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Department of Religious Studies
109 Foust Building

Major / Minor Information


Henry Samuel Levinson, Professor and Head of Department

Associate Professor Wakeman; Assistant Professors Krueger, Orzech, Ramsey; Lecturers Headington, Sopper

The Department of Religious Studies investigates a variety of religious traditions, movements, and expressions that play important roles either historically or in contemporary cultures.

Courses are organized in four concentrations:

1. Traditions
2. Historical Studies
3. Critical and Evaluative Studies
4. Cultural Studies.

The Department teaches courses on such traditions as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, and Taoism. Historical studies include courses about religions in African, Asian, Middle East, European, and American (especially United States) history. Critical and evaluative studies include courses on religious philosophies, religious ethics, and theologies, as well as political, social, and psychological accounts of religious life. Cultural studies include courses that investigate the role religion plays in politics, economics, social movements, arts, sciences, as well as diverse forms of personal conduct.

Religious Studies Courses Which Meet All-University Liberal Education Requirements (AULER) and College of Arts and Sciences Liberal Education Requirements (CLER)

REL 104, 107, 109, 110, 207, Analytic and Evaluative Studies (AE, CAE) 226, 228, 309, 365
REL 202, 204, 210 Historical Perspectives on Western Culture (HP, CPM)
REL 131, 212 Historical Perspectives on Western Culture (HP, CMO)
REL 111, 211, 218, 220, 221, Nonwestern Studies (NW, CNW) 225, 351

Religious Studies Major (Bachelor of Arts)

Required: 122 semester hours

The Religious Studies Major participates in a diversified program in the humanities, studying religious history, imaginative literature, systems of thought, and criticisms of culture, politics, and society. Because religious studies majors engage in multidisciplinary studies in the liberal arts, they are well-qualified to enter any field that profits from disciplines of exposition, analysis, appreciation, criticism, and historical reflection. Upon graduation, Religious Studies majors have gone into teaching, medicine, nursing, law, business, ministry, journalism and communications.

Members of the Religious Studies Department are available to advise students about career opportunities and to refer them to further information that may be of help.

College of Arts and Sciences Liberal Education Requirements (CLER) (54-55 hours)

All students must meet the All-University Liberal Education Requirements (AULER). The College of Arts and Sciences, however, has established liberal education requirements for its programs which, while including those of AULER, contain additional requirements in several categories. Therefore, students following this program should adhere to the College requirements. Please note that students who satisfy the College Liberal Education Requirements (CLER) will also satisfy the All-University Liberal Education Requirements (AULER). See pp. 70-73 for a complete description of the College requirements and pp. 65-66 and 71-72 for a listing of courses meeting AULER/CLER requirements.

Major Requirements

Minimum 24 semester hours in Religious Studies above the 100-level, including one course from each category.

1. Traditions: REL 210, 211, 212, 215, 218, 220, 221, 225, 351
2. Historical Studies: REL 202, 204, 301, 305, 366, 367
3. Critical and Evaluative Studies: REL 207, 226, 227, 228, 240, 259, 324, 325, 330, 333, 339, 340, 365
4. Cultural Studies: REL 309, 310, 314, 318, 503


Electives sufficient to complete the 122 semester hours required for degree.

Religious Studies as a Second Major

Requirements for a Second Major in Religious Studies are the same as for the Religious Studies Major. Included in the requirements are a minimum of 24 hours above the 100-level, including one course from four concentrations: traditions, historical studies, critical and evaluative studies, and cultural studies.

Religious Studies Minor

The Religious Studies Minor complements majors in a variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences; for others it provides a way to focus various disciplines in the humanities on a profoundly significant part of cultures around the world. The minor consists of 18 semester hours including one course each in Traditions, Historical Studies, Critical and Evaluative Studies, and Cultural Studies.


For Undergraduates

104 Religion, Ritual, and the Arts (3:3).

A study of how myths and stories are used in ritual and the arts. The specific traditions treated will vary. [AE, CAE].

107 Myth and Ritual in the Ancient Near East (3:3).

Exploration of classical Western religious themes (marriage, battle, underworld, journey) in the earliest form of their expression in ancient Near Eastern myth and ritual. [AE, CAE].

109 Religion and Contemporary Culture (3:3).

Understandings or religion as shaped by contemporary social institutions, the arts, politics, and philosophy. [AE, CAE].

110 Introduction to Religious Studies (3:3).

Inquiry into meaning of religion through consideration of forms, patterns, categories, symbols, and practices which characterize religious experience. [AE, CAE].

111 Non-Western Religion (3:3).

Comparative study of non-Western religions and their contributions to modern religious self-understanding, focusing critically and evaluatively on such patterns of expression as myth, ritual, and social forms. [NW, CNW].

121 Religious Themes in Contemporary Literature (3:3).

Religious attitudes and themes concerning suffering, bafflement, and evil in contemporary novels by such authors as Atwood, Chappel, Delilo, Dillard, Erdrich, Heller, Kundera, Levi, Morrison, Rushdie, Thomas, Tylor, and Vonnegut.

131 Religion in America (3:3).

Diverse religious traditions and thinkers that have played a significant role in the history of the United States from Native American beginnings to the present. [HP, CHP-CMO].

202 Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures (3:3).

Study of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) in historical, sociological, and literary context. [HP, CHP-CPM].

204 New Testament and the Origins of Christianity (3:3).

Study of the New Testament texts in their historical, sociological, and literary contexts. [HP, CHP-CPM].

207 Modern Problems of Belief (3:3).

Exploration of ways in which God has been understood in the context of the eclipse of religion in Western culture from the Enlightenment to the present. [AE, CAE].

210 Christianity I (3:3).

Study of classic Christian texts, symbols, rituals, and social movements to the dawn of the Reformation. [HP, CHP-CPM].

211 Hinduism (3:3).

Introduction to the Hindu religious tradition, its myths, rituals, music, social structure, and philosophical thought. [NW, CNW].

212 Christianity II. (3:3).

Examination of a range of themes in the history of Christian thought from the sixteenth century to present, through reading of a variety of texts representative of Christian traditions. [HP, CHP-CMO].

215 Judaism (3:3).

Introductory study of Judaism, its history, texts, life, and thought.

218 Religions of China (3:3).

A study of the religions of China in the classical and modern periods focusing on thought, ritual, social structure, and aesthetics. [NW, CNW].

220 Religions of Japan (3:3).

A study of the religions of Japan in the classical and modern periods focusing on thought, ritual, social structure, and aesthetics. [NW, CNW].

221 Buddhism (3:3).

Introduction to the origin, development, and impact of Buddhism in Asian cultures. Focus on religious doctrines, forms of community, religious practices, techniques, art and iconography, and the implications of the Buddhist perspective for the contemporary world in both Asia and the West. [NW, CNW].

225 Islam (3:3).

Introduction to origins of Islam and its development as a world religion focusing on doctrine, ritual practices, and community structures. [NW, CNW].

226 American Religious Thought I (3:3).

Exploration of American religious thought from settlement through the National Period (mid-19th century), focusing on the works of Puritans, Rationalists, and Romantics. [AE, CAE].

227 American Religious Thought II: The Romantic Tradition (3:3).

A study of thinkers like Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau that focuses on issues concerning religion in a democracy, divinity and nature, and the 'revelatory' character of poetry.

228 American Religious Thought III: The Pragmatic Tradition (3:3).

Study of 'classic' pragmatic religious thinkers, including Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, and Dewey. Focuses on issues concerning the character of religious experience, divinity and nature, the problem of evil. [AE, CAE].

240 Modern Jewish Thought (3:3).

A survey of modern Jewish thinkers from Spinoza to Rozensweig.

259 Philosophy of Religion (3:3).

Arguments concerning God's existence, the problem of evil, God's foreknowledge and human freedom, the analysis of divine attributes, immortality and the soul. (Same as Philosophy 259)

301 History of Early Christianity (3:3).

Development of various kinds of Christian beliefs and practices from the second to seventh centuries. Focus on primary sources.

305 Religions of the Greco-Roman World (3:3).

Study of themes in Judaism, Christianity, and pagan religious movements of the Mediterranean world from Alexander to Constantine.

309 Gender and Spirituality in the West (3:3).

Examines assumptions about gender roles in Western religious tradition in relation to changing roles of men and women, spiritual needs and new forms of their expression. [AE, CAE].

310 Christianity and the Construction of Gender (3:3).

Study of the role of categories of male and female in the creation and maintenance of Christian notions of holiness, authority, and hierarchy in historical perspective.

314 Saint and Society in the Early Middle Ages (3:3).

Examination of the concept of sanctity and of the rise and function of the veneration of holy men and women in Christian tradition from the fourth to the seventh century.

318 Magic, Science, and Religion (3;3).

Examination of theories of religion advanced by anthropologists, sociologists, historians and theologians. Consideration of case studies to understand religion as a system of beliefs and practices.

324 Philosophical Issues in Religion (3:3).

Modes of philosophical reflection, groups of human conceptuality and their relation to the truth of religious claims.

325 Contemporary American Jewish Thought (3:3).

Analysis and evaluation of American Jewish thinkers: Kaplan, Heschel, Soloveichik, and Fackenheim. Topics include the Holocaust, Israel, relations with Gentiles, Jewish life in a democracy, and relations with African Americans.

330 Major American Religious Thinkers (3:3). Pr. consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

Topics to vary. Analysis and evaluation of major works by an American religious thinker, e.g., Jonathan Edwards, or works exemplifying a particular intellectual movement, e.g., the Puritan Christian Enlightenment.

333 Religion and Psychology (3:3).

Presents classic Western and/or Asian psychological theories of religion and shows how various religious traditions understand the human psyche.

339 Understanding Religious Experience (3:3).

Analysis and evaluation of works by major thinkers, e.g., Schleiermacher, Edwards, Otto, James, Santayana, Alston, Buber and Proudfoot, interpreting religious experience, e.g., conversion, prayer, mysticism, and possession.

340 Modern Jewish Thinkers (3:3). Pr. 240. May be repeated for credit when subject varies.

Analysis and evaluation of major works by a Jewish thinker, e.g., Martin Buber, or works exemplifying a particular intellectual movement, e.g. Jewish existentialism. Topics will vary.

351 Religion in Traditional Societies (3:3).

Study of religion in traditional societies in which the basic question "What is it to be human?" is raised by entering into the diverse symbolic worlds of native Americans, Africans, or others. [NW, CNW].

365 Myth and Theory (3:3).

An examination of theories of myth in light of intensive readings in Asian, African and Western Mythology, with emphasis upon the role of myth in religion and culture. [AE, CAE].

366 Religions of China: Selected Topics (3:3).

Explores selected aspects of Chinese religions. Possible topics include ritual, Taoist alchemy, ancestor worship, Ch'an Buddhism, the underworld and the dead.

367 Religions of Japan: Selected Topics (3:3).

Exploration of selected aspects of Japanese religions. Possible topics include ritual, Japanese festivals, Shinto, ancestor worship, Zen Buddhism, the underworld and the dead.

401, 402, 403, 404 Tutorial (1 to 3), (1 to 3), (1 to 3), (1 to 3). Pr. permission of instructor.

Directed program of reading, research, and private instruction.

493 Honors Work (3-6). See prerequisites under Honors Program, XXX 493 (p. 379).

For Advanced Undergraduates

and Graduate Students

503 Topics in Religious Studies (3:3). Pr. permission of instructor. May be repeated once for credit.

Study of role, nature, and function of selected social forms of religious life through cross-cultural comparison or intensive study of one religious tradition.

For Graduate Students Only

695 Independent Study (1 to 3).


Contact: University Registrar's Office
Registrar, UNCG, PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170 (336) 334-5946

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