1. To enable the student to have an understanding of the appropriate research skills and techniques for doctoral level academic study, and particularly, the study of religion.
2. To introduce traditional psychological, anthropological, sociological, philosophical, textual, and historical approaches to the study of religion.
1. Students will have reflected on the appropriate research skills necessary for their doctoral work, including:
• critical and creative thinking
• writing useful book/article summaries
• identifying and accessing appropriate bibliographic resources
• writing clear academic prose and making good arguments
• the art of the book review
• use of classroom technology
• presenting and defending a paper
2. Students will have an understanding of psychological, anthropological, sociological, philosophical, and historical approaches to the study of religion
The course is delivered in three-hour sessions, held weekly. It is team taught, bringing a range of faculty to the subject matter. The course continues in the spring semester.
Students will be graded for the course according to the following:
1. For each class meeting, students should read and have written book notes on all of the required readings. This is 20% of the grade. These notes should be written by the time of the class, and emailed to the course professor by Friday noon following the class. This allows for students to add any comments reflecting the class discussion of the texts.
2. Attendance and participation in class discussion as informed by the weekly readings is 20% of the grade. This will include being responsible for leading the discussion of the text for the seminar. Students will sign up for their weeks during the first class. This is a research seminar not a lecture: it should involve a close reading of the texts. So please read all the texts before class. The entire three hours will be spent raising certain questions that help the students to interpret properly the texts; the students should be encouraged to form a view about the material, articulate that view, and defend that view in conversation with their peers and with the Professor. The Faculty is expected to assess the students’ participation and grasp of the assigned texts.
3. Two exams, three hours in length each, covering the material from the first and second halves of the course. Each exam is worth 30% of the grade. The exams will consist of essay questions drawn from the different approaches to the study of religion, from which the students will have some choice. The students may bring their course texts and booknotes to the exam. Exams will be graded by the faculty who wrote the questions, in conjunction with the course professor.
The following texts are available for purchase at the bookstore, listed in the order of the course readings:
Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (Harvest Books, 1959).
Jung, Carl G. , “Approaching the Unconscious” in Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell Publishing, 1971.
Rollins, Wayne G., and D. Andrew Kille, eds. Psychological Insight into the Bible: Texts and Readings. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2007.
Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (Basic Books, 1973).
Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Routledge, 1966).
Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. Anchor Books Edition, 1990. Originally published in 1967.
Nancy Tatum Ammerman, Jackson W. Carroll, Carl S. Dudley, and William McKinney. Studying Congregations: A new Handbook. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998.
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Fernando Segovia, Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000.
Gale Yee, Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (Fortress Press, 1995).
Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology: Faith and the Comparative History of Religion (Westminster Press, 1981).
These and all other readings are available on reserve at the Seminary Library. Please contact Professor Heidi Gehman if you have any difficulty finding the readings.
SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND READINGS
Note: All readings should be completed, and reading summaries written, by the beginning of class. There may be additional requirements from the faculty person teaching that weekly session. Books are available for purchase at the bookstore, or on reserve in the library with an overnight sign-out allowed. Essays are on reserve.
Session 1: Theme: Religious Studies/Theological Studies
September 13 Session led by Kelton Cobb
Catherine Albanese, America: Religions and Religion, pp.1-11.
Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, pp.8-113.
Russell McCutcheon, Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia, pp.2-26.
Rodney Stark, Exploring Religious Life, chps. 2 and 7
Skill: Writing Effective Summaries of Readings
Session led by Kelton Cobb
Session 2: Theme: Psychological Approaches to the Study of Religion
September 20 Session led by Wayne Rollins
1. Read an encyclopedia article surveying the history, major fields, and methods of "Psychology." Come prepared to discuss one or two fields of psychology that relate to issues of interest for you in religious studies.
2. Read Carl G. Jung, “Approaching the Unconscious” in Man and His Symbols (New York: Dell, 1971. Come prepared to discuss the applicability (if any) of Jung’s thought to your field of specialization in religious studies.
3. To illustrate the application of psychology to a specific field of religious studies read the following chapters in Rollins, Wayne G., and D. Andrew Kille, eds. Psychological Insight into the Bible: Texts and Readings. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007):
Ch. 1 Reading 1.3 on “A Psychological-Critical Approach to the Bible and Its Interpretation”
Ch. 2. The Care and Cure of the Soul
Ch. 3 Freud and Jung
Ch. 6 Biblical Symbols and Archetypal Images
Ch. 5. Between Texts and Readers
Ch. 13 Biblical Effects: Pathogenic and Therapeutic
Session 3: Theme: Anthropological Approaches to Religion I
September 27 Session led by Kelton Cobb
Bronislaw Malinowski, "Magic, Science, and Religion," in Magic, Science and Religion (Doubleday Anchor Books, 1954), pp.17-92. (on reserve)
Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (pp.1-57)
Skill: Writing paper and book proposals.
Session led by Heidi Gehman
Session 4: Theme: Anthropological Approaches to Religion II
October 4 Session led by Kelton Cobb
Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (Basic Books, 1973), pp.3-30, 87-142.
Talal Asad, “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category,” in Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, pp.27-54. (on reserve)
Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual, chps 1, 2, 4 (on reserve)
Session 5: Theme: Sociological Approaches to Religion I
October 11 Session led by Scott Thumma
Reading: Durkheim, Emile. excerpt from Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. In Durkheim on Religion, edited by W. S. F. Pickering, p.102-166. (on reserve)
Weber, Max. “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority,” p. 245- 264 in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. (on reserve)
Marx, Karl, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” p.43-44 from Karl Marx, Early Writings. (on reserve)
Berger, Peter The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, p.3-101.
Skill: Using Technology in the Classroom
Session led by Scott Thumma
Session 6: Theme: Sociological Approaches to Religion II
October 18 Session led by Scott Thumma
Reading: Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. “The Dynamics of Religious Economies,” chapter 8 in Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, ed. by Michele Dillon. (on reserve)
Warner, Stephen, “Work in progress toward a new paradigm for the sociological study of religion in the United States,” American Journal of Sociology 98:1044-93. (on reserve)
Nancy Tatum Ammerman, Jackson W. Carroll, Carl S. Dudley, and William McKinney. Studying Congregations: A New Handbook. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998.
Session 7: Theme: Study Skills: Creative and Critical Thinking
October 25 Session led by Louise Loomis
Reading: Notebook of Readings on Reserve in the Library
Session 8: Exam I
Session 9: Theme: Philosophy of Religion
November 8 Session led by Kelton Cobb
Reading: William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (read lectures 2 through 9)
Session 10: Theme: Biblical Scholarship and the Study of Sacred Texts I
November 15 Session led by Efrain Agosto
Reading: Fernando Segovia, Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000.
Session 11: Theme: Biblical Scholarship and the Study of Sacred Texts II
November 29 Session led by Uriah Kim
Reading: Gale Yee, Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (Fortress Press, 1995).
Skill: Writing, presenting, and defending a paper; writing book reviews.
Session led by Heidi Gehman
Session 12: Theme: History of Religions I
December 6 Session led by Jane Smith
Reading: The following essays from Thomas Ryba, George D. Bond and Herman Tull, The Comity and Grace of Method: Essays in Honor of Edmund F. Perry. Northwestern University Press, 2004.
Robert Segal, "In Defense of the Comparative Method," pp. 29-40.
Herman W. Tull, "Comparative Religion and the Question of Method," pp. 41-57.
Ninian Smart, "The Dramatic Effect of the Buddha on Western Theories of Religion," pp. 321-329.
Donald W. Mitchell, "Dialogical Reflections on Christian Prayer and Zen Meditation," pp. 330-341.
M. H. Vogel, "Delineating the Jewish-Christian Dialogue in an Overarching Typology of Religion," pp. 342-370.
N. Ross Reat, "Against Pluralism: World Theology and Universal Insidership," pp. 371-390.
Christina L. A. Traina, "Sympathetic Imagination: Experience, the Other, and the Feminist Argument for Pacifism," pp. 415-437.
Ursula King, "Seeds of Harmony: Conflict and Cooperation in a Global
Religious Perspective," pp. 437-461.
Session 13: Theme: History of Religions II
December 13 Session led by Jane Smith
Reading: Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Towards a World Theology: Faith and the Comparative History of Religion (Westminster Press, 1981).
Skill: Developing a Network in the Academy
Session led by Heidi Gehman
**Final Exam, Thursday, December 20, 1-4 p.m.