Zachary Seguin

RS Courses

RS 100 – Religions of Asia

An introduction to religious traditions of Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and East Asian traditions. Further topics may include Sikhism, Jainism, and Shinto.

RS 100E – Biblical Studies 1

A survey of the literature, history, and religious thought of the Old Testament as seen in its cultural setting in the ancient Near East.

RS 100F – Biblical Studies 2

A survey of the literature, history, and religious thought of the New Testament as seen in its cultural setting in the Greco-Roman world.

RS 110 – Religions of the West

Encounter with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: the characteristics and interaction of the three major religious traditions originating in the Middle East that have shaped the image of the Western World.

RS 111 – Relationships in the Bible (Old Testament)

Students will be introduced to the Hebrew Bible by way of selected readings which deal with a particular aspect of the human predicament. The focus will be on exploring relationships via narrative passages in the Old Testament and particularly in the Book of Genesis. The following relationships will be discussed: (a) Spousal (b) Human/God (c) Parent/child (d) Siblings (e) Gender issues in narratives of rape, incest, seduction and dominance.

RS 112 – Power and Corruption in the Bible (Old Testament)

This course will deal with the period of the Prophets, e.g., Joshua, Kings, and Samuel. It will examine the uses and abuses of power analyzing the historical narratives and study the conflict between Saul and David, the political as well as the moral rise and fall of David.

RS 113 – The Quest for Meaning in Modern Judaism

How does an ancient religious tradition remain relevant in the face of shifting cultural morals and beliefs and especially in light of the West's emphasis on relativism and freedom of choice? This course will explore the major themes and challenges that face Judaism and the Jewish people at the start of the 21st century. We will compare the insights of an extremely diverse group of Jewish thinkers on the place of tradition in the modern world, and examine the perpetual quest for meaning at the core of Judaism.

RS 114 – Jews and Jewishness

This course examines the central elements that make up contemporary Jewish identity/identities, traditional and otherwise, with particular focus on the North American Jewish experience and the nature of Jewish modernity. It explores historical, literary, religious, and social issues that have contributed to the formation of these identities.

RS 115R – Sex, Politics, and Religion in the U.S. and Canada

What are the three topics that should not be talked about in polite company? Sex, politics, and religion. Breaking the taboo, this course examines religious practices and conflicts around sexuality and sexual behaviour in the United States and Canada, and how they have manifested in political contests and public policy.

RS 121 – Evil

How do the religions of the world define evil? How do they suggest it can be overcome? Classical and modern writers from Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism will be considered.

RS 122 – Sacred Beauty: Religion and the Arts

An exploration of the spiritual dimension through the medium of art, sacred and secular. Aspects of the quest for meaning in world religions, expressed variously in the visual arts, architecture, music, and the cinema will be considered.

RS 123 – Monsters and Magic in Japanese Popular Culture

An examination of the roles played by monsters, magic, and supernatural creatures in Japanese popular culture, with attention to their treatment in Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism, and folk practices. Topics include modern-day creations such as Godzilla and Pokemon and traditional beings such as deities, ghosts, angry spirits, goblins, and shapeshifters.

RS 125 – What is Religion?

Using examples drawn from world religions, new religious movements, indigenous religious traditions, and popular culture, this course introduces students to religion as a human and social phenomenon.

RS 130 – Big Ideas of the Bible

The Bible is the most translated and most read document in human history. This course explores central biblical ideas, from creation to the end of time, violence to redemption, and political intrigue to family ties, and examines their impact on Judaism, Christianity, and Western Culture.

RS 131 – Classical Hebrew 1

Biblical Hebrew for beginners. A study of the alphabet, and some of the basic vocabulary and grammar of the language.

RS 132 – Classical Hebrew 2

A continuation of RS 131/JS 105A. Most of the rules of grammar will be covered in this course and students will begin to read texts in the original language.

RS 133 – New Testament Greek 1

An introduction to Greek grammar with appropriate grammatical exercises and development of vocabulary.

RS 134 – New Testament Greek 2

The completion of the study of Greek grammar and syntax with appropriate exercises and translation of various texts of the Greek New Testament.

RS 150 – Christian Ethics

An introduction to Christian ethical theory and practice and their implications for personal and social living. Case studies will investigate sexual morality, business and medical ethics, environmental issues, violence and non-violence, and family life.

RS 151 – Roman Catholicism

An introduction to the significance of Catholic beliefs, values, and practices for our time. Topics include spirituality, ethics, the meaning of the sacraments, prayer, sin and salvation, questions of authority, tradition, and change, and the role of women.

RS 152 – Introduction to Christian Theology

Introduction to the classical themes of Christian theology (revelation, God, creation, sin, Jesus Christ, salvation, church, etc.) and their interrelationship, critical reflection on these beliefs, and examination of debates about the meaning of Christian beliefs in contemporary contexts.

RS 170 – Religion and Popular Culture

An examination of the role that religion and myth play in popular culture, including television, cinema, music, fashion, and sport.

RS 180 – Love and Friendship

A study of the significance of love and friendship in classical and contemporary religious writers. We will consider questions such as, 'Why are friendship and love important for human living?' and 'Is friendship with God a possibility?'

RS 201 – Religions of East Asia

An examination of the leading religious and philosophical ideas that have shaped the cultures and histories of East Asia: China, Korea, and Japan. Folk, Shamanic, Confucian, Daoist, Shinto, and Buddhist traditions are examined.

RS 202 – Sikhism

An exploration of the origins and development of Sikhism, the Guru institution, scripture, ritual, and gender from an historical and contemporary perspective. Issues facing Sikhs in Canada and other countries will also be examined.

RS 203 – Hinduism

A study of the development of religious thought in India from the Vedic Period to the present. The course will combine an historical survey with a study of representative texts from the religious, philosophical, social, and political thought of the Hindus.

RS 204 – Buddhism

An introduction to the unifying beliefs and philosophical presuppositions of the Buddhist world-view, and an overview of the diverse forms of Buddhism in South and South-East Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan.

RS 205 – Buddhism in Tibet

The history of Buddhism's expansion into Tibet, its doctrines and practices, including the institution of the Dalai Lama and the 'Tibetan Book of the Dead', and the practice of Buddhism outside Tibet since 1959.

RS 206 – Japanese Religions

An examination of religious phenomena in the history of Japan, including their impact on art, literature, philosophy, and politics. Buddhism, Shinto, Confucianism, folk beliefs, new religious movements, and other traditions are explored.

RS 207 – Chinese Religions

An examination of religious phenomena in the history of China, including their influence on art, literature, philosophy, and politics. Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, folk beliefs, new religious movements, and other traditions will be explored.

RS 210 – Judaism

An introduction to the religious tradition of the Jews, in terms of beliefs, practices, ideals, and institutions from the beginning to the present time.

RS 211 – Jewish Responses to the Holocaust

The catastrophe and devastation of the Holocaust and the radical nature of its evil demanded responses within contemporary Jewish thought, identity, and experience. This course will explore philosophical, theological (Jewish law, rabbinic), literary (novels, poetry, memoirs, plays), and artistic (museums, memorials) attempts to deal with the issues the Holocaust raises.

RS 212 – Great Texts in the Jewish Tradition

This course will trace the development of biblical exegesis in the Jewish tradition. Interpretive methods and approaches to problems in the text such as redundancy, contradiction, and gaps will be surveyed, commencing with the Bible itself, through the classical period of the Talmud and concentrating on major medieval commentators. (The biblical episode of the 'Binding of Isaac' will be used as a paradigm to illustrate various approaches to the text.)

RS 213 – Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism

This course will survey the roots, history, and symbolism of the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah. Students will be introduced to the major texts, charismatic mystical masters, and schools of Kabbalah, beginning with the ancient Rabbis through to contemporary exponents such as Hasidim and messianic groups. Particular attention will be focused on the Zohar (Book of Splendour) and popular appeals to the mystical tradition.

RS 214 – Jewish Philosophy

The course will explore the thought of various Jewish scholars throughout history on issues that were vital to their faith. The texts studied will be representative of the philosophical and rabbinic traditions on such matters as the nature of God, the problem of evil, creation, miracles, prophecy, and providence.

RS 215 – Special Topics

One or more special courses will be offered at different times. Consult the Department for current offerings.

RS 216 – Islam

An introduction to the Islamic faith and practice, with a review of the development, achievements, and impact of the Muslim community from Muhammad the Prophet to the present day.

RS 217 – Islam in North America

An examination of Islam in North America. Topics include basic beliefs and practices, history, Muslim diversity, everyday life, relations with other religions and peoples, contributions to North American culture, and depictions of Islam in popular culture.

RS 219 – Religion in America

The course examines religion in the American context regarding issues like secularization, the nature and the influence of sects (e.g., Mormonism, Pentecostalism), Protestant revivalism and televangelism, and the impact of non-Christian traditions (e.g., Buddhism, Islam).

RS 220 – World Religions and Politics

How have religions influenced and been influenced by politics? How do the world's major religions understand political institutions and theories? Important writers from the world religions will be placed in dialogue with classical and modern thinkers.

RS 221 – Global Religious Fundamentalism

This course examines the varieties of religious fundamentalism around the world and how religious fundamentalism emerges and can become a motivating factor in ethno-nationalism, inter-religious conflict, and international affairs.

RS 222 – Sacred Places

From Mecca to Benares, Stonehenge to Chartres - a consideration of sacred cities, shrines, rivers, mountains, worship centres, and other places which have inspired the spiritual imagination of individuals and communities within various religious traditions.

RS 223 – Sacred Words and Sacred Texts

An exploration of the role of scripture/sacred texts in religious traditions and a study of representative texts and interpretations. This course will include an examination of the oral, meditative, and artistic use of scripture/sacred texts and sacred words.

RS 224 – Death and Dying

This course examines the ways people of various cultures and religions have thought about death as reflected in their myths, teachings, and science and how they have acted through ritual in the face of death.

RS 225 – Sacred Beauty: Religion and the Arts

An exploration of the spiritual dimension through the medium of art, sacred and secular. Aspects of the quest for meaning in world religions, expressed variously in the visual arts, architecture, music, and the cinema will be considered.

RS 227 – Buddhism in North America

This course examines the history and development of Buddhism in North America. Topics such as the adaptation of traditional Buddhism to North American culture and its development as a Western religion will be examined.

RS 229R – Christianity and Social Change in Canada

How has Christianity been a force for both oppression and liberation in Canada's history? This course examines the involvement of Christianity in such Canadian matters as racism, colonization, and the creation of the social welfare state.

RS 230 – Visions of Israel in Judaism: From Biblical to Modern Times

This course surveys the significance of the land of Israel in Judaism from historical, textual, and religious perspectives. Topics covered include the politics of Ancient Israel, the concept of Israel in prayer and the rabbinic and medieval Jewish imagination, portrayals of Israel in Christian and Muslim texts, and the origins, visions, and challenges of Zionism and the modern State of Israel.

RS 232 – The Hebrew Prophets

A study of the biblical prophets with special attention to their religious experience, social critique, visions of the future, and the writings that bear their names.

RS 233 – Intermediate New Testament Greek

Readings in the New Testament, in the Septuagint, Papyri and the Apostolic Fathers. Advanced grammar and syntax arising from the readings.

RS 234 – Hellenistic Greek

An intermediate reading course in Koine Greek. The objective is to read Koine texts rapidly and with a minimum of lexical aids. The focus is on biblical (Septuagint) and extra-biblical texts of the Hellenistic and Patristic periods, such as the Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, and Hellenistic philosophy.

RS 235 – Jesus: Life and Legacy

The life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, as experienced and interpreted by his followers and recorded in the New Testament and other ancient literature. Attention is given to Jesus' identity as a Jew in the Roman Empire in the first century, his teachings and actions, and his ongoing significance throughout history.

RS 236 – Paul: Life and Letters

The career and thought of the apostle Paul, at once a Jew, a Graeco-Roman, and a Christ believer, living within the Roman Empire. Attention is given to issues such as spirit, Jewish Law, grace, freedom and slavery, Christ, church, politics, gender and sexuality.

RS 237 – Insiders and Outsiders in the Bible

This course explores the tension between insiders and outsiders in the Bible, examining the rationale for and implications of issues such as purity, holy war, the chosen people, and the Gentiles.

RS 240 – History of Christianity

The development of Christianity in its Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions from the time of Christ to the present.

RS 242R – Religious Diversity and Social Development

Religious traditions and beliefs contribute both positively and negatively to social development. This course explores the interrelationship of religious diversity, multiculturalism, and attitudes towards social issues.

RS 245 – The Catholic Church in Canada

An examination of the role played by the Church in the social, political, and economic life of Canada from 1867 to the present.

RS 248 – The Anglican Tradition

An examination of the Anglican tradition from its beginnings to the present. This course will examine the ecclesial, liturgical, theological, and ethical dimensions of the tradition with special attention to its Canadian forms.

RS 250 – History of Christian Thought

An analysis of the major theological developments in the Christian traditions from the apostolic era to the present.

RS 251 – Catholic Social Thought

This course will explore the origins, development, and contemporary challenges to Catholic social thought. The main focus will be on the critical and global influences of the past 100 years.

RS 252 – Religious Responses to Political Oppression

An examination of the Christian responses to regimes of political oppression in the 20th century. Topics include the Nazi Holocaust, Latin American liberation theologies, and Apartheid.

RS 253 – Women and the Church

A multi-disciplinary examination of the evolution of the relationship between women and the church in the Christian tradition.

RS 254 – Christian Sexual Ethics

Historical and contemporary Christian approaches to ethical questions about human sexuality and relationships. Topics include marriage, celibacy, single life, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS, sexual violence, gender roles, abortion, reproductive technologies, and sexuality and spirituality.

RS 255 – Gospel and Liberation

A multi-disciplinary study of the Christian gospel as a means to liberation in Canadian society; its roles in the theory and practice of liberation theologies; and the role of contemplation and action in political and spiritual life.

RS 256 – Christian Approaches to Peacemaking

Current Christian approaches to peacemaking in areas of conflict: war and militarism, crime, poverty, racism, and gender relations. Attention will be given to various biblical, theological, and historical bases for these approaches.

RS 257 – Eastern Christianity: Being God and Human

Specific topics include sin, deification, divinity, human transformation, church structure, and the nature of community.

RS 258 – God

An examination of ideas about God in Western thought from religious, philosophical, cultural, scientific, and political perspectives.

RS 259R – Gender, Sexuality, and Christianity

What do the churches say about sex and gender? This course examines how matters of the body have affected Christian spirituality, particularly in the lives of women and LGBTQ persons.

RS 260 – How to Study Religion

An exploration of the nature of religion through: 1) the history of the study of religion, 2) exposure to varying methods and ways of approaching religious phenomena, and 3) consideration of accounts of religious experience.

RS 261 – Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion

A critical discussion of basic religious concepts. Among the topics covered will be faith, miracles, religious experience, immortality, arguments for the existence of God, and challenges to religious belief.

RS 262 – Religion in Sociological Perspective

An examination of the nature of religious experience, the elements of religious group life, the ways in which religions are a source of social stability and peace as well as of social change and conflict.

RS 263 – Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

This course examines theories about the psychological nature of religious experience, the source of religious belief, and the religious significance of psychological phenomena. Attention will be given to the role of introspective, psychoanalytic, experimental, humanistic, and transpersonal methods in the psychology of religion.

RS 264 – Personality and Religion

This course studies the various "developmental tasks" of the human life cycle in order to discover what psychological and religious needs should be satisfied at each stage of a person's life. The course also seeks to develop students' awareness in order to sensitize them to the processes of their own growth and development.

RS 265R – Religion Online

How do people find spirituality on the Internet? This course examines how believers and seekers practice religion online and use the Internet to promote religious belief. The course considers the emergence of online religions, as well as prospects for the future of faith and spirituality online.

RS 266 – Death and Dying

Death is more than a physical event. It also has legal, social, cultural, psychological, and religious significance. This course examines views about dying, death, and death rituals in several Western and Eastern religions, as well as in some indigenous spiritualities.

RS 270R – Religion in Popular Film

This course examines how religion has been a central concern and inspiration for filmmakers and how popular films have informed and shaped our understanding of religion.

RS 271R – Special Topics in Religion and Film

Each semester, this course focuses on a specific genre or theme to explore the complex relationship between cinema and religion. Topics may include science fiction, fantasy, horror, comedy, and documentary films.

RS 272 – The Holocaust and Film

An examination of the Holocaust as portrayed in feature films and documentaries. Do cinematic attempts capture the horror of the Holocaust faithfully, or trivialize it? The background to anti-semitism, use of religious imagery in propaganda films, and what counts as "success" or "failure" in cinematic representations are discussed.

RS 273 – Religion and the Media

An examination of the coverage of religion in print journalism, news broadcasting, and radio and television documentaries. Topics include secular versus confessional coverage, the politics of religious reportage, televangelism, cults, and current ethical issues.

RS 274 – Joan of Arc: Witch, Mystic, Martyr or Saint?

Using the available historical record as a reference point, this course will examine the many diverse and often contradictory interpretations of the life of Joan of Arc: religious, literary, philosophical, and ethical.

RS 275 – Religion and Japanese Film

The course examines how religious beliefs and values in Japan are explored in the medium of film.

RS 280 – Cults and New Religious Movements

This course examines various cults and new religious movements (e.g., Scientology, Krishna Consciousness, Neo-paganism) and places them within the context of our sociological knowledge of their emergence, who joins and why, and other issues.

RS 281 – Millennialism & Violence

An examination of the nature and causes of episodes of mass violence inspired by apocalyptic beliefs. This course will use historical and contemporary case studies and theoretical discussions of the social and psychological factors precipitating violence.

RS 282 – Christian Fundamentalism

A social scientific and historical examination of Christian fundamentalism in Canada and the United States. Topics include right-wing politics and religion, ideology, culture and identity, sexual morality, gender, and race.

RS 283 – Current Ethical Issues

An examination of specific current individual and social problems such as human sexuality, social justice, urban decay, and human rights, in the light of Christian moral consciousness.

RS 284 – Women and the Great Religions

Through a review of the teachings of the great religious traditions about women, this course aims to arrive at a global view of the situation of women "in the world of religion". On the basis of the evidence gathered, it will attempt an estimation of the role of religion as an intimate and important influence on human development.

RS 285 – The Sacred Earth: Religion and Ecology

An examination of the past and present effects of Christianity and other world religions on human treatment of the natural world. Historical background, recent debates, and contemporary approaches to the ethical issues will be investigated.

RS 286 – Spirit in Motion: Secular and Religious Spiritualities Today

Exploring changes in spirituality in modern society. Topics include the impact of eastern religions, new cults and sects, healing, psychology, ecological spirituality, women and spirituality, and the spiritual practices of aboriginal peoples on traditional concepts of spirituality.

RS 291 – Special Topics

Consult Department for current offerings.

RS 301 – Pure Land Buddhism

An examination of Pure Land Buddhism, including its origins, development and influence in India, China, Korea, Japan, and the West.

RS 301R – Engaged Buddhism

This course examines Buddhist - including mindfulness - engagement with contemporary social issues, such as peacemaking, environmentalism, political reform, race and gender concerns, and LGBTQ rights.

RS 302 – Images of the Feminine: India

This course offers an in-depth study and analysis of women as well as the Divine Feminine in the religions of India, which include Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, tribal religion, and the Baha'i tradition.

RS 302R – Buddhism in East Asia Today

This course examines modern developments in the Buddhism of China, Japan, and Korea. Topics such as war, urbanization, capitalism, colonialism, Christianity, Communism, the Internet, and nostalgia are explored for their impact on Buddhism.

RS 303 – Gender and Asian Religions

This course focuses on how the major Asian religious traditions construct gender and legitimize certain gender roles. Traditions covered include Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Shinto.

RS 304 – Zen and Now: History and Influence of Zen

An historical examination of the development of Zen in China and Japan and its influence on the development of Buddhism in the West.

RS 310 – Jews in the New World

Push and pull factors led Jews from Europe to the so-called New World (Canada, the United States, South America, the Caribbean) as well as South Africa and Australia. The mass movement of migrants leaving 19th century Europe dramatically transformed world Jewry. This course explores the experiences of various national Jewish communities, the variety of new world Jewries, and the relationship between modern states and their religious and ethnic minorities.

RS 312 – Muslim Lives and Practices Worldwide

This course examines the diversity of Muslim lives and practices worldwide. Selected case studies raise issues such as gender, authority, stereotypes, fundamentalism, and secularism.

RS 313 – Moses Maimonides: Life and Thought

This course examines the life and thought of Moses Maimonides, the most important thinker in Jewish history. It explores his contributions to philosophy, law, biblical interpretation and his attempt to reconcile religion and science.

RS 314 – Islam and Christianity

A survey of the history of the Muslim-Christian relations from the time of the emergence of Islam to the present, with a special emphasis on the characteristic polemic literature which each community produced against the other.

RS 315 – Greek and Roman Religion

An examination of the religious beliefs and cult practices of the classical world. Topics include prayer and sacrifice; divination and oracles; temples, priests and festivals; mystery cults and their relation to Christianity.

RS 316 – Religion & War: The Language and Imagery of War within Islam, Christianity, and Judaism

This course explores the phenomena of militant words and images within Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Considered in conversation with one another, these Abrahamic traditions challenge students to consider the interconnectedness of these communities, histories, and textual traditions.

RS 318 – Canadian Native Religious Traditions

An examination of the ritual and oral traditions of a specific pre-modern group of native peoples to discern their attempts to integrate themselves and their environment.

RS 319 – Religion in Canada

Religion in Canada past and present. Topics include Canada's Christian origins, religion and nationalism in English and French Canada, secularization, religious tolerance and multiculturalism, Christian antisemitism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Sikh communities, and new religious movements.

RS 320 – East Comes West, West Turns East

The immigration of Asian peoples to Canada has brought varied religious traditions. This course will examine the development of these religions in Canada, their transformation within the Canadian context, and their adoption outside of the Asian cultural and religious milieu.

RS 321 – Women in Buddhism: A Global Perspective

An examination of the interplay between cultural and historical contexts and beliefs about the religious potential of Buddhist women, and their consequences for women's religious practice historically and currently in India, China, Japan and the West.

RS 322 – Interreligious Encounter and Dialogue

A study of the encounter and dialogue of men and women of different faiths, emphasizing movements, figures and ideas central to the contemporary scene. Both bilateral, for example Christian-Buddhist, and multilateral developments will be explored.

RS 323 – Religious Ethics and Global Politics

An examination of the role of religious ethics, as understood by the major world religions, in international affairs. Selected cases of recent international conflict, international terrorism, and humanitarian intervention will be covered.

RS 324 – Religious Perspectives on Marriage and Family

This course examines how the world religions understand family relations in various social, cultural, and political contexts.

RS 325 – Sex and the World Religions

This course examines deeply rooted attitudes in the major world religions toward sexual identity, practices, and gender. Examining sacred scriptures and codes of conduct from the world religions, as well as fictional writings and films, this course enables students to explore various social and religious traditions.

RS 326 – Global Christianity

This course examines the scope and character of contemporary Christianity around the globe, especially its diversity of expression and varied interactions with culture.

RS 327 – The Body, Dress, and Religion

From clothing to hairstyles to tattoos, dress can express beliefs, aspects of identity, and power. This course examines dress in a variety of religions from ancient Greece to the modern era. The course includes attention to the look and feel of dress on the body, conflicts that can arise over dress and religion, as well as the role of dress in the formation and maintenance of religious communities.

RS 330 – Selected Topics in Biblical Studies

Consult Department for current offerings.

RS 331 – Intermediate Classical Hebrew

Reading and grammatical analysis of selected passages from the Hebrew Bible.

RS 332 – Ancient Semitic Texts and Inscriptions

Reading and analysis of Iron Age inscriptions and ostraca in Hebrew or closely related Canaanite dialects, including the Siloam and Mesha inscriptions and the Lachish letters, plus a selection from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

RS 335 – The Violence of the Bible

Why has the Bible inspired so much violence? This course explores how the Bible has been used to justify, and to oppose, violence in historical and contemporary contexts. It will address topics such as the crusades, slavery, the "conquest" of the Americas, apartheid in South Africa, the residential school system in Canada, gender violence, and the environmental crisis.

RS 336 – Feminist Approaches to the Bible

An examination of various feminist approaches to the biblical text including consideration of the impact of sexism and patriarchal structures on a biblical text as well as various models feminist scholars have employed in biblical interpretation.

RS 337 – The Bible and Peace

An examination of diverse biblical views of peace in relation to war, justice, and salvation with attention to their relevance for the contemporary quest for peace.

RS 338 – Seeking Wisdom in the Bible

This course explores the theme of wisdom in the Bible and related literature in the period from ancient Israel to the first century CE. It examines the varied cultural influences on biblical wisdom traditions.

RS 339 – The Bible (Old Testament) and Archaeology

This course examines the Bible in relation to the archaeology and material culture of the Ancient Near East. It will explore how archaeological discoveries contribute to our understanding of the events, personalities and narratives of the Hebrew Bible.

RS 341 – Jewish Contributions to Political Thought

This course examines Jewish communal organization and contributions to political thought. Issues discussed include the nature of legitimate authority in conditions of Jewish diaspora, the intellectual and political foundations for governance in the Jewish tradition from the time of the Exodus to the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

RS 342 – Heresy and Religious Crises in Late Medieval Europe

An exploration of the impact of social crises on late medieval religious modes of expression. Topics will include the Great Famine, the Black Death, the Avignon Papacy and Western Schism, the development of heretical movements, and the eventual disintegration of European religious unity.

RS 343 – Reformation History

A study of the major 16th-century reformers, and their intellectual background in humanism and late medieval scholasticism. Special attention will be given to the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, and their ideological, social, and political expressions.

RS 344 – The Radical Reformation

A study of 16th century Anabaptism - a religious Reformation movement dissenting from both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism - its origins, its social, political, and theological content; and its relationship to such independent dissenters as Sebastian Franck.

RS 348 – Vatican II

An analysis of the context and rich documentary tradition of the second Vatican Council, the course will explore, in particular, the global dynamics of these teachings.

RS 350 – Modern Christian Thought

A biographical and thematic approach to the study of the major nineteenth-century thinkers who shaped modern theology. Among theologians and issues to be considered are Schleiermacher and liberalism, Kierkegaard and existentialism, Troeltsch and historicism.

RS 351 – Contemporary Christian Thought

An examination of how Christian beliefs and practices have been reinterpreted by representative Christian theologians to address the challenges of the 20th and 21st centuries.

RS 352 – Contemporary Mennonite Thought

A survey of contemporary Mennonite theological debate. The course will focus on some of the central themes of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition: adult baptism, separation from the world, biblical authority, peace and nonresistance, discipleship as a way of life.

RS 353 – War and Peace in Christian Theology

Christian teachings on war and peace from the early church to the present, including crusade, just war, and pacifist traditions, focusing especially on the 20th century discussion around realism, just revolution, nuclear pacifism, and non-violent resistance.

RS 354 – Shapers of the Roman Catholic Tradition

An examination of some influential Christian thinkers who have played a critical role in Roman Catholic theology such as Augustine, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Aquinas, Newman, Rahner, Ruether, Schussler Fiorenza, Lonergan.

RS 355 – Christian Feminist Thought

Christian feminist thought challenges traditional Christian teaching at every level. This course will explore in particular the challenges to traditional disciplines of theology and spirituality.

RS 357 – The Christian Hymn

The origins of the Christian hymn and its development up to the present. The course considers the hymn as theological, poetic, musical, cultural, and spiritual expression, and the use of hymns in a variety of worship settings.

RS 358 – Worship and its Music

The nature of worship and the role of music within worship in historical, theological, and cultural perspective. Field trips to services of various traditions.

RS 361 – Anthropology of Religion

This course examines how religion has been studied as an object of anthropological inquiry. Topics may include ritual, magic, witchcraft, symbolism, cosmology, the relation between beliefs and practices, as well as the mutual influences of religion, politics, nationalism, and socioeconomic change.

RS 363 – Carl Jung's Theory of Religion

Jung's analysis of the development of the personality through its life cycle, and of the central place which religion holds within the process of maturation. This includes a study of the unconscious, the collective unconscious, dreams, myths, symbols and archetypes; and the implications of Jung's theories for religious thought and therapy.

RS 370 – Atheism, Skepticism, and Free Thought

This course considers the social history of atheism, skepticism, and free thought in the context of religious debate in the West. It covers the period from the 19th century to the present.

RS 374 – Religious Quests

Profiles, biographies, and autobiographies of individuals in search of ultimate meaning. Persons studied are spiritual seekers from all walks of life: traditional religious figures, artists, novelists, scientists, and others.

RS 375 – Icons in Eastern Christianity: Windows to Heaven

In the Christian East, icons are seen as theology in colour. They are known as "windows to heaven". Icons both reflect and help form Christian teaching. This course investigates the development of iconography, how icons are understood within the tradition, and how other approaches to the aesthetic can inform a contemporary understanding of iconography.

RS 380 – Religion and Peacebuilding

This course investigates the roles of religion and spirituality in peacemaking, exploring both obstacles and opportunities facing religious peace builders. Cases involving representatives of major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism) will provide a basis for comparing practices of faith-based advocacy for social justice, reconciliation, and coexistence.

RS 381 – Religious Perspectives on the Environmental Crisis

An examination of religious perspectives on the environmental crisis, including an analysis of what the various religious traditions have taught about caring for the created universe. Special attention will be given to the views of the native peoples of Canada on responsibility for the creation, and to religious resources for developing an ethical stance on environmental issues and a respect for nature.

RS 382 – Bioethics and Religious Values

This course will study issues such as sexual ethics, eugenics, euthanasia, suicide, genetic screening, organ transplants, organ and embryo banking, as they stand in relation to traditional religious values.

RS 383 – Justice, Peace, and Development

An examination of communities, movements, and theologies which express a Christian hope for justice, peace, and development in the encounter with injustice, oppression, and poverty.

RS 384 – Dreams in Religious Experience

The course examines the place of dreams in religious experience from ancient to modern times. Present day advances in understanding dream symbols will be explored, as well as the possibility of incorporating the use of dreams in one's personal religious growth and development.

RS 385 – Aging as a Spiritual Journey

The following existential issues related to the aging process are examined from the perspective of the psychology of religion: identity, belief, actualization, existential anxiety, conversion, individuation, and spirituality.

RS 386 – Spirituality and Psychotherapy

The course examines the spiritual dimension of the search for meaning, especially at crucial points in life, via the work of Viktor Frankl and the spiritual, philosophic, and psychotherapeutic dynamics he introduced.

RS 387 – Aging and the Spiritual Life

Engaging experience, theory, and reflection, this course explores spirituality as a central aspect of growth and development in later life. This course draws on perspectives from various faith and humanistic traditions. Topics include religious beliefs and spiritual concerns later in life, a spirituality of aging, providing spiritual care to persons in later life, spirituality and dementia, and death and dying.

RS 391 – Special Topics

See Department for current offerings.

RS 395 – Study-Travel Seminar in Religion

Consult Department for current offerings.

RS 398 – Directed Readings in Special Subjects

Readings in selected topics chosen in discussion with instructor.

RS 420R – Critical Encounter with Human Nature

This course explores human nature, issues fundamental to human life, and theories which have developed around these issues. The approach is interdisciplinary and intercultural/interreligious with emphasis on such themes as self knowledge, community, loneliness and anxiety, free will and purpose in human life, and the nature of human happiness.

RS 462 – Sociology of Religion

This course examines key substantive, theoretical, and methodological issues of the sociology of religion through the detailed study of important classical and contemporary works in the field.

RS 482 – Religion, Science, and Technology

This course studies the interactions between religion, science, and technology as well as their implications for knowledge, values, authority, and ethics.

RS 491 – Special Topics

Consult the Department for Special Topics.

RS 495 – Study Term Abroad

Consult the Department for current offerings.

RS 498 – Directed Readings in Special Subjects

Readings in selected topics chosen in discussion with instructor.

RS 499 – Senior Seminar

This seminar examines contemporary methods and theories in the study of religion and how they may be used to address specific themes in religious studies.

RS 700 – Religious Diversity in North America

An examination of historical forces and other factors that have shaped religious diversity in North America.

RS 701 – Case Studies in Religion

Case studies focused on lived religions in their cultural settings.

RS 703 – Directed Study

Individual study of a topic under the guidance of a member of the program. Directed Study topics must be approved by the director.

RS 704 – Special Topics

Group study of a topic under the guidance of a member of the program.

RS 705 – History of Religion in North America

This course examines the history of varius religions and religious phenomena in North America, with attention to such factors as colonization, immigration, gender, race, class, theology, and praxis.

RS 710 – Approaches to the Study of Religion in North America

A consideration of the theories, methods, and interpretations that have been influential in the study of religion in North America.

RS 730 – Sociology of Religion

The course examines key substantive, theoretical and methodological issues of the sociology of religion through the detailed study of important classical and contemporary works in the field. Representative issues addressed are: the social and psychological nature and function of religious experience, the character of conversion processes, the social and political implications of religious ideologies and organizations, the status of religious beliefs and practices in an age of seeming secularization. Attention will be given to both western and non-western religious traditions as well as to both established and newer forms of religious life.