Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Religion (REL)

Professors: Gaber, S. Johnson (Chair)
Assistant Professors: Heyes, Knauth
Instructors:  G. Adams, Charnock, Gilmore, McNassor

  • Major: Religion
  • Optional Concentration: Biblical Studies
  • Courses required for major: 10
  • Capstone requirement: REL 447, Essay in self-understanding, Oral Defense
  • Minors: Religion, Biblical Languages, Biblical Studies

The Religion Department offers two options for the completion of the Religion major. The major in Religion encourages exploration into personal questions of living such as “Who are we?” “Does life have meaning or purpose?” and “Is there an ultimate reality?” At the same time, students are encouraged to consider the public effects of religion on the world: “How do people act religiously?” “How does religion impact politics, society, and conflict?” and “What does it mean to be a ‘secular’ society?” A Religion major with a concentration in Biblical Studies is designed especially for pre-ministerial students and students interested in the critical, analytical study of texts held sacred in Judeo-Christian traditions.

Religion (REL)

Major Requirements

A major in Religion consists of 10 courses, including:

Four core courses in the comparative study of religion:

    • REL 110          Introduction to World Religions
    • REL 220          What Is Religion?
    • REL 320          Topics in Comparative Religion
    • REL 447          Research in Religion

B. Two courses in analysis of scriptures—either REL 113 Introduction to the Old Testament or REL 114 Introduction to the New Testament, plus one of the following:

    • REL 333          Old Testament Women
    • REL 337          Biblical Topics
    • REL 433          The Sayings of Jesus

C. One theology/ethics course selected from the following:

    • REL 211          Judaic Studies: Talmud to Today
    • REL 222          Protestantism in the Modern World
    • REL 331          Christian Social Ethics
    • PHIL 202        Medieval Philosophy
    • PHIL 227        Religion & Reason
    • PHIL 228        Philosophy and the Environment

D. Three additional elective courses. No more than four 100 level courses may be applied toward the major. At least seven courses must have a REL prefix. Up to three of the following courses may be counted toward fulfilling major requirements: GRK 221, 222; HEBR 221, 222; HIST 232; PHIL 202, 227, 228.

A major in Religion with a concentration in Biblical Studies requires the four core courses; REL 113 and 114; three upper-level scriptures courses from REL 333, 337, and 433 (REL 337 may be repeated with different topics; one course from GRK 221, GRK 222, HEBR 221, or HEBR 222 may be substituted for an upper-level scriptures course); and one additional elective.

Capstone Requirements

Majors must complete REL 447 Research in Religion. Senior Religion majors must also write an essay in self-understanding and arrange an oral defense with the department faculty, consisting of an assessment interview occurring during the last two months of the final semester.

REL 120 is strongly recommended for pre-ministerial students after their first year, regardless of
their major.

Diversity and Writing Courses

The following courses satisfy the Domestic Cultural Diversity Requirement: REL 231 and 232. The following courses satisfy the Global Cultural Diversity Requirement: REL 210, 226, 233, 323, 328, and 401. The following courses satisfy either the Domestic or Global Diversity Requirement: REL 110, 211, 212, 225, 320, and 333. A list of courses that, when scheduled as W courses, count toward the Writing Requirement, can be found on the Registrar’s website and in the GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS section of the catalog.

Minor Requirements

A minor in Religion consists of one course from REL 110, 113, or 114, and four REL courses numbered 200 or above. At least one course must be taken from REL 110, 210, 211, 212, 220, 225, or 320.

A minor in Biblical Studies consists of REL 113 and 114 and 3 courses from REL 333, 337, and 433 (REL 337 may be repeated with different topics; one course from GRK 221, GRK 222, HEBR 221, or HEBR 222 may be substituted for an upper-level scriptures course).

An interdisciplinary minor in Biblical Languages requires the completion of GRK 101, 102; HEBR 101, 102; and two from GRK 221, GRK 222, HEBR 221, and HEBR 222.

110
INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS
An introductory, interdisciplinary examination of the phenomena we have come to associate with “religion.” Students become familiar with the worldviews of the major world religions and engage in comparative analysis of these traditions’ texts and practices. The course also looks at the interconnection between religion and other elements of life, as well as the ways in which our own worldviews influence our understanding of religion. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.

113
INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
Who are we? Who is God? Who are we in relation to God? Human grappling over centuries with these and many other questions about the nature of God and the world are reflected in the collection of laws, stories, and other writings that eventually became the Jewish/Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament). This course engages students in a critical examination of this literature in the light of archaeology, and in its historical, cultural, literary, and theological contexts to promote understanding of the scriptures.

114
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Who is Jesus? What did he teach? What was his relationship to God? His early followers grappled with these questions, and some of their writings became the Christian New Testament. This course engages students in a critical examination of this literature in its historical and cultural setting and provides an introduction to methods of analyzing and interpreting the texts.

120
DEATH AND DYING
A study of death from personal, social, and universal standpoints with emphasis upon what the dying may teach the living. Principal issues are the stages of dying, bereavement, suicide, funeral conduct, and the religious doctrines of death and immortality. Includes optional practical projects with terminal patients under professional supervision.

210
JUDAIC STUDIES: FROM THE EXODUS TO THE ROMANS
An examination of the Jewish vision of the foundation stories, the history, and the impact of events upon the Jewish world-view. The sources of the Bible are examined in detail, and the changing self-perception of the Israelites is a major focus. This period is formative in the development of what will become the Jewish People. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

211
JUDAIC STUDIES: TALMUD TO TODAY
An examination of the development of Jewish traditions from the destruction of the second temple in 70 C.E. to the present day. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between the living situations of Jews in the Diaspora to the development of interpretation of Jewish law. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

212
ISLAM
A comprehensive examination of the many religious dimensions of Islam, including the life of Muhammad, key textual sources such as the Quran and Hadith, basic beliefs and practices, Sufism, Muslim theology, differences between Sunni and Shi’ite interpretations of the faith, the historical evolution of Islam and its interaction with other cultures, and the theological and socio-political roots of the recent worldwide resurgence of Islam. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

220
WHAT IS RELIGION?
Introduces students to the academic study of religion. Religious thought and behavior are examined from a variety of methodological perspectives, and students gain experience working with theorists common to the discipline of Religious Studies.

222
PROTESTANTISM IN THE MODERN WORLD
An examination of Protestant thought and life from Luther to the present against the backdrop of a culture rapidly changing from the 17th century scientific revolution to Marxism, Darwinism, and depth psychology. Special attention is paid to the constant interaction between Protestantism and the world in which it finds itself. Alternate years.

225
ASIAN RELIGIONS
A phenomenological study of the basic content of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese Taoism with special attention to social and political relations, mythical and aesthetic forms, and the East-West dialogue. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

226
BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY
A study of the role of archaeology in reconstructing the world in which biblical literature originated, with special attention given to archaeological results that throw light on the clarification of the biblical text. Also, an introduction to basic archaeological method and a study in depth of several representative excavations along with the artifacts and material culture recovered from different historical periods. Cross-listed as ARCH 226. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.

227
EARLY HISTORY AND THEOLOGIES OF CHRISTIANITY
Traces the development of Christianity from the early Jesus movements up to the post-Constantinian, institutional Church. Issues include early apostolic preaching; the formation of the New Testament canon; the structuring of the community; and controversies regarding the person and nature of Christ, the trinity, the nature of salvation, and the sacraments.

231
MAGIC AND MYTH IN POPULAR CULTURE
Explores elements of popular culture in the contemporary United States and the religious and historical aspects that contribute to their creation. Specifically, it aims to trace the under-acknowledged mythical material from the Middle Ages and Antiquity that develops into the present representations of beings such as vampires, zombies, werewolves, wizards, and others. Fulfills Domestic Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

232
RELIGION AND FILM
From film to works of literature, stories have the power to shape what we believe and why we believe it. Given this, the course begins with a simple premise: religion not only influences our perception of media, but media also influence our perception of religion. In this course, we investigate the way in which popular media both make use of religious ideas and themes and create them. Fulfills Domestic Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

233
ARCHAEOLOGY OF RITUAL
In-depth cross-cultural study of the archaeological remains of ancient ritual practices. While the meaning of ancient rituals is not directly accessible to us today, archaeologists study the spaces, objects, actors, and material residues of past ritual practices to understand their role and significance in past societies. Case studies drawn from the ancient Near East, Mediterranean, and the Americas. Cross-listed as ANTH 233 and ARCH 233. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

320
TOPICS IN COMPARATIVE RELIGION
A topics course with a comparative religion focus. Possible topics include mysticism, magic, monstrosity, sacrifice, and religion and gender. Prerequisite: REL 110, 220, or consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor when topics are different. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.

323
THE HELLENISTIC-ROMAN CULTURAL WORLD
A survey of historical, cultural, and religious aspects of the eastern Mediterranean world that helped shape the development of second-temple Judaism and early forms of Christianity. Topics include political history, patronage and other Roman social structures, education, rhetoric, literature, philosophy, and Hellenistic-Roman modes of religious expression, including Judaism, the mysteries, and imperial religion. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.

328
HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
A study of the history and culture of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt from the rise of the Sumerian culture to Alexander the Great. Careful attention is given to the religious views prevalent in the ancient Near East as far as these views interacted with the culture and faith of the biblical tradition. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.

331
CHRISTIAN SOCIAL ETHICS
A study of Christian ethics as a normative perspective for contemporary moral problems
with emphasis upon the interaction of law and religion, decision-making in the field of biomedical practice, and the reconstruction of society in a planetary civilization. Alternate
years.

333
OLD TESTAMENT WOMEN
An in-depth study of a variety of biblical texts and themes relevant to the roles and character of women in the Old Testament, including selections from Genesis, Ruth, Esther, Song of Songs, Proverbs (esp. ch. 31), and the songs of Deborah and Miriam. Also considers excerpts from the prophecies of Hosea and Ezekiel. Prerequisite: REL 113, 114, or consent of instructor. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.

337
BIBLICAL TOPICS
An in-depth study of biblical topics related to the Old and New Testaments. Recent topics include Exodus, King David, Kingship Ideologies, and The Gospels of Mark and Thomas. Prerequisite: REL 113, 114, or consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor when topics are different.

342
THE NATURE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH
A study of the nature of the Church as “The People of God” with reference to the Biblical, Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic traditions.

401
FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY
Participation in an approved archaeological dig, survey or field research program, usually in the Near East or Mediterranean region. Includes instruction in excavation or survey techniques, recording and processing of artifacts, and exposure to the wider results of related excavation and research and the use of archaeology as a tool for elucidating historical and cultural changes. This course acquaints students with the basic techniques and procedures used in modern archaeology through intensive hands-on fieldwork. Cross-listed as ARCH 401 and ANTH 401. Students desiring credit toward the Religion major or Humanities Distribution Requirement should register for REL 401; students desiring credit toward the Social Science Distribution Requirement or majors in Anthropology or Archaeology may register for either ANTH 401 or ARCH 401. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Special fees apply. May Term or Summer Sessions only.

433
THE SAYINGS OF JESUS
An exploration of the ways in which early followers understood the nature and person of Jesus of Nazareth through their appropriation and interpretation of his teachings. An examination of the means and methods by which the teachings of Jesus were passed down from community to community and adapted to changing social and theological contexts in the first centuries of the Christian era. Prerequisite: REL 113, 114, or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

447
RESEARCH IN RELIGION
Explores a particular comparative topic, tradition, or time period. Students engage in a scholarly manner with the topic under consideration, produce a well-researched paper, and present that research in a conference-style format. Prerequisites: REL 220 and 320, or consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor when topics are different.

470-479
INTERNSHIP
Interns in religion usually work in local churches, hospitals, or other religion-based organizations or programs under the supervision of the pastor, chaplain, or supervisor and a member of the faculty.

N80-N89
INDEPENDENT STUDY
Current study areas are in the biblical languages, biblical history and theology, biblical archaeology, comparative religion, and the ethics of technology.

490-491
INDEPENDENT STUDY FOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

Ancient Languages

Greek, Hebrew, and Latin satisfy the Modern and Ancient Language Distribution Requirement, not the Humanities Distribution Requirement. They are not offered as majors. An interdisciplinary minor in Biblical Languages requires the completion of GRK 101 and 102; HEBR 101 and 102; and two from GRK 221, GRK 222, HEBR 221, and HEBR 222.

Greek (GRK)

101
BIBLICAL GREEK GRAMMAR AND READINGS I
Fundamentals of biblical Greek grammar, with an emphasis on the writings of the Greek New Testament. Alternate years.

102
BIBLICAL GREEK GRAMMAR AND READINGS II
Continuation of fundamentals of biblical Greek grammar, with readings from selected passages of the Greek New Testament. Introduction to the use of lexicons, library resources, and the critical apparatus of the UBS Greek New Testament for word study and exegesis. Prerequisite: GRK 101 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

221
READINGS IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS
A comparative study of the synoptic tradition in Greek. Prerequisite: GRK 102 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

222
READINGS IN THE PAULINE EPISTLES
Selected readings from the letters of Paul in Greek with a focus on the translation of one letter in its entirety. Prerequisite: GRK 221 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

Hebrew (HEBR)

101
BIBLICAL HEBREW GRAMMAR AND READINGS I
Fundamentals of biblical Hebrew grammar and readings of selected passages of the Hebrew Bible. Alternate years.

102
BIBLICAL HEBREW GRAMMAR AND READINGS II
Continuation of fundamentals of biblical Hebrew grammar and readings of selected passages of the Hebrew Bible. Introduction to the use of lexicons, library resources, and the critical apparatus of BHS for word study and exegesis. Prerequisite: HEBR 101 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

221
READINGS IN BIBLICAL HEBREW NARRATIVE
A critical reading of the Hebrew text of selected narrative portions of the Old Testament with special attention being given to exegetical questions. The texts vary from year to year. Prerequisite: HEBR 102 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

222
READINGS IN THE PROPHETIC BOOKS AND WISDOM LITERATURE
A critical reading of the Hebrew text of selected portions of Old Testament prophecy and wisdom literature, with special attention being given to poetic texts and to exegetical questions. The texts vary from year to year. Prerequisite: HEBR 221 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Alternate years.

Latin (LAT)

101
LATIN GRAMMAR AND READINGS I
Fundamentals of classical Latin grammar and readings of selected passages from Latin authors.

102
LATIN GRAMMAR AND READINGS II
Continuation of fundamentals of classical Latin grammar and readings of selected passages from Latin authors. Prerequisite: LAT 101 or equivalent or consent of instructor.

221
LATIN READINGS AND CULTURE I
Readings in a variety of classical Latin texts, including a brief grammar review. Prerequisite: LAT 102 or equivalent or consent of instructor.

222
LATIN READINGS AND CULTURE II
Readings in a variety of classical Latin texts, including the study of Latin inscriptions. Prerequisite: LAT 221 or equivalent or consent of instructor.