not have moral laws? How about religions where there is no God? Then, what is religion, indeed? This course will explore the beginning of human activities associated with religion such as calendars and myths. Then, it will move on to its more pronounced forms such as rituals of birth, death, hunting and healing known in Neolithic cultures. It will then discuss the main world religions which have evolved from these initial religious impulses. Methods by which scholars study religions, impacts which religious beliefs had upon human societies and the future of human spirituality present another set of problems which will be dealt with in the progression of this course.

RELI 035. Judaism (4) A basic introduction to Judaism covering its history, beliefs and customs with an emphasis on understanding the Jews of today. (Supported by grants from the Jewish Chautauqua Society and from Temple Israel.)

RELI 043. Social Ethics (4) This course will examine several contemporary problems in social ethics from the standpoint of religious traditions and philosophical perspectives. It will introduce ethical and religious concepts and consider such issues as affirmative action, pacifism and just war, civil disobedience, and capital punishment. We will discuss what selected thinkers say about such issues, and how they reach their conclusions in light of their theological, philosophical, and anthropological convictions.

RELI 044. Sex, Sin, and Salvation (4) This course will explore and analyze sexuality and gender in terms of ethics and religion. The course will focus on historical and contemporary Christian perspectives, with some attention to other religious traditions and philosophical perspectives. Topics will include such issues as sexual ethics, homosexuality, sexuality and spirituality, gender roles and connections between gender and ethical perspectives.

RELI 070. Religion and American Culture (4) An examination of the way in which religion has contributed to the shaping of American political, social and cultural life, and the way in which the American experience has in turn shaped religion. It will move from the colonial experience through the awakenings,” to the emergence of new religions and cults, the revolutions of the sixties, the revival of conservative Christianity in the American political spectrum and ecology as the “new awakening.”

RELI 120. Wisdom in Biblical Literature (4) This course will introduce the student to the biblical books of Proverbs, Job, and Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). These books share the common thread of teaching people how to live skillfully and have incited controversy for millennia. We will read these books in English, examine and discuss the major themes, literary structures, cultural contexts, and issues in interpretation that surround these books, and reflect upon their significance for several communities of readers in various periods of history. In order to situate these Israelite books within their ancient cultural contexts, we will have opportunity to read and discuss wisdom texts from the neighboring cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia. And, in order to appreciate the position of these books within wisdom tradition, we will also look at some wisdom writings from Israel not included in the biblical canon.

RELI 124. Ancient Judaism (4) We will survey ancient Judaism from roughly 539 BCE until the Islamic era (c. 600 CE), emphasizing the ideological importance of the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE. Readings and discussion in primary texts (e.g. Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Maccabees, the Talmud, Mishnah, and various midrashim) will complement our historical investigation.

RELI 126. Ancient Israel in Its Historical Context (4) This course will focus on the historical and cultural context in which ancient Israel arose and flourished-from the early Iron Age (c. 1200 BCE) to the beginning of the Hellenistic period (323 BCE). In the first part of the course, after surveying the geography and political history of the ancient Near East from 2000-320 BCE, we will critically examine the historical rise and existence of Israel in its larger geo-political context. Special consideration will be given to understanding the relationship of archaeological, politico-historical, and biblical evidence. In the second part of the course we will turn our attention to “everyday life” in ancient Israel, that is, to various social and material elements of ancient Israelite culture (e.g., family structure, buildings, vocational activities, art and music, literacy, etc.) as reconstructed from archaeological and biblical evidence. We will apply what we learn to various biblical topics and/or texts.

RELI 128. Social Topics in Early Christianity (4) A study of one or more social issues prominent during the early stages of Christianity. Topics will vary according to the interests of faculty and students.

RELI 130. The Christian Tradition (4) An historical and theological analysis of Christian thought and practice. Content will vary depending upon instructor. It may, for example, focus on Christian origins in Greek and Hebrew culture, the Reformation Era, or issues of theological reinterpretation for the 21st century.

RELI 134. World Religions (4) An examination of fundamental religious questions as developed in major religions of the world including primal religious experiences in African, Australian and Native American traditions. Also special attention to Islam, in context with other Abrahamic traditions, as the fastest growing religion in the world. Some attention will be given to historical development and to major personalities, but attention will center on the religious questions as developed in each religious system.

RELI 135. Asian Religious Traditions (4) A study of the traditional religions of India, China, Tibet and Japan, attempting to delineate the spirituality, beauty, and wisdom of these traditions. It will trace the rich historical and cultural heritages of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, the Taoist ways of achieving harmony in the world, and the melding of nature and ritual life in Shinto. Each semester one or two of these religions will be studied in depth to investigate how they influence society, politics and culture in the countries where they spread. The academic approach is supplemented by practical learning of meditation, energy-regulations and ritual.

RELI 140. Religion and Politics (4) This course will explore the relationships between religious convictions and political thought and action. The course will concentrate on selected eastern or western religious traditions. Topics of discussion may include the state, individual liberty, economics, and war. Readings will introduce historical and contemporary religious and philosophical perspectives.

RELI 142. Business Ethics (4) This course will critically examine some of the social, ethical, economic, and religious foundations of business activity, and consider some of the contemporary problems with, and possibilities for, business practice. Course topics may include: an historical analysis of the rise of capitalism; religious views of economics and responses to capitalism; the role of business in the larger society; the relationship between the individual and the organization; and the prospects for human community in a capitalist system.

RELI 145. Biomedical Ethics (4) A study of the complex issues emerging from the revolutionary developments in biology and medicine, including human experimentation, abortion, genetic manipulation, in vitro fertilization, death and dying, health care delivery, and organ transplants.

RELI 146. Technology, Ethics, & Religion (4) This course will offer historic, philosophical, and religious perspectives on science and technology. It will endeavor to help students understand the impact of science and technology on our moral and religious traditions and institutions, and how those traditions and institutions in turn impact science and technology. It will consider how technology addresses social problems, and the benefits, possibilities, and further problems that it produces.

RELI 152. Confucian Traditions (4) This course will examine moral, political, philosophical and religious aspects of various Confucian traditions beginning from Confucius and Mencius to Han and Song dynasties Confucianism to modern Du Weiming’s school. No prerequisite is necessary, however, this course is not recommended to freshmen.

RELI 171. Religion and Cinema (4) A study of the way religious ideas, institutions and figures are presented on film. The course involves screening and analyzing various films. The scope of the course will be international and intercultural, but the majority of the images will inevitably be Western. The course intends to demonstrate the power of cinematic images to define, enrich and sometimes pervert the religious sensibility.

RELI 172. Biblical Themes in Literature (4) A reading course in the Bible and the ways in which Biblical themes have informed representative texts in Western literature. A comparison of the Biblical world view with that of later ages by reading such authors as Dante, Camus, Hemingway, and John Updike.

RELI 196. Religious Studies Seminar (4) Capstone seminar for majors. Focus of the study will vary from year to year according to interests of faculty and students (e.g. Religion and Nature, Christian Church Fathers, or Buddhism & Christianity).

CLAS 051. Classical Mythology (4) An introductory survey of the Greek and Roman myths of major importance in Western literature, art and music. May focus upon Greek mythology against the background of Roman, or Roman mythology against the background of Greek.

RELI 087. Internship (2-4)

RELI 191. Independent Study (2-4)

RELI 193. Special Topics (4)