Fall 2018 Christian Studies Course Guide

In the future, as this program develops, the guide will include listings from other area colleges and universities.

Last updated: 19 April 2018
This list represents courses with substantial content in Christian history, theology, culture, the Bible, and the relationships between Christianity and other religions. By including courses on this list, the PGH Christian Studies project does not endorse them or take responsibility for their content. Unless otherwise indicated, classes do not have prerequisites and do not fulfill general education requirements.

Free books! Take any of these courses and we will pay for your books, up to $100 for each course. See details here.

University of Pittsburgh

ENGLIT 597 Bible as Literature

Prof. Mark Best
We 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. / 10744
We will be reading the Bible as Literature. This is to say that we will be discussing, for example, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah and the flood, and the story of the crucifixion of Jesus as stories. We will try to understand these wonderful stories in their historical contexts, and so we will be discussing a wide range of background materials -- art, anthropology, history, and more.

ENGLIT 1010 Magical Nature Before Modern World

Prof. Hannah Johnson
TuTh 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. / 29289
No description available, check for updates!

ENGLIT 1100 Medieval Imagination

Prof. Ryan McDermott
MoWe 4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. / 27675
In this course, we will consider how early English texts represent, challenge and re-imagine the social world. Medieval Europe was a cultural cross-roads, sometimes peaceably borrowing, sometimes forced to adapt ideas, forms, religious and social practices not only from near neighbors but also from the older cultures of the Mediterranean. Such cultural volatility is evident not only in religious writings, but also in romance and works of social critique (both comic and visionary). We will read across a range of genres, including medieval lyrics, mystical writings and selections from The Canterbury Tales and Piers Plowman.

FP 0003 Freshman Seminar: Writing the Spiritual

Prof. TBD
MoWe 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. / 16516
In this course, we will explore the question, “How do you write about what you cannot see?” We will examine how the spiritual life—an inner dimension of life that has to do with our relationship with our own selves and/or the divine—is represented in writing while exploring the following inquiries: How do authors write about spiritual experiences/beliefs/questions/doubts that others cannot see? How do they push beyond religious rhetoric to convey their inner lives in language that others can understand? How can you write clearly and creatively about your own faith or skepticism? To investigate these questions and more, we will read writers from various disciplines (including neuroscience) and religions, visit several religious landmarks in the city of Pittsburgh, and write a series of essays designed to embody spirituality. This course welcomes students who want to use writing to explore their own spiritual lives and learn about the spiritual lives of others. Writing the Spiritual also includes an introduction to mindfulness meditation. First-Year Seminar (FP 0003) fulfills the seminar in composition requirement and includes academic foundations (FP 0001).  FP 0001 is designed especially for first-term students as an introduction to the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Through class work and out-of-class activities, students will gain knowledge of the educational opportunities at the University, the cultural events on and off campus, and an understanding of what it means to be a college student. Additional meetings and activities will occur outside of class time. All students who enroll in this course will receive a free academic planner on the first day of class.

HIST 1110 Medieval History 1

Prof. Elizabeth Archibald
MoWe 3:00 pm. – 4:15 p.m. / 29659
Survey course in the social, political, economic and religious history of Europe from the Diocletian reforms to the year one thousand. Special attention to interpreting the primary documents and to integrating various areas of activity (e.g. economic and religious). Focus on France, England, Germany, and Italy.

HAA 0380 Art of the Spanish World

Prof. Christopher Nygren
TuTh 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. / 29395
Spain underwent a series of radical transformations in the period from about 1200-1700 CE. The peninsula was first the center of Muslim empire that controlled much of the Mediterranean. This gave way to a Catholic empire that then expanded across the Atlantic Ocean to encompass most of the New World. This succession of ambitious kingdoms gave rise to some of the most unique artistic expressions at the time. This class will examine the art produced in Spain and Spanish realms in this period. Because of the unique interreligious history of Spain, its art tends to sit uncomfortably with the art produced elsewhere in Europe and its empires. This course will recuperate some of the fascinating strangeness of Spanish images by focusing on the frictions created by the enhanced flow of peoples and the cultures with which they came into contact during the early modern period. As Iberian powers expanded into Latin American and south Asia, European cultures increasingly came into tension with indigenous cultures and forms of image production. Rather than leading to “imperfect” or “deformed” art, though, this friction led to the creation of novel images that show how cultural hybridity was both a coping mechanism and a productive artistic strategy. This course will examine works produced by some major artists in Spain. However, we will also look at how the concept of “the artist” evolved in Spain during the period in question. This we be supplemented by looking at how local modes of artistic production developed in the New World came into tension with Spanish ideas about art and aesthetics during the period of colonization. These cultures often lacked a strong notion of “the artist,” and we will consider how differing modes of creation helped produce a hybrid style of art the forces a reconsideration of the how we define colonial European art within a global context.

PHIL 1762 Guide Of The Perplexed

Prof. Brock Bahler
TuTh 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. / 29873
A description has not been provided yet. Please check again later.

RELGST 0405 Witches To Walden Pond

Prof. Paula Kane
TuTh 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. / 29793
This course is the first half of a two-part survey of American religious history. We focus on the colonial era of Spanish, French, and English colonization of America through the Civil War. While following the Puritan "mainstream" of New England, we also study Afro-American and immigrant traditions, religious reformers and radicals, highlighting how religious and social beliefs from 1600 to 1865 both reflected and shaped gender, racial, economic, and political change.

RELGST 105 Religions of the West

Prof. Paula Kane
TuTh 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 p.m. / 17348
This course is a historical introduction to the religious traditions that developed in ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. Our major emphasis is on the history of the religious traditions that emerged in late antiquity in this area and which continue to be major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. We focus on key concepts, historical developments, and contemporary issues. Throughout the course, we also examine interactions among these religious traditions. In the last part of the course we examine the issue of globalization and the spread of these religions around the world as well as the presence of "non-Western" religion in the "West." The course also serves as an introduction to the academic study of religion and provides a foundation for further coursework in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. No prior knowledge of any of the religions studied is expected or assumed.

RUSS 1202 Dostoevsky: The Major Novels

Prof. Vladimir Padunov
Th 2:30 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. / 30402
This course covers major works of Dostoevsky. It is cross-listed with a grad seminar and is conducted in English. Readings in English or Russian.

Duquesne University 

Because Duquesne is a Catholic university, it has extensive offerings in Christian Studies. We have listed here courses that may be of special interest to students at other universities, and for which detailed descriptions are available. For a complete list of courses offered, consult the course schedule on the registrar's Web site. Duquesne does not compile course descriptions, so if a title intrigues you, e-mail the professor and ask for more info. They'll be happy to help.

Duquesne University

THEO 201 / WSGS 202/AFST 202: Women & Christianity

Dr.Elisabeth Vasko
W-6:00pm-8:40pm / 201
The goal of this course is to expand our worldview by considering the lives of women in diverse religious communities and to think constructively and creatively about visions and strategies that promote the flourishing of women and all persons. Through this requirement students are assisted in learning how to be informed global citizens and challenged to take responsibility for promoting human dignity. Emphasis will be placed on multicultural perspectives in light of issues and themes that engage feminist theologians, womanist theologians, and scholars from the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. Some of the topics that will be discussed include: sexual violence, racism, poverty and health, ways of imaging the divine and participating in religious rituals, interpretive and communal authority, and power structures.

THEO 206: Christian Mysticism

Dr. Kevin Mongrain
TR - 3:05pm-4:20pm / 206
The course centers on the mystical theology of Christian religion. The main texts will be the Bible and primary texts from the tradition of Christian mystical writings. With an eye on discerning the internal logic of Christianity as a whole (not just its doctrines but it rituals and spiritual disciplines too), the course begins with a reflection on a paradigm of Christian theology that emphasizes the “iconic” nature of God-talk; this paradigm views theological words and ideas as the “letters” that seek to express the spiritual reality of God’s ineffable mystery without reducing it to a verbal or conceptual idol. This is the essence of written testimonies to mystical experience in the Christian tradition. The mystical and the esoteric are necessary for understanding the doctrinal and exoteric truth claims in the entirety of the Christian tradition. As one illustration, the course applies this paradigm of “iconic” writing as a lens for interpreting the development of classical Christological and Trinitarian doctrine, as well as the development of the theology of grace. Finally it examines several primary texts by spiritual-mystical theologians from the tradition. Overall the focus of the course is on the symbiosis of Christian mysticism and a Christological-Trinitarian doctrine of God. The course will include writings by authors such as Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, John Cassian, Maximus the Confessor, Richard of St. Victor, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart, John Ruusbroec, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales.

THEO 210: Buddhist Christian Dialogue: Meditation and Climate Change

Dr. Daniel Scheid
MWF - 1-1:50pm / 210
This course explores some of the key reasons for and approaches to Buddhist-Christian dialogue, with an emphasis on Zen Buddhism and Catholic Christianity. We will begin with a brief introduction to each religious tradition and to their founders, Buddha and Jesus. Then we will turn to contemporary figures and what Buddhists and Christians have learned from each other through dialogue. There will be a particular focus on two areas: 1) meditative practices and 2) addressing climate change. This course will partner with the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, and we will regularly engage in various meditations during class.

THEO 211: Finding Religion in Prison

Dr. Kenneth Parker
TR - 10:50am-12:05pm / 211C
This Inside-Out course explores the Christian identification of its founder, Jesus Christ, with those who are incarcerated and executed. The symbol of the Christian faith is the common Roman devise for the death penalty, and over the centuries Christian prison literature has become among the richest sources of inspiration for Christian believers. From St. Paul to Martin Luther King, students will examine samples of this prison literature in order to understand better why Christians seek to find their savior in the most unlikely of places: prisons and jails.

THEO 212: Sacred Scriptures of Ancient Israel

Dr. Bogdan Bucur
TR - 1:40pm-2:55pm / 212
This course provides an introduction to some of the most important texts, themes, and persons of the Hebrew Bible, with an eye to the role they have played in constructing and reinforcing individual and communal identity—specifically the identity of the people of Israel. We will alternate between scholarly readings of the texts, reflecting the broad consensus (or, in some case, the main positions) of specialists in the area, and traditional readings stemming from various ancient interpreters weaving exegesis, ritual, and ethics into the sacred canopy—the symbolic universe—of Judaism and Christianity.

THEO 216: Religion, Media, & Pop Culture

Dr. Marinus Iwuchukwu
TR - 10:50am-12:05pm / 216
Examination of the religious, theological, ethical issues and perspectives raised by various forms media and popular culture, including: marketing, sports, movies, television, and music. Special attention will be given to the nature of their relationship and the theological and spiritual issues currently present in their interface.

THEO 232-01 / 232-02: Faith and Atheism

Dr. Marie Baird
MWF - 10-10:50am (01); 1-1:50pm (02) / 232
An examination of the claims which atheists make against faith and the response made by believers to these arguments.

THEO 241: Perspectives on the Holocaust

Dr. Matthew Schneirov
TR - 9:25am-10:40am / 241
In Perspectives on the Holocaust, multiple disciplines--sociology, history, literature and others are used in order to shed light on one of the most important and history changing events of the twentieth century-the mass murder of European Jews by the Nazi regime. Many topics will be explored including the perspectives of the victims, perpetrators and bystanders, life in the ghettoes, Jewish resistance, the literature of the Holocaust and European anti-Semitism. Satisfies University Core requirement for Social Justice theme area.

THEO 264C: Religion and Global Conflict

Dr. Anna Scheid
TR - 10:50am-12:05pm / 264C
This course offers a foundation in religious ethics related to conflict and its resolution. It explores the ways that religion can be a motivating force for both violence and peacebuilding. The course will examine the teachings of Christianity and Islam on the moral questions surrounding warfare, and it addresses major religions as well as indigenous traditional religious practices on post-conflict reconciliation, peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The class will look at present and past conflicts that involve Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippians, and India, as well as the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

THEO 264: Religion and Global Conflict

Dr. Anna Scheid
TR - 9:25am-10:40am / 264
This course offers a foundation in religious ethics related to conflict and its resolution. It explores the ways that religion can be a motivating force for both violence and peacebuilding. The course will examine the teachings of Christianity and Islam on the moral questions surrounding warfare, and it addresses major religions as well as indigenous traditional religious practices on post-conflict reconciliation, peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The class will look at present and past conflicts that involve Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippians, and India, as well as the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

THEO 300/400: Love and Christian Ethics

Dr. Elisabeth Cochran
ONLINE / 300
Christian theology affirms that God is love. This course explores the implications of this conviction for Christian ethics, with particular attention focused on how we understand and articulate our responsibilities toward other human beings in various interpersonal contexts. Students will consider and engage a range of historical Christian and philosophical arguments regarding human beings' moral obligations to exercise love.

THEO 301: Marriage

Dr. George Worgul
TR - 9:25am-10:40am / 301
We will look at interpersonal relationships and marriage from a sociological, cultural and theological perspective. Hooking up, cohabitation, divorced, sexual behavior, gay marriage etc. will be discussed.

THEO 689: Biblical Exegesis and Doctrinal Articulation In Early Christianity

Dr. Bogdan Bucur
T - 6:00pm - 8:40pm / 689
The process of doctrinal crystallization that took place during the first 500 years of Christianity was rooted in claims to visionary experience (almost immediately given liturgical expression) and shaped by doctrinal polemics. In both of these dimensions, theological reflection in early Christianity remained a highly exegetical enterprise. This course will problematize the exegetical underpinning of early Christian articulation of doctrine during the formative centuries of the Christian era. Leaving aside the major scholarly perspectives on the role played by typological, allegorical, and prosopological exegesis in the articulation of Christian doctrine, we will focus mostly on the understudied topic of Old Testament theophanies and their exegesis. The first part of the course will introduce students to some of the most important theophanic texts (Genesis 18, 28, 32; Exodus 3, 19, 24, 33; Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1; Daniel 3 and 7), focusing especially on their Septuagint rendering and reception in early Christianity. The bulk of the semester students will be given to reading early Christian texts spanning a variety of genres (catechetical, liturgical, polemical) and covering a large geographical area and some five centuries of Christian writing. Students will examine the role played by the exegesis of biblical theophanies in the anti-Jewish, anti-dualistic, and anti-Modalistic writings of Justin of Neapolis, Irenaeus of Lyon, Tertullian, and Hippolytus, and in the anti-subordinationist, anti-Modalistic, and anti-Apollinarian arguments put forth during the crucial fourth century. A special session will be devoted to Augustine of Hippo’s revolutionary exegesis of theophanies, and another one to the continued and insistent recourse to theophanies in hymnographic and iconographic materials.

Carnegie Mellon University

79-208 Witchcraft and Witch-Hunting

Prof. Allyson Creasman
TuTh 3:00pm -- 4:20pm
Between the late 15th and the early 18th centuries, many Europeans became convinced that their society was threatened by a conspiracy of diabolic witches. Although Western beliefs in witchcraft and devil worship dated back to antiquity, the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed the most intense campaign of witch-hunting in all of Europes history. Before it was over, the Great European Witch-Hunt of the early modern era cost the lives of thousands across Europe and in its colonies. And although the witch-hunts in early modern Europe and its colonies gradually came to an end, beliefs in witchcraft persist into the modern era and, in many parts of the world today, continue to generate campaigns of popular violence against alleged perpetrators. This course examines witchcraft beliefs and witch-hunting in historical perspective in both their European and colonial contexts. In addition to the early modern witch-hunts, it will address modern witchcraft beliefs and consider witch-hunting as a global problem today. It will focus on the origin and rationale of witch beliefs, the factors driving the timing and intensity of witch-hunts, and the patterns of accusations. Throughout, we will examine the many historical and regional variations in witch beliefs and prosecutions and explore how they reflect major social and cultural issues such as the relationship between popular and elite culture; religious change; state formation; gender and patriarchy; and the rationalization of law, medicine, and science. This course satisfies one of the elective requirements for the Religious Studies minor.

79-296 Religion in American Politics

Prof. James Gilchrist
MoWe 10:30am -- 11:50am (MINI COURSE)
Separation of church and state is an expression widely used but poorly understood. Thomas Jefferson's phrase, which does not actually appear in the Constitution, reminds us that religious institutions are kept separate from government in America, even though religious commitments and motivations have always played an important part in American politics. This course will provide an historical perspective on the role of religion in public life from the late 18th century to the present, including religions influence on political parties and public policies, and the boundaries set by the Constitution on such activity.

79-350 Early Christianity

Prof. Allyson Creasman
TuTh 1:30pm -- 2:50pm
This course examines the origins of Christianity in historical perspective. Using both Christian and non-Christian sources from the period, we will examine how and why Christianity assumed the form that it did by analyzing its background in the Jewish community of Palestine, its place in the classical world, and its relationship to other religious and philosophical traditions of the time. We will also examine historically how the earliest Christians understood the life and message of Jesus, the debates about belief and practice that arose among them, and the factors influencing the extraordinary spread of the movement in its earliest centuries. This course satisfies one of the elective requirements for the Religious Studies minor.

79-355 Fake News: "Truth" in the History of American Journalism

Prof. James Gilchrist
MoWe 10:30am -- 11:50am (MINI COURSE)
Scandal, conspiracy, and partisan propaganda have been among the stuff of media ever since newspapers first appeared in America 200+ years ago, and now they figure prominently in electronic media as well. The question What is truth? is not just a matter of philosophical speculation, but an essential issue at every level of American life, from individuals on social media to citizens, journalists, and politicians responsible for sustaining a democratic society. This course is literally ripped from the headlines, examining contemporary conflicts over credibility in print and online, in the context of historical experience. My goal is to help you think in new ways about how to assess — in both past and present — when news really is fake and when its just an inconvenient truth.