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RELIGST 2: Is Stanford a Religion?

This course seeks to introduce students to the study of religion by posing a two-part question: What is a religion, and does Stanford qualify as one? Scientific, pragmatic, seemingly secular, Stanford may not seem at all similar to religions like Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism, but a deeper look reveals that it has many of the qualities of religion--origin stories, rituals and ceremonies, sacred spaces and times, visions of the future, even some spirits. By learning some of the theories and methods of the field of religious studies, students will gain a better understanding not just of Stanford culture but of what motivates people to be religious, the roles religion plays in people's lives, and the similarities and differences between religious and secular culture.
Last offered: Spring 2018 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

RELIGST 4: What Didn't Make It into the Bible (CLASSICS 9N, JEWISHST 4)

Over two billion people alive today consider the Bible to be sacred scripture. But how did the books that made it into the bible get there in the first place? Who decided what was to be part of the bible and what wasn't? How would history look differently if a given book didn't make the final cut and another one did? Hundreds of ancient Jewish and Christian texts are not included in the Bible. "What Didn't Make It in the Bible" focuses on these excluded writings. We will explore the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic gospels, hear of a five-year-old Jesus throwing temper tantrums while killing (and later resurrecting) his classmates, peruse ancient romance novels, explore the adventures of fallen angels who sired giants (and taught humans about cosmetics), tour heaven and hell, encounter the garden of Eden story told from the perspective of the snake, and learn how the world will end. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, the bible, or ancient history. It is designed f more »
Over two billion people alive today consider the Bible to be sacred scripture. But how did the books that made it into the bible get there in the first place? Who decided what was to be part of the bible and what wasn't? How would history look differently if a given book didn't make the final cut and another one did? Hundreds of ancient Jewish and Christian texts are not included in the Bible. "What Didn't Make It in the Bible" focuses on these excluded writings. We will explore the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic gospels, hear of a five-year-old Jesus throwing temper tantrums while killing (and later resurrecting) his classmates, peruse ancient romance novels, explore the adventures of fallen angels who sired giants (and taught humans about cosmetics), tour heaven and hell, encounter the garden of Eden story told from the perspective of the snake, and learn how the world will end. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, the bible, or ancient history. It is designed for students who are part of faith traditions that consider the bible to be sacred, as well as those who are not. The only prerequisite is an interest in exploring books, groups, and ideas that eventually lost the battles of history and to keep asking the question "why." In critically examining these ancient narratives and the communities that wrote them, you will investigate how religions canonize a scriptural tradition, better appreciate the diversity of early Judaism and Christianity, understand the historical context of these religions, and explore the politics behind what did and did not make it into the bible.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

RELIGST 6N: Religion in Anime and Manga

Religious themes and topoi are ubiquitous in Japanese anime and manga. In this course, we will examine how religions are represented in these new media and study the role of religions in contemporary Japan. By doing this, students will also learn fundamental concepts of Buddhism and Shinto.
Last offered: Winter 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 8N: Gardens and Sacred Space in Japan

This seminar will explore gardens and sacred spaces in Japan. We will study the development of Japanese garden design from the earliest records to contemporary Japan. We will especially focus on the religious, aesthetic, and social dimensions of gardens and sacred spaces. This seminar features a field trip to a Japanese garden in the area, in order to study how Japanese garden design was adapted in North America.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI
Instructors: Mross, M. (PI)

RELIGST 17N: Love, Power, and Justice: Ethics in Christian Perspective

From its inception, the Christian faith has, like all religions, implied an ethos as well as a worldview, a morality and way of life as well as a system of beliefs, an ethics as well as a metaphysics. Throughout history, Christian thinkers have offered reasoned accounts of the moral values, principles, and virtues that ought to animate the adherents of what eventually became the world's largest religion. We will explore a variety of controversial issues, theological orientations, and types of ethical reasoning in the Christian tradition, treating the latter as one 'comprehensive doctrine' (John Rawls) among many; a normative framework (actually a variety of contested religious premises, moral teachings, and philosophical arguments) formally on par with the religious ethics of other major faiths as well as with the various secular moral theories typically discussed in the modern university. We will learn to interpret, reconstruct, criticize, and think intelligently about the coherence and persuasiveness of moral arguments offered by a diverse handful of this religious tradition's best thinkers and critics, past and present.
Last offered: Spring 2016 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

RELIGST 53: Exploring Jewish Spirituality (JEWISHST 53)

It was once accepted as fact that Judaism is, at its core, a rational religion devoid of any authentic mystical tradition. But the past century of scholarship has reversed this claim, demonstrating that the spiritual life has been integral to Judaism's vital heart since ancient times. This yearning for a direct immediate experience of God's Presence, a longing to grasp the mysteries of the human soul and know the inner dynamics of the Divine realm, has taken on many different forms across the centuries. nnThis course will introduce students to the major texts¿from theological treatises to poems and incantations¿and core ideas of Jewish mysticism and spirituality, tracking their development from the Hebrew Bible to the dawn of modernity. Close attention will be paid to the historical context of these sources, and we will also engage with broader methodological approaches¿from phenomenology to philology¿regarding the academic study of religion and the comparative consideration of mystici more »
It was once accepted as fact that Judaism is, at its core, a rational religion devoid of any authentic mystical tradition. But the past century of scholarship has reversed this claim, demonstrating that the spiritual life has been integral to Judaism's vital heart since ancient times. This yearning for a direct immediate experience of God's Presence, a longing to grasp the mysteries of the human soul and know the inner dynamics of the Divine realm, has taken on many different forms across the centuries. nnThis course will introduce students to the major texts¿from theological treatises to poems and incantations¿and core ideas of Jewish mysticism and spirituality, tracking their development from the Hebrew Bible to the dawn of modernity. Close attention will be paid to the historical context of these sources, and we will also engage with broader methodological approaches¿from phenomenology to philology¿regarding the academic study of religion and the comparative consideration of mysticism in particular.nnThis course assumes no prior background of Judaism or any other religious traditions. All readings will be made available in English. Students are, however, invited to challenge themselves with the ¿optional/advanced¿ readings of sources both primary and secondary. Pending interest, students with facility in the original languages (Hebrew or Aramaic) will be given the opportunity to do so.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Mayse, E. (PI)

RELIGST 55: Exploring Zen Buddhism

This course is an introduction to Chan/Zen Buddhism. We will study the historical and doctrinal development of this tradition in China and Japan and examine various facets of Zen, such as the philosophy, practices, rituals, culture, and institution. For this aim, we will read and discuss classical Zen texts in translation and important secondary literature. This class will further feature a visit of a Zen teacher, who will give an introduction to sitting meditation.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Mross, M. (PI)

RELIGST 56: Exploring Chinese Religions

An overview of major themes and historical developments in 5000 years of Chinese religion. In this course, we will try as much as possible to appreciate Chinese religion from the Chinese perspective, paying particular attention to original texts in translation in an attempt to discern the logic of Chinese religion and the role it has played in the course of Chinese history. To a greater extent perhaps than any other civilization, Chinese have left behind a continuous body of written documents and other artifacts relating to religion stretching over thousands of years, providing a wealth of material for studying the place of religion in history and society.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Tuzzeo, D. (PI)

RELIGST 61: Exploring Islam

This course introduces some of the most important features of the Islamic religious tradition. It explores the different ways in which Muslims have interpreted and practiced their religion. The main subjects of discussion --- including the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, law, ritual, mysticism, theology, politics, and art --- will be considered with reference to their proper historical contexts. Some of the topics covered include abortion, gender, rebellion and violence, and the visual vocabulary of paintings. Students will be exposed to important theories and methods in the academic study of religion. No prior knowledge is required.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Bigelow, A. (PI)

RELIGST 65: Exploring Global Christianity

Explore the world¿s largest religion as a multicultural, global faith, with attention to Christianity¿s origins, spread and impact around the world up to the present. Special attention to recent shifting demographics leading to declining numbers in mainline Christian denominations in North America and Europe and the rapid expansion of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and South America; the explosion of international Pentecostalism and other new Christianities; Christianity, global politics, and the global economy; Christian-Muslim relations and conflicts.
Last offered: Winter 2016 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
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